In this week’s Torah portion we learn about the mitzvah to erect a sanctuary in which G-d says he will dwell in its midst. The portion continues to tell us about the major components of the sanctuary such as the Ark, Candelabra, Show bread, Table etc.
The Ark contained the tablets of the Ten commandments and was placed in the holiest part of the Temple, in which the High Priest entered only once a year on Yom Kippur.
The Ark was quite simple, it was a box covered with gold, however, the cover of the Ark was unique. The Torah tells us to make a cover of pure gold for the Ark and chisel out on the two ends of the cover statuettes of winged angels with infant faces. The Torah calls these statues Cheruvim. This command seems surprising if we take into account the many commands of the Torah that forbid the erection of statues as a means of serving G-d. In fact, the Rabbis deduce from the verses that these statues called Cheruvim were only allowed to be made in the Temple but are not allowed to be made even in Synagogues.
The famous commentary, Rashi, explains that the covering of the Ark which contained the Cheruvim was not part of the Ark, rather it was a separate vessel that contained a separate message. The Ark and Tablets were an expression of G-d’s love to his Torah. However, the cover of the Ark which was placed above the ark was an expression of G-d’s love to the Jewish people which is even greater than his love for the Torah. Therefore, the statues had the faces of infants to symbolize the intense love a parent has for his or her infant.
The Talmud has a similar explanation of the Cheruvim. The Talmud says that the two cheruvim were male and female figures. This symbolized that the love of G-d to the Jewish people were like a male-female relationship.
The Talmud tells us the following fascinating story: “When the Jewish people would make a pilgrimage to the Temple for the Festivals, the priests would roll up the curtains that covered the room that contained the Ark. They would show them how the Cheruvim figures on the Ark were hugging each other and they would proclaim, look how beloved you are before the Almighty”
May we merit to always see the expression of G-d’s love for the Jewish people in our lives.