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    You make your own angels – Vayyetzei

    Jacob & the angels, by William Blake, c. 1800

    All through the ages people have debated whether to believe in angels in a literal sense or to regard them as a poetical term for Divine forces and energies.

    Rabbi Moshe Feinstein of blessed memory once asked this question, and offered a different view, in a discourse in relation to the reference to angels that comes at the end of this week’s portion.

    He quoted the passage (Gen. 32:2-3) that reads, “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of HaShem met him. And Jacob said when he saw them (the angels), ‘This is HaShem’s camp’, and he called the name of the place Machanayim (‘Double Camp’)”.

    Rav Moshe said, “Surely it was unnecessary to say, ‘This is HaShem’s camp’ – for what else can angels be?”

    Then he explained that every mitzvah that a person does leads to the creation of additional angels.

    To some extent, though, the nature of the angels depends on the way in which one does the mitzvah.

    If the mitzvah is perfunctory and mechanical, the resultant angels do not bring God a full measure of joy. On the other hand, if mitzvot are done with joy and love, they really constitute “the camp of HaShem”.

    Angels are brought into being in the world above by good deeds done here on earth.

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