Kenneth Cohen

Holy Ark

Of all of the holy vessels of the Temple, the most interesting is the ארון הקודש, or Holy Ark. Unlike the arks that we might see in a synagogue, the ark in the Temle, was very small.

It was two and a half cubits long, with a height and width, of a cubit and a half. A cubit is a little more than a foot and a half. Inside the Ark, the broken tablet’s fragments, as well as the second tablets, were placed inside. A Torah scroll, written by Moshe Rabbeinu, was also placed in, or on a shelf connected to the Ark.

It was housed in the Holy of Holies of the Temple. It could only be approached one day a year, on Yom Kippur. On it were placed the Keruvim, which were angel like figures, made of gold.

The half measures were to teach us that we should never see ourselves as complete. There is always room for improvement.

The Aron Kodesh was laden with gold on the inside as well as the outside. This is unlike craftsmen, who use inferior materials, that are not seen from the outside.

The Ark was a symbol of honesty and purity. It taught that people should be truthful. They should not say one thing with their mouth, and feel something else in their heart.

Legend has it, that the Holy Ark was hidden somewhere in Jerusalem during the First Temple. The Second Temple had a blank space where the Ark was meant to be placed.

The most important feature of the Ark was that the Divine Spirit came down to the High Priest through it. It was the vehicle by which, the nation could feel G-d’s Presence.

We remember the Ark in our synagogues, with an Eternal Light placed above it. We long for the days when the Ark will again shed light on all of the Jewish people, and the world.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at