Disclaimer: The following is very Kabbalah heavy, so obviously there is much to be understood with what is understood in that respect. My question primarily stems from locating a source.

The Noam Elimelech writes on Parshas Mishpatim:

(Third piece, Source from Sefaria.org)

(Partial Quote)

כי תקנה עבד עברי כו׳. פירש רש"י ז"ל "עבד שהוא עברי", רמז ג"כ לשני הצדיקים, דהנה צריך לדעת בראותינו צדיק גדול, אזי ידוע שהוא מגולגל מנשמת צדיק גדול מנשמה עליונה, והצדיק הזה יש לו אבר כנשרים לעופף בכל העולמות, וזהו "עברי" מלשון אבר, דעי"ן מתחלף באל"ף, והוא לשון כנפים, והיינו "כי תקנה עבד עברי" מובן ממילא, שיש לו כנפים לעופף באהבתו ויראתו בעולמות עליונים

When you acquire a Hebrew slave etc. (Exodus 21:2): Rashi explains "A slave who is a Hebrew", this hints also to two (types of) tzaddikim; One needs to know when seeing a great tzaddik, it is known that he is a Gilgul from the soul of another great Tzaddik from the Neshama Elyona, and this Tzaddik posseses a limb like eagles to soar through all of the (higher) realms, and this is (an understanding of) "Ivri" from the language of "Eiver" (limb), as the Eyin can be changed with an Aleph, which is the language of wings, and this is what is understood immediately (when the verse says) "when you acquire a Ivri (Hebrew) slave", that (the Tzaddik) possesses wings to fly with his love and fear (of heaven) in the higher realms.

My Question:

Is there any source denoting the concept of certain Tzaddikim possessing (obviously spiritual) "wings" to traverse the higher realms? I presume its in the Zohar or the Midrash.

  • there are many stories of tzaddikim going up to the spiritual realms. Perhaps the most famous is Yishmael Ben Elisha, in Brachos 7a -- sefaria.org/Berakhot.7a?lang=bi . There is also the very famous letter that the Baal Shem Tov wrote to his brother in law, about going to the supernal realm and visiting moshiach in his abode. -- chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/380401/jewish/…
    – Menachem
    Feb 6, 2018 at 22:43
  • 1
    Turns out now I actually have Peshat, unlike earlier... ;) But I was right about the Mashal. Feb 7, 2018 at 3:40
  • I think that the Noam Elimelech has his own language. This is in many aspects similar to poetry. The wings, the the flying, are used by tehilim and Chazal. קל כנדרש.... מי יתן לי אבר העונה, העברתו מסך לך... Here this is hight and the faculty to move easily in thinking and sentimental areas
    – kouty
    Feb 7, 2018 at 5:35
  • In other cultures too you can find this kind of language. Apart of this, rishonim called Rambam the great eagle
    – kouty
    Feb 7, 2018 at 5:36
  • If you want to understand this see Torah ohr parshas mishpatim hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=16069&st=&pgnum=156
    – mroll
    Feb 7, 2018 at 14:38

4 Answers 4


We do find an Agadda in Sanhedrin 92b that in the future while the world is in a state of destruction, Hashem will give nesher wings to Tzadikim to fly above the water with.

ואם תאמר אותן שנים שעתיד הקב''ה לחדש בהן את עולמו שנאמר {ישעיה ב-יא/יז ??} ונשגב ה' לבדו ביום ההוא צדיקים מה הן עושין הקב''ה עושה להם כנפים כנשרים ושטין על פני המים שנאמר {תהילים מו-ג} על כן לא נירא בהמיר ארץ במוט הרים בלב ימים 


Slightly similar to user6591's answer, this page on Chabadpedia discusses the background and meaning of wings.

First off, they are described as a Mashal to some Godly measure through which angels and Jews can reach high(er) levels in their Avodah:

הכנפים משמשים כמשל למידות האלוקיות שעל ידם המלאכים ויהודים העובדים את ה' מתרוממים בעבודתם

It continues to discuss the role of wings in the Maaseh Merkavah (which types of angels etc. have what number of wings), and to be honest, I don't pretend to understand a word of that part.

The next section quotes the Zohar as saying "love" and "fear" of God are compared to two wings, and just as a bird cannot fly with only one, both are necessary for Avodas Hashem (Admor Hazaken, Likutei Amarim 41).

It also has a long section on "Leasid Lavo", which discusses the Midrash brought above by user6591, as well as other sources.

  • 1
    Wow this is an excellent resource +1 Feb 7, 2018 at 4:20
  • 1
    @TrustMeI'mARabbi always happy to help out by sharing my vast knowledge of Chassidus and Kabbalah! Feb 7, 2018 at 4:49

The Mei Hashiloach allude wings to Avraham when he was sitting at his tent after the bris (at the beginning of parashas Vayera). Since wings means trust and the strength of the bird the same was said to Avraham in that condition.


Isaiah 40:31: וְקוֹיֵ ה' יַחֲלִיפוּ כֹחַ יַעֲלוּ אֵבֶר כַּנְּשָׁרִים יָרוּצוּ וְלֹא יִיגָעוּ יֵלְכוּ וְלֹא יִיעָפוּ

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