A Midrash: Jacob Wrestled the Angel

(This is from Elie Wiesel’s book “God’s Messengers”)


When the battle was over, the angel pleaded with Jacob to let him go; Jacob refused to leave without a blessing.

Angel – I cannot.  I do not have time. Dawn is breaking and I must leave.

Jacob – You are afraid of dawn?  Why?  Are you a thief?  Or a nocturnal gambler?

Angel – No, but I am expected in heaven to sing the praises of the Almighty.

Jacob – You have friends up there unperturbed.  Let them sing.

Angel – They will sing without me today.  But that means I shall never again sing with them.  Tomorrow they will tell me: ‘You didn’t come yesterday, you are no longer one of us.’

Jacob – You talk too much.  The angels who visited Abraham blessed him before they took their leave.  Do as they did.

Angel – Impossible.  It’s not the same at all.  They came for that purpose.  I did not.

Jacob – Then you are not leaving.

Faced with Jacob’s stubborn insistence, the angel changed the subject and began to speak not of blessings but of divine mysteries.  Said he:

Angel – The angels who revealed God’s mysteries were exiled for one hundred and thirty-eight years – would you wish me to share their fate?

Jacob – Either you bless me or I shall not let you go.

Angel – So be it.  I shall reveal to you  that which should not be revealed.  And if God asks me why, I shall answer that a prophet’s injunction takes precedence over all others.

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