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Why were there cherubs on the Ark?

by Rabbi Eliezer Gurkow


Library » History » The Holy Temples » Its Vessels | Subscribe | What is RSS?


The two golden cherubs represented G-d and the Jewish People, and their placement together represented the union of G-d and Jewish People. The Ark, the holiest object in the holiest of places—the “Holy of Holies” room in the Mishkan (Tabernacle), and later, the First Temple—was the most appropriate location for that union to be symbolized.
TAGS: cherubs, cherubim, ark


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Posted by: Ibi Kopimi Botani, Stockholm, Sweden on Oct 20, 2005

Why isn't the cherubim considered as "idols"?


"a Jew is prohibited from sculpting, building, shaping or otherwise creating the image, form or likeness of a human being, heavenly body (such as the sun or moon) or angelic creature (animals are generally fine), whether for his personal use or not. Although around 90% of these object (such as lawn ornaments or gargoyles) are created for fun, decoration or architecture, not religion or spirituality, Commandment #3 and its entourage of laws specifically forbids one from creating a three-dimensional likeness of any of the abovementioned objects. Furthermore, it is even forbidden to own such an object. "

Editor's Comment

There are many instances where certain prohibitions were not applied by the Torah to the Holy Temple. For example, it was permitted -- indeed required -- to create fire on the Temple altar on Shabbat. In the Holy Temple, G-d's Presence was so palpable that it expressed itself even through the physical cherubs.

The Ark of the Covenant

Posted by: Daniel, Beverly Hills, CA on Nov 06, 2005

Dear Rabbi,

Were the Cherubs on the Ark of the covenant the same two Cherubs that guard the pathway to Eden?

Thank You!

Editor's Comment

No. The cherubs on the Ark were carved of physical blocks of gold. The cherubs who guard the Garden of Eden are spiritual angels.

3-D Sculptures of Rebbes or Famous Rabbis

Posted by: Anonymous, Las Vegas, NV on Jan 14, 2007

I would like to add to the comment on "idols" from the first commentator to this question. I have seen some 3-D sculptures of Hasidic Rebbes, such as the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Isn't it prohibited for a Hasidic Jew to own such a sculpture, because this would be a three-dimensional artform of a human being? I believe hanging up a photograph of a human being, such as a rebbe or famous rabbi, is permissible, but I believe one many not have a sculpture of a rebbe or famous rabbi in one's home. I request the editor to comment on the same. Am I incorrect?

Editor's Comment

I have been a Lubavitcher all my life and have never seen a sculpture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I'm not sure what the sculpture you saw looked like, however, if it was not a sculpture of a full body, according to most authorities in Jewish law it would be permitted.
Mobile sanctuary which traveled with the Jews in the desert, containing the Ark with the Tablets, and the sacrificial altars. When the Jews entered Israel, it was erected in the city of Shiloh where it remained for more than 300 years. It was buried when the permanent Holy Temple was erected in Jerusalem.
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.