Thursday, October 2, 2008

1:3:75: Change of the Angelic Honor-Guard

A quiet day on the Bloggadah, so here is an incidental post about Midrash 75, in which the place name Machanayim (two camps) signifies the bands of angels who accompanied Jacob while he was in Israel giving way to diasporic angels who accompanied him outside the Land.

As I recall hearing him tell it, Professor David Weiss Halivini used this midrash in his hesped (eulogy) for Professor Saul Lieberman. The great talmudist Professor Lieberman, who had been the young Weiss-Halivni's mentor in America, had passed away on an airplane flight from the United States to Israel. Professor Halivni quoted our midrash about Jacob and said that evidently the angels of the diaspora and the angels of Eretz Israel had all contended for the honor of escorting Professor Lieberman from this world, and so, as both could justify their case, Professor Lieberman passed away in mid-air, between and above the two domains, where both guards of angels could escort him.

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