Pearls of Rashi – Shoftim II

This week’s Parshah tells us that[1] “A prophet from among you, from your brothers, (who is) like me, will Hashem set up for you. You shall listen to him.” Rashi cites the words from this verse “from among you, from your brothers, like me.” He explains that “this means that just as I am among you, from your brothers, so too will Hashem set up for you (another prophet) in my place. (This will continue) so on, from one prophet to (the next) prophet.” In other words, just as we had Moshe Rabbeinu to communicate with Hashem on our behalf, so too will we have other prophets with whom Hashem will communicate for us.

However, from the words of the Sages of the Talmud, it appears as if this would not always be the case[2]. “From the time of the passing of the later prophets, Chaggai, Zechariah and Malachi, prophecy departed from the world.”

It seems as if the Sages are saying that there would come a time that we would not have a prophet “from among you, from your brothers, like me.”  However, that cannot be true. We know from numerous words of the Sages[3] that Ruach Hakodesh, a spirit akin to prophecy (although not quite at the same level[4]) existed during the time of the Talmud. Furthermore, it seems that prophecy existed even during the Middle Ages. The Baalei Tosfos were medieval scholars who wrote a commentary to the Talmud which is printed in (nearly) every edition of this fundamental work. Among their ranks was included one Rabbi Ezra the Prophet[5].

Based on this, we can explain that the words of our Sages that “prophecy departed from the world,” as meaning that it is no longer prevalent as it was during the era of the Prophets. It is uncommon for there to be a person worthy of reaching this level. The Rambam writes[6] that there are many lofty levels that one must attain even before prophecy can possibly rest upon him.

This also explains why the Talmud used the words that “prophecy departed from the world.” It does not say that prophecy ceased or was removed from the world.

We are not, G-d forbid, widowed. Hashem is always with us, standing by our side (as so to speak). Furthermore, the Talmud teaches us, that[7] “one who says that he has applied the proper effort and reached his goal may be believed.” If we exert ourselves, there is nothing that is beyond our reach. That certainly includes the goal of bringing Moshiach now!

Have a good Shabbos. May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good, sweet year in all respects.

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Pages 72-73

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י בתו וחתנו שיחיו
הרה”ת ר’ שמואל ורבקה שי’ מענדלסאהן

[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 18:15.

[2] See Talmud Yoma 9, b and Sotah 48, b. See also Tosefta Sotah Chapter 13, d, and Tosefta Sanhedrin Chapter 11, a.

[3]. See, for example, Sanhedrin 11, a.

[4]. See Igerres Hakodesh Chapter 22.

[5]. See Tosfos’ comments to Talmud Gittin 88, a and Shavuos 25, a.

[6]. See the Laws of the Fundamental Principles of Torah, Chapter 7.

[7]. See Talmud Megillah 6, a.

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