Who doesn’t love angels, those ethereal creatures who mediate between heaven and earth –between the spiritual and physical worlds.
Angel imagery in Jewish needle crafts goes all the way back to the first official Jewish sewing project: the Tabernacle that the Israelites built to house the Ark of the Covenant. In front of the Holy of Holies in which the Ark stood, the Israelites hung curtains with images of angels, created by either weaving or embroidery, depending on the Torah translation you’re working with.
The presence of angels is woven through the Torah. A cherubim guards the entrance to the Garden of Eden. Angels go up and down a ladder in Jacob’s famous dream. Even people in the Torah can turn out to be angels, like the three strangers that Abraham and Sarah fed and the man who wrestled Jacob.
Some of the earliest schools of Jewish meditative practice taught that fearsome angels guard the path to God’s presence. Jewish mystical schools developed the idea that angels are responsible for carrying out God’s plan for the world, even to the smallest detail.
In the traditional Friday night song Shalom Aleichem, we welcome “ministering angels, messengers of the Most High,” and we ask these messengers to bless us with peace. Which makes angels a great motif for us, especially for Shabbat, even today.
[Image: Angel detail from a challah cover.]
Maria Bywater is the author of Sew Jewish: The 18 Projects You Need for Jewish Holidays, Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Celebrations, and Home. The book is available in paperback at Amazon.com and Etsy and available for instant download in PDF format on Etsy. She teaches hands-on Judaica sewing workshops.