Chagigah No.1: Talmudically Accurate Angels

Imperialism and Jewish Society: 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E.

Seth Schwartz

This provocative new history of Palestinian Jewish society in antiquity marks the first comprehensive effort to gauge the effects of imperial domination on this people. Probing more than eight centuries of Persian, Greek, and Roman rule, Seth Schwartz reaches some startling conclusions — foremost among them that the Christianization of the Roman Empire generated the most fundamental features of medieval and modern Jewish life.

Schwartz begins by arguing that the distinctiveness of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and early Roman periods was the product of generally prevailing imperial tolerance. From around 70 C.E. to the mid-fourth century, with failed revolts and the alluring cultural norms of the High Roman Empire, Judaism all but disintegrated. However, late in the Roman Empire, the Christianized state played a decisive role in ”re-Judaizing” the Jews. The state gradually excluded them from society while supporting their leaders and recognizing their local communities. It was thus in Late Antiquity that the synagogue-centered community became prevalent among the Jews, that there re-emerged a distinctively Jewish art and literature — laying the foundations for Judaism as we know it today.

Through masterful scholarship set in rich detail, this book challenges traditional views rooted in romantic notions about Jewish fortitude. Integrating material relics and literature while setting the Jews in their eastern Mediterranean context, it addresses the complex and varied consequences of imperialism on this vast period of Jewish history more ambitiously than ever before. Imperialism in Jewish Society will be widely read and much debated.

On My Right Michael, On My Left Gabriel: Angels in Ancient Jewish Culture

Mika Ahuvia

Angelic beings can be found throughout the Hebrew Bible, and by late antiquity the archangels Michael and Gabriel were as familiar as the patriarchs and matriarchs, guardian angels were as present as one’s shadow, and praise of the seraphim was as sacred as the Shema prayer. Mika Ahuvia recovers once-commonplace beliefs about the divine realm and demonstrates that angels were foundational to ancient Judaism. Ancient Jewish practice centered on humans' relationships with invisible beings who acted as intermediaries, role models, and guardians. Drawing on non-canonical sources—incantation bowls, amulets, mystical texts, and liturgical poetry—Ahuvia shows that when ancient men and women sought access to divine aid, they turned not only to their rabbis or to God alone but often also to the angels. On My Right Michael, On My Left Gabriel spotlights these overlooked stories, interactions, and rituals, offering a new entry point to the history of Judaism and the wider ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern world in which it flourished.

