By Jo Strausz Rosen

The Hebrew word for angel is Malach, meaning messenger: one who is sent. When I walk about the campus of JSL, I am comforted in the presence of the Malachim around me. They are not the cherubs who adorn architecture and art, but the devoted JSL staff. They are the front-line workers, the drivers, the administrators, the marketing team, the life enrichment coordinators, the leasing staff, the supervisors, the receptionists, HR and resident service coordinators, the dining room managers, front desk greeters, the med-passers, the nurses, the caregivers, volunteers, board members and vendors who work together to insure that the lives of our independent living, assisted living and memory care residents are happy and blessed.

An angel is anyone who is sent. Just as anyone who is sent can be an angel. It is required only that there be an earthly mission to be fulfilled. Perhaps you bent down to pick up the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle from a box that toppled over. Or you rushed to help a fellow human who tripped and momentarily lost balance. But you were there. There is one great difference between Malachim and human messengers. While angels on errands in this world may know why they are sent and where they’re meant to go, people chosen by G-d as messengers may not even know they are G-d’s messengers. While we go about our daily tasks, consumed by our own lives, plans, and itineraries, G-d sends us where we’re meant to go without us being aware of the assignment.

Think of a time you acted on an impulse, to call or write or move based on the flow you felt. An idea occurs to you, and the idea inspires action. But sometimes, we stop short of acting. We may wait, hesitate, take a phone call, and get distracted and miss the moment when the divine energy flowed into us. Staying tuned into those ideas, those urges, that energy keeps us connected so we are receptive to the inspiration to carry out holy errands.

I like to think about how many times in our lives, we are messengers. We are not always going where we are going for the reasons we think we are. Think of a time when you entered a room and met someone and after a while you understood that unknown to either of you there was a reason you had met. You changed each other or shared something vital. By some word or deed or simply by your presence, an important mission was completed. Maybe you felt bewildered or humbled or grateful. And after the moment was over, the memory of it stayed with you.

The Zohar (I,101a) part of the Babylonian Talmud says, “And indeed whenever the celestial spirits descend to earth, they clothe themselves in physical things and appear to men in human shape.”

I love this Lawrence Kushner passage in Honey from the Rock:

Each lifetime is the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

For some there are more pieces.

For others the puzzle is more difficult to assemble.

Some seem to be born with a nearly completed puzzle.

And so, it goes.


Souls going this way and that

Trying to assemble the myriad parts.

But I know this. You do not have within yourself

All the pieces to your puzzle.

Like before the days when they used to seal

Jigsaw puzzles in cellophane. Insuring that

All the pieces were there.

Everyone carries with them at least one and probably

Many pieces to someone else’s puzzle.

Sometimes they know it.

Sometimes they don’t.


And when you present your piece

Which is worthless to you,

To another, whether you know it or not,

Whether they know it or not,

You are a messenger from the Most High.”


Let’s be open to our missions of kindness as humans on Earth. Never forget that you too, may be a messenger.

Shabbat Shalom

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