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Friday, 30 October, 2015 - 6:14 am



(From a previous Good Shabbos Email)

They have termed it one of the world’s great wonders. At least twelve million visiting people agree, as they make their way there each year.

Traveling to and from a speaking engagement in Ontario, Canada, took me straight through this breathtaking vista called “Niagara Falls.” Having never been there before, this was, I thought, a great time to stop for a few minutes and see what the fuss was all about. Visitors can spend a few days here. Even with my few minutes, though, there was so much to see and to learn.

This sight mesmerizes anyone walking or driving past, and has inspired artists, singers and, of course photographers. But I did not have to see the Falls to know I was there. The deafening noise created by all that water cascading hundreds of feet down the Falls saw to that. With hundreds of thousands of gallons of water falling over those rocks every second, the noise is even louder than expected.

As a ploy to attract as many tourists as possible, they have installed recreational bustle and commotion, turning night into day. The noise, at least on the Canadian side of the Falls, is that much more manifest.

And that was just during the night. During the day, when many more visitors are typically expected, more water is allowed to flow over the Falls to the tune of more than half a million gallons per second. In addition to the obvious stunning and remarkable impression of this place, there is no escaping the power. During the evening, the giant hydroelectric power plants siphon and divert the water destined for the Falls, to generate electric power for the many regions that benefit from this massive offering of natural energy.

As the waters flow from Lake Erie towards Lake Ontario, their fall releases so much energy that countless millions of homes, including a quarter of the homes in New York state and Ontario, are powered by the water of these Falls. That is a staggering number.

Power can be generated by fossil fuels, nuclear energy, wind, and so forth. Water, however, has more meaning to humans than any other form. First, without water there is no life. Then there is the vital and close relationship water has with every human being, as it is used to drink, to clean, to bathe, and so forth.

When one sees a massive quantity of water generating so much power, while realizing that the same material is present in every single household, it is much easier to relate.

The spiritual energies and forces also work in this way as well, as understood from this week’s Torah portion, “Vayeira.” The portion details the second half of the patriarch Abraham’s life. The beginning of the portion records how the Almighty appeared to Abraham. (B’raishis (Genesis) 18:1-3). As this visit was unfolding, angels appeared. Abraham tended to them immediately, and then they continued on to fulfill their respective assignments. Those angels later paid a visit to the wicked city of Sodom. The mission of one of them was to rescue Lot, Abraham’s nephew, from the city destined for destruction by the other angel (19:12-13).

Later in the portion, an angel appears to a distressed Hagar, the second wife of Abraham, and saves her son (21:17-19).

The end of the portion records Abraham’s final test. The Almighty asks of him the unimaginable: to slaughter his beloved son, Isaac. Abraham abides without question. Holding the knife in a raised hand, Abraham is about to carry out the instruction when an “angel of G-d called to him from Heaven and said: ‘Abraham! Abraham! ...Do not stretch out your hand to (slaughter) him, or do the slightest thing to him. Now I know that you are a G-d fearing man.’” Shortly thereafter, the angel calls out to Abraham again, bestowing great blessings upon him. (Chapter 22).

Surprisingly, although the Almighty Himself provides the instruction to Abraham to slaughter his son, it is an angel of the Almighty who calls to Abraham not to follow that instruction, saving Isaac’s life.

It is clear from the episodes in this week’s portion that angels are assigned for rescuing purposes. And so, an angel saved Lot, Hagar, and Isaac. In the previous portion, the Torah relates how Hagar was saved by an angel from other difficulties (16:7-13). When the Jewish people were standing at the Red Sea, a marauding Egyptian army behind them, “an angel of G-d, who had been going in front of the Jewish camp, moved and went behind them (and the Egyptian camp)” (Sh’mos (Exodus) 14:19). And when the evil prophet Balaam tried to curse the Jewish people, an angel was sent to divert him. (B’midbar (Numbers) 22:22-35).

Angels, of course, serve other functions as well. Yet, the Torah is clear how angels are sent to save those the Almighty wishes to be saved. It is for this reason that Jacob blesses his grandsons that “the angel who redeemed me from all harm should bless these lads.” (B’raishis (Genesis) 48:16).

The reason an angel is sent is because, when a person is in trouble, when a person needs to be saved from impending doom, the Almighty chooses to send a created being – albeit a spiritual one – a messenger to whom the human can better relate. This kindness would allow the person in distress a better chance to focus, not to “lose it,” and to be rescued from the predicament at hand.

There are many messengers at the disposal of our Father in heaven. When a person is saved from a crisis, from an impossible situation, one may think that somehow the natural order of things has worked itself out. When one thinks it through properly, though, and especially when one contemplates other possible outcomes, one should realize that the Almighty has a hand in this situation.

Just as a human relates better to the energy generated by water since it is a vital component of a human’s life, similarly, angels, and other messengers, are utilized by the Almighty, allowing the human to relate better.

It is up to humans, then, to acknowledge and thank the Master of the universe for everything one has and for every time something works itself out, “somehow”.

May everyone experience an abundance of wonderful positive energy.


SUMMARY :  Lots of water generates an abundance of energy to which humans can relate. Humans in trouble are usually helped and rescued by the Almighty through a messenger (or a “Malach,” a messenger in the form of an angel), to make it easier to relate to that messenger.

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