Home Subscribe Services Support Us
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Fundamentals of the Jewish Faith

Chapter Seven: Moses and Prophecy (Part 4)

Understand that prophecy wasn’t the same experience for each and every prophet; there were degrees, one might even say different “flavors” of it. For despite their decidedly gifted status, some prophets experienced somewhat prosaic prophecies, while others -- like Isaiah whom we’d cited -- were privy to great and broad, cosmic revelations.

Though Ramchal doesn’t enunciate them here, we’re taught in fact that there were twelve degrees of prophecy. (We’ll be drawing from Rambam’s “Guide for the Perplexed” 2:45 here, from Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 7:6, and from Rambam’s Commentary on Perek Cheilek).

The first and second degrees are termed “divine inspiration” and “the spirit of holiness” respectively, rather than prophecy per se. Divine inspiration is characterized by being moved to participate in important things, and the spirit of holiness is characterized by having a sense of being overtaken by “something” or another that moves the prophet to moral insight or civil action. Ramchal underscores the fact, though, that these are definitively perceived as being Heaven-sent by the prophet, and not simply a private insight of his own, and that he understands the implications of what he’s sensing.

The other degrees, which do fall into the category of out-and-out prophecy, are as follows in ascending order: seeing a prophetic vision in a dream, hearing things in a dream without seeing a speaker, being addressed by a human in a dream, being addressed by an angel in a dream, being addressed by G-d’s voice outright, having symbolic visions while awake, hearing voices in a visionary state while awake, being addressed by a human form in a prophetic vision while awake, and by being addressed by an angel in a prophetic vision while awake. The ultimate degree is unique to Moses, as we’ll soon discover.

Whereas they received their prophetic visions either in a dream or in a trance, Moses received his prophecies in a waking, conscious state. While the other prophets would grow faint when they prophesied, shivering and frightened, Moses experienced none of that. Where the others would often have to wait for days or even years for a prophecy, Moses could prophesy at any time. Though the others received their prophecy through an angel or a vision, Moses envisioned clearly. And while the others had to prepare themselves for prophecy, Moses was always attached to G-d, and thus never had to prepare himself for that.

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.



View Complete List

Darkness and Light
Shlomo Katz - 5773

Reuven's Lesson
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5766

Born to Lose
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

> Huts For the Cattle
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

Achieving Balance
Shlomo Katz - 5767

A Better Smelling "Sent"
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Perceptions: Vayishlach
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5775

Face to Face
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Heart to Heart
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768


Behind the Gray Blur
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Defining Victory / Diverse Motivations
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5776

Everyday Miracles
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

"Your Servant, Our Father"
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5775

The Glatt Yacht
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5761

Just Five More Minutes of Sleep!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

A Glaring Omission
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information