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All About Angels

All About Angels

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Jacob sent a message to his brother Esau.1 When messages are sent we usually focus on the message, not the messenger, but this essay is actually about the messenger.

The midrash records a debate about the nature of Jacob's messengers. One sage held that Jacob sent human messengers to do his bidding. The others held that Jacob sent angels.2

We marvel at Jacob's familiarity with angels and his authority over them. How many people do you know who can send angels to run their errands? But in truth, in this sense Jacob is not all that unique. We do it too.

Our sages taught that every word of our prayers summons an angel who collects it, cleanses it and perfects it, and presents it to G‑d. If the word was enunciated improperly, the angel remolds it so that it is presented correctly. If it was said without proper mindfulness, or worse, if it was chanted with inappropriate thoughts, the angel removes the stray thought and presents the prayer to G‑d in pristine form. If it was said in a language other than Hebrew, the angel interprets it and presents it to G‑d in the Holy Tongue.

Knowing that every word of our prayer is examined by an angel for grammatical correctness and for proper concentration serves to enhance our mindfulness during prayer. It inspires us to be alert to the words of our prayer and to pray with complete devotion.

Newborn Angels

Angels are not only summoned by our prayers, but actually born by themAngels are not only summoned by our prayers, but actually born by them. Our sages taught that every human deed creates an angel. Good deeds create angels that advocate for us in heaven. Bad deeds create angels that prosecute us in heaven.3 The Baal Shem Tov took this to the next level and taught that not only our deeds, but the words we speak also create angels. Our words of prayer not only summon angels; they create angels. These angels are not only the carriers of our words; they are our words.

It follows that these angels reflect the nature of the words from which they are spawned. Angels born of exuberant and devoted prayer are vibrant and robust. Angels created by rote prayer are lackluster and lethargic. The condition of these angels automatically broadcasts the nature of our prayers. If the angels are lackluster, the heavenly sphere knows that we prayed by rote. If they are robust, the heavens knows that we prayed with devotion.4

Accompaniment

The angels created by our deeds and words accompany us through life and, by their very presence, broadcast our deeds. The average person does not sense the myriads of angels that accompany everyone, but the tzaddik (holy, spiritually attuned individual) is very much alert to them. When we enter a tzaddik's presence, the tzaddik senses the angels that accompany us, and can discern the advocate angels from the prosecuting ones.

The story is told of a man who spoke disparagingly of the Baal Shem Tov. The next day the Baal Shem Tov confronted him about his slander. Shocked, the man demanded, "Who informed you of my private discussions with my friends?" "An angel told me," replied the Baal Shem Tov. "Angels wouldn't have told you," countered the man, "angels don't gossip." "This angel does," replied the Baal Shem Tov. "This was the angel created by your slander. His very presence informed me of how he was created."5

Protection

Of course, we are not the only ones who dispatch angels on missions. G‑d does too.

"When little children stumble G‑d places a pillow beneath them to cushion their fall..."The story is told of a little boy in Brooklyn, New York, who tripped over the front stoop of his house and fell to the floor. His mother, pregnant at the time, rushed over to lift him and make sure that he was fine. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, who walked by at that moment, took notice of the event.

Later that day, the Rebbe approached the boy's father and asked him to deliver a message. Please ask your wife to be careful in her current state, said the Rebbe, and not rush about too hastily. Reassure her that when little children stumble G‑d places a pillow beneath them to cushion their fall.6

We have all experienced near accidents and narrowly avoided tragedies. We thought it was a matter of luck, but in truth it is the angels created by our good deeds that watch over us and protect us. They cushion our falls and guide us out of harm's way. The little miracles that they perform are ubiquitous yet we take little notice of them.

But taking notice of them can strengthen our relationship with G‑d. The mere knowledge of these miracles enhances our gratitude to G‑d. Reflecting on them engenders a constant awareness of G‑d who sends angels to shepherd us to safety and to protect us from harm.

