28 August 2008

I predict

    • Sara Palin will be selected as McCain's running mate. (See the date of this post!)

    • The Stock market will rise rapidly and then shrink back to unexpected lows.

See, That was easy. BHB - a certified Prophet.

In an interesting comment thread over on JA, Moshe states:

The fulfilment of Biblical prophecies is remarkable. I don't know
which unfulfilled ones you had in mind and whether there is any indication with
regard to them of when they would be fulfilled.

I've seen statements to this effect many times. Can someone please enlighten me as to exactly which Torah prophecies are so amazing? Some people claim that the prophecies relating to Jewish Survival are somehow indicative of some divinity. I'm not sure what's so amazing about them. Either the Jewish nation survived or didn't. It sounds like 50/50 to me. (Some will claim that Jewish survival is an indication of something, but let's tackle that separately.)

To be more than co-incidence, a prophecy would need to contain some very specific information. Something such as "God will unleash his fury upon you and then redeem you as his people" is just too generic and doesn't impress me. And when considering the fact that these prophecies may have been dictated/recorded after exile had already been visited on the Jewish nation, prophecies like this seem inevitable.

To be convincing, I would expect the prophecy to be

  • Very specific

  • Unambiguous

  • Clearly documented to have been uttered before the fact

  • An unusual event

In fact, the latter half of Moshe's comment (above) about time-frame is very telling in and of it-self.

My wife thought she had a good case of prophecy come true. "See," she said, "doesn't this mean something?"

She was referring to the following paragraphs in an interesting article by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis.

As I thought about these events, I reminded myself of the opening passage in the
Book of Genesis, regarding which Rashi, the great Torah luminary, teaches in the
name of his father - "How is it that the Torah commences with the creation of
the world rather than the giving of the first commandment?" After all, the Torah
is not a history book, but a book of laws to live by. And the answer given is
amazing. The day will come, when the nations of the world will accuse the Jewish
people of theft, of having taken the land by force. At that time, the Jewish
people are to point to the Torah and say, "G-d created the Heavens and the
Earth. It all belongs to Him and He has the right to apportion it to whomever He
wishes - and it is He who gave this land to us."

A great sage was once asked - "Will the nations of the world then believe this? Is this realistic?"

"Yes," the sage replied, "but the problem will be that Israel's leaders will not believe it!"

This past week, I saw this played out in Jerusalem.

Pretty interesting. What my wife had assumed, but was really unstated in the article, was that Rashi was referring to modern day United Nations! And that would indeed have been an interesting specific prophecy. I was a bit reluctant to tell my wife that Jungreis had conveniently left out that Rashi was referring to not modern day Israel, but to the conquest of the Shivaah Amim, seven nations, during Yehusha's times. The part about the sage, too was interesting, but alas, way too unspecific. Why no name?

I don't understand what R' Esther Jungreis was getting excited about.

Here's another example of unspectacular prophecy.

The Artscroll on Yecheskel states that Rav Elchonon Wasserman, in the Kovetz Maamamrim, prophetically warns of Hashem's wrath in a soon to be holocaust as foretold by the following passuk in Perek 20

לב וְהָעֹלָה, עַל-רוּחֲכֶם--הָיוֹ, לֹא תִהְיֶה: אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם אֹמְרִים, נִהְיֶה כַגּוֹיִם כְּמִשְׁפְּחוֹת הָאֲרָצוֹת--לְשָׁרֵת, עֵץ וָאָבֶן

לג חַי-אָנִי, נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה: אִם-לֹא בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה, וּבְחֵמָה שְׁפוּכָה--אֶמְלוֹךְ עֲלֵיכֶם.

It begs the question, aren't these kind of warnings ubiquitous in Tanach? And hasn't tragedy struck many peoples, not just the Jews, throughout history? It's easy to to find sin and rebellion before any catastrophes. And most irksome of all, is that a reading of the complete section in context, including the method of punishment & exile and the subsequent redemption that has not occurred, very much negates whatever fleeting resemblance of fulfilled prophecy that could be gleaned from passuk 33. (Besides for which, why didn't REW get out of Dodge when the going was good).

I don't understand what Artscroll was getting so excited about.

So, once again, I really would like to know what prophecies Moshe finds to be so amazing.

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