Monday, August 25, 2008

Chabad - Rebbe & prophecy II/Israel only?

The following is a question raised to defend the idea that the Lubavitcher Rebbe could be a prophet even though he was never in Israel

Rabbi Ariel Sokolovsky's comment to "Chabad - Rebbe & prophecy/R' Gil Student":
If Moshe Rabbeinu the greatest prophet ever became a prophet without ever setting his foot in Eretz Yisrael how can one entertain this as a requirement for other prophets?

Also it would seem to place limitations on G-d's omnipotence since according to this G-d can only communicate with people from Eretz Yisrael or in Eretz Yisrael etc.
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Here are some sources which state that prophecy is limited to Israel

Sifri (Mishpatim #32):
A prophet from your midst - and not from outside of Israel

ספרי (משפטים לב): נביא מקרבך מאחיך כמוני יקים לך ה' אלהיך. מקרבך ולא בחוצה לארץ. מאחיך ולא מאחרי'. יקים לך ולא לגוים ומה אני מקיים. ירמיה (א:ה) נביא לגוים נתתיך. בנוהג מנהג גוים: אליו תשמעון. יבמות צ וש"נ אפי' אומר לך עבור על אחת מכל מצות האמורות בתורה כאליהו בהר הכרמל לפי שעה שמע לו: (סליק פיסקא):


Ramban(Devarim 18:15):
A prophet from your midst - This alludes to the fact that there is no prophecy outside of Israel

רמב"ן (דברים יח:טו): נביא מקרבך מאחיך כמני טעם "מקרבך", לרמוז שאין נבואה אלא בארץ ישראל, ולכך יאמר בה הכתוב (ישעיה כב א) משא גיא חזיון, וכמו שהזכירו רבותינו (מכילתא ריש בא) וכן טעם "מאחיך", כי השם נתן לך מעלה על כל העמים ולא יתן רוחו רק עליכם כמוני, שאני מקרב אחיך יקים לך, תחתי, וכן מנביא לנביא, לשון רש"י ואמר רבי אברהם, כמוני, שאני נביא השם, לא מעונן וקוסם ויתכן שיהיה "מקרבך", לומר שתוכל לבטוח בדבריו שהוא מאחיך מקרבך וכן על דעתי, "כמוני", שיהיה נאמן לנביא לה' ותאמין בו כאשר אתה מאמין בי, ועוד אבאר זה:

Mizrachi(Devarim 18:15): Our Sages teach in Sifre "A prophet from your midst" means not outside of Israel which alludes to the fact that there prophetic ability does not rest anywhere except the Land of Israel

מזרחי (דברים יח:טו): אבל רבותינו ז"ל דרשו בספרי, "מקרבך ולא מחוצה לארץ" רמז, שאין נבואה שורה אלא בארץ ישראל

Sefer HaIkkarim(3:11): Just as the spark of sunlight striking a mirror reflects it back so that it can illuminate dark places, so is it with G‑d’s illumination which comes to a prophet. It can reflect on to others who are not deserving of prophecy and enable them to receive prophecy. In my opinion this is the reason why prophecy is found amongst the Jewish people rather than the nations of the world and why it is found only in Israel and not other lands…

ספר העקרים (ג:יא): וענין צורך האמצעי בדבר הזה הוא ע"ז הדרך כי כמו שמהכאת ניצוץ השמש בגוף זך בהיר כמראה המלוטשת יתהפך הניצוץ אל מקום חשוך ויאיר המקום ההוא על ידי ההתהפכות ההוא מה שלא היה מאיר קודם זה כך השפע האלהי שכירד על הנביא השלם יתהפך ממנו על הבלתי ראוי ויהיה זה סבה אל שיחול הרוח הנבואיי על הבלתי שלם או בלתי מוכן לכך ויתנבא ואף בזה ההתהפכות יהיה הרוח שיחול על היותר מוכן גדול ממה שיחול על מי שאינו מוכן: ולפי דעתי שזאת היתה הסבה שתמצא הנבואה באומת ישראל מזולתה מן האומות ובארץ ישראל מזולתה מן הארצות וזה כי מצד הארון והלוחות שהיתה השכינה שורה עליו היה מתהפך הרוח האלהי כדמות ניצוץ השמש המתהפך והיה שורה הרוח הנבואיי על האיש שתמצא בו הכנה מה בדמיון מה שהוא בארון והוא האיש שימצאו בו דעות התורה הכתובים בלוחות הברית באמת כמו שהיה זה בנבואת שמואל שהיה שוכב בחדרו שהיה לו ובאה אליו קול הנבואה מעל הכפרת אשר על הארון שהיה אז שם בשילה והוא עצמו לא היה יודע מי הקורא שלא היה משער בעצמו היותו ראוי לנבואה שישמע קול בעת היקיצה במראה הנבואה ולזה היה קם ממטתו ללכת אל עלי עד שעלי הבין זה מעצמו כמו שאמר הכתוב (שמואל א' ג') ויבן עלי כי ה' קורא לנער:


Regarding Moshe's prophecy Kuzari (2:14) says that Egypt and the Sinai were considered part of Israel.

