Saturday, October 25, 2008

Michael



Listen to Michael Pronounced


Michael is the name of one of the four heavenly archangels.


Although Judaism recognizes the significant role of angels in the metaphysical maintenance of our world, their presence is hidden in the Torah. Angels are first mentioned outright in the books of the Prophets. Ma'lachim, as angels are called in Hebrew, are completely spiritual beings who serve as God’s messengers. The archangels are a special breed of ma'lachim who have specific roles to fulfill in the world. The roles of the most famous of these archangels are reflected in their names:

Raphael - “God heals”
Gabriel - “The strength of God”
Uriel - “God is my light”
Michael - “Who is like God?”

Michael’s name does not shed much light on his role in the universe, but he is actually the primary advocate of the Nation of Israel. Thus in the Book of Daniel it is written: “At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people” (Daniel 12:1).

Various Midrashim (ancient legends from the Oral Tradition) credit Michael with a wide array of life-saving acts. It was he who pulled Abraham from the fiery furnace, and walked with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in a similar situation. He led Raphael and Gabriel to Abraham’s tent and there announced that Sarah would bear a son whom they should name Yitzchak (Isaac). He was sent by God to destroy the Assyrian army of Sannacherib. While Michael acts as Israel’s protector and God’s messenger of might on earth, in the heavenly court, he is an advocate for the Children of Israel. For example: “The more Haman accused Israel on earth, the more Michael defended Israel in heaven” (Esther Rabbah 3:8).

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