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The Talmud says that after the fall of the first Temple prophecy ceased in Israel (Yoma 9b, Sanhedrin 11a, Sotah 48b.).

But things improved after the return and the rebuilding of the Temple, not least of which is the disappearance of idolatry from Israel. So on what basis does the Talmud say that? Why can't there be more prophets even before the Messianic age? The sages have no control over this matter.

  • I've never met any prophets, at least as far as I know. Have you? – Heshy Jan 22 at 14:57
  • No, but maybe there were or will be. Unless the last prophet prophesied that he is the last one, how can anybody know? – Maurice Mizrahi Jan 22 at 15:02
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    sefaria.org/Sefer_HaChinukh.516.4 בכל זמן שימצא נביא בינינו sounds like it's possible – Heshy Jan 22 at 15:24
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    Weren't there prophets during the time of Ezra and after the rebuilding of Beit Hamikdash? – Aaron Jan 22 at 23:24
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    @Aaron I understood that to mean that there were no new prophets at that point. All of those who already were prophets remained prophets, but once they died there was nobody to replace them. – DonielF Jan 22 at 23:50
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Some user by the name of wfb states this answer to the question “No yetzer hara of idolatry, so no nevuah?”

https://judaism.stackexchange.com/a/11470

The best known source for this connection is the Gra's commentary on Seder Olam Rabba ch. 30: The Seder Olam refers to the cessation of prophecy at the time of Alexander the Great: הוא אלכסנדר מוקדון שמלך י"ב שנה. עד כאן היו הנביאים מתנבאים ברוה"ק מכאן ואילך הט אזנך ושמע דברי חכמים. The Gra in his commentary explains: פירוש משהרגו יצר הרע, בטלה הנבואה. This idea is often cited by R. Tzadok ha-kohen mi-Lublin in his seforim. R. Betzalel Naor in his Lights of Prophecy, pp. 22-23, cites an earlier source in Sefer Hasidim: When signs were being performed by the prophets of Ba'al, if the prophets of the Lord would not have produced signs, the people would have turned to idolatry. Once the inclination to idolatry was eradicated, a prophet was no longer required.

  • How exactly does this answer the question? – DonielF Jan 22 at 23:22
  • @DonielF OP asks how do we know the prophecy ceased? I cited an answer that cites the Seder Olam, Gra, et al. Once the yetzer hara of idolatry was removed, nevuah was nullified. – Yaakov Pinchas Jan 22 at 23:27
  • Did you read beyond the title of the post? OP's not asking how we know this, but how Chazal know this, given the rationale cited in the question. This does not answer the question as posed. – DonielF Jan 22 at 23:30
  • @DonielF Yes he obviously asks that. He asks for the basis. I’m answering the “why can’t there be more prophets even before the Messianic age” I supposed you read that too. – Yaakov Pinchas Jan 22 at 23:34
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    Let me try phrasing my issue differently. OP starts off with a source from Chazal that prophecy ceased after the destruction of the first Temple. He then asks how they know this, given that it's out of their control, given that things got better. How does bringing another source from Chazal answer the question, which started with sources in Chazal? I might be reading too much into this, but to me a good answer to the question as posed is one which directly addresses the two issues raised by the OP – that Chazal don't control who gets prophecy and that things got better. (con't) – DonielF Jan 22 at 23:48
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I n Guide for the Perplexed 2:36 Rambam discusses the physical, emotional, and intellectual prerequisites to prophecy. At the conclusion of the chapter he explains that loss of the prerequisites caused the loss of prophecy, and also points to Scriptural allusions:

The same circumstance, prevalence of sadness and dulness, was undoubtedly the direct cause of the interruption of prophecy during the exile: for can there be any greater misfortune for man than this: to be a slave bought for money in the service of ignorant and voluptuous masters, and powerless against them as they unite in themselves the absence of true knowledge and the force of all animal desires? Such an evil state has been prophesied to us in the words, "They shall run to and fro to seek the word of God, but shall not find it" (Amos viii. 12); "Her king and her princes are among the nations, the law is no more, her prophets also find no vision from the Lord" (Lam. ii. 9). This is a real fact, and the cause is evident; the pre-requisites [of prophecy] have been lost. In the Messianic period--may it soon commence--prophecy will therefore again be in our midst, as has been promised by God.

(Friedlander translation)

The Sages of the Talmud may have read these verses and noticed these observable phenomena.

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G-d created the world and placed in it the laws of nature and no longer interferes in human affairs. G-d is transcendent. But the Bible seems to state the opposite, that G-d communicated with prophets. However, Maimonides says that prophecy is a higher level of intelligence. He also said that whenever the Bible says G-d said or did something, G-d did not actually say or do it. It is figurative language; G-d did not say or do what the Bible says he did. Rabbi Goodman writes that G-d does not speak to prophets. Thus, G-d never communicated with prophets.

Tradition states that Malachi was the last of the prophets. This explains why there are no prophets today. But the Bible never states that prophecy has ceased. Actually, there are still people with a higher understanding today. Thus, prophecy did not cease; it is ongoing.

  • So your answer is essentially 'The Gemara is wrong and prophecy still exists' (and on top of that, you're saying that's what Maimonides holds)? – Salmononius2 2 days ago
  • @Salmononius2 If Maimonides' definition of prophecy is correct, then it means great minds like Friedrich Nietzsche and Albert Einstein were considered prophets. Indeed, some scholars feel that Maimonides considered the Greek philosopher Aristotle a prophet. – Jonathan 2 days ago
  • So in plain, not-deflecting-the-question English, your answer is 'Yes, the Gemara is wrong and prophecy still exists'. – Salmononius2 2 days ago
  • @Salmononius2 In his 1996 book Maimonides on the “Decline of the Generations” and the Nature of Rabbinic Authority, Menachem Kellner explains that Maimonides did not accept the concept of the “decline of the generations.” The talmudic rabbis were ordinary human beings, not gods. In fact, blind acceptance of rabbinical statements only applies to halakhah, but not their opinions on non-halakhic matters. – Jonathan 2 days ago
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    ...So in plain, not-deflecting-the-question English, your answer is 'Yes, the Gemara is wrong and prophecy still exists'... – Salmononius2 2 days ago

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