Protect me, Protect Me

4th day of week, 30 Nisan 5774 Yerushalayim

As is known, there is a blessing to say after one uses the bathroom, thanking the Lord for the miracle of metabolism, health, etc. This is an important blessing which I encourage everyone to say. A Non-Jew can say an improvised noahide version of it.

What is less known is a short prayer which is prescribed in the mishna to say before one goes into the restroom. I have started saying it in the past year or two and find it very meaningful.

The prayer is really an entreaty to one’s accompanying angels to “stand by” and wait for one as one tends to his personal needs.

The prayer goes:

Please excuse me, honored holy ones, servants from on high, Protect me, Protect me, until I enter and come out, for this is the way of man.

I can think of two reasons why perhaps this prayer is not widely said today, having fallen somewhat into disuse. One is that it addresses angels directly, and some Rabbis objected to prayers to angels, like the Vilna Gaon said about “Shalom Aleichem” on Friday night. The second reason is that our modern bathrooms are considered less dangerous than outhouses of old, where snakes or other dangers might be met, and in general, the smell was such to create an atmosphere of impurity. Those of you who have attended simple style summer camps, like the boy scout camps I went to, will understand.

Anyway I think it is a beautiful thing to feel one is accompanied by escorting angels, and indeed one of the things we Jews think is special about our people is that Hashem watches over us carefully, in addition to the care he gives to all his children. There is a quote from Emerson which I think talks about accompanying angels, and when I find it I will try to add it here.

Do you feel you have escorting angels?

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