(א) וַיֵּרָ֤א אֵלָיו֙ יְהֹוָ֔ה בְּאֵלֹנֵ֖י מַמְרֵ֑א וְה֛וּא יֹשֵׁ֥ב פֶּֽתַח־הָאֹ֖הֶל כְּחֹ֥ם הַיּֽוֹם׃ (ב) וַיִּשָּׂ֤א עֵינָיו֙ וַיַּ֔רְא וְהִנֵּה֙ שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֔ים נִצָּבִ֖ים עָלָ֑יו וַיַּ֗רְא וַיָּ֤רׇץ לִקְרָאתָם֙ מִפֶּ֣תַח הָאֹ֔הֶל וַיִּשְׁתַּ֖חוּ אָֽרְצָה׃ (ג) וַיֹּאמַ֑ר אֲדֹנָ֗י אִם־נָ֨א מָצָ֤אתִי חֵן֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ אַל־נָ֥א תַעֲבֹ֖ר מֵעַ֥ל עַבְדֶּֽךָ׃
(1) יהוה appeared° to him by the terebinths of Mamre; he was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot. (2) Looking up, he saw three figures° standing near him. Perceiving this, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground, (3) he said, “My lords!* If it please you, do not go on past your servant.
(כ) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהֹוָ֔ה זַעֲקַ֛ת סְדֹ֥ם וַעֲמֹרָ֖ה כִּי־רָ֑בָּה וְחַ֨טָּאתָ֔ם כִּ֥י כָבְדָ֖ה מְאֹֽד׃ (כא) אֵֽרְדָה־נָּ֣א וְאֶרְאֶ֔ה הַכְּצַעֲקָתָ֛הּ הַבָּ֥אָה אֵלַ֖י עָשׂ֣וּ ׀ כָּלָ֑ה וְאִם־לֹ֖א אֵדָֽעָה׃ (כב) וַיִּפְנ֤וּ מִשָּׁם֙ הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֔ים וַיֵּלְכ֖וּ סְדֹ֑מָה וְאַ֨בְרָהָ֔ם עוֹדֶ֥נּוּ עֹמֵ֖ד לִפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָֽה׃
(20) Then יהוה said, “The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave! (21) I will go down to see whether they have acted altogether according to the outcry that has reached Me; if not, I will take note.” (22) The agents went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before יהוה.
(יט) וַיִּסַּ֞ע מַלְאַ֣ךְ הָאֱלֹהִ֗ים הַהֹלֵךְ֙ לִפְנֵי֙ מַחֲנֵ֣ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶ֑ם וַיִּסַּ֞ע עַמּ֤וּד הֶֽעָנָן֙ מִפְּנֵיהֶ֔ם וַיַּֽעֲמֹ֖ד מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶֽם׃
(19) The messenger of God, who had been going ahead of the Israelite army, now moved and followed behind them; and the pillar of cloud shifted from in front of them and took up a place behind them,
(טז) וַנִּצְעַ֤ק אֶל־יְהֹוָה֙ וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע קֹלֵ֔נוּ וַיִּשְׁלַ֣ח מַלְאָ֔ךְ וַיֹּצִאֵ֖נוּ מִמִּצְרָ֑יִם וְהִנֵּה֙ אֲנַ֣חְנוּ בְקָדֵ֔שׁ עִ֖יר קְצֵ֥ה גְבוּלֶֽךָ׃
(16) We cried to יהוה who heard our plea, sending a messenger who freed us from Egypt. Now we are in Kadesh, the town on the border of your territory.
(כג) וַיַּ֣עַשׂ בַּדְּבִ֔יר שְׁנֵ֥י כְרוּבִ֖ים עֲצֵי־שָׁ֑מֶן עֶ֥שֶׂר אַמּ֖וֹת קוֹמָתֽוֹ׃ (כד) וְחָמֵ֣שׁ אַמּ֗וֹת כְּנַ֤ף הַכְּרוּב֙ הָאֶחָ֔ת וְחָמֵ֣שׁ אַמּ֔וֹת כְּנַ֥ף הַכְּר֖וּב הַשֵּׁנִ֑ית עֶ֣שֶׂר אַמּ֔וֹת מִקְצ֥וֹת כְּנָפָ֖יו וְעַד־קְצ֥וֹת כְּנָפָֽיו׃ (כה) וְעֶ֙שֶׂר֙ בָּֽאַמָּ֔ה הַכְּר֖וּב הַשֵּׁנִ֑י מִדָּ֥ה אַחַ֛ת וְקֶ֥צֶב אֶחָ֖ד לִשְׁנֵ֥י הַכְּרֻבִֽים׃ (כו) קוֹמַת֙ הַכְּר֣וּב הָאֶחָ֔ד עֶ֖שֶׂר בָּאַמָּ֑ה וְכֵ֖ן הַכְּר֥וּב הַשֵּׁנִֽי׃
(23) In the Shrine he made two cherubim of olive wood, each 10 cubits high. (24) [One] had a wing measuring 5 cubits and another wing measuring 5 cubits, so that the spread from wingtip to wingtip was 10 cubits; (25) and the wingspread of the other cherub was also 10 cubits. The two cherubim had the same measurements and proportions: (26) the height of the one cherub was 10 cubits, and so was that of the other cherub.
(ב) שְׂרָפִ֨ים עֹמְדִ֤ים ׀ מִמַּ֙עַל֙ ל֔וֹ שֵׁ֧שׁ כְּנָפַ֛יִם שֵׁ֥שׁ כְּנָפַ֖יִם לְאֶחָ֑ד בִּשְׁתַּ֣יִם ׀ יְכַסֶּ֣ה פָנָ֗יו וּבִשְׁתַּ֛יִם יְכַסֶּ֥ה רַגְלָ֖יו וּבִשְׁתַּ֥יִם יְעוֹפֵֽף׃ (ג) וְקָרָ֨א זֶ֤ה אֶל־זֶה֙ וְאָמַ֔ר קָד֧וֹשׁ ׀ קָד֛וֹשׁ קָד֖וֹשׁ יְהֹוָ֣ה צְבָא֑וֹת מְלֹ֥א כׇל־הָאָ֖רֶץ כְּבוֹדֽוֹ׃
(2) Seraphs stood in attendance on Him. Each of them had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his legs, and with two he would fly.
(3) And one would call to the other,
“Holy, holy, holy!
The LORD of Hosts!
His presence fills all the earth!”

(ד) קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת מְלֹא כָל הָאָֽרֶץ כְּבוֹדוֹ:

(4) ‘Holy, holy, holy, is Adonoy of Hosts, the fullness of all the earth is His glory.’”

