Two Cherubim of Gold

HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l

Judaism HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l
HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l
INN:Toras Avigdor


This is the most surprising of all the details of the Mishkan.

At Sinai, G-d had explicitly commanded “You shall not make any graven image” (20:3); and this prohibition was one of the strictest. The image of the Golden Calf was considered an enormous transgression. But here there is a command to fashion two images and to place them in the holiest of places, upon the Ark of the Testimony.

We therefore understand that a supreme necessity required such an exceptional arrangement.

To explain this, we must seek elsewhere in the Torah to discover the function or significance of Cherubim.

“And He drove out the Man; and He stationed at the east of Eden the Cherubim and a flaming sword which turned, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Breshis 3:24).

Here in the Mishkan the Cherubim were intended as a symbol of the vast urgency of protecting the most valuable object: the Torah, and the necessity to fear the word of Hashem that was deposited in the Ark. For the accomplishment of this vast purpose (“You that tremble at His word”--Yeshaiah 66:5), Hashem made an exception and permitted the making of images.

The Rambam (Maimonides, More Nevuchim 3:45) declares: “It is clear that the belief in the existence of angels is connected with the belief in the existence of Hashem; and the belief in Hashem and angels leads to the belief in prophecy and in the truth of the Torah. In order to establish firmly this principle, Hashem required that they put over the Ark the form of two angels, thus inculcating into the people’s mind the awareness of the existence of angels, which is next in importance to the awareness of Hashem.”

The word Mal’ach (angel) actually means “messenger,” for Hashem manages the world by countless messengers: “He makes the wind His messengers (Mal’achav)” (Tehillim 104:4).

All the regular forces of nature are really Hashem’s messengers that carry out His will in order to maintain the order of the world, and there are other messengers that perform secret functions outside of the regular phenomena of nature.

The Rambam declares that we must be aware always that nothing ever happens of itself,whether “natural” or supernatural; everything is done solely by His will by messengers that are fully under His direct and constant control.

The two Cherubim demonstrate this principle. (A Nation is Born)