July 12, 2021

Sukkah 5

While continuing its discussion about the minimum height of a Sukkah, today’s daf (Sukkah 5b) explains that the measure of 10 tefachim is derived from the gap which existed between the holy Aron (Ark) and the wings of the Keruvim (Cherubim) which sat atop the Aron.
Interestingly, the reason for this association is due to the fact that the Torah describes how: וְהָיוּ הַכְּרֻבִים פֹּרְשֵׂי כְנָפַיִם לְמַעְלָה סֹכְכִים בְּכַנְפֵיהֶם עַל הַכַּפֹּרֶת – “the Keruvim shall be with wings spread above (i.e. 10 tefachim above the cover of the Aron), sheltering (in Hebrew, ‘sochechim’ – which is similar to the word ‘sukkah’) above the cover with their wings” (Shemot 25:20). What we learn from here is that the wings of the Keruvim were ‘like a Sukkah’ above the ark – protecting it as it journeyed through the wilderness, just as the s’chach of the sukkah protected Bnei Yisrael as they journeyed through the wilderness.
However, the wings of the Keruvim and the s’chach operate quite differently. In terms of the s’chach, it represents our trust in God and what God does for us to protect us. Contrasting this, and as the Netziv explains, the two Keruvim atop the Aron represent God and Am Yisrael – with the wings of the Keruvim illustrating the partnership between God and Am Yisrael ‘to protect the Torah so that it not be forgotten’ (Ha’emek Davar on Shemot 25:20).
Throughout our lives we seek God’s protection from the challenges we face in life. But what we often forget is that, at the same time, God also seeks that we be His partner to protect the Torah which – itself – is core to the body armour that protects Am Yisrael. Understood this way, I believe that this is why a connection exists between the s’chach and the wings – to show that just as we rely on God, so too, God relies on us.
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