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I heard from someone, that man is greater than an angel. For an angel can never reach higher levels in spirituality, while man can. In addition, man struggles with his evil inclination and an angel has no evil inclination to struggle with.

Is there any source for this?

marked as duplicate by Alex, mbloch, Gershon Gold, רבות מחשבות, DonielF Jul 5 '18 at 20:58

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    Some Midrashim imply that angels arent perfect. I believe Rambam in Iggeres Teiman writes of angels being punished implying they can err. However, scholars have noted that the Iggeres Teiman is perhaps meant to suit various needs of the readers besides for strict tranfer of info. i.e. Rambam may say things there that contradict his other writings, this being a case in point. – mevaqesh Mar 30 '15 at 17:59
  • I have never seen a source that considers angels as "perfect" and, as @mevaqesh notes, there are angels that get punished (see the midrash on Nephilim, the Sulam in Ya'akiv's dream, etc.) What you do find is literature that states that they do not possess the same duality that man has (Rambam would call it "ko'ach hayetzer," most would call it the "yetzer harah"). That man is greater than angels (see Rashi on parshas Vayera) comes from Avraham's perceiving them as men. Chazal attribute man's "greatness" over angels to his ability to rise despite the yetzer harah. – Isaac Kotlicky Mar 30 '15 at 18:53
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    I believe a common source is Zechariah 3 7 Try reading Sichat Malachei Hasharet IIRC, R' Tzadok explains angels might be 'better' in terms of materialistic existance but the 'soul' given to humans (jews) is of much higher 'quality'. – Zeev Mar 30 '15 at 20:49
  • @mevaqesh Yoma in the last chapter describes an angel as getting sixty lashes for not doing his shlichus properly – Shmuel Brin Apr 17 '15 at 18:10
  • Closely related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/31571 and judaism.stackexchange.com/q/59501. – Fred Dec 16 '15 at 6:35
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This is the subject of dispute between R. Saadyah Gaon and the kabbalists, on the one hand, and ibn Ezra and Maimonides on the other. According to Rasag (Emunot ve-de'ot 4:1), man is greater than all other creatures by virtue of his free will. This is also the view of the kabbalists:

Man is greater than the angels in that he was given inclinations, and obliged to contend with vital questions and his bodily needs, even with the seductions of the evil inclination, while the angels' existence is static.

This distinction is famed for the names assigned in it to man and the angel. Man is called "walking" (mehalekh), and the angel "standing" (omed) (after Zech. 3:7). R. Meir ibn Gabbay stated that "The truth, traditionally upheld in our nation, is that the source and level of the soul [neshamah] is higher than that of the ministering angels, and that it therefore has dominion over everything that is below it" (Avodat ha-Kodesh, III, 5. See also Tishby, Wisdom of the Zohar, 2:679.

(Source: Moshe Halamish, An Introduction to the Kabbalah, pp. 250, 352 n. 9.)

However, ibn Ezra (Exodus 23:20; Genesis 1:1) criticizes this view. Maimonides (Guide for the Perplexed 3:13) also maintains that man's place is lower than the angels. See also Guide 2:7 where Maimonides distinguishes between the choice of man vs the choice of angels.

The Midrash (Devarim Rabbah 1:12) states:

א"ר אבא לעתיד לבא עתיד מחיצתן של צדיקים להיות לפנים ממלאכי השרת והם שואלים להם מה הלכות חידש הקב"ה היום, א"ר לוי בר חנינא ואל תתמה אף בעולם הזה היתה מחיצתן לפנים ממלאכי השרת שנאמר (דניאל ג) ורוח די רביעאה דמי לבר אלהין, שהיו לפנים מהמלאך והוא מכבה לפניהם האש

According to the Midrash, it seems that primordial and eschatological man are higher than the angels, but in the mean time the angels are higher than us.

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"Therefore, tzaddikim are on a higher level than them (the angels):2 the abode of the souls of tzaddikim is in the World of Beriah (Creation), whereas the abode of the angels is in the World of Yetzirah (Formation)." http://www.chabad.org/library/tanya/tanya_cdo/aid/7918/jewish/Chapter-39.htm

Explained in chapter 39 of Tanya

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