by Rabbi Dovid Green
"When a prophet or a dreamer of dreams will arise among you, and he'll give
you a sign or wonder...and the sign or wonder will come true saying
(proving) 'go and serve other gods that you don't know'. Don't listen to
that prophet or dreamer because G-d is testing you to know if you really
love G-d with all of your heart and all of your soul" (Deuteronomy 13,2-4).
Rashi, the medieval French commentator, writes that even though the sign or
wonder did come true, we still ignore the words of this prophet. Why, you
may ask, is G-d giving the prophet the power to perform these signs and
wonders? It is because G-d is testing you.
The Chofetz Chaim (d. 1933) writes that we see from here that when G-d
wishes to test his faithful ones, he even gives power and success to those
who rebel against Him to the extent that they can even influence the
heavens, not to mention experiencing success in material matters. Through
this He tests His servants to see the quality of their faithfulness in
seeing all of the success the evildoers are attaining.
It is idiomatic to our faith that miracles don't prove anything. Even if
this prophet has already demonstrated his prophecy in positive ways, and is
known by his people to be a true prophet, he destroys his credibility by
telling the Jews to go serve idols. Indeed, he is only able to temporarily
suspend the observance of a commandment in the Torah. His credibility is
void just by attempting to do away with a commandment permanently.
This is an important point in our times when so many "ism's" exist. The
"dreamers" and "prophets" abound, and they exhort us to go after their
"ism's" with all of our hearts and souls. They say the commandments no
longer apply. They offer proofs. The Torah says "don't listen to them, for
G-d is testing you..." They tell us of miracles. We don't get excited by
miracles. They take out huge ads. They're very well-backed financially. They
offer us friendship, well-being, and truth. They offer us the "correct
interpretation" of the words of our true prophets. Our Torah was referring
to them. "...because he has spoken falsely about Hashem your G-d, Who took
you out from the land of Egypt...(and his words are) to cause you to stray
from the way G-d commanded you to go on.
The student of Torah takes it as a given that the various "ism's" the world
has to offer are "the god's of others". S/he knows and accepts the words
from the liturgy: "because they (the words of Torah) are our lives and the
length of our days (blessings preceding Shema). May we all merit to discern
the truth and follow it with our hearts and souls.
Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.