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What is the Jewish view on angels?

by Rabbi Adin (Steinsaltz) Even-Yisroel

The Thirteen Petalled Rose

  

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The Short Answer:

Judaism believes in angels. Not human like creatures with white wings, but entirely spiriutal entities with no physical imagery (although they may some times take on a temporary physical form). Angels are either created by G-d for specific actions, or by humans as a result of and through their various actions.

The AskMoses Answer: 

Organic Angels

An angel is a spiritual reality with its own unique content, qualities and character. What distinguishes one angel from another is not the physical quality of spatial distance but rather a disparity with respect to the fundamental purpose of such an essence. The substantial quality of an angel may be an impulse or a drive, i.e. an inclination to love, fear, or pity.

Whereas among human beings emotions change and vary either as persons change or according to the circumstances of time and place, an angel is totally the manifestation of a single emotional essence.

(In higher spiritual worlds there are higher angels, such as "serafim", from the Hebrew word for "burn", "saraf". Like the angels (of the lower spiritual worlds), the seraphim are singular abstract essences, not given to change, but whereas angels are embodiments of pure emotion, seraphim are essences of pure intelligence.)

To express a larger totality of being, we may refer to "a camp of angels". In the general camp of "love", for example, there are many subdivisions, virtually innumerable shades and gradations of tender feeling. No two loves are alike in emotion, just as no two ideas are alike. Thus, any general and inclusive drive or impulse is a whole camp and is not consistently the same at every level.

the angel is a being of single essence and therefore in a sense one dimensional.
Messengers

The word for angel in Hebrew,"malach", means also "messenger". As its name in Hebrew signifies, the nature of the angel is to be an envoy to a degree, thereby constituting a permanent contact between worlds.

An angel's missions transpire in two directions: it may serve as an emissary of G-d toward the earthly, to other angels and to lower worlds and creatures, and/or it may also serve as the one who carries heavenwards from below, from our world to the higher worlds.

Humans vs. Angels

The real difference between man and angel is not the fact that man has a body, because the essential comparison is between the human soul and the angel.

The soul of man is most complex and includes a whole world of different existential elements of all kinds, while the angel is a being of single essence and therefore in a sense one dimensional.

In addition, man, because of his multi-faceted nature and capacity to contain contradictions (including his gift of an inner power of soul) has the capacity to distinguish between good and evil. It is this ability which makes it possible for him to rise to great heights, and by the same token creates the possibility for his failure and backsliding, neither of which is true for the angel.

From the point of view of its essence, the angel is eternally the same. It is static, an unchanging existence, whether temporary or eternal, fixed within the rigid limits of quality given at its very creation. 

Create an Angel

Among the many thousands of angels to be found in the various worlds are those that have existed from the very beginning of time, for they are an unfaltering part of the Eternal Being and the fixed order of the universe. These angels in a sense constitute the channels of plenty through which the divine grace rises and descends in the worlds.

But there are also angels that are continuously being created anew, in all the worlds, and especially in the world of Asiyah (- our material world, the "lowest" of worlds), where thoughts, deeds, and experiences give rise to angels of different kinds.


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