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When Three Are One

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Terumah

Feb 20, 2015

When Three Are One

Parshas Terumah 5775

The sanctity of the Mishkan grew progressively as it went westward. It culminated in the Kodesh Hakodashim. In the Kodash HaKodashim stood the Aron HaBris.

On top of the Aron HaBris was the Kapores. The Kapores was the lid of the Aron. On the Kapores stood the Keruvim.

The Keruvim were forged from the same block of gold as the lid. They were not formed and then added later. They were gold and had the faces of babies. Their wings extended upwards while their faces gazed below.

In the first Bais HaMikdash, there were actually three sets of Keruvim. There was a set of Keruvim upon the Aron, a set engraved into the wall, and another pair erected on the floor of the Kodesh HaKodashim.[1]

The Keruvim mirrored the relationship between the Creator and his people. When the Bnei Yisroel were performing His will, the Keruvim faced each other directly. When they strayed, miraculously, the Keruvim turned away from each other.[2]


Why were there three sets of Keruvim in the Bais HaMikdash?

The Aron itself was made of three components and afterwards assembled, why was it necessary for the Keruvim to be formed from the same piece of gold as the lid?


Rabeinu Bechaye explains the meaning behind the features of the Keruvim. The Keruvim represent the loving embrace Hashem has with His people. It is a powerful love, therefore, the faces are those that represent the passion of youth. It is not love for love itself. The love is the shared love for the wisdom expressed by the Creator. Hashem embraces His people through the words of the Holy Torah. The gaze of the Keruvim is downward, towards the luchos and sefer Torah contained within the Aron. The wings are lifted to the heavens, for it is through the relationship forged with the Torah that the heavens and earth are united.[3]

There are multiple ways to connect with the Creator. One can connect through toil in the words of the holy Torah. One can connect through the performance of the commandments of the Creator. And it is possible to form a bond based on interaction with the creation itself, through an appreciation of the wonders of creation.


The different forms of the Keruvim represent the three ways of bonding with the Creator. 


The Keruvim on top of the Aron are the bond of Torah. We connect to Hashem by plumbing the depths of His divine wisdom.

The Keruvim engraved in the wall of the Bais HaMikdash are the bond of avodas Hashem. The Bnei Yisroel connect to Hashem on a higher level through the service performed by the Kohanim in the Bais HaMikdash.

The third set of Keruvim are set upon the ground of the Bais HaMikdash. They represent connecting with Hashem through the earth.

In the very beginnings of creation Adam and Chava were one. They were inseparable. They were one body. Hashem separated them from one another. Hashem separated them and commanded them to rejoin one another in perfection.

This is a microcosm of all creation. The spiritual heavens join together with the physical earth to produce life, just as a man and a woman. They are not separate entities. They are one. They only appear to be separate. They only seem to have separate agendas.

The Keruvim on the floor of the Bais Hamikdash are not a part of the ground. They are separate from the ground. They were not always there. They were placed there. They represent connecting with G-d through the physical reality. From the perspective of the physical, there are two separate entities that are loosely connected. They may, or may not, interact with one another. They represent Adam and Chava after they were split from one another.

The Keruvim on top of the Aron were formed from the same block of gold. There was never a time that they were independent from one another. They are part and parcel of each other. They represent the true goal of all creation.

They are the Adam and Chava as Hashem created them for which we strive to become.

[1] Meseches Bava Basra, daf 99a

[2] Meseches Yoma, daf 54a

[3] Perek 25, posuk 18

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