The classic question that many ask here is quite a simple one. If we have already eliminated even the greatest of angels called “serofim” isn’t it redundant to now state “It is I and no other?” Who can we be eliminating if we have already eliminated all possibilities?
In order to get at the answer let’s learn a little bit about malochim. Just as all of life derives its energy from Hashem, so too, do malochim. The greater the malach, the more energy he receives. This may be why the Gemara in Brochos says that differentmalochim travel at different speeds. While angels are generally categorized into four different classifications – m’lochim , serofim, ofanim and chayos hakodesh,- these four levels can be further subdivided into millions upon millions of different levels. There are “serofim” which are like fiery lightning bolts that serve Hashem with great power, speed and devotion and there are those malochim of lesser power.
The myriads of Names of Hashem serve as conduits through which all this energy is channeled. This of course belongs in the realm of Torah called Kaballa in which we have no knowledge and therefore we will only explain what can be found in Rashi or the Ramban, as well as other meforshim.
This power and energy that angels possess is contained within the angel’s name, which usually has the suffix of the two letters “Alef Lamed.” These two letters are the first two letters of keil shakai or elokim and are the conduit through which they receive their power and energy.
The greatest malach of them all is known as malach “M’tat” spelled Mem -Tes-Tes-Raish -Vov -Nun. (We abbreviate his name because we are very careful not to pronounce an angel’s full name.) Rashi says that his name is identical to that of His Master. This is what is meant by “Ki Shmi b’kirboh” – because My Name is within him. (See Rashi Shmos 23:21 that says that his name is equivalent to the Name Keil Shak’i.)
In order for us to better understand what this all means, let us use the metaphor of electricity. For a machine to work, it must be plugged into the electricity. Without the electricity to which it is connected, it cannot move. It is as if it were dead. So, too, everymalach derives his energy from one of G-d’s Names, which is added to his suffix. The malach “M’tat,” however, does not get his energy by way of an external source, but rather contains his own internal batteries or is able to generate his own electricity, just like an electric eel. That’s because Hashem’s Name is contained within him. He needs no outside source to supply him with energy. This, however, can easily give one the false impression that there is chas v’shalom another entity besides Hashem. In truth we know that this is not so and is actually just an outward appearance. It only seems to be so. In reality, it is Hashem’s Name that energizes him internally.
With this we can now better understand the Gemara in Mesechta Chagiga 14 which tells us that four great Sages entered into the Heavens and saw this great malach sitting and writing the merits of the Jews. This confused them and led them to believe that perhaps chas v’shalom there was more than one Heavenly Power. Little did they realize that it only seemed and appeared that way, but it wasn’t really true. It was actually Hashem’s Name that energized him internally. Those who observed him didn’t seem to see the internal source of his energy and therefore were fooled into thinking that there was chas v’shalom another power in Heaven. It’s like seeing an image of someone in a mirror or perhaps it’s like playing chess with a computer. It seems as if the computer has its own brain, but in reality it can only do what a human has programmed it to do. So too, the malach M’tat’s power comes from Hashem’s Name which is hidden within him. Hashem is One and there is no other.
This, explains the Ramban, is why malach M’tat was the only angel Hashem sent to accompany the Jews through the desert. While Hashem had promised Moshe that He would not send any malach to lead them but rather accompany them Himself, themalach M’tat that contains Hashem’s Name within him is considered as if Hashem Himself was there with them.
And this, explains the Ramban (in Shemos 12:12), is why it says “ani hu v’lo acheir.” This comes to specifically exclude the malach M’tat whose name is identical with His Master and in fact contains His Master’s Name within his own. One would have thought that this one malach would have been able to go along with Hashem and help him kill the Egyptian first born just like he accompanied the Yidden in the desert. This is why we specifically exclude him by saying “ani Hu v’lo acheir.” Not even this greatest malach helped Hashem along. It was He and no other!