Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:September 17, 2014
Speaking about the beginning of this week’s portion, the Midrash says that on this Shabbat the Creator makes the Israelites - makes us - like angels. It says in Isaiah that the angels stand above the Creator, and Rashi, the great kabbalist, explains this means that the angels stand ready and waiting to serve the Creator, to manifest the Creator’s Light in this world. Therefore, the Midrash tells us the word nitzavim, which means “stand up,” is referring to the ability to stand up like angels that each one of us, on this Shabbat, is being given. That is a very important message, obviously: on this Shabbat, we can become like an angel.
What does it mean that the Creator gives us the ability to become like the angels, and how can that be accomplished? Further, what connection does this have to being the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah?
The kabbalists explain that angels are unique beings. Their entire essence, their entire Light only comes from their actions. For instance, we know that angels do not have names, but rather that an angel’s name, or essence, depends on the message, or the action, that the Creator is sending that angel to do. An angel on his own has no essence, no Light, no connection. When the Creator sends an angel to bring healing, the angel becomes an angel of healing. When the Creator sends an angel to bring sustenance, he becomes an angel of sustenance. And from that, he draws his connection, his name.
So, while the angels are doing the action we understand where their Light is coming from - the task they are manifesting for the Creator. But what about the angels that are waiting, that are between jobs? Where do they draw their Light or essence? Kabbalists explain it comes from the consciousness of their desire, of their readiness to do what the Creator wants them to do. Therefore, there are two types of angels: those who are acting upon the Creator’s desires, manifesting Light and blessings in this world, and those who are in between tasks, drawing their essence from the fact that they are waiting and desiring to do what the Creator wants them to do.
Kabbalists say there are four things that make an angel an angel - that he is ready, prepared, standing, and desiring to do what the Creator wants him to do. With that we can understand what it means to become an angel. There are, as we said, angels of action. Righteous people are connected in that way. But, there is another shift in consciousness that can occur which can make a person an angel: when a person truly comes to the consciousness where he is standing, willing, ready, and desiring to do whatever the Creator wants him to do, and he is willing to completely annul and remove any of his own selfish desires, where he says whatever the Creator wants me to do in this moment is the only thing I want to do. Then, he attains the level of an angel, even if his actions are undeserving. Because we are not talking about the type of angels that are angels of action; we are talking about angels of consciousness.
Moses gives us the message before Rosh Hashanah that we are all currently in the state of being an individual, being separated from the collective, which is a problem, because on Rosh Hashanah the Light and blessings flow down into the collective, which is called knesset Yisrael. But we are not part of it. In order to gain entry into it and receive the pool of blessings which is guaranteed to flow down on Rosh Hashanah we either have to merit it, or, for those of us who have not merited it or completed our process of teshuvah, we have to become an angel.
Now, most of us cannot become the angels of action, but we can become the angels of consciousness. Again, what does it mean to become an angel of consciousness? When an individual is ready, willing, and prepared to completely forego any of his desires to do what the Creator wants him to do. Then, he becomes an angel and gains entry into the collective.
The Midrash tells us that on this Shabbat the Creator gives us the opening to become angels of consciousness. We do that by proving that no matter what happens, it comes from the Creator. As such, we accept it with joy, because it is what the Creator wants from us. Most of us wake up in the morning and have our own plan for the day. However, the Creator also has a plan for us for that day - all the things that we do not want or did not plan on. How do you react to the Creator’s plan for the day? Do you say I am ready, willing, waiting to annul all of my desires for the desires of the Creator’s plan? It is in how we react to all those moments we have not planned and all those moments that we have not desired where we can shift to having the consciousness of angels.
That is both the gift given to us this week and the work we have to do. We have the gift to become an angel of consciousness. Show that you are an angel of consciousness by accepting all those things you are not planning, all those things you do not desire that come into your life in the next few days. Why? Because you say I am an angel. I am standing, I am ready, I am prepared and I desire whatever the Creator wants me to do. And if you do, if you are able to become an angel of consciousness in the days and the week leading up to Rosh Hashanah, you gain access to the place where all the Light and blessings flow down from on Rosh Hashanah.