Does one now (or ever in the past) have to listen to the instructions of an angel?

If so, would that include listening if the angel told you to violate a Torah commandment (either temporarily or permanently)?

  • 5
  • 2
    @DoubleAA I guess the question is then is the angel a talmid or essentially an extension of the rav?
    – user2110
    Dec 19, 2012 at 20:31
  • 6
    When the Toras Yekusiel was asked to sign a cherem (excommunication) against the chassidim he refused. He was asked: even the Vilna Gaon who is "malach hashem tzvakos" signed, to which he replied - an angel told Avraham not to slaughter his son. But to tell him to take his son up, that came directly from Hashem because even if a malach would tell me to shecht someone I would not listen. (From Sippurey Chassidim)
    – Michoel
    Dec 19, 2012 at 20:36
  • 2
    @Michoel By that logic, wouldn't you need a Beis Din of 23 to effect a Cherem?
    – Double AA
    Dec 19, 2012 at 20:45
  • IIRC, the latter post-exilic prophets all had their prophecies through angelic revelations.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 19, 2020 at 18:32

1 Answer 1


The Rambam writes, both in Hil. Yesodei HaTorah (7:6) and in Moreh Nevuchim (2:34) that, with the exception of Moses, all prophets received their prophecy through angels. As we are obligated to obey a prophet, it would seem that the fact that the prophecy was conveyed through an angel is not a problem. This would include a temporary command to violate a Biblical commandment (with the exception of idolatry). (Hil. Yesodei HaTorah 9:3-5)

However, not every apparent revelation qualifies as full fledged prophecy. The Rambam discusses the rules for determining when a person is a full-fledged prophet in Hil. Yesodei HaTorah (chapters 7-10). If the prophecy is not a full-fledged prophecy, then one certainly would not be obligated - in the full sense - to obey, especially if the supposed command was in violation of halacha (in which case one would be forbidden from obeying the command).

Whether such a revelation could be used to help resolve a halachic question, or whether - in the absence of any halachic issues - one would be best advised to follow such instructions, is a far more complex question. In this regard I would recommend reading R' Reuven Margolios' introduction to his edition of שו"ת מן השמים (printed by Mossad HaRav Kook), where he discusses the various lower forms of ruach hakodesh that have existed in the generation since the end of prophecy, and how much authority they are given in halachic matters.

  • What is the rambam's m'kor?
    – user2110
    Dec 19, 2012 at 21:34
  • See the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim (2:34 - I inadvertently wrote 2:24 in my answer) where he explains how he derives this concept from the Torah. (Also related are Hil. Yesodei HaTorah 2:7 - in his discussion of the different kinds of angels - and 7:1 - in his discussion of how prophecy functions.)
    – LazerA
    Dec 19, 2012 at 22:22
  • Tangent: would the sources in your second paragraph help with answering judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/11546/… ? Dec 19, 2012 at 22:42
  • @MonicaCellio Perhaps. Interestingly, the Rambam doesn't really directly address how a prophet knows for himself if he is a legitimate prophet. Rather, he discusses how the community is able to determine if someone who claims to be a prophet is legitimate. However, there would clearly be some overlap between the two areas (in that if someone is receiving "prophetic" visions when he is clearly unworthy of doing so, or if his visions are of an inherently invalid nature, then he should recognize that he is not actually experiencing true prophecy).
    – LazerA
    Dec 20, 2012 at 1:20
  • "all prophets received their prophecy through angels" is incorrect. The Rambam actually writes that with the exception of Moses, all prophetic received their prophecy through dreams or visions [of] angels.
    – Turk Hill
    Apr 27, 2020 at 0:11

You must log in to answer this question.