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Prophet of Our Time

The Jewish faith is based on thirteen fundamental principles, as codified by Maimonides, one of the foremost luminaries in Jewish history. According to Maimonides, these thirteen principles lie at the core of Jewish faith, and are shared by all those who adhere to the tenets of Judaism.

The Sixth Principle deals with the belief in prophecy. Over the course of Jewish history, G-d selected outstanding individuals and rested His spirit of prophecy upon them. They were granted the gift of prophecy for the welfare of their generation, to reveal to them future events and caution them to follow in the path of G-d.

According to our sages, the last prophets in Israel were Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. If so, why does Maimonides include belief in prophecy as one of the thirteen principles of faith? There are no prophets in Israel today.

The response of Maimonides is that prophecy will return towards the end of exile, in order to prepare the Jewish People for the great revelations of the Messianic era. Therefore, even today it is a principle of faith to believe that G-d grants prophecy to human beings. The moment a prophet will arise in Israel, we will recognize him as such and respond to his message.

How do we recognize true prophecy, and how will we know who is a prophet? Maimonides offers a two-fold test. The first is a test of character. Is this individual known as someone worthy of receiving prophecy? If yes, the next test is simply to check the accuracy of his predictions. If his prognostications are found to be true in every detail, he is accepted as a prophet.

In our generation, we have merited an individual who meets all the criteria set out by Maimonides: The Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe's character fits the halachic description of a prophet. "Great wisdom, a giant in character… his mind is constantly directed towards Heaven." The Rebbe shared his prophecy with us on numerous occasions, and his words were fulfilled in every respect. The Rebbe foresaw the miraculous victory in Israel's six-day war, and predicted the downfall of communism five years before it happened. During the Gulf War of 1991, the Rebbe assured the people of Israel that chemical weapons would not be used, and they would remain safe.  The Rebbe was also the first and, at times, the only one to warn the Israeli government of the dangers of land concessions to the Arabs.

With the same voice of assurance and confidence, the Rebbe prophesized that our generation is the last generation of exile and the first one of Redemption. On Shabbat Parshat Shoftim, fifteen years ago, the Rebbe referred to this statement as a prophecy that will definitely unfold. The Rebbe also intimated that he himself is the long-awaited prophet, heralding the imminent Redemption.

For this reason, our anticipation of the Redemption is unlike any previous generation. We await Moshiach with a far greater confidence and enthusiasm, since we have the word of the prophet of our generation. With complete faith, we await the fulfillment of his prophecy and the revelation of our righteous Moshiach.

 

 


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