Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives

soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Jewish Thought (6/12)
Section - Question 12.10: It seems that prophecy was once central to Judaism; why don't we have prophets today?

( Single Page )
[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Forum ]

Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Jewish Thought (6/12)
Previous Document: Question 12.9: What was the job of a prophet?
Next Document: Question 12.11: Who were the prophets? How many?
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge

   The traditional view is that prophecy was removed from the world after
   the destruction of the First Temple. Those prophets who are mentioned
   after that were alive at the time of the destruction. There are
   several explanations as to why this is so:
    1. The fact that the Jews did not heed the calls to repentance of the
       prophets showed that they were not worthy. When most of the Jews
       remained in exile after Ezra returned, they showed that they were
       still not worthy of that level of holiness. The second temple did
       not have the level of kedushah [holiness] of the first Temple even
       from the beginning.
    2. This was actually a sign of G-d's mercy. Had the Jews had a
       prophet and continued to disobey (as was probable based on the
       behavior of the following centuries) even after the punishment of
       the exile, they would have merited complete destruction. Now they
       could say that had a prophet come they would have obeyed and thus
       mitigate the punishment (though some consider the current exile
       (i.e., the diaspora) to be harsh enough).
    3. After the destruction of the first Temple the sages prayed for the
       removal of the "Evil Inclination" of idolatry. Since the world
       exists in a balance, the removal of the low point (idolatry)
       necessitated the removal of the high point (prophecy).
   Another effect of losing formal prophecy is that it is no longer known
   the specific acts that result in specific good and bad consequences.
   In the age of prophecy, a person undergoing misfortunes could learn
   from a prophet what he or she was doing wrong and how to do tshuva
   (repentance.) Nowadays, your guess is as good as mine, and could be
   wrong in identifying the source of difficulties. This is what
   galus/galut [physical and spiritual exile] is all about. [R' Y. Frand]
   Some feel that a tzaddik or a rebbe is particularly qualified to
   provide spiritual guidance and advise paths for repentance.
   Note that the above does not claim that all forms of communication
   between G-d and man are closed; The Talmud only teaches that the most
   direct forms of prophecy no longer occur. However, Judaism affirms
   that other less direct forms of prophecy still occur. One example of
   this is the 'bat kol'. [e.g. Tosefta Sota 13:3, Talmud Yerushalmi Sota
   24b, and Talmud Bavli Sota 48b]
   The Talmud notes that each time a Jew studies the Torah or its
   rabbinic commentaries, G-d is revealed anew; there is still a link
   between the G-d and the Jewish people. The Talmud in fact declares
   that rabbinic interpretation is superior to the biblical forms of
   Rabbi Abdimi of Haifa said: Since the day when the Temple was
   destroyed, the prophetic gift was taken away from the prophets and
   given to the Sages [Rabbis]. - Is a Sage not also a prophet? What
   Rabbi Abdimi meant to say was this: Although prophecy has been taken
   from the Prophets, prophecy has not been taken from the Sages. Amemar
   said "A Sage is even superior to a Prophet, as it says "And a Prophet
   has the heart of Wisdom" (Psalms 90:21) Who is usually compared with
   whom? Is not the smaller compared with the greater? [Talmud Bavli,
   Bava Batra 12A]
   Hillel taught that all Jews still receive ruach ha'kodesh, the Holy
   Spirit, which is an indirect form of prophecy. In the tosefta (Pesah
   4:2) this is stated outright, while in later rabbinic literature
   {Talmud Yerushalmi Shabbat 17a and Pesach 33a, Talmud Bavli 66b) his
   statement is that the Jewish people, if not prophets, are at least the
   bene nevi'im, the sons of prophets.
   Although not widely known, many Jews believed that the more direct
   forms of prophecy still existed as late as the middle ages; a few
   medieval rabbis in this era were thought to be prophets by some,
   including Rabbeinu Tam. This is discussed by Rabbi Abraham Joshua
   Heschel in his book "Prophetic Inspiration After the Prophets:
   Maimonides and Others" (Ktav).

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Jewish Thought (6/12)
Previous Document: Question 12.9: What was the job of a prophet?
Next Document: Question 12.11: Who were the prophets? How many?

Single Page

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer:
SCJ FAQ Maintainer <>

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM