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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘HEAR’

Testing And Prophecy

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

How did our ancestors distinguish a true prophet from a false one?

Unlike kings or priests, prophets did not derive authority from formal office. Their authority lay in their personality, their ability to give voice to the word of God, their self-evident inspiration. But precisely because a prophet has privileged access to the word others cannot hear, the visions others cannot see, the real possibility existed of false prophets – like those of Baal in the days of King Ahab.

What was there to prevent a fraudulent, or even a sincere but mistaken, figure, able to perform signs and wonders and move the people by the power of his words, from taking the nation in a wrong direction, misleading others and perhaps even himself?

Moses addresses this concern in our sedra:

“You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.”

On the face of it, the test is simple: if what the prophet predicts comes to pass, he is a true prophet; if not, not. Clearly, though, it was not that simple.

The classic case is the Book of Jonah. Jonah is commanded by God to warn the people of Nineveh that their wickedness is about to bring disaster on them. Jonah attempts to flee, but fails – the famous story of the sea, the storm, and the “great fish.” Eventually he goes to Nineveh and utters the words God has commanded him to say – “Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed” – the people repent and the city is spared. Jonah, however, is deeply dissatisfied:

But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:1-3).

Jonah’s complaint can be understood in two ways. First, he was distressed that God had forgiven the people. They were, after all, wicked. They deserved to be punished. Why then did a mere change of heart release them from the punishment that was their due?

Second, he had been made to look a fool. He had told them that in 40 days the city would be destroyed. It was not. God’s mercy made nonsense of his prediction.

Jonah is wrong to be displeased: that much is clear. God says, in the rhetorical question with which the book concludes: “Should I not be concerned about that great city?” Should I not be merciful? Should I not forgive?

But what then becomes of the criterion Moses lays down for distinguishing between a true and false prophet: “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken”? Jonah had proclaimed that the city would be destroyed in 40 days. It wasn’t; yet the proclamation was true. He really did speak the word of God. How can this be so?

The answer is given in the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah had been prophesying national disaster. The people had drifted from their religious vocation, and the result would be defeat and exile. It was a difficult and demoralizing message for people to hear. A false prophet arose, Hananiah son of Azzur, preaching the opposite. Babylon, Israel’s enemy, would soon be defeated. Within two years the crisis would be over. Jeremiah knew that it was not so, and that Hananiah was telling the people what they wanted to hear, not what they needed to hear. He addressed the assembled people:

He said, “Amen! May the Lord do so! May the Lord fulfill the words you have prophesied by bringing the articles of the Lord’s house and all the exiles back to this place from Babylon. Nevertheless, listen to what I have to say in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people: From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster, and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true.”

Jeremiah makes a fundamental distinction between good news and bad. It is easy to prophesy disaster. If the prophecy comes true, then you have spoken the truth. If it does not, then you can say: God relented and forgave. A negative prophecy cannot be refuted – but a positive one can. If the good foreseen comes to pass, then the prophecy is true. If it does not, then you cannot say, “God changed His mind” because God does not retract from a promise He has made of good, or peace, or return.

It is therefore only when the prophet offers a positive vision that he can be tested. That is why Jonah was wrong to believe he had failed when his negative prophecy – the destruction of Nineveh – failed to come true. This is how Maimonides puts it:

“As to calamities predicted by a prophet, if, for example, he foretells the death of a certain individual or declares that in particular year there will be famine or war and so forth, the non-fulfillment of his forecast does not disprove his prophetic character. We are not to say, ‘See, he spoke and his prediction has not come to pass.’ For God is long-suffering and abounding in kindness and repents of evil. It may also be that those who were threatened repented and were therefore forgiven, as happened to the men of Nineveh. Possibly too, the execution of the sentence is only deferred, as in the case of Hezekiah.

“But if the prophet, in the name of God, assures good fortune, declaring that a particular event would come to pass, and the benefit promised has not been realized, he is unquestionably a false prophet, for no blessing decreed by the Almighty, even if promised conditionally, is ever revoked … Hence we learn that only when he predicts good fortune can the prophet be tested (Yesodei ha-Torah 10:4).

Fundamental conclusions follow from this. A prophet is not an oracle: a prophecy is not a prediction. Precisely because Judaism believes in free will, the human future can never be unfailingly predicted. People are capable of change. God forgives. As we say in our prayers on the High Holy Days: “Prayer, penitence, and charity avert the evil decree.”

There is no decree that cannot be revoked. A prophet does not foretell. He warns. A prophet does not speak to predict future catastrophe but rather to avert it. If a prediction comes true it has succeeded. If a prophecy comes true it has failed.

The second consequence is no less far-reaching. The real test of prophecy is not bad news but good. Calamity, catastrophe, disaster prove nothing. Anyone can foretell these things without risking his reputation or authority. It is only by the realization of a positive vision that prophecy is put to the test.

