A very strange question and is mostly theoretical (well I am a writer, but I don't want to spread Lashon Hara about the Jewish people in my short story)*. But if someone was a great sage and lived at the time of the 2nd temple, would they be able to look at a boy of 13 and say "he has a very strong yetzer hara and will become a terrible rasha if he doesn't marry ASAP" then would they say? Or would that be damaging a little boy and spreading lashon hara? I read that the Baal Shem Tov had visions, so I don't think a rabbi being able to make such a prediction is outside the realm of possibility... Thank you for you patience in considering such an odd question.

*Enough of that in the NT & Quran

1 Answer 1


Divinely inspired insight, and even prophesy, is not necessarily on demand. Therefore it is not predictable. But there are many accounts of saintly rabbis being able to sense someone whose core has turned. We have counter-examples as well, such as the prophet Achiya Hashiloni being fooled by Yeravam (Sanhedrin 102).

I know someone who, as a child, was forewarned by a rabbi to keep away from someone who was 11 years old at that time. As he grew up, and avoided this other person without knowing why, this other boy was eventually caught doing trouble with kids.

In the Talmud we find such knowledge attributed to astrologers. An example is in Shabbos 156b, where Rabbi Nachman b. Yitzchok's mother was forewarned about her son having a tendency to steal. She rectified this by making sure to always cover his head.

  • +1 especially for the last paragraph: nothing is set in stone.
    – msh210
    Dec 6, 2015 at 14:49

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