(ז) וְרַגְלֵיהֶ֖ם רֶ֣גֶל יְשָׁרָ֑ה וְכַ֣ף רַגְלֵיהֶ֗ם כְּכַף֙ רֶ֣גֶל עֵ֔גֶל וְנֹ֣צְצִ֔ים כְּעֵ֖ין נְחֹ֥שֶׁת קָלָֽל׃ (ח) (וידו) [וִידֵ֣י] אָדָ֗ם מִתַּ֙חַת֙ כַּנְפֵיהֶ֔ם עַ֖ל אַרְבַּ֣עַת רִבְעֵיהֶ֑ם וּפְנֵיהֶ֥ם וְכַנְפֵיהֶ֖ם לְאַרְבַּעְתָּֽם׃ (ט) חֹ֥בְרֹ֛ת אִשָּׁ֥ה אֶל־אֲחוֹתָ֖הּ כַּנְפֵיהֶ֑ם לֹא־יִסַּ֣בּוּ בְלֶכְתָּ֔ן אִ֛ישׁ אֶל־עֵ֥בֶר פָּנָ֖יו יֵלֵֽכוּ׃ (י) וּדְמ֣וּת פְּנֵיהֶם֮ פְּנֵ֣י אָדָם֒ וּפְנֵ֨י אַרְיֵ֤ה אֶל־הַיָּמִין֙ לְאַרְבַּעְתָּ֔ם וּפְנֵי־שׁ֥וֹר מֵהַשְּׂמֹ֖אול לְאַרְבַּעְתָּ֑ן וּפְנֵי־נֶ֖שֶׁר לְאַרְבַּעְתָּֽן׃
(7) the legs of each were [fused into] a single rigid leg, and the feet of each were like a single calf’s hoof; and their sparkle was like the luster of burnished bronze. (8) They had human hands below their wings. The four of them had their faces and their wings on their four sides. (9) Each one’s wings touched those of the other. They did not turn when they moved; each could move in the direction of any of its faces. (10) Each of them had a human face [at the front]; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right; each of the four had the face of an ox on the left; and each of the four had the face of an eagle [at the back].

Interleaved: A Talmudic Podcast
Pesachim No.7: How the Other Side Lives

Where do demons come from? Why did the Sages try to contain them with strange laws?

Dr. Sara Ronis is an associate professor of Theology at St. Mary’s University. She specializes in understanding rabbinic literature using interdisciplinary perspectives. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2015, with a dissertation titled “Do Not Go Out Alone at Night”: Law and Demonic Discourse in the Babylonian Talmud. In her upcoming book manuscript, she explores how late antique Jews thought about demons as part of larger intercultural conversations within the Sassanian empire.

