The Midrash quotes Rabbi Hama on the story where Jacob wrestled an angel but, not just any ordinary angel, but the guardian of Esau. Needless to say, Maimonides, I think said it was a symbolic guardian in a dream or a vision, regarding this. Thus, it is unclear whether the Midrash understands the story literally or not.

The question however is, do we have guardian angels according to the Midrash?

PS, the Midrash in Genesis Rabbah 77:4 (fifth century C.E.), understands the story to be symbolical but does not forbid a literal reading.

1 Answer 1


Roughly speaking, it can at least be argued but we'd be dishonest if we equated it to the idea of a mainstream society "guardian" angel.

Outside of Judaism, you hear this idea that every person has a personal angel assigned to them who is invested in their outcome. The "guardian angel" of modern society (roughly speaking)

In Judaism, angels are specific beings which serve a specific function. They aren't generalized but they each have a specific application in reality. In terms of personal angels, we actually do have a concept related to personal angels but the relationship isn't quite the same. Judaism teaches that there are both good angels and bad angels and that we actually create angels through our actions. Jews who perform mitzvot are actually creating good angels. Jews who transgress are creating evil angels. This relates to a deeper spiritual concept which you can read more about here.

This concept regarding the creation of angels can actually be found in Pirkei Avot (The Ethics of Our Fathers) - Chapter 4:11

Rabbi Eliezer the son of Yaakov would say: He who fulfills one mitzvah, acquires for himself one angel-advocate; he who commits one transgression, acquires against himself one angel-accuser. Repentance and good deeds are as a shield against retribution.

The idea is that these angels are advocates for the positive contributions you've made to the world. They are quite literally the evidence of your good deeds and therefore exist on your behalf. The same can be said for evil angels in the opposite fashion. Their existence is a testament to your misdeeds and transgressions.

So as I said originally, while it can be roughly argued that Judaism sort of has "guardian angels" they really don't function the same way. "Personal angels" is really the more appropriate way of framing the relationship and this relationship can be both positive and negative.

  • Rashi Megillah 3a: מזלייהו - שר של כל אדם למעלה
    – DonielF
    Jan 29, 2019 at 4:33

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