כוזרי (ב:יד): אמר החבר: כל מי שנתנבא לא נתנבא כי אם בארץ הזאת או בעבורה כך זכה אברהם לנבואתו הראשונה כאשר צוה ללכת אל הארץ הזאת ויחזקאל ודניאל בעבורה נבאו אכן שניהם ראו עוד את הבית הראשון ואת כבוד השכינה אשר כל ימי היותה שורה בבית ההוא היה כל אדם המוכן לכך מצד הסגלה מגיע לנבואה אשר לנבואת ירמיהו במצרים הלא היתה בארץ ובעבורה כמוה כנבואת משה ואהרן ומרים כי סיני ופארן שניהם בגבול ארץ ישראל הלא הם על יד ים סוף ודבר האלוה היה ושתי את גבלך מים סוף ועד ים פלשתים וממדבר עד הנהר והנה מדבר הוא מדבר פארן המדבר הגדול והנורא והוא גבולה הדרומי של הארץ והנהר שהוא נהר פרת כמו שנאמר והנהר הרביעי הוא פרת הוא גבול הארץ...


Moed Koton(25a): R’ Abba opened his funeral address: “Our master deserved that the Shechina should rest on him but the fact that he lived [outside of Israel] in Babylonia prevented this from happening.” R’ Nachman objected to this assertion by noting that Yechezkeil prophesized outside of Israel. R’ Nachman’s father refuted his son’s objection by noting that there is a doubled language that indicates that Yechezkeil was a prophet before coming to Babylonia [and therefore he was able to continue being a prophet even outside of Israel - Rashi].

מועד קטן (כה.): פתח עליה רבי אבא: ראוי היה רבינו שתשרה עליו שכינה, אלא שבבל גרמה ליה. מתיב רב נחמן בר חסדא, ואמרי לה רב חנן בר חסדא: (יחזקאל א:ג) היה היה דבר ה' אל יחזקאל בן בוזי הכהן בארץ כשדים! טפח ליה אבוה בסנדליה. אמר ליה: לאו אמינא לך לא תיטרוד עלמא? מאי היה - שהיה כבר.

Torah Temimah (Devarim 18:15):
When the Jews came to Israel prophetic ability was nullified outside of Israel as is explained in the Mechilta

תמימה (דברים יח:טו הערה סח): דמשבאו ישראל לא"י בטלה השראת הנבואה בחו"ל כמבואר במכילתא פ' בא פרשה ראשונה:
Mechilta (Bo Parsha 1): Until the Land of Israel was chosen all the lands were fit for prophecy. However once the Land of Israel was chosen – the other lands were excluded. Until Yerushalayim was chosen for the Temple all of Israel was permitted to have altars. However once Yerushalayim was chosen it was forbidden to have altars outside of Yerushalaym.
מכילתא דרבי ישמעאל בא - מסכתא דפסחא פרשה א

ועד שלא נבחרה ארץ ישראל היו כל הארצות כשרות לדברות משנבחרה ארץ ישראל יצאו כל הארצות. עד שלא נבחרה ירושלם היתה כל ארץ ישראל כשרה למזבחות משנבחרה ירושלם יצאת ארץ ישראל שנאמר השמר לך פן תעלה עולותך בכל המקום אשר תראה כי אם במקום אשר יבחר ה' אלהיך (דברים יב:יד

24 comments :

  1. Also it would seem to place limitations on G-d's omnipotence since according to this G-d can only communicate with people from Eretz Yisrael or in Eretz Yisrael etc.

    G-d certainly could communicate anywhere, but chose to limit His communications to a specific place...hardly a limit on His power.

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  2. Whenever I read about these rules, I am reminded of the story in Sanhedrin where the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah wanted to decree that Shlomo HaMelech did get Olam haba. After several Divine messages were ignored because they had decided he didn't, God Himself had to step in and say "Hey! I run Heaven. I get to say who gets in!"

    At any rate, the proofs in the post simply show that only Jews can be prophets, not a limitation to Eretz Yisrael.

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  3. At any rate, the proofs in the post simply show that only Jews can be prophets, not a limitation to Eretz Yisrael.
    ================
    I am curious as to how you ignore the explcit words of the texts and come up with this conclusion?

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  4. A legitimate issue has been raised, by citing Moshe Rabbeinu and the fact that he never entered Israel. None of the sources you quoted speak to that, save the Kuzari.

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  5. How about this for a Doozy The Ohr Hachaim in this weeks Parsha Reeh (Who by the way the only reason we Know about him is because of the Baal Shem Tov Hakodosh fondness of his Pirush)says that Mosiach MUST BE BORN IN ERTEZ YISROEL!!