רַב יוֹסֵף כִּי מָטֵי לְהַאי קְרָא, בָּכֵי: ״וְיֵשׁ נִסְפֶּה בְּלֹא מִשְׁפָּט״, אָמַר: מִי אִיכָּא דְּאָזֵיל בְּלָא זִמְנֵיהּ? אִין, כִּי הָא דְּרַב בִּיבִי בַּר אַבָּיֵי הֲוָה שְׁכִיחַ גַּבֵּיהּ מַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת. אֲמַר לֵיהּ לִשְׁלוּחֵיהּ: זִיל אַיְיתִי לִי מִרְיָם מְגַדְּלָא שְׂיעַר נַשְׁיָיא. אֲזַל, אַיְיתִי לֵיהּ מִרְיָם מְגַדְּלָא דַּרְדְּקֵי. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: אֲנָא מִרְיָם מְגַדְּלָא שֵׂיעָר נְשַׁיָּיא אֲמַרִי לָךְ! אֲמַר לֵיהּ: אִי הָכִי, אַהְדְּרַהּ! אֲמַר לֵיהּ: הוֹאִיל וְאַיְיתִיתַהּ — לֶיהֱוֵי לְמִנְיָינָא! אֶלָּא הֵיכִי יְכֵלְתְּ לַהּ? הֲוָת נְקִיטָא מְתָארָא בִּידַהּ וַהֲוָת קָא שָׁגְרָא
When Rav Yosef reached this verse, he cried: “But there are those swept away without justice” (Proverbs 13:23). He said: Is there one who goes before his time and dies for no reason? The Gemara answers: Yes, like this incident of Rav Beivai bar Abaye, who would be frequented by the company of the Angel of Death and would see how people died at the hands of this angel. The Angel of Death said to his agent: Go and bring me, i.e., kill, Miriam the raiser, i.e., braider, of women’s hair. He went, but instead brought him Miriam, the raiser of babies. The Angel of Death said to him: I told you to bring Miriam, the raiser of women’s hair. His agent said to him: If so, return her to life. He said to him: Since you have already brought her, let her be counted toward the number of deceased people. Apparently, this woman died unintentionally. Rav Beivai asked the agent: But as her time to die had not yet arrived, how were you able to kill her? The agent responded that he had the opportunity, as she was holding a shovel in her hand and with it she was lighting
שִׁנּוּי שְׁמוֹת הַמַּלְאָכִים עַל שֵׁם מַעֲלָתָם הוּא. וּלְפִיכָךְ נִקְרָאִים חַיּוֹת הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְהֵם לְמַעְלָה מִן הַכּל וְאוֹפַנִּים וְאֶרְאֶלִּים וְחַשְׁמַלִּים וּשְׂרָפִים וּמַלְאָכִים וֵאלֹהִים וּבְנֵי אֱלֹהִים וּכְרוּבִים וְאִישִׁים. כָּל אֵלּוּ עֲשָׂרָה הַשֵּׁמוֹת שֶׁנִּקְרְאוּ בָּהֶן הַמַּלְאָכִים עַל שֵׁם עֶשֶׂר מַעֲלוֹת שֶׁלָּהֶן הֵן, וּמַעֲלָה שֶׁאֵין לְמַעְלָה מִמֶּנָּה אֶלָּא מַעֲלַת הָאֵל בָּרוּךְ הוּא הִיא מַעֲלַת הַצּוּרָה שֶׁנִּקְרֵאת חַיּוֹת. לְפִיכָךְ נֶאֱמַר בַּנְּבוּאָה שֶׁהֵן תַּחַת כִּסֵּא הַכָּבוֹד. וּמַעֲלָה עֲשִׂירִית הִיא מַעֲלַת הַצּוּרָה שֶׁנִּקְרֵאת אִישִׁים וְהֵם הַמַּלְאָכִים הַמְדַבְּרִים עִם הַנְּבִיאִים וְנִרְאִים לָהֶם בְּמַרְאֵה הַנְּבוּאָה. לְפִיכָךְ נִקְרְאוּ אִישִׁים שֶׁמַּעֲלָתָם קְרוֹבָה לְמַעֲלַת דַּעַת בְּנֵי אָדָם:
The variety of names that the angels bear has reference to the difference in their rank. They are called Hayoth Hakodesh—these are the highest; Ophanim, Erelim, Hashmalim, Seraphim. Malachim: Elohim, Bene Elohim, Cherubim and Ishim. These ten names, by which the angels are called, correspond to their ten degrees. The highest rank, above which there is no degree higher but that of God, blessed be He, is that of the form called Hayoth. In the prophetic literature it is therefore said that the Hayoth are beneath the Throne of Glory. To the tenth degree, belongs the form of those termed Ishim. They are the angels that commune with the prophets and appear to them in the prophetic vision. They are called Ishim (individuals, men), because their rank approximates to that of the intelligence of human beings.
(א) וַיַּרְאֵ֗נִי אֶת־יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙ הַכֹּהֵ֣ן הַגָּד֔וֹל עֹמֵ֕ד לִפְנֵ֖י מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהֹוָ֑ה וְהַשָּׂטָ֛ן עֹמֵ֥ד עַל־יְמִינ֖וֹ לְשִׂטְנֽוֹ׃ (ב) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־הַשָּׂטָ֗ן יִגְעַ֨ר יְהֹוָ֤ה בְּךָ֙ הַשָּׂטָ֔ן וְיִגְעַ֤ר יְהֹוָה֙ בְּךָ֔ הַבֹּחֵ֖ר בִּירֽוּשָׁלָ֑͏ִם הֲל֧וֹא זֶ֦ה א֖וּד מֻצָּ֥ל מֵאֵֽשׁ׃ (ג) וִיהוֹשֻׁ֕עַ הָיָ֥ה לָבֻ֖שׁ בְּגָדִ֣ים צוֹאִ֑ים וְעֹמֵ֖ד לִפְנֵ֥י הַמַּלְאָֽךְ׃ (ד) וַיַּ֣עַן וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֶל־הָעֹמְדִ֤ים לְפָנָיו֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר הָסִ֛ירוּ הַבְּגָדִ֥ים הַצֹּאִ֖ים מֵעָלָ֑יו וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֗יו רְאֵ֨ה הֶעֱבַ֤רְתִּי מֵעָלֶ֙יךָ֙ עֲוֺנֶ֔ךָ וְהַלְבֵּ֥שׁ אֹתְךָ֖ מַחֲלָצֽוֹת׃ (ה) וָאֹמַ֕ר יָשִׂ֛ימוּ צָנִ֥יף טָה֖וֹר עַל־רֹאשׁ֑וֹ וַיָּשִׂ֩ימוּ֩ הַצָּנִ֨יף הַטָּה֜וֹר עַל־רֹאשׁ֗וֹ וַיַּלְבִּשֻׁ֙הוּ֙ בְּגָדִ֔ים וּמַלְאַ֥ךְ יְהֹוָ֖ה עֹמֵֽד׃ (ו) וַיָּ֙עַד֙ מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהֹוָ֔ה בִּיהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ לֵאמֹֽר׃ (ז) כֹּה־אָמַ֞ר יְהֹוָ֣ה צְבָא֗וֹת אִם־בִּדְרָכַ֤י תֵּלֵךְ֙ וְאִ֣ם אֶת־מִשְׁמַרְתִּ֣י תִשְׁמֹ֔ר וְגַם־אַתָּה֙ תָּדִ֣ין אֶת־בֵּיתִ֔י וְגַ֖ם תִּשְׁמֹ֣ר אֶת־חֲצֵרָ֑י וְנָתַתִּ֤י לְךָ֙ מַהְלְכִ֔ים בֵּ֥ין הָעֹמְדִ֖ים הָאֵֽלֶּה׃ (ח) שְֽׁמַֽע־נָ֞א יְהוֹשֻׁ֣עַ ׀ הַכֹּהֵ֣ן הַגָּד֗וֹל אַתָּה֙ וְרֵעֶ֙יךָ֙ הַיֹּשְׁבִ֣ים לְפָנֶ֔יךָ כִּֽי־אַנְשֵׁ֥י מוֹפֵ֖ת הֵ֑מָּה כִּֽי־הִנְנִ֥י מֵבִ֛יא אֶת־עַבְדִּ֖י צֶֽמַח׃ (ט) כִּ֣י ׀ הִנֵּ֣ה הָאֶ֗בֶן אֲשֶׁ֤ר נָתַ֙תִּי֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ עַל־אֶ֥בֶן אַחַ֖ת שִׁבְעָ֣ה עֵינָ֑יִם הִנְנִ֧י מְפַתֵּ֣חַ פִּתֻּחָ֗הּ נְאֻם֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה צְבָא֔וֹת וּמַשְׁתִּ֛י אֶת־עֲוֺ֥ן הָאָֽרֶץ־הַהִ֖יא בְּי֥וֹם אֶחָֽד׃ (י) בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא נְאֻם֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה צְבָא֔וֹת תִּקְרְא֖וּ אִ֣ישׁ לְרֵעֵ֑הוּ אֶל־תַּ֥חַת גֶּ֖פֶן וְאֶל־תַּ֥חַת תְּאֵנָֽה׃
(1) He further showed me Joshua, the high priest, standing before the angel of the LORD, and the Accuser standing at his right to accuse him. (2) But [the angel of] the LORD said to the Accuser, “The LORD rebuke you, O Accuser; may the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! For this is a brand plucked from the fire.” (3) Now Joshua was clothed in filthy garments when he stood before the angel. (4) The latter spoke up and said to his attendants, “Take the filthy garments off him!” And he said to him, “See, I have removed your guilt from you, and you shall be clothed in [priestly] robes.” (5) Then he gave the order, “Let a pure diadem be placed on his head.” And they placed the pure diadem on his head and clothed him in [priestly] garments, as the angel of the LORD stood by. (6) And the angel of the LORD charged Joshua as follows: (7) “Thus said the LORD of Hosts: If you walk in My paths and keep My charge, you in turn will rule My House and guard My courts, and I will permit you to move about among these attendants. (8) Hearken well, O High Priest Joshua, you and your fellow priests sitting before you! For those men are a sign that I am going to bring My servant the Branch. (9) For mark well this stone which I place before Joshua, a single stone with seven eyes. I will execute its engraving—declares the LORD of Hosts—and I will remove that country’s guilt in a single day. (10) In that day—declares the LORD of Hosts—you will be inviting each other to the shade of vines and fig trees.”

