The Angel Sandalphon

"QUESTION: The great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem about the angel Sandalphon, saying in part: 'Have you read in the Talmud of old…Of Sandalphon, the Angel of Glory Sandalphon, the Angel of Prayer?' Could you please discuss Sandalphon?

ANSWER: The following information is taken from the Gemara, the Midrash, the Zohar, the Encyclopedia Judaica, and the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia.

Sandalphon is the name of one of the most exalted angels. Ezekiel 1:15 was interpreted in the Babylonian Talmud (Hagiga 13b) as referring to an angel who Stood on the earth with his Head reaching up to the living creatures (the hayyot). This 'wheel' is called Sandalphon, who is said to stand so far above his colleague, apparently Metatron, that a journey between them would take 500 years. His place is behind the Merkabah, the heavenly chariot, and he fashions Crown for his Creator…

Sandalphon is also mentioned as one of the highest angels in the story of Moses' ascension to heaven, and in the Midrash Konen he is called a mediator or 'translator' between Israel and G-d, obviously he transforms the words of prayer into Mystical Crowns on G-d's Head.The etymology of the name is explained, probably correctly, as synadalphos ('confrere' or 'colleague'), namely of Metatron…

Many kabbalists declared that Sandalphon was an angelic transformation of the prophet Elijah, just as Metatron was described in earlier sources as the transfiguration of Enoch. Since the word sandal has the meaning 'shoe', Sandalphon was thought of as the 'Shoe' of the Shekinah, that is to say the angel on which the Feet of the Shekinah rested. Some kabbalists considered him the teacher of Moses. Later Kabbalah ascribed to him a special sphere of mystical being which was essentially more than a pure angelic host.

Peskita Rabbati (ch.2) narrates that when Moshe Rabbenu ascended to heaven to receive the Torah, he was accompanied by the angel Hadarniel until they came to the fiery image of Sandalphon. They stopped, for the angel feared to continue lest they would be burned by the flames of Sandalphon. Moses began to tremble when he saw the awesomeness of this angel. G-d then assured him he had nothing to fear. (This account also appears in the Zohar, Parashat BeShalach 58). The Jewish Press.