Footnotes
2.
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 75:4.
3.
Ethics of our Fathers 4: 11. See Commentary of Rabbi Ovadiah Bartenurah and Likutei Torah Bamidbar 11a.
4.
Biurim Lepirkei Avos p. 205.
5.
Pirkei Avos Series, p. 252, Mesorah Publications Limited, Brooklyn, NY, 1995.
6.
This story was recounted by the mother many years later and was recorded by Jewish Educational Media.
Rabbi Lazer Gurkow is spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Tefilah in London, Ontario, and a frequent contributor to The Judaism Website—Chabad.org. He has lectured extensively on a variety of Jewish topics, and his articles have appeared in many print and online publications. For more on Rabbi Gurkow and his writings, visit InnerStream.ca.
Image by chassidic artist Shoshannah Brombacher. To view or purchase Ms. Brombacher’s art, click here.
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Discussion (16)
February 3, 2016
An incidence many years ago always has stayed in my mind as an extraordinary experience of Angelic interference in the mundane matter. On a road trip, a terrible situation appears. Suddenly ‘out of the blue,' I perceive a huge truck vaguely in my sight on my left. I’m undoubtedly in the middle of a crossroad without noticed. On the right side, there's traffic too. In microseconds, it seems fatal and an absolute calm befalls me. – Suddenly my wife at my right side and our little daughter dozing on the back seat and myself are through, safe, steady on course. Miraculously our daughter only wakes up because my wife and I are altered. Immediately after the incident, I felt something extraordinarily has befallen us, but couldn’t spell it out. – The feeling has always been with me that our car was pushed from behind in the critical seconds in the crossroad. I still have that feeling – we were pushed!
Eshel
Denmark
November 12, 2015
I believe too, my 3 year old grand daughter had a fever of 107 we were on the way to Kaiser and she was tryin to fall asleep and then she looks up and says oops there they are, angles , ! I asked her where ? She pointed to the front of drivers windshield , she said there where God put them ! I asked her how many angels are there ? She counted 123 , she said 3 and fell asleep so the next day we asked her did she see angles she said yes but they are not here anymore , her mom asked her where are they ? She took her mom and opened the front door and pointed up to the sky and said there that is where they went ! We had never talked to her about angles at all no reason to she was only 3 so I believe in them
Rosie
April 1, 2014
Thank you so very much for your teaching.
Anonymous
November 28, 2012
A Question
But what happens when something bad, tragic happens in one's life? where is the protecting angel then?
Anonymous
Oregon
July 4, 2011
Thank you
Thank you for this article. It has really inspired me to be more discerning with the way I talk and how I choose my words. I prayed to God and gave thanks afterwards. Again, thank you.
Lisa
Hampton, VA
June 12, 2011
Not all angels are good! So, it is G_d that really does the job! Don't trust all angels!
michelle andre
cape coral, fl
June 11, 2011
Angels
Really Inspiring.
An Angel once saved me in a car accident and also another time brought me money. Both scenarios were completely inexplicable by any other rational or physical means or explanations...trust me, I mean this. So truly AWESOME...:))))))))))))
Thank HASHEM!!!!
Anonymous
chabadoflasolas.com
June 8, 2011
G_d is Everything!!!
When I tried to take control of my life it was not changing! Once I turned it over to G_d my life got better! I don't need an angel to pray to I go directly to G_d! I Skip the middle men and go right to the almighty!!! Remember the 10 comandments!!! G_d is everything!!! Get close to G_d and have faith in the almighty! Hashem rules!
Michelle Andre'
cape coral, fl
May 30, 2011
Praise God!
Praise God for the Angels that led me to this site. GOD is good!
*Angel
David, US
December 5, 2009
G-d's love for angels
How come, in the morning prayers it says "kulam ahuvim" that the angels are beloved by G-d? Why does G-d love angels? I thought he only loves us.
Yehudis