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I've heard that nevuah ended about 2000 years ago when the last neviim died. But I've also heard that Rashi had some kind of nevuah. If he didn't, then how could Rashi know so much hidden knowledge about the Torah without nevuah? Did nevuah actually end?

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    Can you provide examples of how could Rashi know so much hidden knowledge about the Torah? Mostly it's paraphrasing Midrash and/or Targum Jonathan/Yerushalmi. – Danny Schoemann Feb 4 '16 at 10:42
  • Rashi's hidden knowledge is not neccesarily a function of any form of Nevuah. Besides the Medrashim he quotes constantly, Rashi was the heir to a rich oral tradition dating back to...Sinai. That is what he learned in the German schools, and that is what he based his commentary on. – LN6595 Feb 4 '16 at 20:46
  • @LN6595 rashi's mesorah is a bit of an open question. It can be reliably traced to Yehuda HaKohen ben Meir, at which point it becomes contentious. judaism.stackexchange.com/a/29145/9629 – ShamanSTK Feb 4 '16 at 22:31
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Unfortunately, indeed we do not have prophets today, and Chazal say that the last prophets were Hagai, Zecharia and Malachi.

Rashi's momentous perush on most of the Bible and most of the gemara speak for themselves, however here are a few quotes (loose translations by me, except for the last Rashi) about his special work (this list can go on forever):

The Shla:

כי בכל דיבור ודיבור של רש"י יש בו נסתרים, עניינים מופלאים, כי חיבר החיבור שלו ברוח הקודש.‏

Because each and every word by Rashi contains hidden and wonderful things, as he composed his perush with Ruach HaKodesh.

The Chida:

ומכלל הדברים נראה שרש"י כתב פרושו ע"פ הסוד ויש בדבריו רזין עילאין ולכן התענה תרי"ג תעניות ומשה רבנו עליו השלום אמר לו אשריך וכו'.‏

And it seems that Rashi wrote his commentary based on the Torah Secrets (sod), and it contains heavenly secrets (razin ilain), and therefore he fasted 613 fasts, and Moshe Rabbenu said to him 'well done' (ashrecha).

Or HaChayim (BeMidbar 26, 16):

ורש"י ז"ל רוח הקודש הופיע בו...‏

Rabbi Nachman of Breslev:

שרש"י זכרונו לברכה הוא כמו אחיה של התורה הקדושה...‏

That Rashi z"l is like the brother of the holy Torah.

Rabbi Menachem ben Zerach, Tzeda LaDerech:

ושרתה רה"ק על רבינו שלמה וגברה ידו בגמ' וחבר פירושים על הבבלי בלשון צח וקצר אשר לפניו לא קם כמוהו ואלמלא הוא נשתכחה דרך הבבלי מישראל.‏

And Ruach HaKodesh lay on Rabbenu Shelomo and his hand was strong in the gemara, and he composed commentaries on the Bavli in a short and clear tongue, and there was no one like him before, and without him the Bavli would have been forgotten from the people of Israel.

And we can conclude with Rashi on himself:

ואני לא היה לי לא רב ולא עוזר בכל הבנין הזה אלא כמו שהראוני מן השמים

And I had no teacher or aid concerning this entire edifice; only as they showed me from heaven.

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    But is that Ruach HaKodesh the same as Nevuah? – Gabriel12 Feb 4 '16 at 11:40
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    No, it isn't. That's why I started off with the fact that there's no prophecy today (nor was there in Rashi's time). But one could think of Ruach HaKodesh as a lesser level of prophecy. – Cauthon Feb 4 '16 at 11:42
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    @ShamanSTK I didn't mean to give a complete overview of Rashi and how he is considered in the eyes of Chachmey Yisrael, only to convey that even though he wasn't a prophet, many consider him to have had ruach hakodesh. Of course, many commentators disagreed with him as well (Tosfot, Ramban, Ibn Ezra, and more). Having ruach hakodesh by the way does not mean that the truth lies only there, as we learn from "לא בשמים היא" etc. – Cauthon Feb 4 '16 at 19:31
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    @ShamanSTK I disagree. The term ruach hokodesh is used in many places with different meanings. There's the halacha point of view that you mentioned, but there are also philosophical ideas that were conveyed under the influence of ruach hakodesh, yet even so they are contested (Rabbi Yossef Karo's Magid, and others). The ruach hakodesh you mentioned (Ketuvim) is a higher form which is considered closer to prophecy. Some gedolim say that rabbis today may have ruach hakodesh, and of course they don't mean the same as the "Ketuvim".. – Cauthon Feb 4 '16 at 19:57
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    Regarding the last line, it was a common literary device in his day and is not evidence that he considered himself the recipient of any sort of divine revelation. – mevaqesh Feb 4 '16 at 21:25
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No. Rashi was a tremendously great scholar and recipient of oral traditions from the schools of Germany, but he did not receive supernatural ruah hakodesh.

