By Getzy Markowitz
Yom Kippur always gets the better of me. As angelic children, we were taught that on the Holy Day, we resemble angels. Praying for haven from the accuser, we reflect heavenly beings. There is no consumption of food. The penitent is consumed by the awesomeness of the day, not merely as a form of abstention, but because angels do not eat. Physical indulgence is prohibited. Instead, we indulge in divine practice.
I recall one Passover, as beams of light were passing overhead, my childhood imagination convinced me that I was witnessing angels escorting the prophet Elijah through the portals of heaven. In high school as I assisted an elderly woman once, she called me an angel. As a driver I often listen to people’s accounts of the paranormal on coast-to-coast AM, broadcast from the City of Angels. As a Rabbi I am often asked about the Jewish perspective on angels. And as Jews, we know that our prayers are projected to G-d by angels. In fact the Talmud suggests that when seeking a mentor, one that resembles an “angel of the lord of hosts” should be chosen.
But what are angels?
The emphasis on these celestial beings and our adaptation of their standards is inspiring. We are empowered to soar into extraterrestrial existence, and through proper meditation we may import their traits into our terrestrial surroundings. As we transcend human existence, we may learn to rise above inhuman nature.
Maimonides describes the angels as lacking of jealousy and rivalry. Envy causes tragedy. There is hardly a more destructive force. The Author of Life forbids coveting in the Ten Commandments, just as He prohibits murder.
The most beautiful people are made ugly by their unwillingness to be happy for others. The most talented of men will turn sly in light of another’s skill. Friends harbor unfriendly thoughts as their fellow prospers. It is disgusting, but sadly human. I am not content with such emotions and somewhat paradoxically hold the bearers in contempt. I was raised to take pride in another’s rising: to enjoy my friend’s joy; to wish the prosperous even more than they have; to treat another’s accomplishment as I would my own.
May you be inscribed and sealed for a sweet new year, and wish the same for your fellow.