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   by Jacob Solomon

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You shall make the ark-cover of pure gold. From the two edges of the ark-cover, you shall make two Keruvim - golden cherubs… one at each end. The cherubs' wings shall be spreading upwards, sheltering the cover… their faces towards one another. The faces of the cherubs shall be towards the cover… on the ark, inside which you shall place the testimonial tablets which I shall give you (25:18-21).

The Talmud (Sukkah 5b) translates the Keruvim (translated as cherubs) as two images of small, winged children. They formed the upper part of the ark cover, which was placed in the Holy of Holies. That was the place which the High Priest entered once a year, on Yom Kippur (Lev. 16:2 ff). Despite the Torah's severe prohibition on images - placed right up in the Ten Commandments, the cherubs were fashioned 'as G-d commanded Moses' (38:22). What was the importance of the cherubs, to the degree that G-d suspended the general approach of the Torah to not only permit them, but to place them in the holiest of all places?

One lesson that may be derived is the Torah attitude to the care and education of young children. This is expanded below.

Our children are the greatest resource - symbolized by the gold. But they are not to be taken for granted. They have to be positioned in the right places - in the company of the suitable worthy people - the 'holy of holies'. It does not only mean that children should be worthy of their parents, teachers, and friends; but that parents, teachers, and friends ('faces one to the other') should be worthy of those children, in that they are means of bringing out the 'gold' - the best in them. Parents in particular should direct their children towards forces that will enhance their spiritual growth rather than detract from it.

As they grow older, they begin to 'spread their wings'. That prepares them for when they make their own lives - 'flying off' on their own, but they are still children. They do that by asserting their individuality - 'asking questions', at times rejecting parental advice and guidance - however well meant, and strive to find a voice of their own (depending on the child, anything from a mechadesh [someone who stakes his place in Torah by coming up with a new insight] to teenage rebellion). At that age they believe they're right (wings spreading 'upwards'), but they still are not in a position to 'set up' by themselves: parents still should be setting the guidelines for the appropriate influences and contacts in those teenage years… They are getting ready to take off, but still attached to the best educational and social opportunities - 'on the ark cover - with the testimonial tablets inside' - and rooted in the Torah based framework 'faces towards the cover … on the ark'…

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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