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How G-d speaks? Is there Prophecy today?


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Elul 23, 5775
Hello, We read how G-d spoke to many individuals in the Bible. The question is: would this appear like a voice that could be heard to anybody else present or it could be heard internally in the mind only to the person to whom G-d spoke to? I’ve heard a phrase that says: "When man speaks to G-d, that is prayer but when G-d speaks to man it is Schizophrenia". This is to say that the person who hears this voice maybe called a madman who hallucinates and "hears voices." How can the prophet know that the voice is from G-d and is not something else e.g. madness etc.. or demons? Also why is there an opinion that cases of Bat Kol are today not happening and are looked upon with suspicion? Is Bat Kol heard for matters relevant for the whole community or it may be for private matters (though everything that happens to someone could affect the world)?
Today, we don’t know exactly how prophecy was felt or heard, but we read throughout the Tanach that our prophets were very sensitive, rational, thoughtful and Godly, and surely not madmen, like people today who may claim to hear voices! God decided, about 2,500 years ago, to cease prophecy and super-natural miracles, thus enabling us more “free will”. Just like the individual, as he matures, is capable of more independence, and is given it by his good parent, so too regarding mankind. Nevertheless, there is still, even today, a lower level called “Ru’ach HaKodesh” where a rare super-righteous person, like R. Mordechai Eliahu, is sometimes granted special knowledge or vision from above. There are no full-time miracle-makers, prophets or healers as when the Tanach was written (anyone who claims to be is a charlatan, and stay away!), but rather we are meant to function through rational decisions for which we are held accountable, and prayer (which is a personal encounter!), asking God to please intervene (preferably in an undetectable way, not supernaturally). Lehavdil, a computer program which foresees and solves all potential "bugs" before they arise is a lot better than having to solve each and every case as they come. Similarly, God's wisdom foresaw all future issues already when He created the laws of nature, and the super-natural miracles which were once needed to "introduce" God to primitive man, would be today almost counter-productive. There are documented cases of visions, often dreams, which Rav M. Eliahu, Rav Aryeh Levine, the Lubavitcher rebbe, R. Ya’akov Abu-Chatzeira and a few others had and acted upon, which cannot be explained other than Divine intervention, but they are the rare exception (see for example the documented cases of R. Aryeh Levine concerning the identification of the 35 slaughtered members of the Hagana in Gush Etzion (the “Lamed-Heh”) and the case of Avraham Stavsky’s widow who needed chalitza, in Simcha Raz, “A Tzaddik in Our Time”). Most of these cases involve national events, but there are cases of individual situations, as well. God reveals Himself more on the national level. The nation of Israel has seen many a natural-miracle, like the victories of Tzahal in the War of Independence, the Six Day War, recovering and winning the Yom Kippur War, the rescue at Entebbe, etc. In fact the eternal survival of Israel against all odds, is a miracle. Similarly, today we have something even greater than prophecy, and that’s when ancient prophecies actually come true (even greater than when they were just predicted some 3,000 years ago)! We were told that God will eventually gather the exiles and bring us back to Israel, our State, language and army will be revived, as will the desert of Israel, all of which has been fulfilled through God’s naturally directing the history of Israel together with the efforts of man, as well. In short, there are still undoubtedly occasional (even documented) cases of Divine intervention, especially on the national level of Israel, but it is preferable to live life within the regular rules of nature through observing Torah and mitzvot, because to be Godly is greater than to speak to God or see Him.
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