Monday, March 16, 2009

Rambam- Higher Angels and Lower Angels- Yisodei Hatorah perek 2 halacha 6

The Rambam discussed in the previous halacha that there are different types of angels. These angels exist on different levels of holiness and closeness to G-D. However, what does this mean that one type of angel is holier than another type of angel? The Rambam explains,

זה שאמרנו למטה ממעלתו של חבירו אינה מעלת מקום. כמו אדם שיושב למעלה מחבירו. אלא כמו שאומרין בשני חכמים שאחד גדול מחבירו בחכמה שהוא למעלה ממעלתו של זה. וכמו שאומרין בעילה שהיא למעלה מן העלול: 

"The statement that [some angels] are lower than the highness [of other angels] has nothing to do with placement, like a man who sits higher up than his friend. Rather, the highness we are talking about is that which is similar to two wise men and we say one is greater than the other in wisdom. Also, it is similar to the difference between the creator and the created."

The Rambam is emphasizing his main point when he says that angels are not higher than other angels based on place. Angels are not physcial, therefore, physcial space has no connection to them. However, the differences between the angels is one that has to do with their tzura (form). This is similar to the wisdom of a man, since wisdom is part of the tzura of man. A man who is wiser than his friend is considered to be greater, but that greatness has nothing to do with the physical world. Wisdom is an attribute that is connected to the tzura of a man and is not part of his physical attributes. Therefore, when describing the discrepancies between the angels, the only features that can be contrasted are the tzura of the angels.

Another aspect that the Rambam points out among the angels is that there are those angels that play the role of the creator and those that play the role of the created. This is because, as we said before, that G-D causes higher angels to create the lower angels.

This brings us to the connection between closeness to G-D and having greater wisdom. The reason that the higher angel is considered to have greater wisdom has to do with what this wisdom entails. The wisdom that makes one angel closer to G-D than the angel below him is the wisdom of understanding G-D. An angel with a greater wisdom of G-D is closer to G-D and, therefore, the angel with more wisdom is holier and able to attain a higher level since He understands G-D to a greater degree than the lower angels. This also gives the angel the ability to create lower angels, because G-D uses higher angels to create the lower angels.

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