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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?

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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.

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  • 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)

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  • 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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Noach is credited in Bereshit Rabbah as having invented the plow, the scythe, and other agricultural tools to ease people's lives in the wake of Adam's curse on the land. Noach, though not strictly speaking a Jew, can certainly be classified as a Navi, and these inventions certainly made people's lives easier and more productive

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  • Even granting that Noach was a navi and that he was an inventor, is there any indication that those two facts were correlated? – Alex Jan 29 at 23:03
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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?

The answer to all of these questions is, yes.

G-d revealed ALL these practical secrets to His people, via His prophet, Moshe.

Ways of Fighting Illness

Shemos (23:25)

וַֽעֲבַדְתֶּ֗ם אֵ֚ת יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵרַ֥ךְ אֶת־לַחְמְךָ֖ וְאֶת־מֵימֶ֑יךָ וַֽהֲסִֽרֹתִ֥י מַֽחֲלָ֖ה מִקִּרְבֶּֽךָ:

And you shall worship the Lord, your God, and He will bless your food and your drink, and I will remove illness from your midst.

Bringing Rain & Growing More Crops

Vayikra (26:3-5)

אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כוּ וְאֶת־מִצְו‍ֹתַ֣י תִּשְׁמְר֔וּ וַֽעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָֽם:

וְנָֽתַתִּ֥י גִשְׁמֵיכֶ֖ם בְּעִתָּ֑ם וְנָֽתְנָ֤ה הָאָ֨רֶץ֙ יְבוּלָ֔הּ וְעֵ֥ץ הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה יִתֵּ֥ן פִּרְיֽוֹ:

וְהִשִּׂ֨יג לָכֶ֥ם דַּ֨יִשׁ֙ אֶת־בָּצִ֔יר וּבָצִ֖יר יַשִּׂ֣יג אֶת־זָ֑רַע וַֽאֲכַלְתֶּ֤ם לַחְמְכֶם֙ לָשׂ֔בַע…

If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them,

I will give your rains in their time, the Land will yield its produce, and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit.

Your threshing will last until the vintage, and the vintage will last until the sowing; you will eat your food to satiety…

Devarim (11:13-14)

וְהָיָ֗ה אִם־שָׁמֹ֤עַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ֙ אֶל־מִצְוֹ תַ֔י אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָֽנֹכִ֛י מְצַוֶּ֥ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם לְאַֽהֲבָ֞ה אֶת־יְהֹוָ֤ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶם֙ וּלְעָבְד֔וֹ בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶ֖ם וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁכֶֽם:

וְנָֽתַתִּ֧י מְטַר־אַרְצְכֶ֛ם בְּעִתּ֖וֹ יוֹרֶ֣ה וּמַלְק֑וֹשׁ וְאָֽסַפְתָּ֣ דְגָנֶ֔ךָ וְתִירֽשְׁךָ֥ וְיִצְהָרֶֽךָ:

And it will be, if you hearken to My commandments that I command you this day to love the Lord, your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul

I will give the rain of your land at its time, the early rain and the latter rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil.

Preventing Drought

Devarim (11:16-17) הִשָּֽׁמְר֣וּ לָכֶ֔ם פֶּן־יִפְתֶּ֖ה לְבַבְכֶ֑ם וְסַרְתֶּ֗ם וַֽעֲבַדְתֶּם֙ אֱלֹהִ֣ים אֲחֵרִ֔ים וְהִשְׁתַּֽחֲוִיתֶ֖ם לָהֶֽם:

וְחָרָ֨ה אַף־יְהֹוָ֜ה בָּכֶ֗ם וְעָצַ֤ר אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֨יִם֙ וְלֹא־יִֽהְיֶ֣ה מָטָ֔ר וְהָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה לֹ֥א תִתֵּ֖ן אֶת־יְבוּלָ֑הּ וַֽאֲבַדְתֶּ֣ם מְהֵרָ֗ה מֵעַל֙ הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטֹּבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה נֹתֵ֥ן לָכֶֽם:

Beware, lest your heart be misled, and you turn away and worship strange gods and prostrate yourselves before them.

And the wrath of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will close off the heavens, and there will be no rain, and the ground will not give its produce, and you will perish quickly from upon the good land that the Lord gives you.

Living in Security

Vayikra (26:5)

וִֽישַׁבְתֶּ֥ם לָבֶ֖טַח בְּאַרְצְכֶֽם:

…and you will live in security in your land.

Living Peacefully With Other Nations

Vayikra (26:6)

וְנָֽתַתִּ֤י שָׁלוֹם֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ וּשְׁכַבְתֶּ֖ם וְאֵ֣ין מַֽחֲרִ֑יד וְהִשְׁבַּתִּ֞י חַיָּ֤ה רָעָה֙ מִן־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְחֶ֖רֶב לֹא־תַֽעֲבֹ֥ר בְּאַרְצְכֶֽם:

And I will grant peace in the Land, and you will lie down with no one to frighten [you]; I will remove wild beasts from the Land, and no army will pass through your land;

On a Personal Level

R’ Elijah of Vilna (known as the GRA) is his commentary to Mishlei (16:4) posits, that a person seeking a tailor made path for his personal service of G-d, would go to a prophet, who would be able to advise him as much, all based on the prophet’s insight of the root of the person’s soul and physical nature.

עי' פי הגר"א (משלי טז ד) בא"ד, וכשהיו נביאים, היו הולכים אצל הנביאים לדרוש את ה', והיה הנביא אומר על פי משפט הנבואה, דרכו אשר ילך בה, לפי שורש נשמתו, ולפי טבעת גופו. עכ"ל.

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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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