Cherubs: Symmetrical Innocence in Union
Symbol of Consummate Love between God and Israel
Torah portion of Terumah discusses the details of the Sanctuary in
which God dwells.
(Notes from a lecture by Harav Yitzchok Ginsburgh)
The first vessel related to in detail in our portion is the Ark of the
above which are the
While the Holy Ark contains the Torah--God's eternal wisdom--His voice
ongoing directives emanate from between the joined wingtips of the two
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):
Body A Face
Right Wing Left Wing
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 2.
value of the kuf is 20, of the reish, 200 and of the beit, 2.
All of these
numbers can be reduced to 2.
represent the perfect state of love, harmony and delight symbolized by
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
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
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
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 are evicted
(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
and eternalize the primordial sin. In this context, the
cherubs are a type of angel.
classifies ten types of angels. According to Kabbalah, these
ten types of angels correspond to the ten sefirot.
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.
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.
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 primordial sin.
primordial sin, the cherubs also assumed the role of fearful angels.
The Inner Essence
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
form of fearful angels and also of consummate lovers.
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
ability to strip away one form and to wear another is the inner essence
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.
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
To Innocence and
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
was not meant to be their final state. God intended that
they mature spiritually. However, their innocence took a negative turn.
Sages say that Esau and Jacob were relatively unformed until they
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
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