An Aramaic incantation bowl from Nippur, photo taken circa 1909, shown in ‘Studies in Assyriology and Archaeology’ dedicated to Hermann V. Hilprech

(כד) בְּשֵׁם יְהֹוָה אֱלֺהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִימִינִי מִיכָאֵל וּמִשְּׂ֒מֹאלִי גַבְרִיאֵל וּמִלְּ֒פָנַי אוֹרִיאֵל וּמֵאֲחוֹרַי רְפָאֵל וְעַל רֹאשִי שְׁכִינַת אֵל:

(24) In the Name of Adonoy, God of Israel: at my right [hand] Michael, at my left [hand] Gabriel, before me Uriel, behind me Raphael, and above my head, the Presence of Almighty.

My Life

Marc Chagall

Completed by Marc Chagall (1887-1985) in 1922, this lyrical, evocative, and unique book is a key work to understanding the life and art of this creative genius who has come to be known as the "Father of Surrealism." His deep roots in Jewish tradition-religious and secular-are reflected in these recollections of his poverty-stricken youth in White Russia, to his involvement in the Paris art world prior to World War I, and back again to Russia until his decision in 1923 to finally return to Paris. "Belongs unmistakably to the world of his paintings ... it flickers with sharp responses and vivid phrases."

"The Vision"

