Angels at Risk – Parashat Ha’azinu

September 24, 2015 at 2:24 PM , , ,

“…..As an eagle awakens its nest, hovering over it’s fledglings, it spreads it’s wings when taking them and carrying them on it’s wings…” – Devorim 32:11

״…. כנשר יעיר קנו על גוזליו ירחף יפרש כנפיו יקחהו ישאהו על אברתו…״ – דברים לב, יא

When moving its fledglings from place to place, the eagle does not pick them up with its feet, as do other birds. Other birds are afraid of the eagle, which soars above them, and therefore carry their young with their feet to protect them from the eagle. The eagle, however, is afraid only of an arrow so it carries its young on its wings, saying, “Better the arrow pierce me than pierce my young.” So, too, G-d says: “I carried you on eagles’ wings” (Shemos 19:4). When the Egyptians pursued and reached Bnei Yisrael at the Sea, they cast arrows and catapulted rocks at them. Immediately, “The angel of Elokim moved… and came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel” (Shemos 14:19-20)… —Rashi


Angels are spiritual beings, invulnerable to physical harm by arrows and stones. How then can an angel placing itself between Bnei Yisrael and the projectiles being pelted at them be compared to an eagle, which exposes itself to actual harm in order to protect its young?

This question is answered in the opening words of Shemos 14:19, quoted by Rashi, which emphasize that the angel protecting Bnei Yisrael from the Egyptian stones and arrows was “the angel of Elokim”. Commenting on that verse in Shemos, Rashi points out: “An angel is generally called: ‘the angel of Hashem (i.e. G-d’s Ineffable Name, spelled Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei,)’ but here [it says], ‘the angel of Elokim (אֱלֹקִים).’ Elokim denotes G-d’s attribute of judgment. This teaches that at that moment, Bnei Yisrael were being judged if to be saved or to perish with the Egyptians.”

We can now understand the risk and sacrifice of the angel of Elokim who “intercepted” the attack from the Egyptians. An angel is not allowed to deviate from its designated Divine mission. Elokim means judgment. The mission of an angel of Elokim is to act on G-d’s fair but strict judgments, unlike an angel of G-d’s attribute of mercy which intercedes on behalf of the condemned. And yet, when the Jewish people were at risk of being judged as undeserving of salvation, immediately, ‘the angel of Elokim moved… and came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel’. Like the eagle that puts its own life at risk in order to protect its young, an angel of Elokim defied its very existence and identity, its mission to enforce justice, as it were, in order to save Bnei Yisrael from harm!

— Sichos Kodesh 5737, Parshas Haazinu, pp. 58-59


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