|Shalom Aleichem: Malachim Mamash|
|Written by Rabbi Oded Sher|
Rashi introduces the Parasha this week by saying that when the pasuk says the Yaakov sent Malachim, which can mean either “angels” or “human messengers,” that it means real angels (You can almost hear him scream it out to you, Malachim mamash!). Why does Rashi seem to go against the pshat (“simple understanding”) of the pasuk when it seems much simpler to say that Yaakov sent some of his men as messengers of goodwill to his brother? If you think about it, how can it be pshat that a human being, no matter how great, can command spiritual forces to do a job that a human can accomplish? Furthermore, angels have no free choice and can only do the will of Hashem. Hashem is the only One that can give them commands! I believe that Rashi is telling us that we must KNOW that angels are real and that our great great great grandfather reached such a level of connection to Hashem that his “command” of spiritual forces matched perfectly with Hashem’s command.
Now, how does this connect to Shalom Aleichem and how is it meant to bring us closer to Hashem? Too often we live our lives and our service of Hashem without really knowing that it is real. We pray because we “know” that Hashem desires our prayers, but it’s not really, and I do mean REALLY, real to us so we rush through it, don’t invest our deepest selves into it, etc. The same holds true for any positive or negative commandment. We “know” its real but we don’t live its reality and importance. For Shabbat Kodesh Chazal created a tool for us to use, a “simple” song that symbolizes our entrance to the sanctified time and space of Shabbat. A song that can easily be passed over as we await the food and sleep of Shabbat, but that is not its intent. As Rashi clearly points out, we must understand that the spiritual world is as real as the physical and that angels are as real as you and I. We take that and we use it to better understand that connecting to Hashem is also real. The power of Shabbat can only be used if we understand that it is a real taste of our Olam Haba (another song clearly illustrates this but do we make it a real “Me-ein Olam Haba”?). As Jews we understand that everything we do matters and logic dictates that if everything we do matters than it must have a place in reality. Our Torah, Halacha, Middot, Holydays, and even our songs are all there to make our relationship with Hashem REAL… Mamash!