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And Ya'akov was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When he perceived that he could not overcome him, he struck the socket of his hip; and Ya'akov's hip-socket was dislocated as he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for dawn has broken." And he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." He said to him, "What is your name?" He replied, "Ya'akov." He said, "No longer will it be said that your name is Ya'akov, but Yisroel, for you have striven with the Divine and with man and have overcome." Then Ya'akov inquired, and he said, "Divulge, if you please, your name." And he said, "Why then do you inquire of my name?" And he blessed him there (Bereishis 32: 25-30).

Who was this man who wrestled with Ya'akov and could not overcome him? Rashi brings the explanation of the Sages that it was actually an angel, the Minister of his brother Esav's nation. That's what he meant when he said, "For you have striven with the Divine…and have overcome."

What did the angel mean when he said, "Let me go, for dawn has broken?" Did he have to get to work? The Gemara (Chulin 91b) relates that Ya'akov actually asked him if he is a thief or a kidnapper who only works at night and is afraid of the day. But his opponent then revealed to him that he is an angel and that it was his turn to sing hymns to Hashem, so he actually did have to "get to work" and not be late.

Indeed, the Sages teach us that not only angels and human beings sing hymns to Hashem; everything He created does. There is a book called Perek Shirah, attributed to Kings David and Shlomo, which lists the actual praise which each created thing sings to its Creator. It is a very interesting book and some say that reciting it daily brings blessings and success and protection from harm. But it can also be useful in other circumstances, as we shall see from the following story which is being told in Jerusalem.

In the Geulah neighborhood of Jerusalem, there is a poor man who would come, from time to time, to a local rabbi who would provide him with some charity and a hot or cold drink, depending upon the season, in spite of the unpleasant smell which always seemed to come into the house together with the guest. The rabbi always greeted him nicely, despite his unpleasant appearance and unmannerly behavior.

One day, the rabbi and his wife decided to move to Romemah. He inquired whether he was obligated to inform the poor man of his new address, and he was told that it was not necessary.

However, the day after they moved into their new home, they were shocked to find a scorpion there. They were even more terrified when they found another one the next day and several scorpions on the following day. They rushed to bring an exterminator but after he finished his job he told them that he cannot guarantee that he solved the problem. He said that he had never seen a house so infected with scorpions before; they were even in the walls!

The worried rabbi went to seek advice from Hagaon, Harav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita, who suggested that they look in Perek Shirah to see what hymn the scorpion sings to Hashem. They opened a siddur which contained the small sefer (book) and found that he says, "Hashem is good to all; and His mercies are over all His works" (Tehillim 145:9). Rav Scheinberg then asked the rabbi if, perhaps, he had been giving anything to anyone and had discontinued. The rabbi immediately understood what had happened. He rushed to Geulah and searched for the poor man until he found him. He gave him his new address and asked him to please visit him as soon as possible. The poor man wasted no time in coming and was greeted with extra gusto by the family who took care of all of his needs. Immediately after that, the scorpions disappeared!

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel