Not-So-Hidden Figures – Terumah 2017

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: What kinds of artwork inspire you? Are you more drawn to paintings, sculptures, photographs, or other materials? How does spending time immersed in art make you feel?As God continues his instructions to Moses in the Torah portion of Terumah, the Israelites are commanded to create works of art intended to resonate with all who enter the Mishkan (sanctuary).

The Pitch: “Make two cherubim of gold – make them of hammered work – at the two ends of the cover. Make one cherub at one end and the other cherub at the other end; of one piece with the cover shall you make the cherubim at its two ends. The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above, shielding the cover with their wings. They shall confront each other, the faces of the cherubim being turned toward the cover.” – Exodus 25:18-20

Swing #1: “The Sages relates that the cherubim had the form of a child’s face. Thus the two cherubim upon the Ark were to remind him who would study the Law that he must be like a child in two respects; he must accept the authority of the Law like an obedient child who has not yet begun to study, and he must be pure and innocent of sin like a child.” – Nahal Kedumim

Swing #2: “They stood ten spans above the ark cover when God spoke. This is another hint that God never quite descended to Earth, even as man – including Moses and Elijah – never quite ascended to heaven.” – BT Sukkah 5a

Swing #3: “[The cherubim were] hammered out of the thickness of the lid, i.e. the whole was a single chunk.” – Rashbam

Late-Inning Questions: While the Israelites are commanded not to make a graven image of God or of people, the cherubs are permitted. How are the cherubs different? What lessons, according to our commentators, are the Israelites to glean from the cherubs? If a synagogue today were to have sculptures of cherubs, what kinds of feelings might they elicit? Would they help or harm the ambience of modern synagogue practice?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: We’re excited about our Purim festivities. Join us for a Megillah reading Saturday, March 11th, at 7:15PM. And then … on Sunday, March 12th, join us for minyan at 9:00AM, the Megillah reading at 9:45AM, a fantastic brunch at 11AM, followed by packing Blessings in a Backpack for needy children. Also, we are collecting food for the Kosher Food Bank. For each non-perishable food item you bring, you will receive a ticket. After each chapter of the Megillah reading, one lucky ticket will be drawn, and you could win one of many fabulous prizes!

The Big Inning at the End: The World Baseball Classic begins in South Korea on Monday, and Israel will play the host country in the opening game. While the odds are against Israel advancing to the single-elimination round, never underestimate Israel’s ability to produce miracles!

Shabbat Shalom!