The Cherubs:
Symmetrical Innocence in Union

The Symbol of Consummate Love
between God and Israel
(Notes from a lecture
by Harav Yitzchok Ginsburgh)

The Torah portion of Terumah
discusses the details of the
Sanctuary in which God dwells.

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,
who symbolize

the consummate love of delights
between God and the people of 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.

portal to infinity

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 גרוש,
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") אישים
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,
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.

Baby Face
Our Sages explain
that the Hebrew word
for cherub, kruv כרוב,
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 primordial sin.

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 lovers.

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
only after the baby matures
and manifests
his power of free choice.

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 potential
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.

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.

Link to recommended site on Kabbalah:

The Gal Einai Home Page


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