Cherubs: Symmetrical Innocence in Union
Symbol of Consummate Love between God and Israel
(Notes from a lecture by Harav Yitzchok Ginsburgh)
Torah portion of Terumah
discusses the details of the
which God dwells.
The first vessel related to in detail
in our portion is the Ark of the
above which are the two cherubs.
While the Holy Ark contains the Torah--
God's eternal wisdom--
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
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
arranged in a perfectly symmetrical manner.
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)
the Garden of Eden.
The cherubs assumed a
at the entrance to the Garden,
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,
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
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.
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.
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
This is the exact property of the cherubs,
form of fearful angels
and also of consummate lovers.
itself to this amorphous state,
which can assume opposite forms.
amorphous quality is also
reflected in a baby's face,
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
the Workings of the Chariot
in the first chapter of Ezekiel.
initially describes four figures:
a lion, an ox,
an eagle and a man.
replaces the ox
with a description of a kruv.
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
potential to 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,
one solid piece of gold.
Sages say that
even the most minute imprecision
in the form of the
would render them as idolatry.
Our goal is to strip
away our present form,
and to re-adorn ourselves
with a more mature
When we meditate on
we can return to the amorphous, innocent state
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