This week’s Parshah tells us that “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 through whom Hashem will communicate with us.
However, the Sages told us that “From the time of the passing of the later prophets, Chaggai, Zechariah and Malachi, prophecy departed from the world.”
In other words, 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 many words of the Sages that Ruach Hakodesh, a spirit akin to prophecy (although not quite at the same level) 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 that appears in (nearly) every edition of the Talmud. Among their ranks was included Rabbi Ezra the Prophet.
Based on this, we can explain that the words of our Sages that “prophecy departed from the world,” means 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 that there are many lofty levels that one must attain even before prophecy can 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 to exist.
We are not, G-d forbid, widowed. Hashem is always with us, standing by our side (as so to speak). Furthermore, the Talmud teaches that “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 merit a good, sweet year in all respects.
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Pages 72-73
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס
. Our Parshah, Devorim 18:15.
 See Talmud Yoma 9, b and Sotah 48, b. See also Tosefta Sotah Chapter 13, d, and Tosefta Sanhedrin Chapter 11, a.
. See for example, Sanhedrin 11, a.
. See Igerres Hakodesh Chapter 22.
. See Tosfos’ comments to Talmud Gittin 88, a and Shavuos 25, a.
. See the Laws of the Fundamental Principles of Torah, Chapter 7.
. See Talmud Megillah 6, a.