Then he taught me, and he said to me,
“Take hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands, and you will live.” — Proverbs 4:4
In Judaism, the Talmud teaches that as a baby is growing and developing in the mother’s womb, a personal angel is sent to teach that child all there is to know about God, His Word, and the truth about life. This idea is derived from the verse in Proverbs which states: “Then he taught me, and he said to me, ‘Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.’”
First we are taught all there is to know about life and then we are sent to live. However, just before a baby is born, the angel touches it and it forgets everything. Still, there is one thing that remains with us from this spiritual encounter — the impression that the angel made on us, literally.
The Jewish sages teach that the place that the angel touches us is right between our nose and our mouth. Anatomically, this place is called the philtrum — the vertical indentation in the middle portion of the upper lip. And if you look closely at the philtrum it does look like the imprint of a fingertip!
Interesting story, you might think, but what’s the point? Why would God send us an angel to teach us everything only to make us forget it? The answer is that while the knowledge may be forgotten, it is not gone. It remains inside us — we need only to uncover it.
Think of it this way. When you forget where you put your car keys, you can eventually remember where you placed them because that knowledge is there. But it’s impossible to remember where someone else put them because that information is not in you. Or perhaps you’ve had the experience of forgetting how to get to a place you’ve been before, but you know that when you see the right roads, you’ll remember.
Not all that is forgotten is gone. In fact our forgotten wisdom can guide us throughout our lives. Either we can connect with the knowledge deep within us, or we can be guided by knowing the truth when we see it because we have seen it before.
Either way, the good news is that God doesn’t send us into the world clueless. All we need to know is with us; we need only to uncover the truth and bring it into our lives by our own effort.
The next time you feel confused or out of answers, touch the place where the angel touched you. In doing so, you also will be placing your finger over your lips. This is the message that your personal angel left for you: Be still, be quiet, and remember.
The answers are all inside each one of us. We just need to be willing to search and work for the wisdom we need and be confident that we will find it.
The answers are right under our nose.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President