So it was with Israel’s prophets. They were realists, not optimists. They warned of the dangers that lay ahead. But they were also, without exception, agents of hope. They could see beyond the catastrophe to the consolation. That is the test of a true prophet.

Fighter Jets…

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Every once in a while, we hear fighter jets flying over head. The first time I came to Maale Adumim – over ten years ago, I heard the jets soaring over the city and thought – wow, not just the beauty of the desert, not just the beauty of the city, but this too? I love the sound of the F15s flying low.

It was only after I moved here that I realized this wasn’t a daily occurrence. The Israeli Air Force is charged with protecting our skies. To do this, they have to fly the length and width of this land (which actually doesn’t take to long).

So they don’t fly regularly over our skies…or maybe they do. I remember friends who had just moved hear hearing them fly low over head. They called me thinking that perhaps war had broken out…

No, no war – just our sons flying our skies and protecting our land!

I once tried with my silly phone to capture it. I got the sound, but couldn’t get the image and then I thought…duh…YouTube. This morning, the jets have been flying and, child that I am inside, I keep going to my balcony and watching them.

There is such joy in seeing them, hearing them. They fly for the purest of causes – defending our land. It’s a beautiful day in August in Israel. I hope as they fly, the pilots are smiling and enjoying the most amazing view (as I am).

May God bless the Israel Air Force – fly safe! – 2 videos – one the sound I am hearing this morning and the second – an amazing, nearly impossible feat…an Israeli pilot – landing with just one wing. The manufacturers of the F15 didn’t believe the Israelis when it was reported. They insisted on seeing the plane for themselves. The proof is in the video. Enjoy.



Haredim in Green

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

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Yishai talks further about the integration of Ultra-Orthodox Jews into the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces. To elaborate, Meir Eisenman, who as one who comes from a Haredi background gives a unique perspective to the situation, joins Yishai. They talk about all aspects of integrating Ultra-Orthodox Jews into the IDF and how it affects both sides of Israeli society. Don’t miss this segment!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Christiane Amanpour at Yishai’s House

Friday, July 20th, 2012

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Yishai and Malkah kick off by talking about a special guest that they received in their home in order to interview Yishai and the range of discussion that followed between the guest and Yishai. They move on to the expiration of the Tal Law and how it has contributed to the collapse of the coalition in the Israeli government. At 12:30, Yishai and Malkah begin to discuss the recent trip to Israel by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her views on the American policy in the Middle East along with discussing how Jonathan Pollard will not be released. They end the segment talking about how everything is looking ahead in Israel and how listeners can get involved!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

The Rebirth of Jerusalem

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

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Yishai talks about the absolute need for more land to be claimed by Jews in Israel and to further discuss this matter; he is joined by Aryeh King, the founder and director of the Israel Land Fund. They start off by talking about the situation behind Yishai’s recent assault while driving in Eastern Jerusalem and the background behind it and move on to talk about how with additional Jews moving to the Mount of Olives is creating a whole new feeling in the eastern part of the city. They wrap up by King giving his opinion on the findings of the Levy Report and how it will help extend the borders of the City of Jerusalem.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Voting in US Elections and Knesset Update

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

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Jewish Press Columnist Yishai Fleisher is joined by Knesset-insider Jeremy Man Saltan.  They begin by discussing a bill that was recently presented that requires those that are evacuated by the Israeli government to be moved into finished homes that are ready for those that are evacuated and then move on to talk about the Levy Commission Report.  Yishai and Man Saltan talk about the potential of the ultra-orthodox serving in the Israel Defense Forces and at 18:45 they shift gears to present a talk, attended by Yishai, to American-born Israelis to why they should vote in the upcoming American elections which features former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Germany and the Levy Report

Friday, July 13th, 2012

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Yishai and Malkah further elaborate about the ban on ritual circumcision in Germany.  At 13:45, Yishai moves on to talk about the current Torah portion and how they also relate to the situation in Germany along with talking about the German government’s harsh treatment towards Jews in Israel.  The segment wraps up with a discussion of the Levy Commission Report; a report that states that the construction of Jewish communities outside of internationally recognized borders is n ot a violation of international law.

Unlike Previous posts, we are presenting this segment in two parts, this one is the show intro up to the introduction of the discussion of the Levy Report.

This second part is the discussion of the Levy Report in full along with the closing of the segment.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

From New Zealand to Israel

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

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Yishai broadcasts from Caliber 3 range, a firearms training facility outside of Efrat. Hillel Ma’or, one of the instructors and assistants at the range, joins him. Together, they discuss Ma’or’s background and how he managed to come to both Judaism and Israel. Do not miss this inspiring and interesting segment!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/jewish-press-radio-with-yishai-fleisher-from-new-zealand-to-israel/2012/07/11/

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