Speaking about the beginning of the portion Nitzavim, the Midrash says on that Shabbat the Creator makes the Israelites - and us - like angels. It tells us in Isaiah that the angels stand above the Creator, and Rashi, the great kabbalist, explains this means that the angels stand ready and waiting to serve the Creator, to manifest the Creator’s Light in this world. Therefore, the Midrash tells us the word nitzavim, which means “stand up,” is referring to the ability to stand up like angels that each one of us on the Shabbat of Nitzavim is being given. That is a very important message: on Shabbat Nitzavim, we can become like an angel.
But, what does it mean that the Creator gives us the ability to become like the angels, and how can that be accomplished? Further, what connection does this have to being the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah?
The kabbalists explain that angels are unique beings whose entire essence and Light come only from their actions. In fact, angels do not have names; their name, or essence, depends on the message or action the Creator is sending them to do. When the Creator sends an angel to bring healing, for example, the angel becomes an angel of healing, or when the Creator sends an angel to bring sustenance, he becomes an angel of sustenance. And from that, he draws his connection and name.
So, while the angels are doing the action, their Light is coming from the task they are manifesting for the Creator. But, what about the angels that are waiting, that are between jobs - where do they draw their Light or essence? Kabbalists explain it comes from the consciousness of their desire, of their readiness to do what the Creator wants them to do. Therefore, there are two types of angels: those who are acting upon the Creator’s desires, manifesting Light and blessings in this world, and those who are between tasks, drawing their essence from the fact that they are waiting, and desire to do what the Creator wants them to do.
Kabbalists say there are four things that make an angel: he is ready, prepared, standing, and desires to do what the Creator wants him to do. With that, we can understand what it means to become an angel. There are, as we said, angels of action; righteous people are connected in that way. But, there is another shift in consciousness that can occur to make a person an angel; when an individual truly comes to the consciousness such that he is standing, willing, prepared, and ready to do whatever the Creator wants him to do, completely annulling any of his own selfish desires, then he attains the level of an angel.
On Rosh Hashanah, the Light and blessings flow down into the collective, which is called knesset Yisrael; however, we are not a part of it. We are all currently in the state of being an individual, separated from the collective. In order to gain entry into it and receive the pool of blessings that are guaranteed to flow down on Rosh Hashanah, we either have to merit it, or, for those of us who have not completed our process of teshuvah, we have to become an angel on consciousness. And the Midrash tells us that on Shabbat Nitzavim the Creator gives us the opening to become angels of consciousness. We do that by proving we know that no matter what happens, it comes from the Creator and we accept it with joy, because it is what the Creator wants from us.
Most of us currently wake up each morning and have our own plan for the day. But, the Creator also has a plan for us for that day that may be different than our own. So, how do we react to the Creator’s plan for the day? Do we say - “I am ready, willing, and waiting to annul all of my desires for the Creator’s plan. I am ready, standing, prepared, and desire to do whatever the Creator wants me to do”? Because it is in those moments we have the opportunity to shift our consciousness to that of an angel’s. And if we do it, if we are able to become an angel of consciousness in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah, we can gain access to the place from which all the Light and blessings flow down.