I've asked in the past whether malochim can be human. I'm not talking about that kind of malach now.

I'm wondering whether it is a good metaphor to think of some types of malochim as being like software. ie. Hashem has given them instructions which they follow to keep the Universe running. eg. maybe there are malochim of Physics, each one responsible for the different rules of Physics which keep things working the way they do (or maybe just one if there is a grand unified theory!) Perhaps there is a maloch who is responsible for ensuring that when force acts on an object, it moves?

I'm imagining this sort of malochim as not being anything like what we'd recognise as human or necessarily even as a being, but just as a non-corporeal thing that has a job to keep the Universe running. I suppose you can also think of it in terms of being like the agents in the Matrix (but not malevolent of course), but I don't see any reason for them to be anthropomorphic for most jobs.

Is there any sources who discuss this? Not necessarily using the metaphor of software exactly, but I mean in similar terms that would fit well?

2 Answers 2


I think Rambam's conception of angels as Aristotelian Intelligences or forces, more or less fits with what you are describing. He discusses this at length in Moreh Nevuchim Part 2, Chapters 1 - 7.

Some key quotes (using the Friedlander translation):

When, e.g., He destroys anything with fire, the fire is set in motion through the movement of the spheres, and the spheres by the Intelligences: the latter, which are identical with “the angels,” and act by direct influence, are consequently, each in its turn, the cause of the motion of the spheres. (Chapter 4)

[A]ll parts of the Universe, even the limbs of animals in their actual form, are produced through angels: for natural forces and angels are identical. (Chapter 6)

Our Sages have already stated—for him who has understanding—that all forces that reside in a body are angels, much more the forces that are active in the Universe. (Chapter 6)


Ramchal says in Derech Hashem 1:5:1, when discussing the various beings in creation, and specifically the "ethereal beings":

The ethereal beings are a specie of spiritual creatures that are not destined for bodies at all. And they are divided [further] into two categories. The first is called powers (כחות) and the second is called angels.

Possibly, powers are close to what you are describing? A basic description he gives is:

there are ethereal powers above, corresponding to everything that is found among the lower beings. It is from them that things unfold and proceed in a single line of cause and effect decreed by His wisdom, may He be blessed. The lower beings - they, their occurrences and their existence - are rooted in these powers; so these lower beings are extensions and effects of these powers. And one is connected to the other, like rings of a chain [of causation].

And futher explains:

In truth, the main existence of the world and its true state [occurs] through these higher powers. And the effects of that which [occurs with] them is [what occurs] to the lower physical beings. And this is whether it is beginning its creation, or it is developing as time passes. And this means that according to what is created from these powers, the order in which they are set and the limits that have been set up, that is what unfolds afterwards according to the axiom of unfolding that the Creator, may His name be blessed, willed.

It should be noted that the "software" mashal is incomplete, because mankind (one of the effects of these powers) can reverse the chain of cause and effect, and actually bring about changes in the powers:

But note that the Master, blessed be He, has arranged that all matters upon which man has free choice will move the [higher] powers according to the measure and the level that He established.

He doesn't go into much more than this, or describe whether these powers are living intellects, or just inert subroutines in creation. Perhaps the former is implied in the final paragraph of ibid 1:5:

Nevertheless for every one of these matters, there are surely supervisors of the angelic specie appointed, as we explained above, to put the thing into effect into physicality - whether for the good, or not for the good. And behold these are His servants, may He be blessed, who preform His word. As so did He will and arrange that His decrees go out into action through His angels, according to what He ordered and gave over to them.

He is ostensibly saying this in contrast to the powers, which he never describes as Hashem's "servants".

FWIW, I have seen sources that I can't recall, as well as my general impression of these matters, that these powers are not inert, but very lofty living spiritual beings.

  • Re: your final paragraph. Maybe you're thinking of Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah 3:9?
    – Joel K
    Commented Jan 3 at 13:02
  • @JoelK thanks. Personally, I don't think that that is what I was recalling when I wrote that, but nonetheless, that's a perfectly acceptable proof of my final paragraph, thank you and +1 to your answer as well, which I just got round to reading
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Jan 3 at 13:12
  • Is this actually referring to the type of beings that are responsible for "keeping the lights on"? Commented Jan 3 at 16:01
  • @MosesSupposes sorry, I don't follow
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Jan 3 at 16:04
  • I mean are these "powers" given roles that are needed to keep the Universe running or are they there for some other reason? Commented Jan 3 at 18:16

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