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To See the Future

The technology we have at our disposal allows us to see practically anything, from anywhere. We can peer into the human body without need for exploratory surgery. We can have a live, face-to-face conversation with someone on the other side of the world, thanks to satellite communication. We can look deep inside the cell or even the atom, as well as into the far reaches of outer space.

But there is still one thing we cannot see, despite our advanced technology, and that is the future. Yes,  we can develop sophisticated models to attempt to predict what will happen tomorrow, next week or next year. But whether we are talking about the weather, the economy or the political situation, our predictions are highly speculative. They have none of immediacy, the realness, of something we see with our own eyes. The future remains hidden from sight.

From the sight of most of us, that is. Over the generations, there have been select individuals who were granted the gift of prophecy. They are able to access a plane of existence that is beyond the limitations of past, present and future, and so they are able to view the future directly, with no barriers.

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This week's Torah portion, Shoftim, discusses the criteria for prophets and how we can distinguish between a true and false prophet. Faith in our prophets is one of the cornerstones of Jewish belief, as enumerated by Maimonides in his 13 Principles of Faith. It is the channel through which G-d communicates His message to us. The Torah itself was revealed to us by the greatest prophet of all, our teacher Moses.

Seeing the future is a privilege granted to prophets, and they reveal what they see according to G-d's directions to them. This was true of all the prophecies recorded in the Torah. For many generations after the final book of the prophets was recorded, there were no revealed prophecies. It was the end of an era. However, we were reassured by Maimonides that prior to the revelation of Moshiach, prophecy would return as a preparation for his coming.

 

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In our generation we have been fortunate to experience true prophecy, not just on rare occasions but regularly, with startling accuracy and relevance. The prophecies of the Lubavitcher Rebbe were all fulfilled in their entirety. For example, the Rebbe predicted the outcome of the Six-Day War and the  first Gulf War. When the Jewish people was gripped with panic, the Rebbe reassured us that we would see revealed miracles, and that Israel was the safest place in the world.

In private matters as well, the Rebbe would give his amazingly prescient advice, and his word was fulfilled. To this day people receive the Rebbe's blessings through turning to him via one of his book of published letters -- the Igrot Kodesh. These letters encompass a broad range of topics from the mundane to the sublime. The seeker opens a random volume of Igrot to a random page, and finds that the letter on the page contains guidance and blessing for the very issue he wrote about.

The Rebbe's central prophecy is that we are the final generation of exile and the first of Redemption. We have already seen this prophecy begin to unfold. Now it is up to us to take the Rebbe's message to heart and make it a reality.
 

 


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