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  6. shloime said...

    A legitimate issue has been raised, by citing Moshe Rabbeinu and the fact that he never entered Israel. None of the sources you quoted speak to that, save the Kuzari.
    ==================
    You are working backwards. I brought authoritative sources that say that prophecy is only in Israel. Moshe Rabbeinu seems to be an exception - but that only means there is a question raised but it is not a refutation. So there still remains the stronger question as to why Chabad is ignoring the explicit Sifre?
    The burden of proof is on Chabad not on the sources I cited.

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  7. > I am curious as to how you ignore the explcit words of the texts and come up with this conclusion?

    I'm not ignoring anything. I am guessing that you're looking at the words "outside of Israel" in a political sense, I'm looking at it in a nationality sense., ie. Israel is the people of Israel, not the land. Both the Sifri and Ramban quotes lend themselve to either interpretation. The Sefer Ikkarim is a bit more explicit but I would be curious to see the original Hebrew text and see if there is more than one way to look at it.

    And if anyone has it handy, it'll be our illustrious blogmaster.

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  8. Just a few thoughts:
    Actually we see by Adam Harishon (pashtus in chul), Noach, Avraham Avinu, and Yehoshua all had nevua outside of Eretz Yisroel. The Kuzari, on the face of it, is hard to understand (but clearly needs to be seen inside with m'forshim). There is an issur to return to Mitzrayim but there is a mitzvah to live in EY. "B'eretz lo la'hem" etc etc.

    I half suspect that the nature of navuah changed after kivush haaretz. Maybe I heard that once but if someone has a makor for such an idea, please post it.

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  9. Michoel, we see this idea in the Gemara regarding Hallel, that it is only about miracles that occurred in Eretz Yisrael. Then why do we have Hallel for Pesach? One of the answers given is that up until B'nei Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael, all lands were on a level for which we say Shirah. After we entered, only Eretz Yisrael is on that level.

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  10. Speaking of Eretz Yisroel, the Rambam in Igeres Teiman writes that one of the explicit requirements for identifying Moshiach is that he will come to public attention only in Eretz Yisroel (although I don't know what his source is - any ideas?).

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  11. Reb anonymous from 5:42,
    Shkoyach!

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  12. Regarding Moshe Rabbeinu - see the Mechilta which I just added which answers the question.

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  13. The Mechilta uses the lashon "nivchara". But that stills needs some hesbir, no? EY was "nivchara" long before, certainly from Avraham Avinu. And Yehoshua had nevua immediately before the kivush in arvos Moav.

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  14. What about Yechezkel? Or Daniel? Or Mordechai? All non-Israeli neviim.

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  15. This may represent the Chabad view

    http://snipurl.com/3k3nj

    See also

    http://www.maale.org.il/faq.php?id=3957

    http://www.kipa.co.il/ask/show/7970



    From the Gro in אדרת אליהו we have (page 535 and on)

    וגילוי של תורה הוא בארץ כמו שאמרו, אווירא דא"י מחכים, וגם הנבואה אינה שורה אלא בא"י, ולכן ברח יונה, כמו שאמרו - ראוי רבנו שתשרה עליו שכינה, אלא בבל גרמה לו וכמו שנאמר - מלכה ושריה בגויים אין תורה, גם נביאיה לא מצאו חזון מה' (איכה ב, ט). אבל כשהיו ישראל בארץ היה גוי אחד. וכן לעתיד לבוא במהרה בימינו אמן יהי רצון. כמו שאמרו בזוהר, 'אימתי גוי אחד? בזמן שהן בארץ' . וכן התורה לא נתנה אלא לישראל בהר סיני, וזהו שכתוב כאן ' אלינו בחורב' .ובמקום אחר כתב הגר"א בקיצור על הפסוק "ושמתיה כמדבר" (הושע ב, ה) "זו נבואה, שאין שורה אלא בא"י" .

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  16. See the tshuva of the Rashbo siman 548, where he writes:
    ועוד שכל זה היפך מן הקבלה שקבלנו מפי חכמי האמת שאין נבואר שורה בחוצה לארץ ואיך נאמין במה שסותר מה שנודע לחכמי ישראל מפי הנביאים עד שהוצרכו לומר בנבואת משה שזה היה קודם שנתקדשה הארץ ובנבואת יחזקאל שהתחילה בארץ
    The Rebbe also touches on the issue in a footnote to a letter printed in Likutei Sichos v 8 p 337. Found here: http://www.otzar770.com/library/display_page.asp?nPageNumber=337&cPartLetter=B&nBookId=90

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  17. See the tshuva of the Rashbo siman 548, where he writes:
    ועוד שכל זה היפך מן הקבלה שקבלנו מפי חכמי האמת שאין נבואר שורה בחוצה לארץ ואיך נאמין במה שסותר מה שנודע לחכמי ישראל מפי הנביאים עד שהוצרכו לומר בנבואת משה שזה היה קודם שנתקדשה הארץ ובנבואת יחזקאל שהתחילה בארץ
    The Rebbe also touches on the issue in a footnote to a letter printed in Likutei Sichos v 8 p 337. Found here: http://www.otzar770.com/library/display_page.asp?nPageNumber=337&cPartLetter=B&nBookId=90

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  18. thanbo,

    All 3 were born in Eretz Yisrael.

