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ב"ה

Angel vs Man

Friday, 26 June, 2020 - 7:26 am

I’ll admit it. I got on an airplane for the first time in months.

I traveled – wearing a N95 mask – all the way to New York and back within 24 hours. From the airport, I took a 15-minute taxi ride, spent a few hours outdoors, and was on my way back to the airport.

I spent about 18 hours of travel in order to spend a few hours at the Rebbe’s Ohel in honor of Gimmel Tammuz, the Rebbe’s 26th yahrzeit.

It was a very different experience than the last 25 years. I did not step foot indoors. I did not hug my friends whom I haven’t seen in months. I had my temperature taken in order to wait in line – six-feet-apart – with a mask. I had but a few moments at the actual Ohel.

Am I crazy?

Perhaps. But, not because of this.

Let me explain.

*

In this week’s parsha Korach, we learn of a terrible plague that broke out amongst some Jews. After Korach led a failed uprising against Moshe, fourteen thousand and seven hundred of his sympathizers died in an instant plague.

It would have been more.

The Angel of Death was wreaking destruction when Aharon interceded.

As Rashi explains, “He took hold of the angel and held him against his will. The angel said to him, “Allow me to accomplish my mission.” Aaron said to him, “Moshe commanded me to stop you.” He said to him, “I am the messenger of the Omnipresent, and you are the messenger of Moshe.” He said to him, “Moshe does not say anything on his own volition, but only at the bidding of the Almighty. If you do not believe me, the Holy One, blessed is He, and Moshe are at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting; come with me and ask.”

Then the plague ceased.

It’s a fascinating revelation.

The angel was sent by G-d. Yet, Moshe was right and the angel was wrong. How can that be?

*

In short, the difference between an angel and a human is that an angel is a robot. It is preprogrammed by G-d to emit a certain energy, to perform a specific task. An angel is an extension of G-d. An angel cannot become disconnected from its Source.

A human, on the other hand, is independent. A human is gifted with free will. This unique tool can lead to success or failure. Of all creatures, only the human can choose whether or not to fulfill G-d’s will.

This is what it means to be created in the image of G-d. G-d gifted us with a miniature version of His infinite quality – the ability to choose.

Sometimes, this freedom puts humans at a disadvantage. If we fail to fulfill G-d’s mission, we are disconnected from our Source.

If, however, we choose to be the embodiment of G-d on earth, then we are connected with our Source at an even higher level than an angel. Our ability to choose to do right renders us loftier than an automated angel.

This helps us understand the virtue of a tzaddik. Remove the nonsense from your head that a tzaddik is somehow no longer human. A tzaddik is just as human as you and I. Except that a tzaddik has transformed his or her humanity to always be in sync with G-d’s will. As such, the tzaddik is now more connected to Hashem than an angel. This allows the tzaddik to be a pure channel of divine energy and blessing.

While the rest of us are on the seesaw of connecting and disconnecting with G-d, the tzaddik is the consummate conduit of bonding with the Source. That’s why connecting with a tzaddik is helpful for the rest of us.

*

Angles are divine. Humans have the potential to be even more divine.

Stop trying to be an angel and start trying to be a human.

And, if you need some help along the way, the tzaddik is your address.

Most of us would travel 24 hours if we were guaranteed to see an angel.

I got more than I bargained for.

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