/ahrk/, n.1. (sometimes cap.) Also called Noah's Ark. the large boat built by Noah in which he saved himself, his family, and a pair of every kind of creature during the Flood. Gen. 6-9.2. Also called ark of the covenant. a chest or box containing the two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, carried by the Israelites in their wanderings in the desert after the Exodus: the most sacred object of the tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem, where it was kept in the holy of holies.3. a place of protection or security; refuge; asylum.5. a flatboat formerly used on the Mississippi River and its tributaries.6. Naut. See life car.7. Archaic. a chest or box.[bef. 850; ME ark(e), erke, OE arc, earc(e) (cf. OFris erke, arke, D ark, OHG, Goth arka, ON ork) < L arca chest, coffer, deriv. of arcere to safeguard, c. Hittite hark- hold, possess]
* * *▪ Judaismalso called Ark Of The Law, Hebrew Aron, or Aron Ha-qodesh(“holy ark”), in Jewish synagogues, an ornate cabinet that enshrines the sacred Torah scrolls used for public worship. Because it symbolizes the Holy of Holies of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem, it is the holiest place in the synagogue and the focal point of prayer. The ark is reached by steps and is commonly placed so that the worshiper facing it also “faces Jerusalem.” When the scrolls are removed for religious services, the congregation stands, and a solemn ceremony accompanies the opening and closing of the ark doors.Ashkenazi (German-rite) Jews cover the doors of the ark with a richly embroidered cloth (parocheth), while Sephardic (Spanish-rite) Jews place the cloth inside. Before or near the cabinet hangs the eternal light (ner tamid), and generally an inscription of the Ten Commandments (often in abbreviated form) or some other relevant sacred text is placed above the doors.
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