Thursday, February 3, 2011

The case of the missing Aron

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for parental bragging. Proceed at your own risk.

The other night, at Imahot U’Banot, TSG asked a very insightful question BA”H.

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the boasting…)

We were discussing the parsha (Parshat Trumah) in general and the Aron (the Ark) and the Kruvim (which were on top of the Aron) in particular, and we learned that during the Destruction of the First Beit HaMikdash, the Babylonians observed the Kruvim embracing. (See BT Yoma 54b.)

<brief Torah thought> This is surprising, because we know that normally, the Kruvim would turn away from each other whenever Am Yisrael had displeased Hashem. The Rishonim famously explain that this teaches us that even though Hashem punished us, His great love for Am Yisrael endured. </thought>

However, TSG correctly recalled that King Yoshiyahu had buried the Aron {insert: requisite Indiana Jones joke} some time before the Churban. (See BT Yoma 52b.)

She therefore wondered how the Babylonians – or anyone else, for that matter – could’ve possibly seen which way the Kruvim were facing at that time?

And so, I turn to you, my erudite readers:

Do you know the answer to TSG’s excellent question?

חודש טוב ושבת שלום ומבורך!


  1. At a first glance I would say based on the Talmid Bavli Gemoro Yumo 54B that even though the Oron wasn't in the second Bais Hamikdash there was a picture of the Keruvim on the wall.

  2. Who cares what the answer is? The important thing is that your daughter is one smart girl! Good for her!

  3. Is there a real answer? I will print this out and bring it to the Shabbos table... should be an interesting challenge for YM.

    BTW, I LOVE the kruvim. More than any other part of the mishkan. Is that weird? They're weird... utterly impossible to imagine, and yet so full of meaning.

    More mishkan stuff at my weekly Parsha Poem!

  4. Yekke Wannabe - Thanks for the educated answer!

    SuperRaizy - Thank you for making TSG smile! :-)

    Jennifer - Apparently, there was a second Aron (see Rashi on Devarim 10:1). YZG suggested that it was this Aron - i.e. NOT the one which Betzalel made and which held both sets of Luchot - that the Babylonians saw. (Of course, this raises a different question: What happened to this second Aron during the Babylonian Exile?)

  5. That's a nice explanation - I'll pass it along to YM.

    He took this question to school with him yesterday. When he came home, he said (I think) that there's no reason to assume both of these refer to the same bais hamikdash? This is totally over my head, but there it is. I have no idea what he meant, because to me it seems pretty clear.

    However, I did find a source that says they were ALWAYS embracing during the 1st bais hamikdash. This is the "Ritva"? who says they were not the same as the keruvim that Moshe had made and they did not move at all. This ties in with your dd's insight very well.

    It suggests that along with two arons, there were two sets of Kruvim and perhaps Yoshiyahu hid the "real" ones.

  6. Jennifer - Hmm. I wonder what he means about it not being the same Beit HaMikdash? After all, both King Yoshiyahu and the Babylonians are associated with the First Beit HaMikdash.

    But yes, it would seem that each Aron had its own set of Kruvim. My only question about the Ritva's statement is: If the Kruvim were *always* embracing, why are we surprised that they were embracing during the Churban?

  7. In keeping with Yekke wannabe's answer, I found this:
    see pl 186 of Insights to the Daf Maseches Yumo.

  8. Thanks, Ariella! That source DOES support Yekke Wannabe's answer.

  9. Mrs S- To your question on why where the Kruvim always embracing why where we surprised when during the churbon? (Which also answers why where they facing each other during the churbon if the gemoroh says that when the Jews are listening to Hashem they face each other when they don't listen to Hashem they turn away) One answer is that they were not facing each other but when the Jews heard that the Goyim went into the Bais Hamikdosh they did teshuvoh so they turned to each other. And another answer is that when a husband leaves for a couple of days there are certain Halochos of Chiba and Neshika to keep them close when he is away so too here Hashem wanted to show us that he loves us when he sends us away so he made them face together.

  10. Yekke Wannabe - Shavua tov, and thanks for the explanation!


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