Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rambam- Yisodei HaTorah Perek 7 Halacha 7: Who Does A Prophet Prophesize To and Who Should We Accept As A Prophet

הנביא אפשר שתהיה נבואתו לעצמו בלבד להרחיב לבו ולהוסיף דעתו עד שידע מה שלא היה יודע מאותן הדברים הגדולים. ואפשר שישולח לעם מעמי הארץ או לאנשי עיר או ממלכה לכונן אותם ולהודיעם מה יעשו או למונעם ממעשים הרעים שבידיהם. וכשמשלחים אותו נותנין לו אות ומופת כדי שידעו העם שהאל שלחו באמת. ולא כל העושה אות ומופת מאמינים לו שהוא נביא. אלא אדם שהיינו יודעים בו מתחלתו שהוא ראוי לנבואה בחכמתו ובמעשיו שנתעלה בהן על כל בני גילו והיה מהלך בדרכי הנבואה בקדושתה ובפרישותה ואח"כ בא ועשה אות ומופת ואמר שהאל שלחו מצוה לשמוע ממנו שנאמר אליו תשמעון. ואפשר שיעשה אות ומופת ואינו נביא וזה האות יש לו דברים בגו. ואעפ"כ מצוה לשמוע לו הואיל ואדם גדול וחכם וראוי לנבואה [הוא] מעמידים אותו על חזקתו. שבכך נצטוינו כמו שנצטוינו לחתוך את הדין ע"פ שני עדים כשרים ואע"פ שאפשר שהעידו בשקר הואיל וכשרים הם אצלינו מעמידין אותן על כשרותן. ובדברים האלו וכיוצא בהן נאמר הנסתרות לה' אלהינו והנגלות לנו ולבנינו. ונאמר כי האדם יראה לעינים וה' יראה ללבב: 

It is possible that a prophet will have a prophecy specified for him in order to broaden his heart and to add to his knowledge to the point that he will know about great things that which he did not already know. It is possible that [the prophet] will be sent to a nation among the nations or to the people of a city or kingdom to point out to them and to make known to them what they should do or to stop them from intentionally doing bad things. 

When [G-D] sends him, [G-D] gives him a sign and a wonder in order that the nation should know that G-D truly sent him. [However,] not everyone who performs signs and wonders should be believed to be a prophet [of G-D. Only] a man that it is known from the outset that he is fit to receive prophecy [because] his wisdom and his actions are greater than all of the people of his age and he goes in the path of prophecy, holiness, and separateness and after this he comes and does signs and wonders and says G-D sent me, then it is a commandment to listen to him, for it says (Devarim 18:15), "To him you shall listen." It is possible that [this person] does signs and wonders, but is still not a prophet, and there are [other] things behind this sign. Even so, it is a commandment to listen to him. [The reason for this] is since he is a great man who is wise and he is fit for prophecy, we establish him on his established status. This is how we have been commanded, just like we were commanded  to reach a a decision in law according to two legitimate witnesses even though it is possible they are testifying falsely. [However,] since they are legitimate by us we establish [their status] as legitimate. We say about these things and similar ideas [the following (Devarim 29:28),] "The hidden things are for Our G-D and the revealed things are for us and our children." And we also say (Samuel 1 16:7), "Because man sees what is [revealed] to the eyes and G-D sees to the heart."         

In this halacha, the Rambam makes known to us what types of prophecies a prophet receives. It can either be personal, for a group, or for an entire nation. Personal news seems to help a prophet expand their mind and knowledge in order for them to attain more prophecy and a closer connection to G-D. However, when the prophecy is for a group it seems to be in order to guide this group or nation in the proper actions and has nothing to do with attaining knowledge.

This next part of the halacha has to do with who we can accept as a prophet. Basically, it is not just anyone who seems to be righteous, but it must be someone who is known to have attained the level of "Sons of the Prophets"  as the Rambam explains previously (See this post Yisodei HaTorah 7:5 Some May Receive Prophecy and Some May Not). This means that the person must be known to have acquired much knowledge and have great control over his mind. Even if someone receives a prophecy, it can not be given over to others unless the person who received the prophecy meets all of these criteria.

Personally, I think that, because of these requirements, every prophet first receives personal prophecies before he or she receives prophecies that are to be given over. It is only through the original personal prophecies that they are able to reach the level that everyone will accept him or her as a prophet. This further strengthens my idea that, although a person can work really hard to reach the level needed to attain prophecy, he or she can only succeed with G-D's assistance as I point out in Yisodei HaTorah 7:1 Prophecy's Place In Judaism.  

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