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    Angels – Vayyera

    Angels play a vital role in this week’s sidra, especially in the story of the Akedah (the Binding of Isaac).

    Angels are frequently mentioned in the Tanach. Their name, malachim, denotes messengers. The Greek angelos has a similar meaning.

    In popular thought, angels are winged beings flying or floating in the skies, sometimes descending on earth to carry out a mission on the Almighty’s behalf. The Erev Shabbat song, Shalom Aleichem, speaks of malachei ha-sharet, “messengers of (God’s) service”.

    Some thinkers say that angels can only be seen in visions.

    The Rambam gives them a more figurative character as spiritual forces, though he admits that it is difficult for human beings to understand “the notion of anything immaterial and entirely devoid of corporeality” (Moreh Nevuchim 1:49).

    He says that even the elements are also called angels, e.g. the verse (Psalm 104:4), “He makes the winds His angels” (Moreh Nevuchim 2:5-6).

    He believes that in the afterlife we are all angel-like souls without bodies, “Intelligences without matter”.

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