Torah & Texts

Story Time: The Jewish Tale of the Angel Lailah

Find a cozy spot and settle in to listen to this Jewish story

Join kindergarten teacher Miriam Schwartz for some sweet and spiritual Jewish story time. Hear the story about the angel Lailah, from the Midrash, that explains why we have a little indentation on our upper lips. For a reading guide from PJ Library for this book, visit this page.

“Before You Were Born retells the Jewish myth of Lailah, the angel of conception. According to this midrash, there is an angel, Lailah, who brings the soul and the seed together and then sees to it that the seed is planted in the womb. In doing so, Lailah serves as a midwife of souls. While the infant grows in the womb, Lailah places a lighted candle at the head of the unborn infant, so he or she can see from one end of the world to the other.

So too does the angel teach the unborn child the entire Torah, as well as the history of his or her soul. Then, when the time comes for the child to be born, the angel extinguishes the light in the womb and brings forth the child into the world. And the instant the child emerges, the angel lightly strikes its finger to the child’s lip, as if to say “Shh,” and this causes the child to forget everything learned in the womb. Still, the story implies, that knowledge is present, merely forgotten, much like the Jungian concept of the collective unconscious.” – Howard Schwartz

Howard Schwartz, the author of Before You were Born, has written
and edited over forty fantastic Jewish books of folklore, children’s books, poetry, and short stories. His work can be found at

Miriam is a Jewish Educator and Musician in the Bay Area, and you can check out her music and more info on her work at

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