Parshas Terumah:
Real Growth

By Rabbi Mordechai Raizman
Adar I 5757 3

In the Torah's description of the cherubim, the figures with children's faces that were placed on top of the Holy Ark, it says, The Cherubim shall be with their wings spread upward . . . with their faces towards one another." What can be learned from the positioning of the cherubim?

Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector Zt"l writes in Shulchan Gavoha (page 178), "Each of us, in our daily life, attempt to set ourselves goals. These goals could involve improvement with our faith, honesty, or overall character, etc. More often than not, unfortunately,we get so caught up in our own goals that we tend to forget about those around us. The Torah is telling us, that when striving in pursuit of spiritual gains in Torah and its observance, to simultaneously remember that we must also strive to be concerned with the welfare of our brothers. The positioning of the cherubim with "Their wings spread upwards, yet facing each other." demonstrates this message. Spiritual greatness is more than just heading in the right direction, it's also a matter of remaining sensitive to the needs of the people around us while we are pursuing that greatness.

An extension of this lesson is also found in Rav Hirsch's commentary on the Ten Commandments. The first five commandments are between man and G-d while the last five commandments are laws that are between man and man. Of these last five, the first three deal with actions; murder, adultery and theft (kidnapping), which is then followed by a commandment that deals with speech; not to testify falsely. And lastly, a commandment that deals with emotion; desiring that which belongs to another person. Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch Zt"l explains the reason for this particular order of action, then speech and emotion.

The lesson here is that one might think that as long as his actions are acceptable he is fulfilling his responsibilities to mankind. The Torah, therefore, tells us that our obligations go beyond action. Not only must we act with respect towards our fellow man, we must talk & feel respect for him as well.

In summation, true greatness is more than our own personal growth. It is also a product of how we relate to others as we grow and form an emotional bond of closeness to every Jew. Hopefully, we can all aspire to create this unity and bring closer the coming of the Messiah in our times.

Published and İFebruary 14, 1997 by the Chicago Community Kollel



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