The Cherubs: Symmetrical Innocence in Union
The Symbol of Consummate Love between God and Israel
The Torah portion of Terumah discusses the details of the Sanctuary in which
The first vessel related to in detail in our portion is the Ark of the Covenant,
above which are the two cherubs.
While the Holy Ark contains the Torah--God's eternal wisdom--His voice and
ongoing directives emanate from between the joined wingtips of the two cherubs,
the consummate love of delights between God and the people of
Cherubs--Powers of 2
In the Torah, the cherubs are initially referred to as two.
Each cherub had four elements (2 squared):
A Body A Face
Right Wing Left Wing
When joined together at their wingtips, the cherubs have a total of 8
elements, (2 cubed).
The root of the Hebrew word for the cherub-kruv, kuf-reish-beit also represents
The numerical value of the kuf is 20, of the reish, 200 and of the beit,
All of these numbers can be reduced to 2.
The 2s represent the perfect state of love, harmony and delight symbolized
by the cherubs.
This love serves as the magnet that draws down God's voice to speak to Israel.
Male Symmetry and Female Symmetry
The two vessels in the Temple that reflect perfect symmetry are the Menorah
and the cherubs. The menorah's symmetry is relatively male, while the symmetry of the cherubs
is relatively female.
Male symmetry is a well-defined axis of 1 in the middle, with
an identical number of elements that are present on each side of the axis.
In this type of symmetry, there will always be an odd number of elements,
another sign of the male state. The Menorah perfectly illustrates this type of symmetry.
Female symmetry has no defined axis, but is rather an even
number of elements arranged in a perfectly symmetrical manner. The female-symmetrical cherubs are in the Holy of Holies. The epitome of
beauty and the symmetry of coupling is female, as also represented by the powers of 2 associated with the cherubs.
Cherubs at the Garden of Eden
The first place that the cherubs appear in the Torah is after Adam and Eve
(in Hebrew, the word for "eviction," gerush, is the same as the word for
divorce) from the Garden of Eden. The cherubs assumed a fearful role at the entrance to the Garden, along with
the fiery, turning sword. Their role was to ensure that Adam would not re-enter the Garden, eat from
the Tree of Life and eternalize the primordial sin. In this context, the cherubs are a type of angel.
Maimonides classifies ten types of angels. According to Kabbalah, these
ten types of angels correspond to the ten sefirot.
The lowest level of angels, ishim, ("men") are those that converse with
prophets or people imbued with the holy spirit. Ishim correspond to the sefirah of malchut. The next level of angels, kruvim-cherubs,
correspond to the sefirah of yesod. They represent the spiritual power of union between man and wife, and symbolize
the union between God and Israel.
Our Sages explain that the Hebrew word for cherub, kruv, is from Aramaic
and means "as a baby." The cherubs had baby faces. A baby face represents innocence.
The loving touch of the cherubs in the Holy of Holies reflects the epitome
of pure, innocent love. This innocence exists in the Holy of Holies, in a realm that predates the
After the primordial sin, the cherubs also assumed the role of fearful angels.
The Inner Essence of Innocence
The Biblical commentator, Abraham Ibn Ezra, defines the word kruv as formless
matter that can assume any form whatsoever. This is the exact property of
the cherubs, who can assume the form of fearful angels and also of consummate
Innocence lends itself to this amorphous state, which can assume opposite
forms. This amorphous quality is also reflected in a baby's face, which assumes
a more certain form after the baby matures and manifests his power of free
Thus, this ability to strip away one form and to wear another is the inner
essence of innocence. The Ibn Ezra bases his definition of kruv-cherub as a formless being on
the Workings of the Chariot in the first chapter of Ezekiel. The prophet
initially describes four figures: a lion, an ox, an eagle and a man. Later, Ezekiel replaces the ox with a description of a kruv. Subsequently,
Ezekiel describes all the forms as kruvim-cherubs. The Ibn Ezra concludes from this that the kruv is an amorphous state that
can assume any form.
To Innocence and Beyond
The amorphous state of innocence can mature positively, but it also has
mature negatively. The state of innocence of Adam and Eve prior to the primordial sin
meant to be their final state. God intended that they mature spiritually. However, their
innocence took a negative turn.
Likewise, our Sages say that Esau and Jacob were relatively unformed until
they received da'at at the age of 13, allowing each to make his life choices.
The cherubs, as well, had to be made according to most exacting instructions,
out of one solid piece of gold. Our Sages say that even the most minute imprecision in the form of the cherubs
would render them as idolatry. Our goal is to strip away our present form, and to re-adorn ourselves with
a more mature spiritual form. When we meditate on the cherubs, we can return to the amorphous, innocent
state of female symmetry.
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