Vayak'hel: Chapter 3

The Angel of Death is present among the women


At daylight the rabbis rise from studying the Torah and go to see Rabbi Shimon. He cautions them not to go outside because the Angel of Death is around, and has permission to destroy whoever he wants. Rabbi Shimon explains that the angel of death can ask for justice before God by repeating someone's offenses; when the person is sentenced, the Angel of Death kills him. When a dead man is taken to the cemetery, the Angel of Death is among the women, so the men must not look at the women. The ancient wise men decreed that a Shofar should be blown when the dead person was taken from his house, in order that the Angel of Death should have no power over the living. Then we hear that when Yisrael made the calf and many died, the angel of death was among the women inside the camp of Yisrael; Moses saw this, so he gathered the men all by themselves. The angel of death did not leave the women until the tabernacle was built. Rabbi Shimon says that if the angel of death is among seven women he seeks justice, but if he is among ten women he blames and seeks to kill. After these admonitions the rabbis study Torah all day. Then Rabbi Shimon discusses the story of the ark, asking why God did not just move Noah to a safe place where the flood waters would not come. He answers saying that since the destroyer came into the world whoever did not protect himself and was found before him in the open forfeits his life because he brings death upon himself. We hear that while the rabbis are hiding at home thirteen people in town died, and Rabbi Shimon says: blessed be the merciful, that the Angel of Death did not behold your images.