The current parsha contains an astonishing debate between Rashi and Ibn Ezra on the nature of desire and sensuality.
The argument centers on Exodus 28:8. Rashi, following the Tanchuma, reads/translates the verse in a way that supports the idea that sensuality and desire are acceptable so long as they are used for a higher purpose. Meanwhile, Ibn Ezra reads/translates the verse in a way that supports the idea that its praiseworthy to distance yourself from desire and sensuality.
Here's the verse:
ויעש את הכיור נחשת ואת כנו נחשת במראת הצבאת אשר צבאו פתח אהל מועד׃
Here's Ibn Ezra's translation/reading:
They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from mirrors belonging to the throngs that thronged at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
As he says: The mirrors belonged to pious women who renounced vanity and gave up their mirrors and spent their time crowded around the tent of meeting eager to learn God's will. Their mirrors are valuable because they represent their owner's renouncement of the physical for the sake of the spiritual.
Here's Rashi's translation/reading:
They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors that produced the crowds that crowded at the entrance..." (Rashi vocalizes הצבאת as a verb)
What Rashi has in mind is a famous Midrash about mirrors in which the women of Israel took it upon themselves to seduce their worn-out, enslaved husbands thereby guaranteeing the survival of the Jewish people. In the Midrash the women don't use the mirrors to make themselves beautiful but to flirt with their husbands and increase desire. These are the mirrors that "produced the crowds" that now gather in their myriads outside the Tent of Meeting. The mirrors are valuable because they represent the ideal and proper use of sensuality and desire.
Now about their methodology: What came first the reading/translation or the idea? Are Rashi and Ibn Ezra BASING their views of sensuality on what each considers the best reading/translation of the verse, or did each of them approach the verse with a pre-existing idea, and idea they justified by construing a translation/reading that lent the idea support?
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