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Even Angels Do Tshuva

Yoma Daf 77

Today’s daf brings us an Aggadata inserted between the proof texts of the  עינוים of refraining from moisturizing oneself and washing. The עינוים  transport us from our physical concerns to a more focused spiritual space of Tefillah, Tshuva and receiving Kaparah.

Our daf begins with verses from Yehezkel detailing the sinful and idolatrous behavior of Bnei Yisrael that took place in the Mikdash. The Aggadata’s focus however is not on Bnei Yisrael but on the heavenly response between Hashem and the angels, Michael and Gavriel.

Hashem turns to Michael to defend the nation: “Michael, your nation has sinned”, but Michael’s defense of Bnei Yisrael is not a strong enough deterrent to Hashem’s wrath.  Ben Yehoydaya points out that Michael should have followed Moshe’s specific prayers used at the sin of the golden calf. In his pleading, Moshe invoked the merits of our forefathers. Moshe added that it would be a complete and utter Hillul Hashem to destroy the people after their exodus from Egypt. After all, what would Egypt say?

Hashem now turns to Gavriel to carry out the punishment.  We generally understand that angels follow the Hashem’s exact commands. However here we have Gavriel, an angel, who doesn’t fully comply. His infraction is due to his desire to spare Bnei Yisrael from a harsher punishment. The result is that Gavriel is punished with both 60 lashes of fire (perhaps this is the additional heat that he had removed from the coals), as well as excommunication. He only returns to Hashem’s court ( וַאֲנִי בָאתִי בִּדְבָרֶיךָ (Sefer Daniel 10:12)) when he praises Daniel’s merits saying that they outweigh those of the wise men of all the nations. 

The Aggadata shows us the impact in the heavenly court of Bnei Yisrael’s actions from idolatrous sins to Daniel’s redemptive behavior. We see that Hashem doesn’t want to punish Am Yisrael nor do the angels want to carry out such a mission. As we get closer to the end of Yoma and to Yom Kippur itself, the daf presents תוכחה a reminder to act as Am Hashem so that the angels will sing our praises in the heavenly court.

By Susan Suna

Teachers: Susan Suna and Dena Rock

Alon Shvut Women's Daf Yomi

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