"Vay’gareish es ha’adam vayishkan mikedem l’Gan Eden es ha’Keruvim v’es lahat hacherev hamishapeches lishmor es derech eitz hachaim" (Bereishit 3:24)
After Adam and Chava sin by eating from the fruit of the tree of knowledge, Hashem exiles them from the garden of Eden and places Keruvim, wielding fiery swords, at the gate to insure that no human ever attempts a forbidden return. Rashi comments that these Keruvim were angels of destruction. Rav Yechiel Michel Epstein, author of Aruch HaShulchan, notes that this would appear to contradict a later comment of
Rashi’s. In Parshas Terumah, Rashi writes (Shemos 25:18) that the two Keruvim which were found on top of the Aron in the Mishkan had the faces of small children, which are paragons of innocence and purity. If so, how could he maintain that the Keruvim in our parsha were angels of destruction? The resolution of this apparent contradiction lies in the fact that our Parshas Terumah is discussing the Keruvim in the Mishkan, where they were placed on top of the Aron (Holy Ark). By attaching them to the Aron, and the Torah and Luchos contained therein, they remained wholesome cherubs resembling innocent babies, but the moment we separate our children from the Torah they immediately become sword-wielding forces of devastation – as any parent can testify all too well!