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I've heard people describe the lack of prophecy in the modern era as a result of the "lower spiritual state" of the Jewish people today. Many Jews are atheists or agnostic and don't keep Shabbat and so on. Is this correct?

With that said, if the purpose of the creation is to establish a dirah b'tachtonim for G-d, I've always considered the forward march of history as approaching that spiritual state. In other words, we should be at a higher spiritual elevation today if the coming of Moshiach is closer now than it was 3,000 years ago.

Is a better way to approach this question as one of dips and valleys? Perhaps we entered a lower state since the time of the last prophets (valley) but the general trend is an upward one? Does that mean that prophecy could potentially resume before the coming of Moshiach?

  • Dirah Betachtonim means that we're in teh Tachtonim. There aint no Nevuah in Tachtonim – Shmuel Brin Jan 2 at 4:09
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    I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to say. There clearly was prophecy before dirah batachtonim because the phrase refers to the final redemption. Here is a reference: chabad.org/therebbe/article_cdo/aid/294306/jewish/… – user27343 Jan 2 at 6:25
  • Can we be sure that the "lower spiritual state" of the Jewish people comes from their breaking of Shabbat and other Torah prohibitions? After all, most of the Nevi'im in the Tanach came during times when they were doing wicked things. – ezra Jan 2 at 6:25
  • If the loss of prophecy was due to a "lower spiritual state", how come we still had prophets and prophet guilds in the days of Elijah and Micaiah, when only 7000 faithful non-Baal servers remained of the entire population of Israel, according to I Kings 19:18?? – Gary Jan 4 at 6:27
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Here's how I personally see this (based on the tradition of my Rabbi) - it takes two to tango. This is based on a famous parable about the Moon (Chulin 60b):

רבי שמעון בן פזי: ... אמרה ירח לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע אפשר לשני מלכים שישתמשו בכתר אחד אמר לה לכי ומעטי את עצמך

Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi... explains: When G-d first created the sun and the moon, they were equal. Then, the moon said before G-d: Is it possible for two kings to serve with one crown? G-d, therefore, said to the moon: If so, go and diminish yourself.

  1. This parable is frequently compared to the dynamics of this world, which is based on the interaction between G-d and the Jewish people, G-d being the Greater luminary and Israel being the Lesser luminary. As you might see, that just as all the light that comes from the Moon is just a reflection of the light of the Sun, similarly the wisdom of the Jews is a "reflection" of the divine wisdom.

  2. As we know the Torah is divided into two parts - the Written (the Writings) and the Oral (Mishnah, Talmud and on). While the first was received from G-d (either dictated or by Ruach Hakodesh), the other is the product of the Rabbinical thought (i.g. the "reflection"). (Note in Kabbalah, the former is called ז"א and the later מלכות).

  3. Similarly, the times (of the 6000 years of the creation) are roughly divided into 3 eras of 2000 years (based on Avodah Zarah 9): 2000 years before Torah, 2000 years of "the Written Torah" being the main part and 2000 years of the Oral Torah playing the main part. Here's where the tango example kicks in - after the receiving of the Torah, there is an epoch when G-d leads and an epoch where the Sages lead.

  4. The epoch of the prophecy lasted until the beginning of the second Temple. That was the time of the Divine light, so to speak, where [practically] no Halachic arguments existed - the prophets could reveal the truth to anyone. The written Torah served as the ultimate source of knowledge and everything Halachic being derived from it by accepting the Divine messages. But the problem was that in the light of the Prophets no real Rabbinic thought could be expressed as it becomes unimportant.

  5. However, it is not fun for G-d to lead alone and He "wanted" to reveal the light of the Sages. But as we know "שרגא בטיהרא מאי אהני" (Chulin 60) - the light of a candle cannot be seen in sunlight, therefore to let the Sages' light shine G-d needed to withdraw His own light (aka prophecy) and become "Hester/Hester Panim". That's how the epoch of the Sages started (with the revelation of Purim - קבלו ברצון) and continues till nowadays.

  6. Therefore, as I showed, the end of prophecy did not occur "randomly" or as a result of "ירידת הדורות" but was "planned" from the beginning of the creation, just as the destruction of the two Temples was planned (as Rashi brings on "והוא בכה על צואריו" Ber 45,14) with the sole purpose of enabling the light/the wisdom of the Sages (and Tzaddikim) shine.

I hope it "shades some light" on the necessity of the ending of the era of prophecy.


NB. 1. Please don't downvote anonymously just because you've never heard those ideas.

2. I know, some may argue that Chachamim existed from the times of Moses. True, but they always were subservient/secondary to the leader of the Nation and not as prominent as the Sages in the times of the Second Temple.

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    NB While not having heard of an idea is not a reason to downvote it when presented anonymously, disagreeing with it certainly is. – Double AA Jan 3 at 16:04
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    I see that you named your rabbi here. When you refer to your rabbi in your other answers without naming him, are you referring to this same person? – Alex Jan 3 at 17:38
  • @Alex Everything Kabbala and Hashkafah is from him otzar.org/wotzar/book.aspx?158618&lang=eng. Everything Mamonos and practical Halacha is from others. – Al Berko Jan 3 at 19:05
  • @AlBerko Would you mind editing that handful of answers to include the same link you included in this answer? This way future readers of the other answers can have a better frame of reference. – Alex Jan 3 at 19:22

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