The body and prophecy are inseparable just as the soul of the Prophet and closeness to the Creator, are fashioned in partnership. Prophecy is intended for correcting of behavior, prediction of the future, or to avert danger from a threat to national defense or natural disasters. Study of Torah (the word of God), and practicing the art of prayer, the service of the heart, conditions the body and soul to being a ‘God-attuned’ vessel through which prophecy can occur.
The teachings of the Chassidic tradition (Chassidut) reveal that God, being a total unity has no needs, but as a form of giving, desires to see man’s pleasure in becoming God-like. Self-refinement and right action are the hallmarks of the journey. The Torah instructs us about the creation of humankind on the sixth day of God’s creation of the world. Our refinement and way to perfection is through closeness with the Creator, which prophecies highlight.
“Every Prophet has a kind of speech peculiar to him,” reveals the Rambam. It is “the language of that individual’s, which the Prophetic revelation peculiar to him causes him to speak to those who understand him.” As expressions of the outcome of living a Torah-centered life, the Prophets and Prophetesses are holy figures proving that prophecy is the outcome of God’s Torah. Sometimes the Prophets are not believed and their prophecies are ignored. Their own courage becomes the foundation upon which their prophecy remains intact and its record preserved.
The Torah (Teaching) is the Book
Torah, from the root “yoreh”, to teach, is the Hebrew word representing “the Book” in the expression “the People of the Book’. Torah is also referred to as “the law”. Torah can stand for the first five books of the Old Testament, or the Five Books of Moses, the Pentateuch, or all of the Old Testament Bible made up of twenty-four books. The word Torah refers to the written and oral teachings of Judaism that were handed down in an unbroken tradition. “Moses received the Torah from [God who revealed himself at Mount] Sinai and conveyed it to Joshua; Joshua [conveyed it] to the Elders; the Elders [conveyed it] to the Prophets; and the Prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: “Be deliberate in judgment; develop many disciples; and make a protective fence for the Torah.”
The human is given instructions in Torah for becoming holy. Chassidut teaches that Torah is the blueprint for creation that the Creator authored prior to creating the world and is a guide for humankind’s refinement. This divine map is contained in Torah and understood through the Jewish spiritual science and art of Kabbalah. From the three-letter root (KBL), (Kof, Beit Lamed), Kabbalah means a received tradition. The rigorous self-discipline it describes for the individual and the community who receives it, can lead to prophecy as the natural outcome of attendance to God, love of others and service in the world in a holy and selfless fashion.
Prophetic visions generally occur in fields and woods, by rivers and mountains, in places uncontaminated by the general population. Prophecy is how the Divine Will and presence are made known to the individual and the community. It serves as a way for the Creator to instruct and guide the created, to come closer to Him, discerning the relationships between the seen and unseen, the physical and the immaterial. Prophecy occurs in different forms and in different intensities. Ultimately, this “Holy Speaking” is to unite humanity with God. Echad, the Hebrew word for oneness, is the process and the outcome of prophecy.