In Genesis 48:15-16, Jacob blesses Joseph by (seemingly) requesting of G-d that His angel bless Joseph's children:

וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֶת־יוֹסֵ֖ף וַיֹּאמַ֑ר הָֽאֱלֹקים אֲשֶׁר֩ הִתְהַלְּכ֨וּ אֲבֹתַ֤י לְפָנָיו֙ אַבְרָהָ֣ם וְיִצְחָ֔ק הָֽאֱלֹקים֙ הָרֹעֶ֣ה אֹתִ֔י מֵעוֹדִ֖י עַד־הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃ הַמַּלְאָךְ֩ הַגֹּאֵ֨ל אֹתִ֜י מִכָּל־רָ֗ע יְבָרֵךְ֮ אֶת־הַנְּעָרִים֒ וְיִקָּרֵ֤א בָהֶם֙ שְׁמִ֔י וְשֵׁ֥ם אֲבֹתַ֖י אַבְרָהָ֣ם וְיִצְחָ֑ק וְיִדְגּ֥וּ לָרֹ֖ב בְּקֶ֥רֶב הָאָֽרֶץ׃

And he blessed Joseph, and said: ‘G-d before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, G-d who hath been my shepherd all my life long unto this day, let the angel who hath redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’

Nonetheless, the widespread custom to is to recite (as part of the service before going to sleep) only the latter verse (48:16). The omission of the initial addressing of G-d from 48:15 leads to the popular interpretation of the prayer as addressing directly the angel. This would seem to be a violation of the prohibition of praying to angels as an idolatrous practice. Do any sources discuss this issue?


HaMalach HaGoel Osi

  • 1
    Offhand, even ith out a reference to the previous passuk to Hashem, one is still referencing the angels in 3rd. person. Accordingly, the prayer must be addresed to God (otherwise whom is being addressed). This is different from say "malachei rachamim m'sharsei keil, chalu na..." which is addressed to the angels in 2nd. person. – mevaqesh Dec 25 '15 at 20:22
  • @mevaqesh Yet the popular understanding still seems to be that the malach is being directly addressed (see e.g. the linked question as well as answers there which also include commentaries that suggest the "angel" is being addressed. In fact, it's a common practice nowadays to address e.g. a rebbe in the third person as a sign of respect, e.g. in more Yeshivish circles). – Loewian Dec 25 '15 at 20:45
  • Perhaps you are correct about the popular understanding (which I personally don't care about much). Nor have I surveyed the classical literature on the topic. I would note, however, that if your reference to contemporary honorific 3rd. person use is meant to shed light on Biblical usage, the Bible seems to use terms like אדני; my master for honorifics; I cannot think offhand of such a usage until Megillas Ester e.g. אם על המלך טוב. – mevaqesh Dec 27 '15 at 0:00
  • If the question is how people could recite a verse that implies a prayer to an angel, this ought to be unsurprising, as angel-worship (at least as intermediaries) had been common among Ashkenazi Jews for the past millennium, in spite of vocal opposition by others. If the question is the actual intent of the verse, that is a different matter... – mevaqesh Dec 27 '15 at 0:03

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