Bereishit 32:30

וַיִּשְׁאַל יַעֲקֹב וַיֹּאמֶר הַגִּידָה נָּא שְׁמֶךָ וַיֹּאמֶר לָמָּה זֶּה תִּשְׁאַל לִשְׁמִי וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ שָׁם

is usually translated as:

And Jacob asked and said, "Now tell me your name," and he said, "Why is it that you ask for my name?" And he blessed him there.

A friend of mine (who has impressive knowledge of Chumash and the commentaries on Chumash) told me that he's certain that he read this wording or something close to it in some commentary on this verse:

למה זה תשאל לשמי זה שמי

"Lamah zeh tish'al l'shmi" is my name1

.....but doesn't remember where he saw it, and never could find it again.

Where (if anywhere) is this phrase used?

1 When my friend told me this, he used it to widen a d'var Torah of his that said that the nature of the יצר הרע is that it never comes with the same name or modus operandi -- and therefore knowing his name is pointless.

  • Related question: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/49044/5323 (which is what reminded me to ask this one)
    – MTL
    Dec 3, 2014 at 23:35
  • Can't recall the source: Since the name is the essence, Esav is all about "why bother with the essence", just be merry for tomorrow we shall die. "Who cares about names/essence" is his name. Dec 4, 2014 at 14:31

3 Answers 3


It says here that R. Leib Chasman brings in the name of an early kabbalistic sefer this vort.


Sholom Mordechai Hakohen Schwadron (Hebrew: הרב שלום מרדכי הכהן שבדרון‎) (1912–21 December 1997) edited and published two famous mussar texts composed by his teachers — Ohr Yahel by Rabbi Leib Chasman and Lev Eliyahu by Rabbi Elyah Lopian.

Our Rav quoted Rav Chasman as having stated that the malach was stating that this is his name. When an enemy general surrenders, he turns over his weapon to the victor. When Yaakov asked the name, he was asking, what is the power and methodology of the Yeitzer Harah. The malach answered that he could be successful only if he could prevent a person from questioning him. That way, he can fool the person into going along with him blindly.


He may be thinking of Bamidbar Raba, Naso 10:5, but that's about a different angel, the one that came to Manoach's wife. It says:

והוא פלאי שם שמו המלאך פלאי

"it's פלאי" - the angel set his name as פלאי

(translation according to the Mat'nos K'huna)

  • +1 ....though @YeZ seems to think he's seen my friend's exact line somewhere.
    – MTL
    Dec 4, 2014 at 5:11

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .