FAQs

Angels

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

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 »

Share

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 »

Share

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 continued throughout history in the nations they fathered. Read more »

Share

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.

Share

How did the Sages know the names of particular angels?

There have been special individuals in history who reached a level of righteousness to the extent that it is possible for a human to be perfect. Rambam explained in Mishneh Torah that 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. [1] The heavenly realms and/or heavenly beings are also revealed to the person. This may be with open sight, prophetic vision or intellectual insight.

We see from the Hebrew Bible and Midrash and  that many of the Biblical prophets personally encountered or interacted with angels (Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Daniel, etc.). Ultimately, the knowledge that the Sages had of angelology was based on the personal prophetic experiences and insights of special individuals.

So there are numerous examples in the Torah and the Books of the Prophets, and among select Sages over the course of history. There were also Gentiles who merited to be visited by angels. For example, we see in Genesis that when Hagar ran away, she was met by several angels. (Gen. 16:7-13) Why was she not afraid? Because she was accustomed to seeing angels in the home of Abraham and Sarah. Likewise, Lot and his daughters were saved from the destruction of Sodom by the angels Gabriel and Rafael.

Footnotes:

[1] See Seven Gates of Righteous Knowledge, the Second Gate: “The Gate of Prophecy from G-d,” by Rabbi Moshe Weiner.

Share

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 »

Share

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.

Share

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

The angel that wrestled with Jacob through the night, but could not prevail, told him (Genesis 32:27), “Let me go, for dawn has broken.” What is the meaning of this?
Read more »

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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 »

Share

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 »

Share

What does the angel or spirit of Amalek represent?

“Amalek came and battled Israel in Rephidim.” (Exodus 17:8)

“…G-d maintains a war against Amalek, from generation to generation.” (Exodus 17:15)

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 Communist 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]. Read more »

Share

“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 »

Share

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 »

Share

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.

Share