Halacha » Keruvim: Non-Verbal Communication

Keruvim: Non-Verbal Communication

ופניהם איש אל אחיו (שמות כה,כ)

When people look at each other, it creates a positive reinforcement and bond, forming trust and friendship. As for those who turn away their faces, it indicates the opposite, whether it’s mistrust, discomfort and lack of friendship, or even worse.

We find various Gemarot showing instances where a person wouldn’t look at the other’s face, for example the Gemara Yerushalmi (ירושלמי ערלה פ”א ה”ג) says: מאן דאכיל דלאו דיליה, בהית לאסתכולי באפיה, meaning a person is embarrassed to look at the face of those who feed him something that he doesn’t deserve.

Contrary to this, we have places when someone looks at another and he wants to learn from him: ״והיו עיניך רואות את מוריך״ (ישעיה ל,כ). The Gemara (הוריות יב,א) says that Rav Mesharshia instructed his children to sit in front of their rabbi while he’s teaching and look at his face. Rebbi said (עירובין יג,ב) that the reason he is sharper than his friends in Yeshiva is because he looked at his Rabbi.

Sometimes one wouldn’t look at the other because he is shy or scared, as Moshe wouldn’t look at the burning bush with Hashem’s Spirit. The Gemara (ברכות ז,א) says that he was rewarded for that by eventually being able to look at Hashem (so to speak): .בשכר שלש זכה לשלש….בשכר ״כי ירא מהביט״, זכה- ״ולתמונת ה’ יביט״

In our Parasha we have a clear example of this, by the two Keruvim (the two golden shapes with the appearance of babies) which were in the Tabernacle. There are two Pesukim which express the relationship of Hashem with Am-Yisrael by the way the Keruvim were standing. One pasuk says that the Keruvim were facing each other: ופניהם איש אל אחיו (שמות כה,כ), and the other that they were facing away from each other: ופניהם לבית (דה״ב ג’).

Chazal (ב״ב צט,א) say that when the Jewish Nation fulfills the Will of Hashem, we are close to Hashem and that is expressed by the Keruvim facing each other to show their love; but when we don’t fulfill Hashem’s Will, we aren’t close to Him and therefore the Keruvim would express that by facing away from each other.