Marc Chagall, 1924–5–c.1937


אֲמַר: דְּרָעֵינָא לְהוּ אֲנָא עַד דְּמָלוּ לְהוּ לְדָרָא, וַהֲדַר מַשְׁלֵימְנָא לֵיהּ לְדוּמָה. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: סוֹף סוֹף, שְׁנֵיהּ מַאי עָבְדַתְּ? אֲמַר: אִי אִיכָּא צוּרְבָּא מֵרַבָּנַן דְּמַעְבֵּיר בְּמִילֵּיהּ — מוֹסֵיפְנָא לְהוּ לֵיהּ, וְהָוְיָא חִלּוּפֵיהּ.
He said to him: I shepherd them, not releasing them until the years of the generation are completed, and then I pass them on to the angel Duma who oversees the souls of the dead. Rav Beivai said to him: Ultimately, what do you do with his extra years, those taken away from this individual? The Angel of Death said to him: If there is a Torah scholar who disregards his personal matters, i.e., who overlooks the insults of those who wrong him, I add those years to him and he becomes the deceased’s replacement for that time.
רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ אָמַר: שִׁבְעָה, וְאֵלּוּ הֵן: וִילוֹן, רָקִיעַ, שְׁחָקִים, זְבוּל, מָעוֹן, מָכוֹן, עֲרָבוֹת. וִילוֹן — אֵינוֹ מְשַׁמֵּשׁ כְּלוּם, אֶלָּא נִכְנָס שַׁחֲרִית וְיוֹצֵא עַרְבִית, וּמְחַדֵּשׁ בְּכׇל יוֹם מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״הַנּוֹטֶה כַדּוֹק שָׁמַיִם וַיִּמְתָּחֵם כָּאֹהֶל לָשָׁבֶת״. רָקִיעַ — שֶׁבּוֹ חַמָּה וּלְבָנָה כּוֹכָבִים וּמַזָּלוֹת קְבוּעִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וַיִּתֵּן אוֹתָם אֱלֹהִים בִּרְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמָיִם״. שְׁחָקִים — שֶׁבּוֹ רֵחַיִים עוֹמְדוֹת וְטוֹחֲנוֹת מָן לַצַּדִּיקִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וַיְצַו שְׁחָקִים מִמָּעַל וְדַלְתֵי שָׁמַיִם פָּתָח. וַיַּמְטֵר עֲלֵיהֶם מָן לֶאֱכוֹל וְגוֹ׳״. זְבוּל — שֶׁבּוֹ יְרוּשָׁלַיִם וּבֵית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ, וּמִזְבֵּחַ בָּנוּי, וּמִיכָאֵל הַשַּׂר הַגָּדוֹל עוֹמֵד וּמַקְרִיב עָלָיו קׇרְבָּן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״בָּנֹה בָנִיתִי בֵּית זְבוּל לָךְ מָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתְּךָ עוֹלָמִים״. וּמְנָלַן דְּאִיקְּרִי שָׁמַיִם, דִּכְתִיב: ״הַבֵּט מִשָּׁמַיִם וּרְאֵה מִזְּבוּל קׇדְשְׁךָ וְתִפְאַרְתֶּךָ״. מָעוֹן — שֶׁבּוֹ כִּיתּוֹת שֶׁל מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת, שֶׁאוֹמְרוֹת שִׁירָה בַּלַּיְלָה וְחָשׁוֹת בַּיּוֹם, מִפְּנֵי כְבוֹדָן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״יוֹמָם יְצַוֶּה ה׳ חַסְדּוֹ וּבַלַּיְלָה שִׁירֹה עִמִּי״. אָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ: כׇּל הָעוֹסֵק בְּתוֹרָה בַּלַּיְלָה — הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מוֹשֵׁךְ עָלָיו חוּט שֶׁל חֶסֶד בַּיּוֹם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״יוֹמָם יְצַוֶּה ה׳ חַסְדּוֹ״. וּמָה טַעַם ״יוֹמָם יְצַוֶּה ה׳ חַסְדּוֹ״ — מִשּׁוּם ״וּבַלַּיְלָה שִׁירֹה עִמִּי״. וְאִיכָּא דְּאָמְרִי, אָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ: כׇּל הָעוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה שֶׁהוּא דּוֹמֶה לְלַיְלָה, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מוֹשֵׁךְ עָלָיו חוּט שֶׁל חֶסֶד לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא שֶׁהוּא דּוֹמֶה לְיוֹם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״יוֹמָם יְצַוֶּה ה׳ חַסְדּוֹ וּבַלַּיְלָה שִׁירֹה עִמִּי״.
Reish Lakish said: There are seven firmaments, and they are as follows: Vilon, Rakia, Sheḥakim, Zevul, Ma’on, Makhon, and Aravot. The Gemara proceeds to explain the role of each firmament: Vilon, curtain, is the firmament that does not contain anything, but enters at morning and departs in the evening, and renews the act of Creation daily, as it is stated: “Who stretches out the heavens as a curtain [Vilon], and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in” (Isaiah 40:22). Rakia, firmament, is the one in which the sun, moon, stars, and zodiac signs are fixed, as it is stated: “And God set them in the firmament [Rakia] of the heaven” (Genesis 1:17). Sheḥakim, heights, is the one in which mills stand and grind manna for the righteous, as it is stated: “And He commanded the heights [Shehakim] above, and opened the doors of heaven; and He caused manna to rain upon them for food, and gave them of the corn of heaven” (Psalms 78:23–24). Zevul, abode, is the location of the heavenly Jerusalem and the heavenly Temple, and there the heavenly altar is built, and the angel Michael, the great minister, stands and sacrifices an offering upon it, as it is stated: “I have surely built a house of Zevul for You, a place for You to dwell forever” (I Kings 8:13). And from where do we derive that Zevul is called heaven? As it is written: “Look down from heaven and see, from Your holy and glorious abode [Zevul]” (Isaiah 63:15). Ma’on, habitation, is where there are groups of ministering angels who recite song at night and are silent during the day out of respect for Israel, in order not to compete with their songs, as it is stated: “By day the Lord will command His kindness, and in the night His song is with me” (Psalms 42:9), indicating that the song of the angels is with God only at night. With regard to the aforementioned verse, Reish Lakish said: Whoever occupies himself with Torah at night, the Holy One, Blessed be He, extends a thread of kindness over him by day, as it is stated: “By day, the Lord will command His kindness,” and what is the reason that “by day, the Lord will command His kindness”? Because “and in the night His song,” i.e., the song of Torah, “is with me.” And some say that Reish Lakish said: Whoever occupies himself with Torah in this world, which is comparable to night, the Holy One, Blessed be He, extends a thread of kindness over him in the World-to-Come, which is comparable to day, as it is stated: “By day, the Lord will command His kindness, and in the night His song is with me.”

