Shabbat Parashat Vayakhel| 5764
How Many Keruvim was Moshe to Make?Harav Yosef Carmel
Last week we brought the opinion of the Talmidei Ha’gra and the Meshech Chuchma that one can explain the differences between the command to build the mishkan and its implementation in the following manner.
After the giving of the Torah and before chet ha’egel (sin of the Golden Calf), Bnei Yisrael were on a very high level, comparable to that of Adam before his sin. The chet ha’egel had a similar impact to that of Adam’s sin of the eitz hada’at. This week we will take a look at another consequence of the spiritual deterioration, which finds expression in the building of the mishkan.
In the Holy of Holies of the mishkan stood keruvim (angel-like forms), which were connected to the kaporet on top of the aron. In the beit hamikdash, Shlomo added another set of keruvim. These keruvim stood on the floor, were made of shitim wood, coated with gold, and were much larger than Moshe’s keruvim. Another difference is that Moshe’s keruvim faced each other, while Shlomo’s faced out. The obvious question is how Shlomo could allow himself to add on extra keruvim, which Moshe was apparently not commanded to construct?
The Meshech Chuchma contends that Moshe was indeed commanded in Parashat Terumah to make two sets of keruvim but that this was not carried out because of the effects of chet ha’egel. One can find a hint in the p’sukim for this contention. In the description of the command, it says: “You shall make two keruvim… from the two edges of the kaporet” (Shemot 25:18). It continues: “Make one keruv from this edge and one keruv from that edge” (ibid.:19). In repeating the details of the actual construction, the word “they made” appears only once in this context. This missing “they made” may be a hint that there was something related that did not actually get made.
This idea that the lessening of the dwelling of the shechina brings on a negative effect to the keruvim is found in Chazal in a similar context. In the ma’aseh hamerkava (description of the Divine chariot) in Sefer Yeshaya (6:2), each saraph (which is parallel to the keruvim)has six wings. In the description in Yechezkel (1:6), at the time of exile, only four wings remain. The process of the withdrawal of the shechina and the increased influence of the chet ha’egel are that which caused the decrease in the number of the wings.
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