Moulded not welded
by Rabbi Yaacov Chaiton
The Tabernacle, G-d's place of rest in this world, was comprised of many holy objects and items - the alters, the menorah (candelabra), the showbread table, the washbasin and more. But if we had to name one object that stood above the rest in its sanctity and prominence, that item would have to be the Holy Ark (the Aron). The Aron housed the Tablets and the original Torah written by Moses. The Aron was kept in a special section of the Tabernacle which could only be accessed by the High Priest on Yom Kippur and it was from above the Aron that G-d spoke to Moses.
The Ark was essentially a golden box with a golden lid. The golden lid had two golden cherubs, each with the face of a child. The Torah tells us that these child-like faces had to be formed out of the very same piece of metal as the lid itself by being hammered out from the two ends of the lid. If these cherubs were made separately and then welded onto the lid, the Ark is invalid. We find another interesting law, unique to the cherubs: Many of the Tabernacle's holy items were made of gold. However, if there was no gold available, these items could be made of silver or even other cheaper metals. There was however one exception - the cherubs. They could be made of nothing but gold.
The Tabernacle no longer exists in a physical way, but what it represents is eternal. It wasn't by sheer coincidence that the holiest site in the entire tabernacle, the place from which G-d spoke, was the location of these child-like faces. The Torah is teaching us that our children are the holiest thing that we have. They are our future. They need to be placed on top of the Aron - containing the Torah and tablets - because the duty of Jewish parents is to raise children in a way where their lives are a mere extension of the Torah and the guiding principles of the tablets. Like the cherubs which were formed out of the same piece of gold as the Aron, the Torah wants us to educate our children by moulding their lives out of the Torah itself. To teach our children that their Judaism is not a burden "welded on" to their lives but that their Jewish identity is who they are, it is what really defines them.
To instil this idea into the future generation, there is no place for compromise. For our children -the Holiest of Holies - only the very best education will do. If we need to make cuts let it be on the kind of tables we set, the washbasins and candelabras that we use. But for our children's education - our continuity - there is no room for concession. Only the purest of gold will do.