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Words of Wisdom

The Angels’ Forces: From The Guide for the Perplexed by Maimonides (vegetarian), Part 2 of 2

2021-04-10
Language:English ,Spanish(Español)

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Let us now continue with excerpts from Part 2, Chapters 6 through 9, in Rabbi Moses ben Maimon’s book “The Guide for the Perplexed,” where the philosopher shares further insights about the angels, as he compares different takes on the subject by other philosophical disciplines.

“Our Sages have already stated — for him who has understanding — that all forces that reside in a body are angels, much more the forces that are active in the Universe. The theory that each force acts only in one particular way, is expressed in Bereshit Rabba as follows: ‘One angel does not perform two things, and two angels do not perform one thing’; this is exactly the property of all forces.”

“We have already stated that the forms in which angels appear form part of the prophetic vision. Some prophets see angels in the form of man, for example, ‘And behold three men stood by him’; others perceive an angel as a fearful and terrible being, for example, ‘And his countenance was as the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible’; others see them as fire, for example, ‘And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire.’”

“In Bereshit Rabba the following remark occurs: ‘To Abraham, whose prophetic power was great, the angels appeared in the form of men; to Lot, whose power was weak, they appeared as angels.’ This is an important principle as regards Prophecy… Another passage in Bereshit Rabba runs thus: ‘Before the angels have accomplished their task, they are called men, when they have accomplished it, they are angels.’ Consider how clearly, they say that the term ‘angel’ signifies nothing but a certain action, and that every appearance of an angel is part of a prophetic vision, depending on the capacity of the person that perceives it.”

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