The Meaning of the Keruvim by Doniel Sherman


This week’s Parasha discusses the Keruvim, the figurines placed formed atop the Ark.  The Pesukim (Shemot 25:18-20) are very particular about the construction and positioning of these Keruvim:.

There are several significant points contained within these Pesukim.  First of all, they go to great length to show that there are two Keruvim.  The first Pasuk seems to describe two Keruvim at either end of the cover, which suggests a total of four Keruvim.  Therefore, the next Pasuk is needed to clarify that there is only one Keruv on each side of the cover, for an actual total of only two Keruvim.  Clearly, there it is significantce that there is a pair of Keruvim.

The next important point is that the Keruvim are made from the cover of the Ark.  Rashi explains that this means that the Keruvim were made out of the same piece of gold as the cover, and not formed separately and attached.

  Finally, the positioning of the Keruvim is important.  Their wings are outstretched upward towards heaven, but they face each other and the cover of the Aron.  The Kli Yakar notes these points and presents a fabulous insight into what it means to be pure of heart.  He begins by defining what the Keruvim were.  The word, “Keruv,” generally refers to an angel’s countenance, but here, the Keruvim have the appearance of children.  Both an angel and a young child symbolize being free of sin.  The Kli Yakar then continues his explanation of what one could accomplish by being clean of sin.  One would be able to outstretch his arms to heaven and truly connect with Hashem.  Furthermore, two individuals would also be able to face each other, person-to-person, and stare each other in the eye, knowing that neither is hiding dark secrets and that they are both clean of heart.  The Keruvim are also looking downwards at the cover of the Ark, showing that their goal is to appreciate the Torah that is contained within it.

But why specifically must there be two Keruvim?  What can we learn from the pair of Keruvim that we could not have learned from just one?

There seems to be a duality which surrounds Hashem and the Torah.  Beginning with creation, Hashem created pairs: a pair of genders (male and female), a pair of waters (sky and sea), and a pair of humans (Adam and EveChavah).  Later in Bereishit, Noach takes pairs of animals onto into the Ark.  When Hashem commands Avraham with to perform Brit Milah, the Mitzvah is geared specifically towards him and Yishmael.  Two of Yaakov’s sons, Yissachar and Zevulun, form a pair; one learns Torah while the other supports both of them.  When the Jews are in Mitzrayim, Moshe and Aharon approach Paroh together.  There must be some reason that there are often pairs of people involved in Torah and Judaism.  In fact, the lesson one learns is that it takes two people, working together, to approach and understand God’s Torah.  One Keruv can spread its wings upward to God, but it takes both of them to face each other while facing the cover of the Ark for them to appreciate the Torah that is contained within.  This explains why we frequently learn BiChavrutaBeChavruta, in a pair.  Although one can learn alone, he will gain a lot more if he learns with someone else.  Each will bring different ideas and learning capabilities to help understand the meaning of the Torah that they learn together.  Therefore, it takes two individuals of pure heart, working together, to understand the Torah.  Once the people learn together, they can more effectively look down into Torah while raising their arms to Hashem and trulydevelop into genuine become Bnei Torah.  This is the lesson of the Keruvim.

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