Sunday, March 15, 2009

Rambam- Differences Between Angels- Yisodei HaTorah perek 2 halacha 5

The angels are very mysterious beings that man does not fully comprehend. The Rambam attempts to explain the differences between the different angels. He says,

ובמה יפרדו הצורות זו מזו והרי אינן גופין. לפי שאינן שוין במציאותן אלא כל אחד מהן למטה ממעלתו של חבירו. והוא מצוי מכחו זה למעלה מזה והכל נמצאים מכחו של הקב"ה וטובו. וזהו שרמז שלמה בחכמתו ואמר כי גבוה מעל גבוה שומר: 

"In what manner are the tzuras (forms) of angels different since they don't have physical bodies? [They are different] by the fact that they do not have equal existences, rather every angel owes its existence to an angel with a higher power and therefore the angel of the lower realm exists because of the power of the angel from the higher realm. [However,] all of the angels exist from the power of G-D and His goodness. This idea was hinted to by King Solomon through his wisdom when he said,' There is one who is higher than high who watches.'"

The Rambam is telling us a very unique idea about angels, what angels are and how they relate to each other. Later, the Rambam will talk about angels more in depth, but for right now he explains the basics. There are several different types of angels that are different from one another. However, man can not readily relate to the differences between angels since angels have no physical bodies and man relates differences among beings through physical features. Therefore, the Rambam has to describe a new idea in order to explain the differences between angels.

There are several levels of angels, as the Rambam will describe later in Yisodei Hatorah. Angels are created by G-D to exist on different levels of holiness. The most basic discrepancies between angels is their tzura (form). This form is the purpose and power that is given to an angel. The differences that are readily recognizable among the angels are the different levels they are on and this is described by what other types of angels exist from their power. Meaning, G-D created the top level of angels and then all subsequent angels were created through these angels that are closest to G-D. It is like a chain of events, G-D wants an angel to exist on the top level of holiness, therefore, He creates the angel. However, if G-D wants an angel to exist on the second level of holiness, He causes an angel on the first level of holiness to create the angel on the second level of holiness and so on.

This sequence of events is what is described by King Solomon in Koheles quoted here in the Rambam. He says that "There is one that is higher than high that watches." What does it mean that the one who is higher than high watches? It means that the one who is the holiest of all beings, G-D, causes His angels to create other angels. He guides the process and is the initial cause for the process to begin. However, He does not directly create the angels on the lower levels.

This is how we are able to understand the discrepancies among the angels. Some angels are on higher levels than others based on there closeness to G-D. For example, an angel on the second level of this sequence is considered closer to G-D than an angel on the fourth level. This is how we are able to differentiate between the different types of angels since they have no physical bodies.

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