Friday Candle Lighting: 5:15 pm
Shabbat Ends: 6:04 pm
Higher than the Angels
“The angel of G-d who had been going in front of the Children of Israel moved and went behind them…” (14:19) The word in Hebrew, chaya, has two seemingly opposite meanings. A chaya is a wild animal, but it is also one of the names of the most elevated of the angels, as we say in our daily prayers: “And the Ofanim and the Chayot HaKodesh…” What possible connection could there be between a beast and a celestial being? Man is called a “walker”. As it says in the Prophet Zecharia, “I will give you strides (mehalchim) amongst the ‘standers’ (the angels) here.” (3:7) An angel can only stand in its place; it cannot move up or down. It has no freedom to choose. Its perception of G-d is so overwhelming that it can do nothing other than the Will of G-d. A beast is the same. It too has no freedom of choice. It can only follow its instincts, which is the Will of G-d. Only man can choose between good and evil, and thus only man can move up or down. When the Jewish People elevate themselves, when they exercise their freedom to choose to do the Will of G-d, G-d shines His Kindness upon them, and they can ascend to a level above even the holiest angels. Thus, “The angel of G-d which had been going in front of the Children of Israel” — i.e. preceding them in holiness — now “moved and went behind them”, because they had elevated themselves higher even than the angels.
- Source: based on the Kedushat Levi