Parashat Terumah:  Exodus 25:1 to 27:19

This week’s Torah portion describes the “mishkan” commonly translated as the “sanctuary,” but in fact, literally means the “dwelling place of the divine.” What does it mean to dwell in the house of the Lord? The Torah details the various accoutrements of the sanctuary–curtains, candelabrum, table for the showbread, and the altar. But the central feature is in fact, the holy Ark, and the tablets of stone (decalogue).

Perhaps the most unique feature of the Ark (aron ha-kodesh) are the “keruveem,” the cherubs that rest directly above the ark. These are winged creatures with an ambiguous identity which gave rise to a multitude of interpretations. Rashi described them as infant-faced creatures! No wonder Renaissance painters depicted them as angels and rosy-faced goddesses.

All we know from the Torah is that the “keruveem” are winged. Perhaps the essence of their identity is not in their appearance but in their function; what do they do? The Torah says: “the cherubs shall spread out their wings on high, screening the Ark-cover with their wings, with their faces toward each other, toward the ark cover shall the faces of the cherubs be.” (Exo. 25:20)

When you screen something, you are protecting it. So it appears that the cherubs are present for a protective purpose. Ultimately they are present to protect the “tablets,” the Torah that God gave Moses to be stored inside the Ark. 

Parashat Vaya'khel:  Exodus 35:1 to 38:20

For Week of Friday, March 8, 2024 Our Torah portion begins with the verb va’yakhel,” which means “assembled, or brought…

Parashat Ki Tissa: Exodus 30:11 to 34:35

For Week of Friday, March 1, 2024 As my Rabbi used to remind me, these chapters in Exodus comprise a…

Parashat Tetza'veh: Exodus 27:20 to 30:10

For Week of Friday, February 23, 2024 The title of our Torah portion comes from the three-letter Hebrew verb, “tz-v-h,”…