The Torah informs
us that when Yaakov was alone on the other side of the river, a
stranger appeared and wrestled with him until Alot Hashchar
(the first sign of dawn). According to most Midrashim,
this questionable creature was the Malach of Eisav itself,
who fought with him until dawn in an attempt to sneak in a few extra
punches before the big face-off. However, one Midrash
has a different twist on the story.
According to this other opinion, the sultry stranger was Yaakov's own
Malach - Malach Michoel who's pet peeve was a promise that Yaakov made
on the way to Charan. Apparently when Yaakov Maasered "everything he had acquired during his time in Charan," he forgot one thing - his kids!
"Here you have twelve sons and a daughter," argued the Malach (Rachel was already pregnant with Binyamin). "Why have you not separated Maaser (tithe) from your sons?"
Yaakov immediately took out his abacus and began calculating Maaser.
First he set aside the first born of each of his four wives; Reuven,
Yosef, Dan and Gad. Since a B'chor (firstborn) is automatically
sanctified (holy), they would not be included among the sons to be tithed.
With eight sons remaining: Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Yissochor, Zevulun,
Naftali, Asher and Binyamin - Yaakov counted them, and when he was
finished, he began his count again:
1 Shimon, 2 Levi, 3 Yehuda, 4 Yissochar, 5 Zevulun, 6 Naftali, 7 Asher,
and again - 9 Shimon, 10 Levi.
It thus came out that Levi was the tenth, he was the Maaser.
Malach Michoel then proclaimed, "Hashem, the Shevet (tribe) of Levi will be Your portion. They will be the ones who will serve you in your Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple).