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Saturday, August 18, 2018 7 Elul 5778


The first Lubavitch/Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya and Code of Jewish Law, once remarked that a Jew must "live with the times." His son explained the meaning: A Jew must live with the Torah portion of the week - i.e., he must assimilate the lessons of the weekly Torah portion
Prophecy Today
Today we call them analysts, forecasters, critics.  In former times we called them prophets.  But what is the fundamental difference between the two roles? What distinguishes the prophet from the stargazer? 
When we examine the history of prophecy, according to Jewish writings, it is apparent that it was once a common phenomenon.  In every generation, from Moses until the end of the Prophetic era, there were approximately 1,200 prophets per year!  Very few of those prophecies were written down. Only those prophets whose words had a message for all generations were recorded.  However, all the prophets had one thing in common.  If they were true prophets, carrying a divine message from Above, their prophecies were fulfilled.  
Prophecy is not a form of magic or ESP, attempting to foretell the future based on signs or omens.  Nor is it a form of analysis, an attempt to forecast the future based on present, known conditions.  Prophecy is a divine revelation, a message from above conveyed to one who proved him or herself worthy of bearing this responsibility.  A prophet is someone whose spiritual stature is so great that G-d granted him the merit to serve as a divine conduit.
This week’s Torah portion, Shoftim, discusses the mitzvah of listening to a prophet and obeying his words.  How will we know who is a true prophet?  The test is quite simple.  If his words are fulfilled in their entirety, he is a true prophet. If his prophecy does not materialize, then we know that he did not carry a message from G-d.  A good fortune teller or stargazer, and an excellent analyst or forecaster, will be right some of the time.  A true prophet must be right all of the time in order to meet the Torah’s qualifications.
Does prophecy exist today?  The era of prophecy ended shortly after the destruction of the first Holy Temple.  During the 70 years of exile, the prophets spoke words of comfort and predicted the ingathering of the exiles and the rebuilding of the Temple. When the seventy years of exile ended and the Jews streamed back into Israel, the era of prophecy ended.  From then on, the Jews turned to their Rabbis and teachers for guidance and inspiration, but no longer received direct communication from the divine.
However, according to Maimonides there will come a time when prophecy will return to the Jewish People.  At the end of exile, a prophet will arise to prepare the people for the ultimate Redemption.
It is clear from the Torah’s description and the words of Maimonides that we have been blessed with a prophet in our time.  The Lubavitcher Rebbe, in his years of leadership, has shown his phenomenal foresight in predicting trends and events. Furthermore, the Rebbe has prepared us for future events with uncannily accurate advice.  On both a personal and public level, it is clear that the Rebbe is blessed with the gift of prophecy, and our generation has merited to receive the Rebbe’s prophecies and act upon them, by following the Rebbe’s instructions.
Identifying the Rebbe as a prophet is not a form of aggrandizement.  Rather, it is a call to all of us to heed the Rebbe’s words.  The Rebbe’s final and central prophecy to us is that Moshiach is coming.  Through following this call and greeting Moshiach with our increasing Torah learning and greater Mitzvah observance, we will immediately see the actualization of the Rebbe’s prophecy, with the true and complete Redemption.

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