Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Smart Money's On Isaiah - The Good Guys Will Win in the End

With the Nation of Israel under attack for the umpteenth thousandth time it is easy to lose site of the big picture - that the Jewish People are routinely reviled for their goodness and for the message of universal peace and spiritual transcendence that they have always promoted and stood for.  And the end, only these values will be left standing.

When Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues were walking past the ruins of the Second Temple, they started to weep while Akiva began to laugh.  When asked what possessed him to laugh at this terrible site of pain and devastation he replied that just as the prophecy that the Temple would be destroyed came to pass so too could they be confident that they prophecy that it would be rebuilt would come to pass as well.  They reflected on this a famously replied "you have comforted us Akiva."

As such, it seemed only fitting to boost our confidence in Toraitic prophecy at this moment of travail so that we could take comfort in the notion that some day Isaiah's vision will also be fulfilled:

"And it shall be at the end of days that the mountain of God's house will be firmly established at the top of the mountains and will be raised above the hills and all nations will stream into it.  And many people will go and say 'come, let's go up to God's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob and let him teach us His ways and we will go in His paths' for out of Zion will the Torah come forth and the word of God from Jerusalem.  And He will judge between nations are reprove many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not lift sword against nation and they will not learn war any more."

Here's my take on prophecy:


  1. This whole post is not compelling at all…
    Text can only be considered “Prophecy” if it is (reasonably) certain that the events described therein were written before they occurred. It’s no “kuntz” writing “prophecy” after the events.
    So, seeing as most biblical scholars believe that the Tokhecha in Deut 28 was written after the exile of the North ca 720 BCE while the Tokhecha in Lev. 27 much later, i.e. after the return of the exiles, it isn’t true “prophecy and the whole discussion goes out the window.

    Question: How is that Deut. 28 does not end with a promise of return, while Lev. 27 does??

    Answer: Obvious, if you accept or at least consider the above dating of the texts.

    As for the amazing survival of our people despite the tremendous persecution and adversarial events, to me, it’s more a testament to the incredibly strong faith in God and our traditions, then to anything supernatural

  2. Hi David,

    To begin to answer your question it should be pointed out that there is no 1:1 parallelism in those sections so for one concept to be in one and not the other would not be particularly surprising. In any event the promise of return that you find missing in Deut 28 makes its appearance a few verses later in Deut 30.

    I'd also like to point out and general difficulty with the Documentary Hypothesis (one that I think I'll expand on in a post soon). In a nutshell, nothing like it has been observed in any other culture - why is that? I highly suggest that you familiarize yourself with the work of Rabbi Dr. Joshua Berman, who says on this point:

    It is often surmised that the Torah is an anthology of different traditions of Israel’s history, and that the upheaval occasioned by the destruction of the Temple and the Exile forced Israel’s leaders to bring these traditions together. This posits a form of composition that has no precedent anywhere in the ancient world. Nearly every ancient culture that we know of experienced cataclysm at one point or another in its history. Nowhere do we see that the embattled culture responds by assembling its conflicting historical traditions under one cover.

    How do you answer that?