    Not familiar with a claim that Mordechai was a navi though.

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  19. I'm not sure why this debate is taking place. This is not a controversial subject:

    A) Before the Jewish people settled in Eretz Yisrael prophecy could take place everywhere.

    B) After the Jewish people came to Eretz Yisrael, one could only become a prophet in Eretz Yisrael.

    C) Once one had received his initial prophecy, it was possible to experience prophecy outside of Eretz Yisrael, although this was more difficult.

    All of this is well-established and not the least bit controversial (at least, until current Chabad began muddying the waters).

    Some commentors have posed the philosophical question that this "limits" Hashem's power. This is the standard question posed whenever a "limitation" is placed on Divine behavior.

    Hashem, in His wisdom, has chosen to hide His Presence in this world. However, in some places His Presence is more revealed. This is particularly true in Eretz Yisrael. Thus, He has chosen to limit the spirit of prophecy to Eretz Yisrael. Obviously, He could have chosen differently, but He didn't.

    The one interesting question is why this is omitted by the Rambam in his halachos of nevuah. It is possible, in my opinion, that the Rambam held this concept to be aggadic. In other words, it is to be understood as a strong general principle but not a halachic restriction. Therefore, if an individual passed all the criteria, he would be a valid prophet, but this is extremely unlikely. Moreover, given its extreme unlikelihood, we would be justified in being very skeptical of such a claim.

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  20. B"H

    THE RAMBAM SAYS: THERE IS A PROPHET IN OUR TIME!

    When people ask how we can say there’s a prophet in our time, the question is not on Lubavitchers but on the Rambam, who states that prophecy will return before the coming of Moshiach. * An in-depth look at the phenomenon of prophecy in our time, twelve years after the Rebbe asked us to publicize his prophecy of “Behold he (Moshiach) has come!

    By Rabbi Avrohom Mendel Wechter

    Rosh Kollel in Nachalat Har Chabad



    When discussing the topic of prophecy after the destruction of the Mikdash, it is only proper to point out that “first rights” belong to the Rishonim like the Rambam and the Baalei Tosafos, who already in their day stated that prophecy exists after the churban. So all questions about prophecy ought not be directed at Lubavitchers, but at the Rambam and the other Rishonim. The way they explain the Rambam will also explain our belief that the Rebbe King Moshiach Shlit"a (May He live forever and ever!) is the navi of our generation.

    In this article we will closely examine the sources that seem to say that prophecy does not exist after the churban.

    * * *

    The Rambam begins chapter 7 of “Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah” with the words, “It is one of the principles of our faith to know that Hashem gives prophecy to man.” The Rambam then goes on to enumerate the prerequisite qualities for prophecy, such as “great in chochma, strong in his middos, etc.” and he concludes with, “ruach ha’kodesh immediately rests upon him.”

    Since the Rambam doesn’t limit prophecy to a specific time, this means that not only can we have prophecy in our time, but this is a principle of our faith!

    Many quote the Gemara (Yuma 9, Sota 48) that says “when the last prophets died, Chagai, Zecharia, Malachi, nistalka (departed) ruach ha’kodesh from among the Jewish people,” but as we said – this question is on the Rambam: why didn’t the Rambam write that the fact that “Hashem gives prophecy to human beings” is only until the last prophets died?

    This question is also difficult regarding all those students of the Baal Shem Tov who said that their Rebbeim had open ruach ha’kodesh. The Raavad in “Hilchos Lulav” writes, “Ruach Ha’kodesh has already appeared in our beis midrash.” And in the forward to Shaalos U’T’shuvos Min HaShamayim by Rabbi Margolis, in the chapter “Giluyim,” he tells amazing stories about many g’dolei Yisroel, the Rishonim, and how ruach ha’kodesh appeared regularly in their beis midrash!

    The truth is the explanation of the Gemara is very simple. The Gemara does not mean that ruach ha’kodesh ceased entirely after the passing of the later prophets, but that it is not found as before. We see similar things in the Gemara like (Bava Metzia 29), “Once the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, white glass ceased,” and Tosafos proves that even after the churban there was white glass, and the Gemara actually means, “it is not found as before.”

    Just as with white glass, Tosafos does not mean to say that the existence of white glass is a possibility after the churban, but that it actually exists after the churban too but it is not as readily available, so too with prophecy: It is not merely that prophecy is possible after the last prophets; it actually exists. It’s just not as readily found as before.

