Even Angels Need Each Other

By Rabbi Michael R. Boino

One of the most difficult theological concepts of the High Holy Days for many of us to accept is that of God as King. The idea of a supreme ruler who demands complete submission and service, punishes people for wrongdoing, and rewards those who do good can be difficult to take on. It can make us uncomfortable, and it runs counter to what we know to be true about the human condition. But turning to our liturgy, it seems that accepting God’s Kingship might mean something entirely different.

During our tefilot each morning, we recite a version of the Kedusha, a text that describes — in a way that is intended to be both instructional aspirational — how the angels worship God. We read that the first action they undertake is to “accept upon themselves the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, one from another.”

The image is striking. A yoke is a piece of equipment that binds two animals together so they can pull a burden that would be too heavy or even impossible for one animal alone. Accepting God as King is the acknowledgement that life is too much for any one of us to experience on our own. It’s the action of sharing our pain, hardship, and joy with each other without expectation. We cannot see God and live, but we cannot truly live without being seen and supported by one another.

Even angels need each other. As we prepare to call God “King,” may we follow their example.

About Rabbi Michael R. Boino

Rabbi Boino serves as Coordinator of Pastoral Care and Support here at BJ, and as Spiritual Care Coordinator at the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services.