These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Our Prophecy at Pardes

Posted on May 26, 2013 by Sydni Adler

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My dvar Torah from the Galil Shabbaton:

sydOn Shavuot, Rabbi Ruth Gan Kagan spoke about the prophetic power of G-d’s ruach – G-d’s spirit, breath, or wind. Throughout Tanakh, whenever ruach appears, G-d pervades material being, and often, individual human beings.

In both the Torah and Haftarah portions of Be’haalotecha, we deal directly with ruach and the prophecy that results. At one point in the Torah portion, for example, when Moshe feels that he cannot bear the burden of prophesy alone, G-d descends G-d’s ruach upon seventy elders. These elders begin prophesying immediately, even the two who happen not to be in the same location as Moshe and the others. When Yehoshua questions the prophesying of these two, Moshe replies, “…Would that HaShem had set all the people as prophets, that HaShem had set his ruach upon them!” (Bamidbar 11:29). In Moshe’s ideal world, in a world where power and decision-making could be distributed among the entire nation of Israel, everyone could prophesize. In this particular instance, Moshe trusts those not in his presence to try their hands at prophesy. Perhaps, in Moshe’s ideal world – in the ideal world we strive for – everyone can, everyone must, share his or her perception of the word of God.

Later in the parsha, when G-d punishes Miriam for speaking badly about Moshe, G-d explains why Moshe is such and effective prophet. Moshe meets G-d face to face. To Moshe, G-d is not a dream or a riddle; G-d is reality. G-d is one with Moshe.

One more example: In the Haftarah for this week, Zechariah sees vision upon vision of the renewal of Yerushalayim. But how do the people of Israel achieve that vision? The people of Israel must work to achieve that vision through direct contact with G-d’s ruach: “Not by military might and not by power, for by way of ruach – says HaShem of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). Thus, the might we possess must be entirely imbued with that ruach in order for our ideal world to arise.

What if Zechariah and Moshe share the same ideal world? What if all of us, the entire nation of Israel, could become prophets? What if we could meet G-d face to face, abandon our egos in favor of Zechariah’s ruach? Perhaps we possess that ability now. At Pardes, we have experienced direct contact with G-d’s ruach through the textual remnants of G-d’s most standout prophets of the Bible and the sages who developed their rulings from those prophets. Just as G-d bestows Moshe’s ruach upon the elders of Israel, perhaps by reading about those elders and by reading about Moshe himself, Talmud Torah brings us directly in contact with Moshe’s ruach as well.

As we are about to transition into the next stage of our being, I hope we can strive to constantly utilize the prophecy we have received throughout our time at Pardes. And of course, I hope we can begin to search for more of G-d’s ruach in our every-day lives, to find G-d’s presence in everything we do, to be like Moshe, to come face to face with G-d. I bless you all (and me too, why not?) to bring the texts you’ve learned and experiences you’ve had this year towards truly finding meaning (ruach) for yourself and for everyone you encounter along your next Jewish journey.