Parshat Terumah 5783: Understanding the Why of the Keruvim atop the Aron HaKodesh in the Mishkan

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Terumah is being co-sponsored both anonymously dedicated for Hatslucha to children of the community and by Rabbi Tully and Hindy Bryks of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated lilui nishmas for Hindi’s Father, Moshe Zev ben Yosef, z”l. To our anonymous co-sponsor and to Mishpachat Bryks, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Terumah 5783: Understanding the Why of the Keruvim atop the Aron HaKodesh in the Mishkan

by Moshe Burt

This author opens this vort with an excerpt from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s summary of Parshat Terumah in his sefer, “Unlocking the Torah Text,” on Sefer Shemos (page 207) :

The Parsha… outlines in great detail the plans for the various utensils to be used in the Mishkan service, including the Aron (Ark), the Kaporet (Ark Cover), the Keruvim, the Shulchan (Table) and the Menorah.

This vort will endeavor to focus on why the Keruvim are atop the Aron HaKodesh.

Rabbi Goldin renders to English Sefer Shemos, Perek 25, posukim 18-20:

“And you shall make two Keruvim of gold… from both ends of the Kaporet… And the Keruvim shall be with wings spread upwards, sheltering the cover with their wings, and their faces shall be towards one another; towards the Kaporet shall be the faces of the Keruvim.” (ibid, pages 230-231)

The Artscroll Stone Chumash provides its commentary on the Keruvim (Sefer Shemos, pages 447-449) :

The Keruvim had the faces of a male and female child and the wings of birds. Their wings stretched upwards to teach that Man must aspire to raise himself upward to understand Hashem’s wisdom and excel in His service. Their faces were directed downward toward the Aron and also toward each other, to symbolize that the only true source of wisdom is the Torah, and that man must use his wisdom to interact with his fellows.

The Keruvim were not made separately and then attached to the the Cover [Kaporet]. Instead, the entire Cover, including the Keruvim, had to be hammered out of one large ingot of gold. (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Rashi)

“With wings spread upward.” The wings of each Keruv were thrust upward, pointing toward the wings of the one on the opposite end of the Cover, so that the four outspread wings formed a canopy that was ten handbreadths (30 – 40 inches) over the cover. (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Rashi from Succah 5b)

“The Midrash Says,” by Rabbi Moshe Weissman on Sefer Shemos, states on the Keruvim, as an example of the parallel between the Mishkan and the universe (page 244) :

The Aron corresponds to the heart. Just as a person’s life depends on the vitality of his heart, the significance of the Aron, which contained the Luchos, suffused [verb (used with object), suf·fused, suf·fus·ing. to overspread with or as with a liquid, color, etc.] the entire Mishkan.

The Keruvim, which spread their wings over the Aron, correspond to the lungs over the heart.

The Mishkan was constructed to resemble the human body in order to teach us that every Jew who sanctifies himself becomes a Mishkan (dwelling place) for the Shechina [The Divine Presence].

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin writes, in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah,” cites Sefer Shemos, Perek 25, posuk 18 and provides insight:

“And you shall make two Keruvim of gold.” The Aron symbolized Torah study. The reason that two keruvim were placed on top of the Aron was to teach us that we always consider ourselves as young children when it comes to studying Torah. No matter how much you know, compared to what there is still to learn, you are as if you have just begun. For this reason, a Torah scholar is… called a Talmid Chacham, that is, the student of a wise man. The greater wisdom one has, the more one realizes that one is lacking wisdom. (Rabbi Pliskin citing Chochmah Umussar, Volume 1, page 344)

Related to Rabbi Pliskin’s citing above is a citing from “Chovos Halevovos,” Cheshbon HaNefesh” with insights from HaRav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, z”l who was a huge Torah scholar, Dayin, Rav of Kehillot Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham in Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef, and Executive Editor of the Artscroll Talmud Bavli. Rabbi Malinowitz is recorded as citing, on day 24 of the “Cheshbon HaNefesh” booklet published Lilui Nishmas the Shloshim after his passing, and providing insights:

Reflect that the Torah and tefillah knowledge of your youth is insufficient. Study the language and interpretations with renewed and higher understanding, remember and review.

We are pretty satisfied if we’ve learned something in the past, review it regularly, and remember it. Wonderful, no?

NO! Says the Chovos Halevovos. You’ve matured, your intelligence has grown more sophisticated, you’ve acquired more depth, a wider perspective, sharper analytical skills.

Do NOT be satisfied with the Chumash as you learned it in fifth grade… With davening as you davened as a 14 tear old, with Gemara or hashkafa which you learned decades ago, as you learned them decades ago. Always review and increase the quality of your learning… or your davening… or your Avodos Hashem.

Rabbi Goldin concludes (ibid, page 214):

…Neither the Mishkan nor the Beit Hamikdash, no matter what their origin, is “Hashem’s home.” Each of these central institutions is, instead, Divinely designed to teach how we can successfully “bring Hashem home to us.”

And The Shem Mishmuel (Translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, Parshat Terumah) provides, in closing, a lesson hopefully soon to be learned by Jews in Chutz L’Aretz (page 172) :

Despite the apparent preference for the desert lifestyle, we can see that the reality of Eretz Yisrael and the vicissitudes [noun: vicissitudes, successive, alternating, or changing phases or conditions, as of life or fortune; ups and downs] of life within it are actually superior…. [There is] the concept that the greatest Kedusha is achieved in the arena where there is danger, but is overcome and utilized for G’dliness. As such, the Eretz Yisrael lifestyle is the ideal one, despite the potential dangers inherent within it. This means that the Beit Hamikdash was the greatest expression of Klal Yisrael’s spirituality. Thus, when they [the B’nei Yisrael] entered the Land, they worked toward the day when they would build a Mikdash to replace the Mishkan, which only had a temporary role to play.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his third year at home in Eretz Yisrael and has embarked on a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of eight years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.