The passuk states that the kiyor, water basin, and its base were built “במראות הצובאות.” What does this refer to? Rashi brings from Rebi Tanchuma: in Mitzrayim the Jewish women had mirrors which they used to decorate themselves for their husbands. The women contributed this for the Mishkan as well and did not keep it for themselves. Moshe was disgusted with them because they are made for the yezer hara. The Ramban adds that Moshe was not disgusted with other contributions which were even more inappropriate, because those contributions were either brought with other contributions or the kli was made together with other metals and materials. The kiyor, however, was made solely from these mirrors. Hashem said to Moshe, “Accept them, because these are more cherished than everything, since with them they stood up myriads of children in Mitzrayim.” When the men returned from labor weary and weak, their wives prepared food and drink to revive them. They would take a mirror and say, “I am nicer than you,” and help bring out children. The kiyor was made from these mirrors.
Onkelos translates the words במראות הצובאות as “with the mirrors of women” and adds “who would come to daven” at the entrance of the Ohel Mo’ed. The Ramban explains b’shem the Ibn Ezra: this refers to women who served Hashem exceptionally. They contributed their mirrors for the Mishkan to remove themselves from all desires of this world in order to serve Hashem. They would came to daven by the Mishkan daily and listen to the mitzvos being taught. The Sha’arei Ahron explains, because these mirrors were sanctified through breaking their desires, therefore Hashem said to use them for the kiyor, with which the Kohanim will wash to sanctify themselves.
The passuk states that the women brought these mirrors to the Ohel Mo’ed. The Ramban is bothered, the Mishkan was not yet built, so to where did these women bring their mirrors? The Ramban answers that they brought their mirrors to the Ohel Mo’ed of Moshe as it states in Parshas Ki Sisa ומשה יקח את האהל… וקרא לו אהל מועד. Onkelos generally translates the words Ohel Mo’ed when referring to the Mishkan as משכן זמנא the Transitory Tent. However Moshe’s Ohel Mo’ed Onkelos translates as משכן בית אלפנא, the tent of a place of learning, which was where Moshe taught Yisrael Hashem’s teaching. Here Onkelos translates as by the Mishkan, which seemingly didn’t exist.
The Sha’arei Ahron answers that these women first gave their contributions, and after the Mishkan was built they came to daven and listen to the mitzvos. Rav Kronenfeld suggested that Onkelos translates Ohel Mo’ed in two ways while referring to the tent of Moshe. When the passuk describes Yisrael learning Torah from Moshe, Onkelos translates Ohel Mo’ed as a place of learning. In truth Moshe’s tent was also a place where the Shechinah resided before the Mishkan was built, and then Onkelos translates the Ohel Mo’ed as the Transitory Tent which reflected Hashem’s closeness with Yisrael. These women came to daven by the tent of Moshe where the Shechinah was in order to become close to the Shechinah, and Onkelos translates Ohel Mo’ed with that meaning.
The Gemara says that in the merit of nashim tzidkaniyos we experienced miracles to be taken out of Mitzrayim. May Hashem help that in their merit we should be redeemed from galus and bring Mashiach with the building of the Bais HaMikdosh!