    We’ve seen already with the Baal Shem Tov and his talmidim, that the Tzemach Tzedek testifies in Seifer HaChakira, “The Baal Shem Tov, z”l, the likes of whom we haven’t had since the days of the Rishonim, incredible wonders outside of nature were seen through him, as I heard from my grandfather [the Alter Rebbe], nishmaso Eden, that he [the Baal Shem Tov] and his talmid the Maggid were able to see from one end of the world to the other with actual vision, and they would say what they would see, as witnessed by their students.” And the Tzemach Tzedek continues and says that, “also from my grandfather [the Alter Rebbe], nishmaso Eden, we heard predictions that were right on the mark.”

    The message of the Gemara – that ruach ha’kodesh is not found as before – can be explained in two ways: 1) literally, that ruach ha’kodesh is rare, 2) perhaps the Gemara is referring to the level of revelation of ruach ha’kodesh – that today it is not on the same level as it once was, before the last prophets died; but it certainly exists on a lower plane.

    This idea can be supported by the Gemara in Sota (49A) which says, “when Rebbi died, humility and fear of heaven ceased … when R’ Meir died, those who said parables ceased.” Does anybody think that among all the g’dolei Yisroel of the past many hundreds of years, there wasn’t even a single tzaddik who could be described as humble, G-d-fearing, or one who could say parables?

    The only explanation is that here, too, the Gemara means that it wasn’t found as before, and again in two ways: either 1) once Rebbi died, humility and fear of heaven ceased to be on Rebbi’s high level, and the same goes for those who said parables, that once R’ Meir died, there are none who can say parables like him, or 2) it’s not found as readily as before, but certain individuals have these qualities just like before!

    (The Rambam (in chapter 9 of “Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah”) says that Malachi was the “last of the prophets” – this can be simply understood to refer to the era of prophets, not, ch”v, that since then there haven’t been and won’t be any prophets.)

    * * *

    Thus far we have established the possibility of the existence of ruach ha’kodesh even after the last prophets died. Now we shall attempt to prove the existence of prophecy after the end of the era of prophets.

    In the Gemara Bava Basra (12b), Rav Ashi is quoted as saying, “You should know that a great man says something and there is repeated a ‘law unto Moshe from Sinai’ like what he said.” The Gemara asks: “Perhaps like a blind man in skylight?” (i.e., he just happened to stumble upon the truth) The Gemara answers: “Didn’t he give a reason?”

    Rashi explains the response of the Gemara as follows. “Since he stated a reason [for his conclusion] he is not like a blind man who tries to descend through a skylight by happenstance, rather it is the reasoning of the heart that comes to him as prophecy and he merits to concur with ‘law unto Moshe from Sinai.’” Thus, we see that Rav Ashi maintains that prophecy is also extant after the era of the last prophets.

    Also in Eruvin (60b) the Gemara says, “This is nothing but words of prophecy,” and Tosafos explains that “wherever it says, ‘this is nothing but words of prophecy,’ it is meant in the positive sense. In other words, there is no wisdom capable of apprehending such subtle reasoning, and it must have been said with ruach ha’kodesh.” Once again we clearly see, from Tosafos too, that even after the era of the last prophets, there is still prophecy.

    Later on too, in the era of the Rishonim, we find many designations of prophecy in reference to g’dolei Yisroel in that area. There are many examples of this. Here are two:

    In the Gemara in Gittin (88A, Tosafos “V’dilma”) we find that one of the Baalei Tosafos was called “Ezra HaNavi.”

    In the Gemara in Menachos (109B, Tosafos “B’t’chila kol ha’omer”) the Tosafos quote Rabbeinu Klonimus, the father of R’ Meshulem, and concludes: “and three things he edited as if through nevua at the time of his passing.”

    We clearly see that even during the era of the Rishonim, there was still nevua.

    The question that many raise is the quote from the Gemara in Bava Basra (12b) that “since the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, prophecy was taken from the prophets and given to fools and babies.”

    First of all, the Gemara brings another opinion, that of Rav Avdimi of Chaifa, that “it was taken from prophets and given to the chachamim.” So the initial quote was not accepted by all.

    Second of all, even according to Rabi Yochanan – that “it was given to fools and babies” – there are many commentators that maintain that he is not disagreeing with R’ Avdimi. On the contrary, he repeats what R’ Avdimi says and adds to it. In other words, he maintains that after the churban, prophecy was given to chachamim, but not to all chachamim, but only to “special chachamim who hide and conceal their wisdom and make themselves like fools and babies.” So even Rabi Yochanan maintains that after the churban prophecy rests upon chachamim, but in his opinion, it’s only on chachamim that “make themselves like fools and babies.”

    But there are still those who ask, based on the words of the Alter Rebbe in Igeres HaKodesh (22) where the Alter Rebbe berates the chassidim who seek advice about parnasa, and says there explicitly that prophecy was only “formerly amongst the Jewish people,” and later even the early chachmei Yisroel like Tanaim and Amoraim did not merit prophecy, and therefore could not instruct regarding material things and reveal the future like the prophets.

