The gemara in Bava Basra 12b states that from the day the Temple was destroyed, prophecy was taken from the prophets and given to children (and imbeciles).

There are instances in shas where a person wanted to ascertain certain information and asked a child "Tell me a pasuk of what you're learning" (Gittin 56a, Chagigah 15a, Chullin 95b) as this is considered a minor form of a prophecy.
(see Maharsha's to Brachos 56b where he explicitly states "שאמרו לינוקא פסוק לי פסוקיך כו' שהיה בעיניהם כנבואה קטנה" )


  • 1) What's the nature of this- why specifically is hearing what Torah verse a young child is learning the method selected for prophecy? (instead of asking a Rabbi etc)

  • 2) Is this still practiced/ can people actually do this today? (ie someone who has a big business decision should ask a 2nd grader what they're learning and proceed accordingly)

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    Today of course not! How many schools today have even coverage of the entire Tanach?! You're bound to get a very, very thin slice. (Like the giyores I knew who wanted to convert Chabad. They put a bunch of Hebrew names into a hat and told her her neshama would pick the right one. Then she wondered -- hey, what if I don't like any of the dozen names they put into the hat to being with?) – Shalom Aug 7 at 22:18
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    The modern version of this is "Goral HaGra" -- open a Tanach page at random and pick a line at random. (It's a little more complicated but that's the basic idea.) – Shalom Aug 7 at 22:20

This is called bibliomancy: chancing upon a verse in the Torah and interpreting it as a suggestion for a course of action. It is allowed because of the special status of the Torah in our lives. What better way to make it unplanned than asking a random child what verse he is learning?

The Rambam said: “If one asks a child, ‘What verse are you learning?’ and he responds with a verse from the blessings, it is permitted for one to rejoice and say, ‘That is a lucky sign’” (Idolatry 11:5). This from someone who constantly railed against superstition, irrationality, astrology, and the like.

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    Bibliomancy is direct rather than through a child and his melamed, which presumably involves a bit more ruach ha kodesh than opening Tanakh to a random page – Josh K Aug 9 at 5:52

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