Angels are first mentioned in the Talmud in Masechet Brachot 4b. Quoting a Tosefta, we learn the number of flights an angel needs to get from one place to the next. Michael needs only one flight. Gabriel two. Elijah the Prophet, who was assumed into heaven and at times travels the earth, needs four flights. The Angel of Death needs eight flights. Except during a plague.

.וּמַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת — בִּשְׁמֹנֶה. וּבִשְׁעַת הַמַּגֵּפָה, בְּאֶחָת

And the Angel of Death, in eight. During a time of plague, in one.

During a plague – when death feels ubiquitous – the Angel of Death needs only one flight. In a pandemic, the Angel of Death is as powerful in flight as the Archangel Michael. Right now, it certainly seems like the Angel of Death has stronger wings then ever, empowered by the twin plagues of Covid-19 and virulent racism, the twin plagues of virus and hate that are claiming lives.

Ministers of Earthly Blessings
The angel of death
Has new wings
And leaps in powerful bounds
To claim souls
For heaven.

And why do we lend ourselves to this cause,
When plagues still stalk the earth?
The plague of disease that strangles from within.
The plague of violence that strangles from without.

We are the ministers of healing,
The angels of righteousness,
Touched by the Holy One,
The emissaries of earthly blessings.
We are the wings of life,
And the agents of change,
In the streets,
In the courts,
In the hospitals and clinics,
In our homes and in our communities.

Give love your power.
Give justice your voice.
Give truth the work of your hands.

Let us fly more swiftly than the plague itself,
Spreading hope and healing
Throughout the land.
We are the wings of wholeness.
We are the wings of peace.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and

Service Section: Psalms, Poetry & Songs, Commentary/Meditations 
Source: Alden Solovy: