I'm trying to pretend I was living in Yirmiyahu's time to really understand the issues he faced. The entire nation, save a few, are idolaters, don't fear G-d, etc. Did G-d really expect a bunch of speeches by a navi, i.e. Yirmiyahu would sway the ethos of an entire nation.

Imagine trying to successfully execute a mass-scale kiruv movement in Israel today – it would take significantly more than a few speeches in front of a portion of the nation to create lasting intellectual and psychological impact necessary to change the contemporary religious direction.

Add the fact that the entire nation was turned off to any form of kiruv from the outset and it is difficult for me to understand how Yirmiyahu would ever have succeeded in one lifetime.

Additionally, the approach of reprimanding the person whose ways you want to change doesn't seem like the best way of successfully changing them. They will respond to what they see as antagonism with ignorance at best and more antagonism at worst.

  • Wouldn't it have been more effective for Yirmiyahu not to rebuke the nation but to show them how great the Torah is?
  • Wouldn't Yirmiyahu have needed a massive team to actualize his mission?
  • Would the Jews in his time ever have actually changed?
  • What distinguished him from a Navi-Sheker in the eyes of the people?
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    why do you assume he had to have a plan? a prophet is commanded to say his prophecy as he received it.
    – ray
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 5:21
  • Apparently the Kuzari argument wouldn't have worked if they were almost all polytheistic (which is a reason that it cannot be honestly used today), so I guess he figured he just had to try to state his position. It did apparently end up planting the seeds for Ezekiel, Ezra, and Nehemiah to bring in more followers over time though, as they were able to point to actual destruction and have something, namely rejecting Jeremiah, to blame.
    – A L
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 5:02

1 Answer 1


Keep in mind the appearance of a Navi was fearsome. Samson's mother thought the awe-inspiring angel that came to see her was a human prophet (Judges 13). Hence, there was no need to teach on the greatness of the torah, they could see it manifestly.

The Chovos Halevavos talks about this in Gate 6 ch.5:

When one fixes his mind on this great theme and considers what our sages report regarding the impressive and awesome presence of the pious sages in previous generations, for example "he (Rav Sheshes) gazed his eyes on him and the man (died and) became a pile of bones" (Berachos 58a), or as it was said of Yonatan ben Uziel: "when he would expound the torah, any bird that would fly over him was instantly burnt." And there is no doubt that the prophets were greater than them

An earlier source cited by Lev Eliyahu (parsha Matos):

"What is a prophet?...chazal taught (pirkei d'rabbi eliezer and it is brought in yalkut shimoni Melachim 247:228 on the verse "Elisha (the prophet) went to Shunam..": says R.Yehoshua ben Karcha: "no woman could look at Elisha and not die. Thus he would go from cave to cave and from mountain to mountain..."

secondly, a prophet is commanded to say his prophecy as he received it. Whether or not it helps is not his problem.

thirdly his prophecies were for all generations. Eicha for instance was from Yirmiyahu

As to why the evil rulers didn't care, this is the way of evil people, they are blinded by their desires and don't change. For instance, the evil king Yeravam's hand miraculously dried up when he pointed it to a prophet (Kings 13:4) and he even asked the prophet to pray to God to heal him but he still did not repent.

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    But nobody listened to him. He didn't make impact time and time again - standing in front of the Beit Hamikdash steps while everyone came in, his letter to Yehoiakim. He was tried for heresy. Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 19:17
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    @theideasmith didnt make an impact on the evil rulers but how do you know he didnt make an impact on others?
    – ray
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 19:18
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    "the appearance of a Navi was fearsome" ??? Samson's mother lived out in the country and probably had never seen a prophet before. If the appearance was so different, why couldn't you easily tell the difference between real ones and false ones?
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 22:55
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    An earlier source, Lev Eliyahu (parsha Matos) What are you claiming is earlier than the Chovot Halevavot? the Lev Eliyahu, Pirkei d'rabbi eliezzer, or yalkut shimoni? Consider revising to clarify this.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 6:58

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