Da'at Tevunot - The Knowing Heart
Section 7, Chapter 10
1. Few things addle the human mind more than too much information coming
through too quickly -- to say nothing of contradictory information. The mind
tends to shut itself off then like a circuit that locks down rather than
burn out. That being so, it’s even more extraordinary to learn that “all the
images” that the prophets saw “appeared to them in one fell swoop”, even the
ones “that contradicted each other”, and that they were able to bear it all.
After all, wasn’t Moshe told and didn’t he envision the facts that one was
“not (to) have relations with (his) brother's wife” (Lev. 18:16), and yet
wasn’t he was also told and allowed to envision that “if brothers are living
together and one of them dies without a son…. Her husband's brother shall
take her and marry her” (Deut. 25:5) which seems to contradict that. And
wasn’t he told and made to see at one and the same time that we’re to
“remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8) while also be shown
that we’re to “observe the Sabbath day” (Deut. 5:12), implying two
completely different notions? How could Moshe endure these inherent
2. The answer, as Ramchal explains it, lies in the fact that “something
that’s supernatural doesn’t experience the limitations of the natural
world”. That’s to say that while contradictions and the like may addle the
human mind, they don’t have that effect upon a mind that’s gifted with
prophecy, which transcends the ways of the natural world.
Ramchal then offers the example of dreams, which evince a trace of prophecy
(see Berachot 57b). After all, things we see when we dream often go against
the natural course of events; all kinds of contradictory phenomena toggle
back and forth across the screen of the sleeping mind then. And if that’s
true (and not unexpected) in dreams, it’s all the more so true of prophetic
 For Kabbalistic references see R’ Friedlander’s Iyyun 61.
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has translated and commented upon "The Gates of Repentance", "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason
Aronson Publishers). His works are available in bookstores and in various
locations on the Web.