Shoftim 5751: Prophecy Before the Geulah

The sicha of this week, parshas Shoftim, is unquestionably one of the most significant talks the Rebbe ever gave.

The Rebbe opens the sicha by reiterating that since we have already finished all the work that was required of us in the time exile, and we are “all standing ready” to greet Moshiach, we are now already holding at the time of the fulfillment of the prophetic promise “I will return your judges…and your advisers”.

Explaining the difference between them: a judge is higher than the one whom he is judging, and has no need to explain his rulings.  He issues a ruling at it must be obeyed.  (And if there is resistance to fulfilling the ruling of the judge, there are police forces to execute his judgments).  An adviser is on the same level as the one he is advising, and his role is to explain the judge’s ruling in a way that makes sense to the person, so that he can see how it is in his own best interest to fulfill the rulings of the judge, which brings about that he will fulfill them eagerly and willingly, with no need for police enforcement.  (In the terminology of Chassidus: one obeys the judge out of bittul and kabbalas ‘ol, in a manner of makif; whereas the adviser enables the person to obey the judge with his own understanding, so that it comes into pnimiyus.)

Since the combination of judges and advisers is part of the prophecy of the Messianic era (as opposed to judges and police, as in the time of exile), we have to start preparing ourselves now by living in this manner already.  This makes us into a vessel to receive these revelations, and also speeds them up.

These two dimensions are also reflected in the difference between Torah and Prophecy (Nevuah): Torah is a decree from Above to below, the fulfillment of which does not depend on its reasoning being understood (for it is really Hashem’s reasoning, which truthfully we cannot understand).  Prophecy, however, is enclothed in the thought and intellect of the prophet, which means that it is truly unified with human intellect.  The Rambam writes that prophecy will return to the Jewish people before the Geulah as a preparation for Moshiach.  The Rebbe notes that even the absence of prophecy in the intermediate time is referred to by a term (“nistalka ruach hakodesh miYisroel“) which implies and lack of the ability to receive it, but does not mean that prophecy was nullified.  Thus, the Rambam writes about prophecy in his code of Jewish law which is applicable to all times and all places, because in truth prophecy is essentially applicable to all times and all places.

Then the Rebbe makes a dramatic statement:

“Every prophet is a continuation of the prophecy and Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu…and in our generation [this is] the Nosi of our generation, my father-in-law the Rebbe…that through our Rebbeim ‘prophecy will return to Yisroel’, they themselves are the prophets of our generation.”

Also, through the tasting of pnimiyus Hatorah now, the Jewish people and the whole world become a vessel (in an inner way) for the inner revelation of Torah that will come afterwards by Moshiach Tzidkienu.  And in our generation the spreading of the wellsprings outward [which is what brings Moshiach, as the Baal Shem Tov writes in his famous letter] to all corners of the world has been fulfilled in its entirety.

The Rebbe then makes another dramatic statement, this time a clear directive for all of us:

“There needs to be an avodah that matches the state of Geulah: to publicize to himself and to all those whom he can reach–that they need to accept upon themselves, and to take upon themselves (more strongly) the directives and advice of “your judges” and “your advisers” who are in our generation–“our Rabbis are our kings” in general, and in particular the Nosi of our generation–who comes in continuation to the Rebbeim who preceded him –the judge of our generation and the adviser of our generation and the prophet of our generation,

“And the Torah commands us to believe in him and to obey him, not only because he can give signs of predicting the future, but because of the Mitzvah that Moshe commanded us in the Torah… And more than this: A prophet upon whom another prophet testifies that he is a prophet–as this regards the Nosi of our generation, and is continued in the generation that follows him through his students, etc.–we assume he is a prophet and do not need to examine him…and the Torah forbids us to doubt him or to ponder if his prophecy might not be true…

“And there is a directive in all of the above, that it must be publicized to all the people of the generation, that we have merited that the Holy One, blessed be He, selected and appointed an individual with free will, that he himself is immeasurably higher than the people of the generation, that he will be ‘your judges’ and ‘your advisers’ and the prophet of the generation, who will give guidance and advice regarding the service of the entire Jewish people and all the people of this generation, in all matters of Torah and Mitzvos, and as regards general daily life…until — the main prophecy — the prophecy* of ‘immediately to tshuva, immediately to Geulah’, and immediately ‘behold, this one (Moshiach) comes’.”

If these words were not sufficiently awe-inspiring and shocking, the Rebbe adds in the footnote that the “prophecy of ‘immediately to tshuva, immediately to Geulah’ is not only as a sage and judge but rather as a prophet, for this is with absolute certainty–see the short discourses of the Alter Rebbe, page 355-6.”  In that short discourse, the Alter Rebbe explains that the things which a sage can grasp are very lofty, but they are so lofty in the spiritual realms that it is not certain if (or when) they will descend and take shape in our physical world.  On the other hand, the vision of a prophet is of things that are already in this physical world and therefore the words of a prophet are certain, because he sees that they are already here.

Thus, we see: the Rebbe (as a continuation of the Previous Rebbe, and all the previous Rebbeim back to the Baal Shem Tov) is a prophet; his statements about us being in the final moments of golus, on the cusp of the Geulah, are a prophecy–meaning that they have already taken shape in this physical world and not only will take place but are already here and unfolding.  And we are directed to publicize this to all the people of the generation.

May we merit to fulfill the Rebbe’s will.

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