By Laura Seymour
The Torah is filled with stories about angels although many people are surprised. The Hebrew word for angel is “malach,” which is usually translated as “messenger,” and so the angels in the Torah are messengers bringing words from G-d. We remember the three men/angels that visited Abraham and told him that Sarah would have a baby — that was a pretty special message from G-d. Later we hear the stories of Jacob: First he sees the angels going up and down the ladder, and then he wrestles with an angel. One of my favorite stories is about the angel and Balaam’s donkey. Can you believe that the donkey saw the angel but Balaam did not? Check it out in the Book of Numbers starting with chapter 22, verse 22. We also have a special story from the rabbis about the Sabbath angels who come to our home each Friday night. They look in the window and if everything is messy and crazy and no one is ready for Shabbat, the bad angel says, “May all your Shabbats be like this.” The good angel must say, “Amen.” But if they come to the house and everything is ready for Shabbat, the good angel gets to say, “May all your Shabbats be like this.” The bad angel then says (not very happily), “Amen.”
So if angels come and give us special messages from G-d, are there angels around us every day? Has an angel ever talked to you? The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL) writes: “At times, we are messengers for each other. Like angels, who go about the task of infusing the world with sacred meaning, each one of us has tried, in some way, to make each relationship and encounter meaningful. Let us celebrate all the ways that we nurture and support one another.” It is a wonderful opportunity for each of us to become angels for others — making a difference in their lives.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz wrote in “The Thirteen Petalled Rose” that there are two kinds of angels: those who were created by G-d at the very beginning and became part of the process of creation, and those who are constantly created out of man’s thoughts, deeds and actions. Rabbi Steinsaltz says, “Every mitzvah that a man does is not only an act of transformation in the material world; it is also a spiritual act, sacred in itself. And this aspect of concentrated spirituality and holiness in the mitzvah is the chief component of that which becomes an angel.” WOW! In other words, when we do a mitzvah, we are adding angels to the world. In the first chapters of the Torah, when G-d creates man, it says that we are created “b’tzelem Elohim” — in G-d’s image. Part of our job here is to do the right thing and make the world a better place just as G-d does. In that way, we are almost being angels.
When you see someone who may look a little different or strange, remember first that they are created in G-d’s image — and then think that maybe they might be an angel!