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Prophecy is a special moment of G-d revealing His secrets to the masses. But as far as I know, those revelations were very one-sided - "do what I demand or I will make you suffer", with lots of small details on how He will do that.

Were there examples of all-benevolent G-d revealing practical secrets to His people, like ways of fighting diseases, ending poverty and hunger by growing more crops and overcoming drought, making peace with other nations, in other words, anything that can make their everyday life better?

4

In the old days, prophets also played the part of the local wise man, giving advice when people asked. This can be seen when Saul was sent to speak to Samuel by his father to go find where the list donkeys were. So yes, the prophets did share 'mundane' information as well.

However, the prophecies that were recorded in Tanach were recorded since they contain important and eternal lessons for Klal Yisrael. Therefore, most of the 'mundane' stuff purposely wasn't recorded.

  • A good point. I'm aware of the fact that the prophets would turn a penny for their skills, but I'm trying to focus not on personal but public profit. Did they teach people something new and useful? Did Samuel teach Saul or the people a way to never lose his asses again? – Al Berko Nov 24 '19 at 13:41
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While perhaps not prophecy per se, depending on how you interpret it this incident recorded in Berachot 18b might be an example:

It is related that a certain pious man gave a denar to a poor man on the eve of New Year in a year of drought, and his wife scolded him, and he went and passed the night in the cemetery, and he heard two spirits conversing with one another. Said one to her companion: My dear, come and let us wander about the world and let us hear from behind the curtain what suffering is coming on the world. Said her companion to her: I am not able, because I am buried in a matting of reeds. But do you go, and whatever you hear tell me. So the other went and wandered about and returned. Said her companion to her: My dear, what have you heard from behind the curtain? She replied: I heard that whoever sows after the first rainfall will have his crop smitten by hail. So the man went and did not sow till after the second rainfall, with the result that everyone else's crop was smitten and his was not smitten. The next year he again went and passed the night in the cemetery, and heard the two spirits conversing with one another. Said one to her companion: Come and let us wander about the world and hear from behind the curtain what punishment is coming upon the world. Said the other to her: My dear, did I not tell you that I am not able because I am buried in a matting of reeds? But do you go, and whatever you hear, come and tell me. So the other one went and wandered about the world and returned. She said to her: My dear, what have you heard from behind the curtain? She replied: I heard that whoever sows after the later rain will have his crop smitten with blight. So the man went and sowed after the first rain with the result that everyone else's crop was blighted and his was not blighted. Said his wife to him: How is it that last year everyone else's crop was smitten and yours was not smitten, and this year everyone else's crop is blighted and yours is not blighted? So he related to her all his experiences. The story goes that shortly afterwards a quarrel broke out between the wife of that pious man and the mother of the child, and the former said to the latter, Come and I will show you your daughter buried in a matting of reeds. The next year the man again went and spent the night in the cemetery and heard those conversing together. One said: My dear, come and let us wander about the world and hear from behind the curtain what suffering is coming upon the world. Said the other: My dear, leave me alone; our conversation has already been heard among the living.

(Soncino translation)

  • Would you please explain what do we see here? Even if that could be called a prophecy, what benefit is there for the public in the long run? Were those spirits domesticated and used on a yearly basis? I'm looking for examples of technological advices that make peoples lives better in the long way. – Al Berko Nov 24 '19 at 13:44
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I do not believe that G-d intervenes in world affairs, nor do I believe in miracles per se. I also think this is Maimonides' view. It follows that G-d did not speak to anyone. When the Bible says G-d did something, it is referring to the laws of nature. This is also the view of Maimonides.

Does the Torah offer practical advice?

People who need a loving G-d have trouble explaining why G-d did not offer practical advice. Actually, the Torah does offer many practical advice. The whole point of keeping the Torah mitzvot is to improve one’s self and society.

Prophecy

Prophecy is not a miraculous communication between G-d and man. Prophecy is higher intelligence and anyone with a higher level of intelligence can be a prophet. Thus, prophecy is a natural event.

But since G-d does not speak, it follows that people have an obligation to improve, people should rely on themselves and not in G-d, and this is in fact what G-d wants.

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    I'm not sure I understand your view on Rambam. Prophecies are the fact and Rambam sets it in Yesodey Hatora 8 - "מיסודי הדת לידע שהאל מנבא את בני האדם". And continues "הדברים שמודיעים לנביא...", stating that it happens. How do you arrive to your conclusion? – Al Berko Nov 23 '19 at 21:14
  • This does not answer the question at all. If it had sources, it might answer the question "What are the Rambam's views on prophecy"? – Josh K Nov 24 '19 at 0:25
  • See book two, chapters 32-48, of his Guide. – Turk Hill Nov 24 '19 at 0:35
  • It does have a heading titled "Does the Torah offer practical advice" and answer yes. Does that not answer the question, too? – Turk Hill Nov 24 '19 at 0:36

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