    The Rebbe addressed this point in Likkutei Sichos (vol. 14, p. 73), after proving the existence of prophecy in later generations: “Even though this is not on the same level of the bestowal of ruach ha’kodesh that the prophets had [see Igeres HaKodesh (end 22), “there was something like this, etc., even to the early g’dolei chachmei Yisroel like the Tanaim and Amoraim, etc., but to actual prophets who were formerly in Israel like Shmuel the Seer, etc.”], still, generally speaking, this is a level of prophecy.”

    What this means is, like what was said above, that there are levels of prophecy, and “even after they died, etc.,” one level of ruach ha’kodesh was removed in a general sense – still, lower levels of prophecy remained. As the Alter Rebbe himself defined the early chachmei Yisroel, that “no secret was withheld from them, and it was illuminated for them the pathways of the heavens,” and this too is a level of prophecy!

    Furthermore, even after the Alter Rebbe wrote this letter, chassidim continued asking and the Rebbe continued answering! It is not hard to understand why chassidim continued asking, but a strong question can be asked about the Alter Rebbe and all the Rebbeim who succeeded him: how could they rule regarding weighty matters which pertain to material life when the Alter Rebbe said only neviim can answer questions such as these?!

    We’re not talking about isolated instances, but tens of thousands of private audiences with all the Rebbeim, from the Alter Rebbe to the Rebbe King Moshiach Shlit"a (May He live forever and ever!). Chassidim asked about their material concerns, matters which the Alter Rebbe said only a navi can answer, yet our Rebbeim answered!

    Chassidim explained that after they clearly saw that the Rebbeim’s advice was “on the mark,” they saw empirically that nevua was given to chachamim, and so they continued asking and the Rebbeim continued answering (see also the sicha of Parshas Shoftim 5751, footnote 102).

    It’s interesting to note that despite the rule of “yeridas ha’doros” (the decline of the generations), regarding nevua the Rambam says that in Ikvesa D’Meshicha prophecy will be more powerful than in the earlier generations after the churban.

    In Igeres Teiman (kuntres 3) the Rambam writes:

    “We have a great and wondrous tradition, which I received from my father who received it from his father and grandfather, thus all the way back to the beginning of the exile of Yerushalayim, as it says (Ovadia 20), “This exiled host of the Children of Israel who are among the K’naanim until Tzorfas and the exile of Yerushalayim, which is in S’farad, will inherit the cities of the South.” And the explanation is that in Bilam’s prophecy there is an allusion that prophecy will return to Israel after it ceases.”

    Then the Rambam continues and says, “About this matter, our tradition is that when Bilam said (BaMidbar 23:23), “Now it will be said to Yaakov and Yisroel what Hashem wrought,” there is a secret that from that time you have to calculate from the Six Days of Creation until that time, and prophecy will return to Israel, and then the prophets will tell them what Hashem wrought.”

    After a detailed calculation the Rambam concludes:

    “And according to this explanation and this calculation, prophecy will return to Israel in the year 4976 since Creation (1216), and there is no doubt that the return of prophecy is the harbinger of Moshiach, as it says (Yoel 3:1-2), “And your sons and daughters will prophesize, etc., and also regarding the slaves and maidservants in those days, I will pour My spirit.”

    In certain texts of the Rambam there is another paragraph which tells about an elevated man, one of the chachmei Yisroel by the name of Moshe Dery who “began prophesizing things that came true.” His custom was to announce to the public “gather tomorrow and this is what will happen or that will happen,” and it actually happened. Once he said that that week blood would rain down … this was in the month of Cheshvan. It poured heavily and the water was mixed with cement. This wonder proved to all that he was definitely a navi.” And the Rambam concludes, “However this is not impossible from a Torah perspective, as I explained regarding prophecy returning (to Israel) before the coming of Moshiach.”

    What we derive from the Rambam is: 1) According to the Rambam’s calculation, even those levels of prophecy which departed after the era of the last prophets, will return to Israel starting in the year 4976. 2) The return of prophecy precedes Moshiach. 3) If the navi proved that what he says is true, he is definitely a navi.

    After we’ve proven that nevua is possible in our times, let’s look at the Rambam (the first halacha in chapter 7 of “Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah”), which describes the man who is deserving of prophecy:

    “One of the principles of our faith is to know that Hashem gives prophecy to human beings, and the prophecy does not rest on anyone except upon a great chacham in chochma, strong in his middos, whose yetzer does not overpower him in anything, rather he constantly overcomes his yetzer, and he possesses an exceedingly broad and proper understanding. One who is full of all these qualities, complete in body, when he enters the Orchard (i.e., the secrets of Torah) and is drawn after all those great and distant matters, and he has the proper understanding to comprehend and grasp and he continuously sanctifies himself and separates himself from the ways of the people who go in the darkness of the time, and goes and urges himself and teaches his soul not to have a single thought in worthless matters and not in the vanities of the time and its wiles, rather his daas is constantly turned Above, connected under the Throne, to understand those holy and pure forms, and he gazes upon Hashem’s chochma in its entirety, from the highest spiritual forms to the core of the earth, and from these he knows His greatness, etc., – immediately ruach ha’kodesh rests upon him, etc.”

