Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  The Living Law
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Shoftim

Nevuah: Words of the Prophets

The Mitzvah:

The words of true prophets, conveying the "word of G-d", are to be heeded and obeyed by the people. It was forbidden for a prophet to give false prophecy or to prophesize in the name of foreign gods (Devarim 18:15- 22).

Whether Jewish or non-Jewish, man or woman, the task of prophet was as the "mouthpiece" of G-d to reveal His word to the world.

Historically, prophecy flourished up and until the period of the Men of the Great Assembly (beginning of the Second Temple). While there were over one million prophets, only 48 prophets and 7 prophetesses are recorded by the Talmud for posterity (Megillah 14a). So while this concept may be foreign to the modern mind, it is nevertheless a central tenet of Judaism. In fact, the Children of Israel are themselves identified with prophecy: "Even if they [Israel] are not prophets, they are [nevertheless] the sons of prophets" (Pesachim 66b).

Prophecy was the greatest spiritual experience humanly possible. It was not accidentally attained. Quite the contrary! Prophecy was the result of an intense program of spiritual and ethical development to refine the personality of the navi, "prophet" to become the faithful transmitter of G- d's word to man. "I will place My word in his mouth and he will tell them all that which I [G-d] command him" (Devarim 18:18).

What is the underlying principle behind prophecy? It stresses that the relationship between Creator and His creatures exists and endures. G-d created the world and is involved in the running of its affairs. And so, G- d continuously communicates His "word" to man by openly instructing him how to conduct himself in this universe.

The manifestation of the "word of G-d" could take many forms.

Its most prominently display, by far, remains the national giving of Torah, at the hands of Moshe the greatest prophet, to determine the immutable laws of G-d which man would always to live by. All prophecies are considered a "sequel" to that Divine revelation, with every future prophecy originating from Sinai (Berachos 5a). How every prophecy is an extension of Sinai is not vis--vis the revelation of Torah (which will not be duplicated and whose laws he has no authority to permanently rescind), but rather in the communication of the true "word of G-d". (Hence to pronounce a false prophecy or claim one was a representative of a foreign god was such a reprehensible misdemeanor.)

All objectives of the prophet were towards proclaiming the "word of G-d".

* When the occasion dictated, prophets like Eliyahu and Elisha, performed wondrous miracles to glorifying His Name.

* The less-than-popular directive of the prophet was to habitually admonish the people to return from their evil ways in repentance (See Rambam, Hilchos Teshuva 4, Ran, Nedarim 22b). One famous example of this was Yonah enjoined to journey to Ninveh in Assyria and to inspire the sinful people to undertake a spiritual rejuvenation by taking the "word of G-d" to heart.

* The prophet was to vividly paint the apocalyptic destruction destined to strike the nation should they not mend their ways and return to G-d. This underscores the divine Providence within the universe.

* Finally, there are prophecies about the future and the Messianic Epoch (e.g. Yeshayah and Yechezkel) where the "word of G-d" was to comfort and console the Jewish nation should never lose hope about their future. They had the Divine covenant that G-d would never reject them.

Significantly, all prophecies recorded within the canon of Tanach have a timeless quality about them. They are everlasting teachings relevant for all future generations (Megillah 14a) even today where prophetic inspiration has unfortunately ceased.

That "word of G-d" from a prophet cannot be heard in today's world. But in the world to come, all of Israel will become prophets (Bamidbar Rabbah 15:19).


The course is presented by Osher Chaim Levene, author of SET IN STONE (2004: Targum) about the meaning of mitzvah observance and PEOPLE OF THE BOOK (2007: Targum) about the biblical personalities. A London-based writer and educator whose website www.mitzva.org explores the wisdom of the commandments, he learned at the Gateshead and Mir Yeshivas, holds a Bachelor of Science (Honors) business degree from London's City University, and is a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.


 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

A Judgement Call
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

They Can Assure a Cure
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Learning to Love What Is!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

> The Laws of Kashrus: Is it techinical or something deeper?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

Points to Ponder
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Father Knows Best
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

ArtScroll

Tooth and Nail
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

About This We Cry!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

A Gift to Claim
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5756

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Bobover Rebbe Zt"l
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

Fear Itself
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Born To Be Wise
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

Looking for a Chavrusah?

What Are We Missing On Tisha B'Av?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

In Other Words
Shlomo Katz - 5764

Harsh Hugs
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Love Your Neighbor
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758



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