Weekly Chasidic Story #833 (s5774-11 / 8 Kislev 5774)

A Difference Between Angels

The Devrei Chaim of Sanz gave the poor man a letter of recommendation to a wealthy Torah scholar whom he counted among his chasidim.

Connection: Weekly reading–as quoted in the story.

A chasid once came to see Rabbi Chaim of Sanz, to complain that his daughter had reached marriageable age and he had no money with which to marry her off. The Rebbe gave him a letter of recommendation to a wealthy Torah scholar whom he counted among his chasidim. In the letter, R. Chaim asked the rich chasid to do the poor man a favor and try to collect money for hachnasat kallah (dowry money for a poor bride).

When the poor chasid came to the wealthy one with the letter, the rich man answered, “Talmud Torah k’neged kulam (Torah study is equal to all the other commandments combined)!” and refused to take the time to busy himself with the matter.

Some months later, this same prosperous chasid came to Sanz to see the Rebbe. The Rebbe, however, refused to extend his hand in greeting. And when the time came for parting, he said, “The Torah tells us (Gen. 32:25), ‘A man struggled with him,’ and Rashi explains, ‘He was the ministering angel of Esav.’ Yet, in the following Torah portion (Gen. 37:15), when Yosef gets lost in the field, the Torah says, ‘A man discovered him,’ and Rashi explains that the ‘man’ in this case was the angel Gavriel. Why is the word ‘man’ used for Esav’s angel in one verse, and the angel Gavriel in the other?

“We see that in the case where Yosef lost his way and a man pointed it out to him, that was the angel Gavriel. But when Yaakov meets up with a man and asks him to do him a favor and bless him, and the ‘man’ answers that he had no time because ‘I must recite G-d’s praise by day’ (as Rashi explains there), that kind of man must be Esav’s angel, because a Jew must do a favor for another Jew under any circumstances!”

[Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from “Stories My Grandfather Told Me” (Mesorah) by Zev Greenwald.]

Connection: Weekly reading-as quoted in the story.

Biographic note:
Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Sanz [of blessed memory: 25 Nissan 5553 – 25 Nissan 5636 (April 1793-April 1876 C.E.)] was the first Rebbe of the Sanz-Klausenberg dynasty. He is famous for his extraordinary dedication to the mitzvah of tzedaka and also as a renowned Torah scholar; his voluminous and wide-ranging writings were all published under the title Divrei Chaim.


Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.

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