How could angels oppose G-d’s creation of man?

The Talmud teaches that an exchange took place between G-d and three consecutive groups of angels before the creation of Adam, the first man. Read more »


Are righteous Gentiles / Noahides helped by guardian angels?

Dear Ask Noah: Why is the concept of angels (messengers) in the Jewish tradition completely different  from that of other religions, especially regarding the idea of “guardian angels”? Read more »


Why was Esau’s angel assigned to the Roman Empire?

The individuals who were major players in the stories recounted in the Book of Genesis are not just isolated persons whose influence ended with their deaths. They represent fundamental spiritual thrusts that continue throughout history. Read more »


Which type are the angels for the nations?

The subject of angelology is beyond the scope of the content of our Ask Noah website, but here is a very brief reply.

There are many types and levels of spiritual (i.e. non-physical) beings. More in-depth explanations of these beings can be found in Chassidic teachings. Two general divisions can be made. First, there are those that are on a higher spiritual level than the physical boundaries of space and time as we know them. In Hebrew, these are called malakhim (singular malakh, or malach). Of these, the lowest order are the Ofanim (singular Ofan), which are described in Ezekiel 1:16-18 as being like “wheels within wheels,” with “rims full of eyes.” Spiritually higher than those are the Hayos, described there as having four faces (1:6). Higher than those are the Serafim (singular Seraf) which appear in prophetic visions with a human-like form and six wings (Isaiah 6:2). (Of course the physical terms in these descriptions are really analogies for spiritual powers.)

There are also spiritual beings on a lower level which exist within the boundaries of space and time as we know them. The Sarim (singular Sar) angels, which are the “patron” or “guardian” angels of the seventy nations (such as the Biblical nation of Egypt), belong to this category.


How did the Sages know the names of particular angels?

There have been special individuals in history who reached the level of perfect righteousness (to the extent that it is possible for a human to be perfect). When a person reaches a certain high level of spiritual perfection, he or she is rewarded by G-d with a spirit of prophecy, so that his or her awareness is no longer limited to the physical world, but the heavenly realms and/or the heavenly beings are also revealed, which may be with open sight, prophet vision or intellectual insight. Examples are the righteous heroes and heroines of the Torah, the Hebrew Prophets, and select Sages over the course of history. There were also Gentiles who reached this level. For example we see in Genesis that when Hagar was sent away, she was met by several angels. (Gen. 16:7-13) Why was she not afraid? Because she was used to seeing angels in the home of Abraham and Sarah. There are many many other examples of prophets who personally encountered angels (Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc.) So ultimately, the knowledge which the Sages had of angelology was based on the personal prophetic experiences and insights of special individuals.


How could the angel of Esau bless Jacob?

According to the Midrash, Genesis 32:25-31 describes how Jacob wrestled with the guardian angel of his brother Esau, and prevailed over him. That happened during the night before Jacob, returning home after an absence of 36 years [1], would have to confront Esau. The “blessing” that the angel was forced to give was his admission and confirmation that Jacob was the rightful recipient of the blessing that his father Isaac had originally wished to give to Esau. Read more »


What does P’niel mean, where Jacob wrestled with the angel?

This name, which Jacob gave to the place where he struggled with the angel of Esau until the break of dawn, appears in slightly different form in the verses Genesis 32:31 and 32:32. In the original Hebrew, it is spelled and pronounced slightly differently in the two verses.

In the first verse, the word is P’niel, which means “my face [is toward] G-d,” in which Jacob was referring to himself.

In the second verse, the word is P’nuel which means “turn to G-d” [i.e., in repentance], which was Jacob’s message to future generations.


Esau was unrefined but had potential to be refined. Did his angel have two natures?

The angels must assemble for their praises in “watches” throughout the day, which is why the angel of Esau demanded to be released from the grip of Jacob before the break of dawn, so it could return to its place in Heaven to recite its praises to G-d in the morning watch. That is the “spiritual side” of the angel of Esau. Its “materialistic” side is reflected its efforts to fulfill its specific mission to bring physical bounty and success to Esau. He was the father of the nation of Edom, which later became identified with the Roman Empire.
Read more »


The Edom nations are mighty. Do other nations’ angels accept it?

When G-d elevates a nation to be the greatest power in this physical world, it is accomplished through His elevation of the “guardian angel” of that nation, above all the other angels of the nations. The other guardian angels have no choice or say in this, since it is decreed by G-d.

In the approximately 3500 years since the family of Jacob entered Egypt (Genesis, chapter 46), G-d has decreed several periods of exile upon the Jewish people, in which they were dominated by another nation. In each past case, after a predetermined time G-d released them from the exile they were in (see the Book of Daniel, 8:20-24).

When the Jews must be exiled by another nation, G-d first makes that nation into a great empire. The empires into which they were exiled throughout history were the following:

the Egyptian Empire
the Babylonian Empire
the Persian Empire
the Greek Empire
the Roman Empire (Edom)

The Jews will be released from this final exile (Edom) when the Messiah is revealed in the very near future.


Do angels of the nations have to follow the 7 Laws of Noah?

The Seven Laws of Noah are commandments from G-d for the people of the Gentile nations to follow. Angels don’t have any inclination to rebel against the will of G-d, and they don’t have a set of commandments that they have to follow. For example, they don’t own property, so they have no desire to steal. They aren’t born from a father and mother, so they don’t have parents to honor; etc. G-d’s commandments all have to do with how human beings should think, speak and act within the physical world. The nations of the world need to legally support these commandments, since it should not just be up to the whim of individuals as to whether they will decide to follow these commandments or not. That is covered by the Noahide commandment to establish courts of law, in order to promote the observance of the other six commandments.


