D’var Torah: Angelic Inspiration

Rabbi Suzanne Brody is Middle School Judaics Coordinator at Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School and a member of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association.

By Rabbi Suzanne Brody

We live in an age and a society which is skeptical of heavenly visions.  The prophet Isaiah, however, felt no such reticence.  In the Haftorah connected with this week’s parsha, he painted a vivid picture of God’s throne surrounded by angels, and he described his interactions and conversations with these six-winged heavenly creatures in evocatively poetic language.  He recorded the way they would cry out to one another exclaiming over God’s holy, all-encompassing presence and the way their fervor charged the whole atmosphere.  Isaiah’s depiction of the heavenly court is so powerful that it was incorporated into our daily liturgy multipletimes.

First, in the first blessing before the Shema, we are seated in our spots.  Through a retelling of Isaiah’s vision, we are told that one angel would call to another “Holy, holy, holy!  The Lord of Hosts!  His presence fills all the earth!” (Isaiah 6:3).  Ever since I was a young child, I have been mesmerized by the images my mind conjures up of this scene.  I envision a space filled with angels flying everywhere declaring the glory of our one God, a God worthy of being praised three times over, for God’s greatness fills the earth. 

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Throughout the ages, this sight has energized and inspired Jews from young to old.  It reminds us of our own relationship with God.  We try to express ourselves in our own words as we continue to sing out prayer after prayer.  We strive to come before God with our own prayers of praise and petition in the Amidah, but we recognize that we have not yet reached the heights of the angels.  So, we stand and imitate the angels’ praise of God, calling out “kadosh, kadosh, kadosh Adonai tzevaot” to one another as we rise up on tiptoe, reaching for God in heaven.  In doing this, we proclaim that we are like the angels.  We too are worthy of living in God’s presence and we acknowledge God’s holy presence in our own lives. 

We are inspired by how the angels praise God.  Then we realize that just as the angels praise God, so can we.  And we can call out our praise of God anywhere and anytime since truly the whole world is filled with God’s glory. “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh Adonai tzevaot”  “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts whose glory fills the whole world.”  With each repetition of these words, we let God into our lives just a little bit more. 

Shabbat Shalom.