The Mal’ach HaMavet– The Angel of Death, and the Tree of Life were both created on the same day, several billion years ago. They were Yin and Yang.
At first the Tree of Life only produced single cell organisms that reproduced by splitting, so evolution progressed very slowly through occasional genetic mutations. Each cell was a clone of another cell and while most died some always survived. Since the survivors were perfect reproductions and direct descendants of the original cells, they were literally immortal.
The Mal’ach HaMavet did its job slaying single cells, as the Lord had commanded, but its contribution to The Tree of Life didn’t seem very important.
Then one day sexual reproduction began. Now as generations died the gene pool was modified through sexual selection, genetic drift and survival adaptation. Now the Angel of Death saw much more quickly and clearly the fruits of its labors. On land, in the forests of the Garden of Eden, the Mal’ach HaMavet developed a new great form of mass death: fire.
A ponderosa forest needs low-intensity wildfires, which burn every 2 to 12 years, to clear the forest floor of organic litter and allow for the reseeding of new grasses and other ‘under the branches’ plants. Without periodic fires in overcrowded forests, the trees become increasingly susceptible to attack by insects, pathogens, and catastrophic crown fires.
Some species of trees only drop their seeds after a fire, when conditions for reproduction are substantially improved. Forests need fire as animal species need predation; to prevent individual decline and decrepitude from afflicting the community Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life now grew healthier. The Angel of Death used natural catastrophes-acts of God, like fires, floods, volcanoes, and ice ages to accelerate evolution even more quickly; and the Tree of Life sprouted fruits with bigger brains and greater adaptability. There came a day when some creatures were even able to use and make fire.
Then one day God caused the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil to grow next to the Tree of Life. For eons none of the creatures paid attention to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, whose fruit was not that attractive. So the Lord commanded the Mal’ach HaMavet to work as a Satan-a tempter. Only one creature on planet Earth had the potential ability to discern right from wrong; but the male wasn’t interested.
Thank God, the female was attracted to the fruits of morality and desired to become discerning, even if it meant also knowing death was inevitable. She brought a self-conscious awareness of morality and mortality into the natural world.
The Mal’ach HaMavet should be seen as a Divine agent promoting the development of the Tree of Life by enabling new and different generations to replace previous ones. Human self-consciousness provides for awareness of both morality and mortality.
Humans who now know that death is essential to growth should understand why the Mal’ach HaMavet is an angel who was created together with the Tree of Life. We should mourn the death of our loved ones, as a personal loss, not as a cosmic chastisement. Death is as natural as life.
For terminal illnesses death often is less painful than life. Death can be a real angel. The Mal’ach HaMavet is the good earth that digests the dead in order to nourish the living. As Rabbi Meir said: TOV MEOD-very good, read it as TOV MAVET- death is good.
The Malach HaMavet-the Angel of Death came before the Lord and complained that his job was becoming increasingly difficult.
“I had no problems until You created humans” he said. “Animals get sick and they die. When Eve ate from the Tree of Moral Knowledge and became spiritually self aware, humans gained knowledge of their own eventual mortality. They began to seek ways to combat death and discovered the power of herbs and spiritual activities like prayer and healing rituals.
Of course, in the end I always win, but Raphael-the Angel of Spiritual Healing would often snatch a person away from me and I wouldn’t win till years later.
Then You gave the Torah to Israel at Sinai and people learned that by following Your path and doing Mitsvot they could extend their days on the earth. If they didn’t covet what others had they avoided greed, envy, jealousy, anger, resentment, frustration and over-competitiveness, all negative emotions that shorten one’s days on the earth.
They also learned that if they continually celebrated Shabbat and made it holy they would lower their levels of stress, tension, anxiety and alienation. Of course, religion isn’t magic and even the very good sometimes die young, but my job was getting harder and harder.
Now humans have developed modern medicine. They have reduced the infant mortality rate by 95%. They have eliminated polio, smallpox and many other infectious diseases. Famine rarely devastates the population as it did in the old days. Of course, people still die of old age. But that isn’t my victory because they usually are ready to die and often they blame me for coming to late. You have to do something.”
God said, “I already anticipated all this. Over 2500 years ago the Prophet Isaiah predicted that the day would come when, “no child will die as an infant and old people will not die prematurely, a child will live till a hundred and whoever dies prior to that will be thought accursed.” (65:20)
But that is not an automatic process. People will have to work to attain longer life by spiritual self-discipline. Satan has prepared some new temptations that will shorten life if they are not resisted.
You already know of smoking and excess drinking, of hatred and violence. Now Satan is adding self-indulgence in the forms of drugs, sugar and fat. Obesity and Diabetes will be your allies. Almost all Jews in the past fasted on Yom Kippur. Now most can’t even discipline their appetite for 24 hours.
Pleasure seeking self-centered people, who reject self-discipline, community and religious tradition, will be your opportunity. Your job might become easier again.” As the rabbis say: “Death is the end of all tsurus.” Midbar Yehudah