Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim – Associate Rosh Yeshiva – PTI – Passaic Torah Institute – Parsha Vayakhel-Pekudei – Maintaining a Relationship Grounded in Torah

I recall getting a phone call from a wife who was distressed regarding her shalom bayis at home. I met with her and her husband, who were married over 15 years and have children. Alas, it was clear the husband had no clue what it meant to be married. He had no concept that a wife needs to feel loved and considered special by her husband. The wife, meanwhile, had no idea of how to make her husband feel important and be attentive to his needs. In my eyes, I saw two people living in the same house, paying the bills and taking care of their children, but there was no caring relationship. Baruch Hashem they both realized there was a major issue and wanted to improve. In time…and with some hard work…they could have a beautiful relationship. That kind of relationship can be derived from one of this week’s parshios: Vayakhel.

Parshas Vayakhel lists the utensils that were brought into the Mishkan. Yet, it seems one item is omitted. It lists the Shulchan, Menorah, Mizbeach, the Aron and the Kapores, the cover. But it does not mention the Keruvim (angels resembling youths) on top of the Kapores. Why not?

The answer is implicit in the pasuk in Parshas Terumah, where Hashem instructs that “the Keruvim must be fashioned from the lid.” The Keruvim and the cover of the Aron must be one piece of gold. The Keruvim are not listed independently, since the Keruvim are an outgrowth of the cover of the Aron.

What is the significance of Keruvim and the cover being one entity? Rav Hirsch explains that the function of a Keruv is to be a guardian—a protector, as mentioned in Bereishis, where Keruvim were placed to protect the entrance to Gan Eden. Keruvim also function as bearers of Hashem’s glory, as mentioned in Sefer Yechezkel. The Keruvim on top of the Aron served in a double capacity: as guardians of the Aron and as bearers of Hashem’s glory. Their wings spread upward over the cover of the Aron to serve as a protection.

On the surface, the Keruvim appear to be protecting the contents inside the Aron—the Luchos (tablets). However, the Torah emphasizes their wings are actually protecting the kapores—the lid—and not the contents inside the Aron. The cover (Kapores) itself—protects the Luchos inside the Aron, and then, having accomplished this task, the cover itself forms its own Keruvim. This introduces an incredible idea, as Rav Hirsch says, “By keeping and guarding Hashem’s Torah, the Kapores becomes like a live Keruv—a protector of the Torah and a bearer of Hashem’s glory.”

For this purpose, one might say it’s sufficient to have just one Keruv. Why the need for two?

Rav Hirsch further explains that inside the Aron, underneath the Keruvim, were the Luchos that consisted of two tablets. The first half of the Luchos list five commandments between man and Hashem. The second half list mitzvos between man and man. Each Keruv on the Kapores was a separate outgrowth, deriving from each tablet.

Moreover, the Keruvim had different faces—one was the face of a young man and the other a young woman—like a newly married couple. I believe the Torah is hinting to us that every married couple serves as protectors of the Torah and bearers of Hashem’s glory.

It’s also a great lesson for a happy marriage. A couple consist of two people, the husband and wife, who see the world from two entirely different perspectives. Neither has a stronger claim to the truth. They stand and look at things from entirely different vantage points and each may differ yet be independently correct.

Just as the Keruvim faced each other and looked down at the Aron, so too, each spouse needs to carefully look at the face of the other to understand what the spouse is seeing and feeling from the other’s perspective. Each needs to understand that their viewpoint is not absolute; an entirely different perspective may be correct as well. That’s the mandate we take on in marriage. Young or old, we need to picture the youthful faces of the Keruvim, representing a youthful couple grounded in Torah observance, to keep our marriages vibrant…and flexible.

Finally, let’s remember to emulate the Keruvim in their gaze—toward the Aron. A couple must always look to the Torah, with all its mitzvos and perspectives on life, for guidance. This focus on Torah will help couples create and maintain a healthy and vibrant marriage, guarding the Torah and becoming bearers of Hashem’s glory.

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