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Thought for the Day: Why Angels are Jealous of Our K'rias Sh'ma

Once I started thinking about k'rias sh'ma, I had a lot of questions.  Some technical, such as why does Moshe Rabeinu switch from first person plural (Elokeinu) in the middle of a parsha that is written first in second person plural (Elokeichem), then in second person singular (Eloke'cha)?  Some more philosophical, such as what is so inspiring about simple statement that there is only one G-d that would have Jews through the ages breathing their last with Sh'ma on their lips?

I think the key point, and the one upon which the answer to all the questions depends is this: What exactly makes the malachim so jealous about us saying "baruch sheim kavod malchuso l'olam vah'ed"?  The source of this statement is very touching, of course.  Yaakov Avinu is surrounded by his 12 sons and wants to reveal to them the end of days.  Suddenly Yaakov looses his intense connection to the Creator and is worried that there is something missing in his sons.  The brothers, sensing their father's distress and simultaneously realizing the source of his pain, call out: "Sh'ma Yisrael!  HaShem Elokeinu, HaShem Echad!"  Yaakov, feeling releaved and vindicated, replies: "Blessed be the glory of His kingdom for ever and ever!".  As touching as that it, nothing apparent here to make angels jealous.

Of course, no Chazal is simply a touching story, though Chazal often use touching stories to reveal deep and powerful lessons.  So lets appreciate that this is not (simply) a touching story.  What could have been Yaakov Avinu's concern?  All the avos lived for one thing, to make recognition of HaKadosh Baruch apparent to everyone.  Until now it had been a one man (ishto k'gufo) show.  Now, however, the mission is being handed over to 12 families, each with their own part to play.  It had to happen, the avos knew there had to be a nation -- a klal yisrael -- to realize their ultimate aspiration.  The transistion, however, is frightening.  That is why Yaakov Avinu didn't even start building until he had prepared for 84 years -- 63 years with his parents Yitzchak and Rivka, 14 years studying night and day in the yeshiva of Shem and Eiver, then finally seven years practicing a Torah life while dealing with Lavan.

In other words, ever moment of Yaakov Avinu's life bespoke "baruch sheim kavod malchuso l'olam vah'ed" -- revealing and increasing the glory of HaShem's sovereignty with every breath, all the while wrestling with a yeitzer hara.  Angels can't do that; they can interact with this world, but only as single mission, one dimensional beings.  The angels can only look on with awe at human beings such as the avos.  Then came the 12 son of Yaakov with their "simple" statement, "Shma Yisrael [Harken, O prince of HaShem], HaShem Elokeinu [we accept our place to continue the mission of living according to ratzon HaShem], HaShem Echad [we will realize our common aspiration of universal recognition of HaShem]!"

Of course the malachim are jealous.  Klal Yisrael goes where angels long to tread.


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