(א) שָלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן

(ג) מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא

(ז) בּוֹאֲכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן

(ט) מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא

(יג) בָרְכוּנִי לְשָלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן

(טו) מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא

(יט) צֵאתְכֶם לְשָלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן

(כא) מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא

(ג) אֵל אָדון עַל כָּל הַמַּעֲשים. בָּרוּךְ וּמְברָךְ בְּפִי כָּל נְּשָׁמָה. גָּדְלו וְטוּבו לִפְנֵי עולָם. דַּעַת וּתְבוּנָה סובְבִים הודו:
הַמִּתְגָּאֶה עַל חַיּות הַקּדֶשׁ. וְנֶהְדָּר בְּכָבוד עַל הַמֶּרְכָּבָה. זְכוּת וּמִישׁור לִפְנֵי כִסְאו. חֶסֶד וְרַחֲמִים מָלֵא כְבודו:
טובִים מְאורות שֶׁבָּרָא אֱלהֵינוּ. יְצָרָם בְּדַעַת בְּבִינָה וּבְהַשכֵּל. כּחַ וּגְבוּרָה נָתַן בָּהֶם. לִהְיות מושְׁלִים בְּקֶרֶב תֵּבֵל:
מְלֵאִים זִיו וּמְפִיקִים נוגַהּ. נָאֶה זִיוָם בְּכָל הָעולָם. שמֵחִים בְּצֵאתָם וְששים בְּבואָם. עשים בְּאֵימָה רְצון קונָם:
פְּאֵר וְכָבוד נותְנִים לִשְׁמו. צָהֳלָה וְרִנָּה לְזֵכֶר מַלְכוּתו. קָרָא לַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וַיִּזְרַח אור. רָאָה וְהִתְקִין צוּרַת הַלְּבָנָה: שֶׁבַח נותְנִים לו כָּל צְבָא מָרום. תִּפְאֶרֶת וּגְדֻלָּה שרָפִים וְאופַנִּים וְחַיּות הַקּדֶשׁ:

(3) O God, master of all creation/blessed by the mouth of every soul/whose grandeur and wonder existed before anything/knowledge and understanding surround his splendor. Who rides upon the holy chayos/and in glorious beauty upon the Chariot/merit and uprightness before his throne/charity and mercy filled with his glory. Good are the lamps which our god created/he made them with knowledge and understanding and skill/power and strength he gave to them/to rule in the vicinity of the Earth. Filled with shine and imbued with rays/lovely their shine throughout the world/happy in their rising and joyous in their setting/doing in awe the will of their creator. Wonder and glory they give to his name/joy and celebration to the stature of his kingship/He called out to the sun, and it shone with light/He saw, and fixed the shape of the moon. All the heavenly host gives him praise/ the seraphs and the ophans, wonder and grandeur.

