In next week’s Parsha, Yaakov Avinu gives the famous bracha, “Hamalach ha goail … May the angel who redeems me from all evil bless the lads, and may my name be declared upon them and the names of my forefathers Avraham and Yitzchak and may they proliferate abundantly like fish within the land.”
We say this bracha before we go to sleep. At night, when we suspend our power to protect ourselves, we entrust ourselves to the malachim. And we say further: “In the Name of Hashem, G-d of Israel, may Michael be at my right, Gavriel at my left, Uriel before me … Raphael behind me, and above my head the Shechina of Hashem….”
Please note the position of these malachim:
The mighty angel Michael is at our right, which indicates that our power comes from Hashem and not from “the strength and might of my hand.” (Dvarim 8:17) The angel Gavriel, whose name means “strength,” is on our weaker side (the left). Uriel, whose name indicates “light,” goes in front and lights our way. Raphael, whose name indicates “healing,” stands behind us. I think that “healing” is behind us because we don’t want to be unhealthy in the first place, so healing is something that we request only as a secondary desire, because we hope not to need it. But, being human, we all require healing, so we hope this angel will in fact always follow us and provide healing when we need it. Altogether, Hashem constantly sends malachim to protect those who follow His Torah.
When our children were young, I would stand on the street every morning and watch the school bus disappear around the corner. I would ask the malachim to accompany them, not just that day but forever on their journey through life.
As I mentioned last week, I had an experience on January 10, 1966 which was the biggest turning point in my life. My wife and I were young married college students adrift in a stormy sea without Hashem to navigate our boat. The waves were rising; the ship was about to sink. Then I suddenly realized that Hashem had to exist. Unless we know that Hashem exists, we cannot exist.
As a result of this thought, our lives were saved. The turnaround was so dramatic that I feel as if an angel came to our house on that night with light from another world. Is it irresponsible to believe that there are malachim in our lives?
What kind of question is that?
Every night at bedtime we speak to them.
Every Friday night we welcome them into our home. Are we serious or not?
I take this very seriously. I try to understand that I am literally speaking to the malachim. I depend on them to protect our family through the trials of life. I believe that, if we are serious about speaking directly to the malachim, they will stay with us and protect us.
I mentioned last week that miracles occurred to us in future years around the anniversary of January 10, 1966, which (I later learned) was the 18th Day of the Month of Teves. The month of Teves is now beginning. I want to describe some miracles which occurred during these momentous days:
· Our lives were saved several times in miraculous ways at this season.
· Children and grandchildren were born at this season.
· A close colleague survived both a fire and a robbery at this season.
· Another close colleague survived a major car crash.
· We ourselves survived the disastrous car crash I described last week.
· Both my father and my father-in-law entered the World of Truth at this season.
Do you think it is a miracle to enter the World of Truth?
The way we grew up, it is a miracle that our parents had Jewish burial. I give credit to the legendary Rabbi Elchonen Zohn Shlita”h, head of the Chevra Kadisha of Queens and founder of the National Association for Chevrai Kadisha. Rabbi Zohn guided us and enabled us to prepare a plan which instantly set in motion the procedure for ensuring Jewish burial according to halacha. We are talking here about eternity. If we do not make the proper transition from this world to the Next, then we endanger our eternal life.
I will end with the story of my mother’s first yahrzeit. It was not easy to convince my family of the necessity of Jewish burial, but Hashem and Rabbi Zohn helped me. A year after my mother’s death, I visited her grave. As I left the cemetery, I asked Hashem whether I could get some kind of report how she was doing in the Next World. The next morning, our daughter Miriam told me that she had had a dream that night in which mother appeared to her with a shining face. She was at peace in her eternal home!
Hashem answered my prayer and gave me a report!
Ha malach ha goail! May the angel who redeems us from all evil bless us with heavenly protection and the speedy answer to our prayers. May Hashem wipe away all our tears, heal our pain and quickly bring Moshiach ben Dovid and the Geula Shelemah!
Chevra (pl. chevrai) kedusha: Jewish burial society
Halacha: Jewish Law
Malach: Angel (pl. malachim)
Teves: A month in the Jewish calendar
Yahrzeit: Anniversary of a person’s death