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Shabbat Parashat Shemot 5780

Ein Ayah: The Angel of Deaths Gift of Life

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:106)

Gemara: The angel of death also gave Moshe a present. We see this is from the pasuk: “[Aharon] took the incense [based on Moshe’s instructions], and he atoned on the nation” (Bamidbar 17:12). And it says: “He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped” (ibid. 13). Had the [angel of death not told Moshe], how would he have known?  


Ein Ayah: The power of destruction, damage, death, and reduction to nothingness is part of the building of the world. The power that makes things disappear improves the building of that which exists. When the connection between elements is complete and all of the worlds and their powers, both spiritual and physical, remain properly linked, then all the powers are able to complete their jobs. Under such circumstances, the power of death serves the power of life.

This is the special characteristic of the incense, which unites all the essence of all that impacts life, both material and spiritual, according to the wonderful values that Hashem set out in the Torah. However, it is more difficult to use the power of death positively before the time that the spirit of impurity will be removed from the land. Turning destructiveness into the power to build was a one-time revelation when the power of evil and death was given in a special manner to Moshe, who possessed a special grandeur when he went to the Heavens to receive the Torah. Then, the light of life was able to shine from the loftiest places of the Heavens onto the broad land.

The gemara says that had the angel of death not told Moshe, he would not have known. This revelation could only come when the power of destruction itself (the angel of death) took part in the job of building and in the world of existence. Then this power could find its broadest purpose, which is using destruction to further the building. It is true that the power of destruction’s use for the positive will occur on a widespread basis only in the distant future, and so its use for sweetening that which is bitter is now still hidden. Therefore, Hashem had to give mitzvot with which to improve the whole of humanity. However, on a one-time basis, to stop a plague by getting the angel of death involved in the process of building by teaching the power of the incense, this had a special chance of helping because of the angel of death’s involvement in the process. It was also important that it was used at a time in which there was a unique need, which was unlike the regular rules with which the perfect Torah deals.

This revelation is also related to the Torah [as the mitzva of offering incense is found there], as there is nothing missing from the Torah, and it causes those who learn it to have special grace. This grace found full force at the powerful time that the messenger of Hashem, the great shepherd of the people, arrived in the Heaven to bring light to the world. This light of Torah is the source of peace, love, and a foundation of life and improvement of the entire universe including the world of the angels.
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