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The Bible is full of moments where God speaks to prophets or to groups of people. But beyond the Bible God is said to speak to others in the Talmud and even later Jewish lore. Other religions are able to make statements about when God's speech or prophecy ended. Christians say it ended with Jesus, and Muslims say it ended with Muhammed.

So my question is, according to Judaism, when was the last time God spoke to man?

Update: People have been asking if by God speaking I'm talking about prophecy or God's holy spirit. I'm not necessarily talking about either of those. I'm referring to the fact that even after the close of the Bible there continue to be stories about divine voices or statements that God said to certain Rabbis. Are these actually considered God talking? Or are we supposed to take them metaphorically and all agree that God stopped speaking to mankind after Haggai, Zaechariah, and Malachi?

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  • Can you give a source for the claim that God is said to speak to others in the Talmud and even later Jewish lore?
    – Schmerel
    Dec 30, 2021 at 2:03
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    @Schmerel -- There are many instances. Example: "Rabbi Eleazar ben Pedath found himself in very great poverty... The Rabbis came to see him... [He told them: Just now] the Holy One, Blessed be He, was sitting by my side and I asked Him: How long will I suffer in this world? And [God] replied: Eleazar, my son, do you want me to turn back the world to its very beginnings? Perhaps then you might be [re]born in better conditions? I replied: All this [upheaval], and then only perhaps?" [Taanit 25a] Dec 30, 2021 at 2:27
  • Related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/17727/759
    – Double AA
    Dec 30, 2021 at 3:14
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    Do you mean nevuah or ruach hakodesh?
    – N.T.
    Dec 30, 2021 at 3:18

2 Answers 2

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The Talmud says Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were the last prophets per se. (Though there are stories throughout the Talmud of people hearing heavenly voices.) If you read Malachi Ch. 3 it sounds like he's doing a long-term sign-off.

These prophets lived just after the Second Temple was getting going, so ... eh, 2400 years ago or so.

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According to Judaism, G-d speaks constantly and without interruption each and day, like is understood from what is said in the Yotzer prayer before the recital of Shema which says:

הַמְ֒חַדֵּשׁ בְּטוּבוֹ בְּכָל־יוֹם תָּמִיד מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית:

Who renews, through His goodness, in each day continuously, the works of Creation...

Like it says in the beginning of Genesis, G-d creates, meaning He is doing the works of Creation, through His speech.

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    Seemingly, that's not what the OP (or most English speakers) meant by "speech".
    – Double AA
    Dec 30, 2021 at 17:43
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    @Aaron Even your revised questioned is answered directly by my answer. When, for example, you see stories of this Rabbi or that hearing G-d's voice (like for example via a Bat Kol) they are hearing part of that continuous speech. The speech is continuous, but there may not be someone listening. This idea is actually presented in the biography of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein concerning his writing a precise halachic response to an individual. He was interrupted in the middle of writing and stopped in mid sentence. Upon returning much later, he picked up pen & proceeded to write without hesitation... Dec 30, 2021 at 18:02
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    @Aaron The concept being that Rabbi Feinstein was essentially taking dictation from the Bat Kol which he heard while writing halachic responsa. The Bat Kol, meaning G-d's speech, is continuous and without interruption. Dec 30, 2021 at 18:04
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    Bli neder, I'll have to dig out my old copy of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein to get the page citation. Dec 30, 2021 at 18:43
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    @YaacovDeane that's rather Hassidifying Rabbi Feinstein. The family gives that as an example simply of his immense power of concentration. If anything, Rabbi Feinstein opens his responsa by noting that God attached crowns to the letters of the Torah -- the sovereignty is now in the text itself; if someone is qualified to interpret and rule, then they can do so.
    – Shalom
    Dec 30, 2021 at 22:22

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