Why don’t angels have a free will?

Seraph AngelIn all of creation, only humans have been given the capacity for freedom of will, and this gives them the unique capacity to better themselves spiritually. It also gives them the unique capacity to lower themselves spiritually, G-d forbid. Read more »


What are so-called evil angels, if their mission is from G-d?

In the spiritual realms that G-d created, there is a side of “holiness,” which means a revelation of G-dliness, and there is a side of “unholiness,” which means a concealment of G-dliness. The relative amount of holiness and unholiness in each spiritual level defines that level. The “highest” realms have much more holiness than unholiness. The “lowest” realms have much more unholiness than holiness. Our physical world is almost entirely unholiness, with just a bit of holiness. This progressive hiding of G-dliness, culminating in this physical world, allows humans to believe that they are independent entities that exist separate and apart from G-d, Who they can’t physically perceive. Read more »


What does the angel or spirit of Amalek represent?

The first Chassidic discourse by the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe (after the passing of his father the 5th Rebbe in 1920 in Rostov, during the Russian Revolution) was on the verse “Amalek is the first among the nations, and in the end he shall be destroyed” [the prophecy of Bilaam in Numbers 24:20]. The Rebbe explained that Amelek is the spiritual source and root of the spiritual evil of the Seven evil nations – the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Girgshites, Jebusites and Rephaim [Gen. 15:20-21]. But Amalek itself, the toughest of all evil forces, is separate from those seven, because it contains no element of good that can be salvaged by means of the divine service of humans. The “rectification” of the evil of Amalek is its utter eradication and destruction. However, G-d “has set a limit to darkness” [Job 28:3]. The time allotted for this evil is set, and when it expires, the evil is is utterly destroyed and annihilated, leaving no trace, because it does not possess any intrinsic form of true existence; it is a non-entity, even though it is extremely tenacious. Only with the help of Torah and faith in G-d can a person recognize this force which resides within himself as evil, and take the necessary steps to dispel it from his mind and heart. This is difficult, because it includes the force of conceit that causes him to believe that his own intellectual innovations are correct, and/or that the way of Torah is wrong, G-d forbid.

Amalek is the supreme force of evil, above all the other evil forces. One of the first and most important tasks that the Messiah will accomplish once he is revealed to the world (speedily and in our days!) will be to destroy the spiritual force of Amalek. This will automatically remove the strength from all the other evil forces, so that the Messianic Era can begin.


“Sons of G-d” angels (Job 1:6) and Rosh HaShanah

Question: Who are the “sons of G-d” in the verse Job 1:6?

Answer: The verse Job (Iyov) 1:6 says, “Now the day came about, and the sons of G-d came to stand beside the L-rd, and the Adversary [“Sotahn” in Hebrew], too, came among them.”

In this context, the “sons of G-d” means angels. Rashi explains that this verse is describing a Heavenly event that took place on the New Year’s Day in the Hebrew calendar, Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is G-d’s appointed day of universal judgment for the entire year, on which all the creations in all the worlds are judged by G-d. It is the anniversary of the day that Adam and Hava (Eve) were created. Read more »


Did the angels in Gen. 6:2 sin by taking beautiful women?

Angels are created with intellect (wisdom, understanding and knowledge) that is much greater and on a much higher level than humans. Because they have intellect, they are able to question that which is beyond their intellect – which is the hidden ways of G-d. The Midrash relates several episodes in which groups of angels questioned G-d (i.e. He WANTED them to question Him, and He allowed this). In each case G-d revealed the error behind their questions, and showed to them an aspect of His Inner Will that was previously hidden from them. This of course resolved that particular question for all time to follow, so it can never be honestly raised again as a question on the justice or truth of G-d’s ways. Read more »


What do angels have to do with the 7 Noahide Commandments?

A person should strive to secure supporting angels for him/herself by following his/her Divine commandments. For Gentiles, these are the Seven Noahide Commandments. For the same reason, a person should also strive to do appropriate deeds of goodness and kindness. For example, when a person gives charity, it should be given appropriately. (For Gentiles, it is for example very proper to give charity specifically to save the lives of others – those who are starving or suffering from illness or injury. This also applies to those who are spiritually needy, by supporting Torah-true outreach for the authentic Noahide Code.) One should also avoid negative thoughts, words and actions in general. A Gentile can achieve success in becoming a faithful servant of the One True G-d in all of these ways, and he/she has the option to gain even more merit by taking on additional righteous traditions.

Furthermore, repentance for a past sin is a shield against the heavenly accusation. A complete repentance will erase the accusation completely. A person should also strive NOT to bring about accusing angels for him/herself. Therefore one should be careful to not violate his/her Divine commandments. For Gentiles, these are the Seven Noahide Commandments.

Note: The Book of Iyov (“Job,” a righteous Canaanite) was written by Moses, who was a contemporary of Iyov. Iyov died before the Jews returned to the land of Canaan from Egypt. It is interesting that when the angel Sahtan was given permission from G-d to try to make Iyov sin, he specifically chose to test him with the sin of blasphemy, which is one of the Seven Noahide Commandments. When Iyov successfully passed his test, he was granted a deeper and open understanding of G-d’s ways. Not only did Iyov benefit from this for the rest of his life, but it was recorded in the Holy Scriptures for the eternal benefit of all mankind.

When the Messiah son of David comes, the outpouring of blessings to the refined creation will be so great that they will provide greater physical abundance and blessings to all the nations – more so than they have ever had throughout history.