Modern people are probably amused and bemused when they contemplate references to angels in Scripture and the Siddur. Yet they all, with gusto, join in singing Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh – “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts”, the angelic praise uttered in the halls of heaven.
Admittedly, some Reform prayer books deleted the specific reference to angels and said instead, “We sanctify Thy name on earth as the heavens declare Thy glory: and in the word of the prophet, we say, ‘Holy, holy, holy…'”. Reconstructionist versions say, “We share in the universal adoration of God’s holiness”.
Jewish teachers had a range of views about angels. Some saw the existence of angels as a fundamental principle; others feared people might regard them as intermediaries between man and God.
Everyone accepts, however, that the angels have no independence from God, and are merely His messengers; malach, “angel”, really means “messenger”, someone with a task to perform.
Maimonides rationalised the concept of angels; Saadya Gaon, whilst accepting their existence, insisted that not only were they subservient to God but man himself was superior to them.
The crucial lesson to learn is that God has many messengers that He can use. And they include human beings. We are all capable of carrying out Divinely appointed tasks. Indeed not only can we but we must.
It is our privilege and task to protect the beauty of the environment, to prepare the world for the Mashi’ach, to spread love, truth and peace wherever we go.
Working for God does not literally make us angels, but there is a rabbinic idea that every good deed we do on God’s agenda creates an angel and enriches the store of heavenly hosts.