Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The 13 principles of Jewish faith: # 6: the mission of the Prophets (3 of 3)

Many people think of a prophet as any person who sees the future. While the gift of prophecy certainly includes the ability to see the future, a prophet is far more than just a person with that ability (see here ). A prophet was basically a spokesman for  God. A person chosen by God to speak to people on God's behalf and convey a message or teaching.

Moshe, Yirmiyiahu (Jeremiah) and others, when they were appointed by God Almighty to talk to the people of Israel, were not eager to accept that mission. On the contrary, at the beginning they refused to accept God's mission.  However, as Rabbi Hayim Pereira-Mendes said: "Once the divine message was received, it was irresistible. The inspired Prophet cannot help but speak."

Being a Prophet of Israel was not a very popular position. The difficult task consisted in admonishing the people, the dignitaries and even the King.  The Prophets often became the target of persecution and opposition. The prophet Yirmiyiahu, for example, warned of the imminent destruction of Yerushalaim lest the people keep disobeying the Laws of HaShem. In return for his message Jeremiah was attacked by his own brothers,  beaten and put into the stocks by a priest, imprisoned by the King, threatened with death and thrown into a cistern.  Eliyahu haNabi had to flee for his life, and so did Yesha'ayahu, who at the end was killed by the wicked King Menashe. 

Among the ideals of our prophets are: 1. The Fatherhood of God. That is: that God loves us and cares about us like parents love their children.  2. The brotherhood of Man, equality, righteousness, kindness, charity.  3. The Kingdom of God on earth. That God is our King, and as such we should faithfully obey His Laws. 4. The universal ideals: all nations should know and serve the one and only God; the establishment  of righteousness on Earth and universal Peace or arbitration instead of War.