Parashas Bereishis

The Midrash in Bereishis Rabbah 1:3 discusses when Hashem created the angels. R. Yochanan says it was on the second day, while R. Chanina says it was on the fifth day. The Midrash then continues:
Either way, it is agreed that they were not created on the first day – so that we should not say, “The angel Michael pulled at the south of the firmament, and the angel Gabriel at the north, with the Holy One Blessed Be He securing it at the middle. Rather (Yeshayah 44:24): “I am Hashem, who has made everything; I have stretched out the heavens by Myself, and firmly formed the earth of My own accord (מֵאִיתִּי, the read text). The written text is מי אתי (who is with Me?): Who collaborated with Me in the creation of the world?
Another matter: It is written (Tehillim 86:10): “For You are great, and perform wonders.” In our mortal world, a king is praised within his kingdom, and his ministers are praised along with him, for they share with him the burden of running the kingdom. But with the Holy One Blessed Be He it is not so. Rather, He alone created the world, He alone is praised within the world, and He alone takes pride in the world.” Thus, it is written further (ibid.): “For You, alone, are God” – You alone created the world.
The Torah warns us (Shemos 22:19): “One who brings offerings to subordinate powers shall be destroyed – [worship] only Hashem alone!” Ramban and other commentators say that the term “subordinate powers” in this verse includes the ministers Hashem emplaced within Heaven, through whom His bounty is conveyed from Him to us. Our tradition teaches that the Kingdom of Heaven is structured like an earthly kingdom. Just as an earthly king sets up a hierarchy of ministers to govern his kingdom, so, too, Hashem has set up a hierarchy of ministers whose job it is to pass down the various forms of bounty Hashem grants us. This legion of ministers is made up of the angels, and, below them, the stars and planets.
The wise men of ancient times knew which ministers deal with which forms of bounty. In addition, they knew how to induce these ministers to send forth the bounty they hold: by making an image representing the relevant minister, and then bowing to it, or bringing offerings before it, or pouring forth libations before it. Rambam, in Moreh Nevuchim, discusses this matter at length. In the verse we just quoted, the Torah is warning us not to engage in such conduct. We must not, far be it, seek aid from these celestial ministers. Moreover, we must not honor them, only Hashem alone.
Now, we might wonder why Hashem does not want us to honor these lofty beings. After all, a mortal king expects his subjects to honor his ministers. The Midrash teaches us, though, that there is a key difference. A mortal king needs his ministers to help him govern his kingdom. Without ministers, he could not govern even one small town. Thus, the ministers deserve honor and praise, each according to his level. But Hashem needs no help, far be it, in running the world. Therefore, it is out of place to show His ministers any honor.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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