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Does G-d Love Me Unconditionally?

A Debate On the Image of the Keruvim Mirrors Two Forms of Love

59 min

Class Summary:

This class, presented to women on Parshas Terumah 5768 (2008), explores a majopr debate about the Cherubs hver the Holy Ark.

Foremost among the commentaries compiled by our sages on the Torah are those by Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, 1040-1105) and Nachmanides (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, 1194-1270). Rashi defines his goal by stating: “I come only to explain the simple meaning of the verse.” On the other hand, Nachmanides, a noted mystic and kabbalist, often uncovers a “deeper” stratum of significance in the Torah’s words, exposing its students, as he puts it in his introduction to his commentary on Torah, to “delightful things, for those who know and understand the hidden wisdom.”

Rashi and Nachmanides often differ in their interpretation of a particular word or verse. One example of this is their different conceptions of the kapporet and the keruvim. Rashi sees the ark and the kapporet as two different objects. The Sanctuary contained various “vessels,” each with a designated function (e.g., the menorah, the altars); according to Rashi the ark and the kapporet are two different vessels—it is only that the designated place of the kapporet is atop the ark. Nachmanides, on the other hand, sees the kapporet as the cover of the ark (indeed, the word kapporet means “cover”)—as a component of the ark itself, rather than another of the Sanctuary’s vessels.

Another difference between the interpretations of Rashi and Nachmanides concerns the form of the keruvim. According to Rashi, these were two winged figures, each with the face of a child (a boy and a girl). Nachmanides is of the opinion that they were a representation of the celestial figures seen by the prophet Ezekiel in his vision of the divine “chariot.”

This class explores the underlying argument behind them, and their dramatic relevance to our lives today.

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    Rabbi YY Jacobson

    • February 7, 2016
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    • 28 Sh'vat 5776
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    Dedicated in the loving memory of my grandmother Luba Alta Toba, bas Reb Azriel Sholom Chaim Boruch, Lipsker, who passed away on 25 Shevat, 5768 (2008).

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