    There’s no need to elaborate and explain why the only person who meets these criteria in our generation is Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach shlita, nasi ha’dor and its leader, who devotes all his days and nights, the likes of which was never seen before in history!

    And when we also see how the Rebbe’s prophecies were fulfilled, there’s no question that he is the navi of our generation. He said many prophecies, not only on personal matters but on matters that affect the Klal. That which is famous needs no proof. The Rebbe’s prophecies about the wars in Eretz Yisroel have been written about at length. The Rebbe saw what would happen in advance, just like the early prophets!

    As the Rebbe said on Shabbos Parshas Shoftim 5751, “To publicize to yourself and to everybody you come in contact with that you must accept upon yourself (with the greatest strength) the directives and advice of “your judges” and “your advisors,” of our generation – “Who are kings? The Sages” in general, and especially Nasi Doreinu, who comes as the successor of the Rebbeim who preceded him, the judge of our generation and the advisor of our generation, and the prophet of our generation … until the main prophecy – the prophecy of “l’alter l’Geula” and immediately “behold this (Moshiach) has come.”

    Why do we need prophets?
    Thirteen years ago, on Shabbos Parshas Shoftim, we heard an unusual sicha from the Rebbe in which the Rebbe spoke about the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise, “return your judges as at first, and your advisors as at the beginning.” The Rebbe said that we must publicize to all members of this generation that we merited that Hashem chose and appointed someone with free choice, who is incomparably greater than anyone else, to be “your judges” and “your advisors” and the prophet of the generation, who will teach us what to do and give us advice regarding the avoda of all Jews and everybody of this generation, in all matters of Torah and mitzvos and daily life, and the main prophecy, the prophecy of “L’Alter l’Geula” and immediately “behold he (Moshiach) comes.” * The Rebbe said that along with this z’chus, each one of us has the responsibility to accept upon himself “your judges” and “your advisors” and to follow his orders and good advice.
    From this sicha it was clear that the Rebbe was referring to himself, that he is the navi ha’dor, and that he was revealing this to us in order to instill in us the certain faith of Moshiach’s coming, so that we’d know that this was definitely happening.

    As we review the sicha of Shoftim 5751, let us examine the purpose of prophecy and the Rebbe’s prophecy in particular.

    What usually happens when the topic of the Rebbe being a navi comes up is that many questions are asked, most of them stemming from ignorance. Of all the questions that are posed, we chose to focus on one topic: What do we need prophets for anyway?

    * * *

    At the beginning of chapter 7 of “Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah,” the Rambam writes, “It is one of the principles of [our] religion to know that Hashem gives prophecy to human beings.” This means that belief in the phenomenon of prophecy is one of the principles of our faith.

    It must be noted that the phenomenon of prophecy throughout the generations is incomparable to that of Moshe Rabbeinu. Whereas the entire Torah is based on the prophetic revelation that Moshe had on Sinai, the rest of the prophets could not innovate anything in Torah. Moshe was the sole prophet whose mission it was to teach us the mitzvos. From Moshe onwards, “A prophet is not allowed to innovate anything!”

    From this it seems that prophecy is only about letting us know what will take place in the future, which is quite surprising. Do we need prophets to tell us the future? If we don’t know the future, so what?! This is a principle of our faith?!

    Many Torah greats have addressed this, and chassidus has its part to add, but they mostly try to explain why prophecy is central to our faith, and don’t deal with the question of why do we need prophets?

    Let us look at the Seifer HaChinuch and see what he says about prophecy, and we’ll see that even though a prophet can’t innovate anything, he and his prophecy are necessary so that the conduct of the Jewish people will be in accordance with Hashem’s wishes.

    In Mitzva #516, “to listen to the true prophet,” the Chinuch defines the phenomenon of prophecy:

    “The ultimate level man can reach is that of obtaining prophecy, and very few people merit this. One in tens of thousands achieves this, and in a generation that is worthy of it. Therefore the Torah commands us that when one man in a generation attains this level, we should listen to whatever he tells us to do because he knows the true path; arguing with him is an utter mistake and a deficiency in knowing the truth.”

    This means that the navi is a sort of conduit who transmits Hashem’s word to the Jewish people. Not the Torah per se, for the Torah was already given on Sinai. But in every generation there are upheavals in the world that require a new approach. The world progresses and every generation needs new instructions as to how the Torah wants us to respond to the new situation.

