Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 

Prophecy

G-d gave us His Torah. It is His instructions on how to live our lives. There are times when the sheep stray from the path and need to be brought back. For those times, G-d included the mechanism of prophecy that would (among other things) provide for timely help.

Who could be a prophet?

Anyone. To be more specific, anyone (man or woman) who had, over the course of a lifetime, perfected his Mitzvah-observance, his character, and his fear of G-d. Theoretically the job was open for anyone.

In addition to general spiritual preparation, a would-be prophet would normally study under someone older and more experienced to lay the groundwork for the exercise of speaking with G-d. After that, it was simply a matter of waiting until G-d chose to appear.

How would we recognize a prophet?

The Torah is quite clear about the need to confirm the authenticity of a prophet. Prophets were given so much credibility in Jewish law that a faker could have caused considerable damage. G-d gave us a simple test in order to weed out the pretenders.

"If a prophet or dreamer shall arise in your midst, and he gives to you a sign or wonder And the sign or wonder that he had mentioned shall come true, (and he) says let us go after other G-ds that you don't already know and let us serve them Do not listen to the words of this prophet or dreamer, because the L-rd your G-d is testing you..." (Deut. 13:2-4). The test is very straightforward: if anyone comes to change, add, or subtract anything from the Torah, you can be sure that it's not the real thing. Even Pharaoh's magicians pulled off some pretty impressive tricks (Exodus, 7:11), but we didn't change religions then, did we?

Is propehcy still around today?

No. G-d doesn't "do tricks" for just anyone. Until the construction of the Second Temple (3408 - 352 BCE) the nation was still close enough to G-d and His service to merit the close contact of prophecy. But from that time on, we were just too far from our Creator. In a sense, our hearts were blocked by sin.

While the institution of prophecy has never been returned to us, its function has been partly filled by great Torah scholars possessing "Ruach Hakodesh" - the Divine spirit, a level of G-dly communication which is a step lower than prophecy. The books of the Prophets and later works of Torah also provide us with a source for Divine instruction.

Are there different types of prophecy?

Yes. While every word that G-d spoke to Moshe at Mt. Sinai was clearly and perfectly transmitted to the Jewish people, other prophets communicated their Divine visions within the context of their own personalities. It's a pillar of Jewish belief that none of the accepted prophets made up any of their prophecies, but nevertheless, their "Signon" - personality - affected the wording and the tone of their message. This "dilution" represents a lower level of Divine contact than that enjoyed by Moses.

Are the old prophets relevant to us today?

You bet. According to Jewish Tradition there were tens of thousands of prophets throughout the centuries leading up to the destruction of the First Temple. However, many of them were only given prophecy that were the immediate concern of the individuals of their generation. There was no need for these visions to be written down or preserved.

All the prophecies that make up our Bible (Tanach) carry a message for every generation, each according to its needs. Even though we don't seem to be steeped in idolatry these days and the prophets' preoccupation with it leaves us cold, we should re-examine their words. Perhaps broaden some of our definitions.


Rabbi Boruch Clinton teaches at the Ottawa Torah Institute yeshiva high school and Machon Sarah high school for girls (both in Ottawa, Canada). You may reach him with comments and questions at bclinton@torah.org.

You can now read some of Rabbi Clinton's essays on Torah life at http://www.ncf.ca/~es625/essays

You can also buy his collection of essays on the Book of Shmuel (Samuel) in printed form at www.lulu.com/marbitzmedia

Copyright 2000 by Rabbi Boruch Clinton and Project Genesis, Inc.

 

ARTICLES ON VAESCHANAN:

View Complete List

Loving G-d
Shlomo Katz - 5765

Desire of the Fire Within
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

With Your Own Ears
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Birth of a Land
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

The Jealousy Antidote
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Irreplaceable
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

ArtScroll

The One And Only
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5768

Living Proof
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5760

Facing the Challenge
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Comfort-Able?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

Nation Destined for Greatness
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Humble, Yet Proud
Shlomo Katz - 5761

> How Ironic
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

It's Your Fault!
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5759

Addressing Concerns Part 1
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762

For The Very First Time
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information

Copyright 2000 by Rabbi Boruch Clinton and Project Genesis, Inc.

 

ARTICLES ON VAESCHANAN:

View Complete List

Don't Forget
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

Perscription for Happiness
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5762

How Can We Be Comforted?
Shlomo Katz - 5759

> For Your Sake
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5756

The Jealousy Antidote
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Basic Tenet of Jewish Life
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Torah Study - Review vs. New
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

Appreciating Our Blessings
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5761

Moshe's Prayers (and Ours)
Shlomo Katz - 5762

ArtScroll

No Joke
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Cling to Hashem
Shlomo Katz - 5771

Mi Casa Es Su Casa
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Best Kept Secret
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5764

Shabbos Nachamu
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

Yearning for Eretz Yirsroel
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

Good Things Come - To Those Who Stipulate
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information