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Parshat Re’eh

Friday, August 18th, 2017

In Parshat Re’eh Moshe advises that Bnei Yisrael keep on the right path that Hashem has laid out for them and warns of possible false prophets that may come along to try and change things. In Ch13 we are told that if a prophet or dreamer of dreams comes and gives a sign, and the sign comes to pass, and he tells you to worship others, do not listen! this is just a test from Hashem. Moshe’s presentation of the subject and the use of the term prophet rather than a false prophet in the text, leads to various interpretations of the challenges that might face our nation, if and when a false prophet might appear,

There are different approaches as to whether the appearance of this prophet would be firstly as real prophet and then turn bad or those such as the Ramban who are of the opinion that there are people with mystical powers and there will be occasions when one of these shady characters will be able to present some form of miraculous task which will appear as sign from Hashem. The Abarbanel takes a more rational approach that there can seemingly be a great scholar or orator, such as the soon after him to appear false Messiah Shabtai Zvi  in the 17th Century, who will be highly convincing. Whatever approach is taken, this is all just to test our faith

Interestingly if we take a look at the concept of a prophet, this seems fairly clear when studying the writings of Isaiah and Jeremiah but more difficult to comprehend in the Torah. The word “Navi” for a prophet can be translated as “to bring”, which could be just to bring a message or possibly to bring some prophesy of what might happen in the future. Four of our biblical figures Abraham, Aaron, Miriam Moshe are all noted as prophets and we are even told in the final words of the close of the Torah that never again will there be a prophet like Moshe who knew Hashem face to face.

This is a good topic for a Friday night discussion and we could all have an opinion on this and I think what we are being told, through these four is, that each had a message to bring to our nation and knew how to express and present it.  We sadly can only read their words or how they behaved, but would it not be wonderful, if we could hear how they expressed themselves, their tone, intonation, expression, what they stressed and how the point was made.

Note how each of these four are mentioned. Hashem tells Avimelech, in the incident with Sarah “for he is a prophet and will pray for you” and Rashbam explains that Hashem loved the way Abraham talked and prayed and Abraham certainly brought the message of monotheism to the world. When Moshe says he cannot express himself Hashem tells him he will send Aaron to be his spokesman using the word Navi. After the crossing of the Red Sea we are told “and Miriam the prophetess took the drum in her hand and spoke to them – Sing to Hashem for he is exalted.” Finally we have Moshe who brings Hashem’s message through the Torah and particularly during his great speech herein Devarim.

So do we have any of either styles of prophets today. I think we could certainly put Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in the Biblical category of bringing a significant religious and moral message to the world. In the prophetic category there are those today who are called futurists predicting based on current knowledge where we might be in a few years time. One of the very interesting futurists is the Israeli Professor David Pasig, who is actually religious. I have heard one of Prof Passig’s talks on the mind blowing thought that, with modern medical advances, we might soon be living till the age of 150 years old and we have to prepare for this eventuality. What is great about our modern Prophets and different from the days of old, is not only can we read what they say but we can watch and hear them on the Internet in TED talks and such like and see how they present -”Re’eh” – see for yourselves.