When I was in the first grade, just beginning to study the book of Genesis, I was fascinated by the stories, the personalities and the drama. But nothing captured my imagination more than the angels. There was something so mysterious about them. Disguised as ordinary people, they would show up in the right place at the right time, and solve some problem with their supernatural powers.

And yet, I knew that however great the Nothing captured my imagination more than the angels angels, they had a weakness. At the first mention of angels in the Torah, the commentators are quick to point out that the angels could not perform more than one action at a time.

Why did three angels come to visit Abraham as he was sitting at the entrance of his tent, hoping to find people to invite? Because there were three items to be accomplished, and angels do not have the ability to multitask. As Rashi explains: “And behold, three men:One to bring the news [of Isaac’s birth] to Sarah, and one to overturn Sodom, and one to heal Abraham, for one angel does not perform two errands.”

As a young child, I found this comforting. Maybe I couldn’t fly like an angel, but at least I could do two things at once, like run and shout at the same time.

Now, years later, I ask myself, why is it so important for Rashi to emphasize the angels’ weakness? Why is it so important for every child studying Genesis to know that angels cannot perform two things at once?

Perhaps because it's not a handicap. Perhaps it’s the secret to the angels’ power. Perhaps Rashi’s comment is a critique of the human condition.

The angel cannot do more than one thing at a time because the angel identifies with the task completely. The angel has no other dimension to his personality other than fulfilling G‑d's mission—no personal name, no personal agenda, no personal ego to get in the way. At that moment, he is nothing but the task. As such, he cannot perform two acts simultaneously, as it's impossible to be, fully, in two places at once.

A person, on the other hand, even when performing the will of G‑d, never loses his own ego. A person always maintains theA person never loses his own ego sense that he has an independent identity, an identity which happens to be engaged in the mission. As such, he can never become one with the mission, and therefore, some aspect of his identity will always be able to engage in something else.

Rashi understood that the child reading the story is no angel. Yet Rashi is teaching us how to be more like an angel. How to be fully engaged in what we are doing, to the point that we forget about everything else. How to help someone else, and, while doing so, lose our own ego. How to speak to our children, carefully look them in the eyes, and listen. Listen as if, at that moment, we have nothing else in our life. Listen as if we have no e-mails, no deadlines, no one to meet, no place to go, no other interests.

He is teaching us to be present—like an angel.