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Da'at Tevunot - The Knowing Heart

Section 7, Chapter 1

We’ve finally arrived at the very last section of Da’at Tevunot, which explains prophecy. It seems to be something of an addendum to the work, though, rather than an expansion on it. In fact, the Soul, which poses all the questions in this work, if you’ll recall from Ramchal’s Introduction (as opposed to Reason, which responds to it), seems to indicate that. It said, “There’s one more thing I want to you ask about, which isn’t perhaps as lengthy as the others” or might not be as challenging or as important to know about as they, but it’s something that calls for explanation nonetheless -- the whole idea of prophecy.

For as we pointed out in that Introduction, the Soul said there that he wanted clarification about some things about the Jewish Faith, for “while there are (certainly several) specific matters of the Faith that we’re to hold by if we’re to be true to our Torah’s ideals … yet still and all, some of them are straightforward enough, while others simply aren’t”. So he asked for help when it came to them specifically.

What he wanted to have discussed were Divine providence, reward and punishment, the coming of the Messiah, and the resurrection of the dead; and that in fact comprised all of what we’ve included until now.

There were certain other things that the Soul felt he didn’t quite need clarity on, like “the fact of G-d’s existence as well as His oneness, eternality, non-physical makeup; the idea that everything that exists derived out of sheer nothingness; the reality of prophecy and the uniqueness of Moses’ prophecy (the subject at hand), and the ideas that the Torah we now have is from G-d Himself, eternal, and is the very one revealed to us at Mount Sinai”.

While he’d apparently found them easy enough to grasp then, he somehow changed his mind at this point, since he asked for some elucidation about prophecy, too.

Now, that’s not to belittle the wonder and profundity of the idea that G-d Almighty communes with some select souls and reveals His wishes and intentions to them. The very idea of it is (Heaven and) earth-shattering. But the point at hand is that prophecy isn’t fundamentally important for our own understanding of G-d’s interactions with the world and of what’s expected of us accordingly, which comprises the main thrust in this work [1].

That having been said, Ramchal then goes on to grant us a lot of insight into prophecy here, as we’ll see.

[1] See R’ Shriki’s introduction to this section.


Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has translated and commented upon "The Gates of Repentance", "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason Aronson Publishers). His works are available in bookstores and in various locations on the Web.


 


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