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Do we face each other?

23/02/2023 09:06:33 AM


In Parshat Terumah, we find a description of two Cherubim hovering over the front of the Ark. In rabbinic literature, we find varied interpretations of who or what these Cherubim were. Were they the faces of infants, little children, winged animals, or other kinds of creatures? While Cherubim were specific to the Ark in the Tabernacle, I remember images of winged lions hovering over the synagogue Ark in a number of shuls I have attended and on the Simchat Torah flags that were given to children.

Regardless of their facial images, we find two different descriptions of the Cherubim's body language. In this week's Torah portion, the Cherubim face each other. However, in the book of Chronicles, concerning the First Temple of Jerusalem, the two Cherubim face away from each other. So which is it?

The Talmud harmonizes the contradiction by suggesting, "The Cherubim will face each other when the Jewish people are doing the will of God, and they will face away from each other when the Jewish people are not doing the will of God."

In my estimation, part of doing God's will is the desire to want to see each other, respect each other, learn from each other, and be part of each other's lives. This applies to family, synagogue, and community at large. When people turn away from each other, which I have seen in families, shuls, and other facets of the community, they turn away from Torah by not wanting to embrace and refine relationships with each other. I have seen the good and the bad of both sets of behaviors in my rabbinate and in my personal life.

As we read about the Cherubim this Shabbat, I hope and pray that we will do our best to face each other and in so doing performing God's will.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Howard Morrison

Fri, 8 December 2023 25 Kislev 5784