Parsha Bereishit by David Hartley Mark

It had been a long day in my little study, grading papers, preparing midterm reports, and other clerical college work, and I had yet to write any Torah Talk—anything about the Majestic Beginnings of the Universe—God’s Bringing Forth of Light from Chaos (which He had also specially created; there had to be Disorder first, for Order to spring therefrom). Beresheet/Genesis was a matter of Great Import, but the Hour was Late. My head nodded, and I dozed—
–Only to be awakened—what time was it? 2am? 3? A great clatter and clanging of bells: coppery-, gold- and silver-sounding, with some brasses thrown in, like an admixture of cymbals and kettledrums, with some hand-clapper-castanets for the topmost-octave. Kirby, my hapless Shih Tzu, who had been napping beneath a lowboy on which stood a bust of Shakespeare, whimpered, and crawled closer to the computer-tower that rested on the floor, seeking its protection.

There, sprawled on the cramp, close-quarters-carpeting of my study was an Angel—but angel such that Tintoretto or Botticelli never painted; no. He was garbed all in white Samite, flowing robes; true, with gold-and-silver-tip wings, beauteous and splendid, but surrounding him were helter-skelter Scrolls of Heavenly Documents, and Divine—computer-discs?—sparkling with Heavenly Light, lay all about his Feet, which seemed to have very large toes.

The Angel blinked—he had the most beauteous, round-brown eyes, deep and dark as a chocolate pudding; he shook his head, all flowing with auburn curls, as if to clear it of Heavenly Cobwebs, straightened his Halo and Kippah (I had marked him as being a Jewish Angel; they are a particular, deep-thinking breed), looked about himself, and, satisfied that he was in the Correct Locale, marked me, and grinned. He had rows of small, but perfect, white teeth.

“Veekoochiel,” he said, extending a long, pale-white hand, “Archangel. At your service” (This, he spoke, in the Purest Biblical Hebrew I had ever heard, and I mentally thanked my legions of hard-working rabbis and Bible professors of years before, that I was able to comprehend him.)

“Veekoochiel,” I said, numbly, “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that name before, not among the Archangels who are listed in the 17th-Century Book of Angelology by Launcelot Andrewes, and certainly not in Kabbalah, either.”

“It means, ‘The Debater of God,’” said my Visitor, hovering to his feet, and floating easily over to the old grey office chair near the Eastern wall of my study—which only made sense, it being closest to the Holy City of Jerusalem. He folded his wings expertly, and perched on the edge of the chair, like a great Dove of Peace, “I am the Angelic Advocate who debates Satan, the Prosecutor, in Matters of Celestial Import.”

“And what matter has sprung up, lately?” I ventured, in lugubrious tone, “The enormous suffering of humanity? The attacks by terrorists against innocent victims? Ongoing civil wars? Humanity’s enormous talent for despoiling the Environment in its never-ending quest for fossil fuel? Violence in Society? Racism? And what about–?”

“Yes, yes; that’s really enough,” said the Angel, puffing as he reached down to gather his various papers and computer paraphernalia, “The fact is, Reb Dovid, I am here on a Mission. The Old Man—God, that is—is in a Quandary, and he sent me to gather some Information. He’s really of Two Minds, and, when You’re Monotheistic, it does make matters difficult.”

“It’s a little late in history for us Jews to go Dualistic, or Zoroastrian,” I answered. “What exactly is God hesitant about?”

“Well,” said the Angel, hesitantly, “with Beresheet, the Book of Beginnings, coming up again, and it looking as if He has another chance to get things right, this time, God is—is—“

“Is what?” I said, a bit impatiently, it getting later, and my having classes to teach in the morning.

“—Is thinking about, perhaps, NOT creating Man and Woman, this time ‘round. He—God, that is—might go with a highly-functioning-animal of some sort—maybe a parrot-gorilla-blend, with a working voice-box and opposable thumb, or perhaps a computerized android. Yes. That was the last proposal of the Heavenly Junta, when I left the Gathering.”

“No Humanity?” I asked, in shock.

“Yes. I mean, No. No More Humanity.”

“But where will that leave all of us?” I whisperered in horror.

“Well, you’ll all die out, eventually,” said the Angel, in a business-like tone, “and, frankly, the way things have been going—regressing as they are—it looks as if that might happen pretty much sooner than later. And God is, as you know, Infinitely Patient.” He shuffled through his papers.

“What would change His mind?” I asked, thinking all sorts of desperate thoughts, and no longer tired.

“It’s not that easy. God has two natures, you know: the True Judge, as well as Kind and Compassionate. But, lately, Humanity has been taking advantage of the latter—I’m just an Angel, hence not subject to human feelings, but how did you folks ever let Evil get the upper hand so thoroughly? You really must try to regain control—angels of your better natures, you know….”

“Well, how much time do we have, to—to—turn things around?”

“Oh, I can’t say, R’ Dovid; I’m not God, you know—but you all should be aware, that you’ve been placed On Warning. God is patient, but His patience is not infinite. He was insistent about One Thing, though.”

“And what was that?”

“You must begin to make honest efforts toward Peace, Shalom, Salaam, beginning this very Shabbat. It is, after all the Shabbat of Beginnings. The Clock—the Universal Clock of Human Destiny—is ticking. So, all of you, all of Humanity, should Be Aware: Improve Yourselves, in Every Way, both Big and Small. Every Mitzvah, no matter How Insignificant it may appear to you, is another tip on the Scale of Good against Evil. God will wait, but for how long, I cannot tell. I will debate Him for as long as I can, but the Prosecutor grows more powerful with every Evil Deed
which Humanity performs. You are all placed on Warning, on Warning. Well; that’s my time; I must go—must be off….”

And vanished.

David Hartley Mark is from New York City’s Lower East Side. He attended Yeshiva University, the City University of NY Graduate Center for English Literature, and received semicha at the Academy for Jewish Religion. He currently teaches English at Everglades University in Boca Raton, FL, and has a Shabbat pulpit at Temple Sholom of Pompano Beach. His literary tastes run to Isaac Bashevis Singer, Stephen King, King David, Kohelet, Christopher Marlowe, and the Harlem Renaissance

Enjoyed this archived service or article? Click here to donate $3 to OneShul (care of PunkTorah).

Support OneShul on GoFundMe

Leave a Reply