    We need someone in the generation who can realize this.

    Not because he understands, because understanding is a human quality, sometimes he is correct, sometimes not. What is needed is someone who will give a definitive – and most importantly, true – message.

    Judaism is based on absolute truth. Absolute truth is not something the greatest genius can impart. The best he can do is provide his reasoning. Absolute truth is determined through prophecy. Only a prophet who can perceive G-dliness can receive a direct message from On High and direct us on the true path.

    This idea is also seen in Seifer HaIkrim. When the author talks about prophecy he stresses, “The existence of prophecy is for a purpose: to warn about the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos, and avodas Hashem and doing those things that are desirable to Hashem.”

    This means that the role of a navi is not just to warn us to keep the Torah. If that’s all it was about, rabbanim could fill that role just fine. The role of a navi is to direct the nation in every generation on the path that is desirable to Hashem.

    Therefore, the Seifer HaIkrim stresses that telling the future is only a sign of a navi in order to convince us that he is in fact a navi, but his function is not to tell the future, to save us in battle, or to warn of impending earthquakes, but to direct humanity and the Jewish people towards the true path.

    This is what the Rebbe emphasizes in the sicha of Shoftim 5751 in defining the essence of a navi: “He give instructions and advice regarding the avoda of all Jews and all the people of the generation, in all matters of Torah and mitzvos, and regarding daily life in general.”

    We see this clearly with the Rebbe. In a topsy-turvy world such as ours, as mighty empires fall silently, seemingly overnight, and the nations of the world are in confusion, we hear a clear voice, the voice of truth, the voice of the Rebbe, that says, “The time for your redemption has arrived.”

    The Rebbe shows us the way, not only in Torah and mitzvos, but also – perhaps primarily – in all personal matters. The Rebbe directs us through the ever changing landscape, which changes at the dizzying pace of the newest headlines, and paves the way, towards the true and complete Redemption.
    Reprinted from the archives of Beis Moshiach (The International Weekly Magazine Heralding the Coming of Moshiach)BeisMoshiach.org

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  21. Uh, thanks LazerA. The Rebbe's view in the sicha of Shoftim '51 is clearly based on the Rambam's, who omits any requirement to live or have lived in Eretz Yisroel.

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  22. Ye gads! What a joke! Rabbi Ariel Sokolovsky's post might qualify as a poorly composed piece of Purim Torah, if it weren't for the frightening fact that the author, one Rabbi Avrohom Mendel Wechter, apparently intended it to be taken seriously.

    I have neither the time nor patience to work through the entire piece, but I will respond briefly.

    Rabbi Wechter's entire piece is based upon a confusion between halachic categories (a common trick with Purim Torah and also Conservative "teshuvot"), particularly the distinction between ruach hakodesh in general and halachicly binding nevuah.

    This confusion actually appears to be a bit disingenuous, in that the author cites R' Reuvain Margolios' introduction to "Shaalos u'Teshuvos Min Hashamayim" (in fact, much of his essay is taken from that introduction), but R' Margolios makes this distinction explicitly.

    Moreover, this distinction is evident in the very same Rambam that the author quotes at the opening of his essay. The Rambam (Yesodei HaTorah 7:1) states that if a person reaches a very high level of spiritual and intellectual discipline ruach hakodesh will immediately rest upon him. Yet, a few paragraphs later (7:4-5) the Rambam states that the navi has no control over when or if he will receive nevuah. Clearly, the ruach hakodesh of the first paragraph is not identical to full nevuah.

    The terms ruach hakodesh and nevuah are used interchangeably because they both refer to a wide range of forms of Divine inspiration.

    A halachicly binding prophet, however, is only a person who can say explicitly, "Ko amar Hashem!" - "So said God!"

    Not one of the proof texts that Rabbi Wechter cites is refering to such a phenomenom. They are all refering to subtle guiding Divine inspiration in Torah study or leadership.

    To jump from the undisputed existence of such forms of ruach-hakodesh to the claim of full-fledged halachicly binding nevuah on the part of the LLR (without even going through the proper halachic guidelines we have already discussed elsewhere) is grossly irresponsible.

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  23. Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver said...
    "Uh, thanks LazerA. The Rebbe's view in the sicha of Shoftim '51 is clearly based on the Rambam's, who omits any requirement to live or have lived in Eretz Yisroel."

    You're welcome.

    This is the reason why I have always omitted this particular argument regarding the LLR in my discussions.

    Nevertheless, R' Student, in his essay which is intended as a more comprehensive review of the issue, is certainly justified in raising the issue, being that major rishonim, such as the Rashba, held this issue to be halachicly relevant.

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  24. How can one claim that the intent of the talks by the LR is metahalachik (in the most literal sense) as if saying that he was machria like the rambam and not like other rishonim when he did not state that he was actaully machria and showing the reasons for that hachraa (why halacha would be like rmabam when others disagree with him)?

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