The Ohr Hahaim (who lived a few centuries after Rashi) writes in his commentary to Genesis (6: 3) that after the destruction of the Temple prophecy ceased but Ruach Hakodesh continued. (I presume this refers to Chazal; the sages of the Talmud). Afterwards, however, there is no ruah hakodesh, and there is not even traces of "reiah hakodesh".

"Afterwards" seems to refer to the post-Talmudic era. (References to "these days" to refer to the post-Talmudic era are common in rabbinic literature):

ומשחרב המעון נסתם חזון ונשארה בחינת רוח הקודש, וכשנסתתמו עיני ישראל אין אתנו משיג ריח הקודש ואין צריך לומר רוח הקודש

A more limited form of his statement can be found in the Tosefta Sota (13:3), Bavli Sotah (48b) and Sanhedrin (11a) which states that after Haggai Zekharia and Malakhi died, ruah hakodesh was removed from Israel.

Note also the following passage penned by R. Dr. Haym Soloveitchik :

Most people...have heard in their childhood-the story goes back to the fourteenth-century Spain-that Rashi's commentary was written be-ruah hakodesh (inspired by the Holy Spirit.) Plausibly enough, for how else could he have known all of the minute details of the countless Talmudic narratives, not to speak of is command of the underlying concepts of all the talmudic discussion...? I here suggest that these astonishing feats can be explained without recourse to miracles-a proposal, if you wish, by a litavk to counter claims of the Holy Spirit. [2]

He proceeds to frame Rashi's knowledge as stemming from tradition.


[2] The 'Third Yeshiva of Bavel'. Published in Collected Writings II page 151.

  • This may be Or Hachayim's opinion, which is indeed interesting, but it is definitely not the majority's opinion. Tons of sources exist from the Talmud through Rishonim and Achronim that describe ruach hakodesh throughout all periods of time. – Cauthon Feb 4 '16 at 23:35
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    @Cauthon The table is tilted against the Ohr Hachaim since if others agreed with him; that there is no Ruach Hakodesh, they would generally be silent. They are much more likely to be vocal if they disagree, as it gives them something to talk about. Accordingly, we cannot know how many nameless rabbinic greats silently agreed with him. Indeed we can deduce that he was not alone in this from the fact that the nice survey you presented shows that the view of ruach hakodesh being around is primarily stated by mystical Acharonim and Chassidim. The silence of others is telling. – mevaqesh Feb 4 '16 at 23:58
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    That is a very interesting point of view, however I did not collect sources here who think that ruach hakodesh still exists, but only those who specifically stated that Rashi had it. I do believe that there are many more "balanced" sources that believe in ruach hakodesh today, in some form. And besides, what of midrash sources such as "שכל מי שמוסר עצמו על ישראל זוכה לכבוד ולגדולה ולרוח הקודש", and "מעיד אני עלי את השמים ואת הארץ בין ישראל בין עכו"ם בין איש בין אשה בין עבד ובין שפחה הכל לפי המעשה שהוא עושה כך רוח הקודש שורה עליו" (Tanchuma and Tana Devei Eliyahu). – Cauthon Feb 5 '16 at 0:06
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    @Cauthon The last source is very interesting and entertaining. It seems that the likeliest answer is that in Numbers he is simply using the flowery poetic style typical of rabbinic honorifics, given that his commentary to Genesis is lengthy and explicit. – mevaqesh Feb 5 '16 at 3:37
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    @Cauthon Read through the comment on Breishit. There is nothing flowery about it. It is technical in nature and lengthy. It is certainly a more informative source for gleaning ibn Attar's opinion, than noting a singular poetic appellation. – mevaqesh Feb 5 '16 at 19:55

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