Thursday, July 12, 2007
How do Jewish angels differ from Catholic angels?
Catholic angels are spirit beings who are superior in intelligence to humans and who are either wholly dedicated to serving God or wholly dedicated to serving evil.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz describes Jewish angels in OPENING THE TANYA this way:
An angel cannot do good or bad; it is an agent, a messenger, without the capacity for independent choice. To attribute good or evil to an angel is like attributing free choice to a machine.(p. 129-130)
A human being can become an angel in his earthly lifetime according to Steinsaltz (p. 184). He cites as a reference for this belief the story of Enoch who sews leather into shoes saying "Blessed by the name of the glory of His kingship for ever and ever" with each stitch. With this repeated prayer Stainsaltz tells us "an ordinary shoemaker...'ascends to God' as did Enoch.
He says further:
The spiritual essence of a good deed is an angel, a person's emissary on high; the spiritual essence of a sin is a demon, a corrupter and agent of destruction. Angels or demons, they remain bound to him and dependent upon him. They pursue him and call after him: "You are our father! You created us, and it is your responsibility to sustain us!" All afflictions of man, all his suffering and ills are demons of his creation. He made them, and he is the source of their vitality; they leech on to him, suck his life, and destroy him step by step.(p. 198)