When I was working in The Great Synagogue, Sydney, I was asked to set up and run a Shabbat morning children’s service. The first one was held on Sedra Terumah. I wanted to explain what the Aron HaKodesh – the Holy Ark looked like. There were two particularly lively children in the service and I thought that the best way to both engage and keep them under control would be to choose them as my “volunteers” for my explanation of what the Aron Hakodesh looked like. So I told these two children, a boy and a girl, that they were going to be “my angels” and would act out what cherubs (the angelic figures) looked like above the ark. I had them facing each other with their arms raised above their heads like wings.
Whilst they were in this position, happy being the centre of attention, and with the other children and some parents watching, I went on to explain a powerful idea. The verse describes that;
וְנוֹעַדְתִּי לְךָ שָׁם וְדִבַּרְתִּי אִתְּךָ מֵעַל הַכַּפֹּרֶת מִבֵּין שְׁנֵי הַכְּרֻבִים אֲשֶׁר עַל־אֲרוֹן הָעֵדֻת
I (Hashem) will make myself known there and I will speak with you from upon the cover, between the two cherubs that are on the ark” (Shemot 25:22)
The Torah tells us that G-d’s Divine Presence specifically emanates from the space between the two cherubs. One might have thought that this would have come from the box itself, after all that is where the two holy tablets and the original Torah scroll, written by Moses where kept! Rather, the Torah is teaching us that G-d manifests Himself in the world when and where people learn how to face each other, whether it is husband and wife; parent and child; friends, siblings; or two lively kids in a children service!
How is this achieved? Well, the symbolism of the cherubs being able to face each other is that they are standing “on top of the on the Torah”. In other words they are based on the teachings of the Torah. Loving, getting on with and dealing with other people is often not so easy. The Torah is our instruction manual for life. As it says in Proverbs 3:17 דְּרָכֶיהָ דַרְכֵי־נֹעַם וְכָל־נְתִיבוֹתֶיהָ שָׁלוֹם “Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are of peace”. Our Divine service in this world is learning how to face the “other” and by doing so we bring the Divine into this world.
We are now in the month of Adar, the 12th and final month of the Jewish calendar. The name אדר Adar can be split into two parts; א is the numerical value of One, the One G-d; and דר – means to dwell. It is the month that we feel that G-d dwells amongst us, and therefore a month in which we naturally increase our joy.
The Torah portions about the construction of the Tabernacle invariably fall during Adar and at the time we celebrate the festival of Purim. Purim teaches us to see G-d in the “hidden miracles” of life and therefore feel and live with G-d’s Divine Presence.
May we all merit to internalise the teachings of the Torah, so that we can interact with the world around us and bring G-d’s Divine Presence into this world!