"The Way of G-d"
Part 3: "The Soul, Inspiration, Prophecy, and the Supernatural"
Ch. 4: "The Prophetic Experience"
Paragraphs 7 & 8
Other things could have gone awry, too. A prophet might have
misinterpreted a nuance or two of what had been revealed to him, or he
might have understood something that could be taken two ways, the
Another way things could have been misinterpreted was based on the fact
that revelations involved two things: the point being made, and the words
(or acts) used to express it.
Now, some revelations were straightforward and could thus be said outright
without regard to terminology. But some others were more symbolic, replete
with meaning, and were meant to speak to the generations. So the terms
used to express them counted very, very much. The prophecies of the better-
known prophets, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and others of that caliber
fit into that category.
Still-and-all, though, each prophet was an individual with his own style,
tone, thrust and the like, so each expressed the ideas behind his
revelations his own way. Hence, they were sometimes misunderstood.
Othertimes certain arcane acts were to be carried out by the prophet in
conjunction with his message. Jeremiah, for example, was instructed to
wear a linen belt at one point when he addressed the people (see Jeremiah
13), and to place a yoke about his neck another time (see Jeremiah 27);
Ezekiel was told to trace a map of Jerusalem on a brick at a particular
moment (see Ezekiel 4), etc.
Rather than only make some sort of intellectual, emotional, and visual
impression upon their onlookers (which they did nonetheless) -- these acts
were also meant to effect specific far-reaching change in the transcendent
forces. Hence they weren't mere "symbols" of this or that, as is commonly
thought. They were in fact complex mechanisms of changes in heaven and in
earth. But they, too, could be misunderstood.
This series is dedicated to the memory of Yitzchak Hehrsh ben Daniel,
and Sarah Rivka bas Yaakov Dovid.
Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org
Subscribe to Ramchal and receive the class via e-mail.