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Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Beha’alosecha: The Ultimate Defense Attorney

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The Rambam in his Thirteen Principles of Faith writes clearly and emphatically that we are not allowed to pray to angels:

“He [G-d], may He be blessed, is the only One whom it is proper to serve, to praise, to make known His grandeur, and to fulfill His commandments. This should not be done to any entity that is subservient to Him, be it the angels, the stars, the planets, or the elements or their compounds. For their activity is programmed. They have no control, and no choice but to perform His will. Thus it is improper to serve them as intermediaries in order to come close to G-d. Rather, one should direct his thoughts toward the Almighty alone and abandon anything other than Him. This is the fifth Principle, warning us against idolatry, as affirmed throughout the Torah.”*

The Ramban in Kol Kisvei, in an essay called Toras Hashem Temimah writes similarly: “Serving angels as intermediaries is idolatry. Even to pray to them is forbidden.”

Rav Yaakov Weinberg explained that Hashem uses angels to relate to tasks not worthy of being dealt with by Him directly. They are like programmed mechanical hands assisting in the production of cars in an assembly line. They are the means by which G-d maintains His distance from those who have not merited His direct intimacy.

Praying to angels is so seriously dangerous and considered idolatrous because idolatry generally concerns itself with the wielder of power rather than the Source of power. In the eyes of idolaters, the idol was seen neither as the source of their existence nor as the source of their well-being. They understood that ultimately there was a G-d who was the source of their existence, but they thought that He had delegated power in much the same way as a general delegating power to the sergeant. In this situation, man imagines a god delegating authority so that it might be able to concentrate on, so to speak, higher policies. All this is not true. G-d does not delegate or release power—nor can He since there are no other powers but Hashem, Ein Od Milvado.

And these are some of the happenings in this week’s Haftorah.

*Thanks to Rav Mordechai Blumenfeld’s book, Fundamentals and Faith for this translation and for much of the Rav Weinberg explanation.

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