Guardian Angels

Once, when I was living in New York, a friend and I took a stroll along the beautiful tree lined street called Eastern Parkway. If you have ever walked along Eastern Parkway, you would know what a pleasant stroll it could be. It’s a very wide road, with a special pedestrian walkway and bike path in between sections of the road with benches for people to sit and relax. It’s almost like a park in the middle of the road.

It was a nice stroll, except this time we also saw something that you don’t want to see on a road; a traffic accident.

No need to get into all the details, a car didn’t break in time and crashed into another. We were right there on the other side of the road. So we went over to see if we could help. Within seconds concerned citizens started gathering around to see how to help. Within 2 minutes hatzalah (a Jewish volunteer ambulance service, click here for more on that) had come to administer first aid. A couple minutes later there was the fire department, ambulance, police. All of them there, doing what they could to help the victims of the accident. They did their thing, we walked away and everything melded back into the regular daily goings on.

Thirty minutes later and you would never know anything happened. What’s more, thirty minutes before or even two minutes before the accident, there was no sign of any of the people that were about to come to help. But they were all still there waiting to help.

I started to think about all of these resources that are around us, almost everywhere that we go, waiting to help a person in need. But until the person is in need, we don’t notice all of these people and resources. There are lots of guardian angels in human form that are waiting in the background to help. We just need to let them know, or for someone let them know on our behalf; and they come running to help. But they are always there, ready to help even when everything is fine and we don’t call on them.

When it’s going good, who notices the police, fire, or the ambulance? Its only when we have an emergency, that it is obvious whom to turn to. Even though these departments are doing lots of things behind the scenes to ensure that we don’t have to call them in the first place. But to notice that, takes a willingness to look deeper than the surface.

This brings to mind what we read about in this week’s Torah portion of Mishpatim. In Exodus 23:20, we read of Hashem telling the Jewish people that he is sending an angel that will guard them and protect them on their journey to the Holy Land. This wasn’t just something that happened back in the day, rather Hashem sends his angles to help us and protect us as we ourselves go on our own journey in life. As we read in Psalms (Psalm 91:11) “For He will command His angels on your behalf to guard you in all your ways.” The only thing is that we get to choose whether or not; we wish to look beneath the surface and pay attention to the guardian angles that are in our life.

Exactly what form these angels take, I do not know. Everyone has a different experience as to how they see Hashem watching out for them; (some, who are more mystically inclined, may even claim to have seen an actual angle.) but He is watching out for us either way.

So one, it’s nice to know that some being, as all powerful as the almighty, is looking out for us. And two, its appropriate to acknowledge this and give thanks and gratitude when it’s all running smoothly and we don’t even notice the angels by our side.

It’s up to us to choose to pay attention to all the guardian angels in human form and the ones that are not in human form, that Hashem sends our way to help us and protect us.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Levi