אִתְּמַר: עֲקֵבוֹ רוֹאֶה אֶת הָעֶרְוָה מוּתָּר, נוֹגֵעַ — אַבָּיֵי אָמַר: אָסוּר, וְרָבָא אָמַר: מוּתָּר. רַב זְבִיד מַתְנִי לַהּ לְהָא שְׁמַעְתָּא הָכִי. רַב חִינָּנָא בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַב אִיקָא מַתְנִי לַהּ הָכִי: נוֹגֵעַ — דִּבְרֵי הַכֹּל אָסוּר, רוֹאֶה — אַבָּיֵי אָמַר: אָסוּר, רָבָא אָמַר: מוּתָּר: לֹא נִתְּנָה תּוֹרָה לְמַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת. וְהִלְכְתָא נוֹגֵעַ — אָסוּר, רוֹאֶה — מוּתָּר.
The Gemara notes, it was stated: If one’s heel sees his nakedness it is permitted. However, what is the halakha in a case where his heel touches his nakedness? May one in that circumstance recite Shema or not? Abaye said: It is prohibited, and Rava said: It is permitted. The Gemara notes: Rav Zevid taught this halakha in that manner. Rav Ḥinnana, son of Rav Ika, taught it as follows: In a case where his heel touches his nakedness, everyone agrees that it is prohibited. Their dispute is with regard to a case where his heel sees his nakedness. Abaye said: It is prohibited, and Rava said: It is permitted; the Torah was not given to the ministering angels, and a person, who, as opposed to a ministering angel, has genitals, cannot avoid this. And the halakha is that if his heel touches his nakedness it is prohibited, but if it merely sees his nakedness, it is permitted.
(ז) וַיִּשְׁלַח֩ הַכְּר֨וּב אֶת־יָד֜וֹ מִבֵּינ֣וֹת לַכְּרוּבִ֗ים אֶל־הָאֵשׁ֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ בֵּינ֣וֹת הַכְּרֻבִ֔ים וַיִּשָּׂא֙ וַיִּתֵּ֔ן אֶל־חׇפְנֵ֖י לְבֻ֣שׁ הַבַּדִּ֑ים וַיִּקַּ֖ח וַיֵּצֵֽא׃ (ח) וַיֵּרָ֖א לַכְּרֻבִ֑ים תַּבְנִית֙ יַד־אָדָ֔ם תַּ֖חַת כַּנְפֵיהֶֽם׃ (ט) וָאֶרְאֶ֗ה וְהִנֵּ֨ה אַרְבָּעָ֣ה אוֹפַנִּים֮ אֵ֣צֶל הַכְּרוּבִים֒ אוֹפַ֣ן אֶחָ֗ד אֵ֚צֶל הַכְּר֣וּב אֶחָ֔ד וְאוֹפַ֣ן אֶחָ֔ד אֵ֖צֶל הַכְּר֣וּב אֶחָ֑ד וּמַרְאֵה֙ הָא֣וֹפַנִּ֔ים כְּעֵ֖ין אֶ֥בֶן תַּרְשִֽׁישׁ׃ (י) וּמַ֨רְאֵיהֶ֔ם דְּמ֥וּת אֶחָ֖ד לְאַרְבַּעְתָּ֑ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר יִהְיֶ֥ה הָאוֹפַ֖ן בְּת֥וֹךְ הָאוֹפָֽן׃ (יא) בְּלֶכְתָּ֗ם אֶל־אַרְבַּ֤עַת רִבְעֵיהֶם֙ יֵלֵ֔כוּ לֹ֥א יִסַּ֖בּוּ בְּלֶכְתָּ֑ם כִּ֣י הַמָּק֞וֹם אֲשֶׁר־יִפְנֶ֤ה הָרֹאשׁ֙ אַחֲרָ֣יו יֵלֵ֔כוּ לֹ֥א יִסַּ֖בּוּ בְּלֶכְתָּֽם׃ (יב) וְכׇל־בְּשָׂרָם֙ וְגַבֵּהֶ֔ם וִידֵיהֶ֖ם וְכַנְפֵיהֶ֑ם וְהָאוֹפַנִּ֗ים מְלֵאִ֤ים עֵינַ֙יִם֙ סָבִ֔יב לְאַרְבַּעְתָּ֖ם אוֹפַנֵּיהֶֽם׃ (יג) לָא֖וֹפַנִּ֑ים לָהֶ֛ם קוֹרָ֥א הַגַּלְגַּ֖ל בְּאׇזְנָֽי׃
(7) And a cherub stretched out his hand among the cherubs to the fire that was among the cherubs; he took some and put it into the hands of him who was clothed in linen, who took it and went out. (8) The cherubs appeared to have the form of a man’s hand under their wings. (9) I could see that there were four wheels beside the cherubs, one wheel beside each of the cherubs; as for the appearance of the wheels, they gleamed like the beryl stone. (10) In appearance, the four had the same form, as if there were two wheels cutting through each other. (11) And when they moved, each could move in the direction of any of its four quarters; they did not veer as they moved. The [cherubs] moved in the direction in which one of the heads faced, without turning as they moved. (12) Their entire bodies—backs, hands, and wings—and the wheels, the wheels of the four of them, were covered all over with eyes. (13) It was these wheels that I had heard called “the wheelwork.”

Demons, Angels, and Writing in Ancient Judaism

Annette Yoshiko Reed

What did ancient Jews believe about demons and angels? This question has long been puzzling, not least because the Hebrew Bible says relatively little about such transmundane powers. In the centuries after the conquests of Alexander the Great, however, we find an explosion of explicit and systematic interest in, and detailed discussions of, demons and angels. In this book, Annette Yoshiko Reed considers the third century BCE as a critical moment for the beginnings of Jewish angelology and demonology. Drawing on early 'pseudepigrapha' and Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls, she reconstructs the scribal settings in which transmundane powers became a topic of concerted Jewish interest. Reed also situates this development in relation to shifting ideas about scribes and writing across the Hellenistic Near East. Her book opens a window onto a forgotten era of Jewish literary creativity that nevertheless deeply shaped the discussion of angels and demons in Judaism and Christianity.


December, 2011 Conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications

A telephone survey of the American general population (ages 18+) Interview dates: December 8 – 12, 2011

Number of interviews: 1,000 Margin of error for the total sample: +/- 4.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level NOTE: All results show percentages among all respondents, unless otherwise labeled. Please refer to the exact sample number at the bottom of each table. All results shown are percentages unless otherwise labeled.