Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Origins: The "shoulder angel" and the "shoulder devil"?

Have you ever seen the cartoons where someone has an angel on one shoulder, and a devil on the other? Apparently it's not a Hollywood invention. The idea can be traced back at least as far as the Talmud, an ancient Jewish writing.
It was taught, R. Jose son of R. Judah said: Two ministering angels accompany man on the eve of the Sabbath from the synagogue to his home, one good and one an evil. And when he arrives home and finds the lamp burning, the table laid and the couch covered with a spread*, the good angel exclaims, ‘May it be even thus on another Sabbath,’ and the evil angel unwillingly responds ‘amen’. But if not, the evil angel exclaims, ‘May it be even thus on another Sabbath’ and the good angel unwillingly responds, ‘amen’. (Sabbath 119b)
* These are comforts that involve work. If not done before the Sabbath, it's forbidden to attend to them on the Sabbath.


Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for shedding light on that cliche.

Weekend Fisher said...

I've been toying with the idea of giving a name to my shoulder devil ... so I can tell him to knock it off. :)
Maybe I should give one to my shoulder angel, to say thank-you ...

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF