Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The principles of Jewish faith: # 6: The prophets of Israel were true (1 of 3)

The Prophets of Israel were exceptional human beings, called by God to rebuke the Jewish people. In order to be credible preachers, the Prophets had to be role models individuals, possessing an extremely refined character. 

Maimonides explains that not every person could become a prophet. There were three key character-traits which were a prerequisite to become a candidate to prophecy and eventually, if God's so wished, to be called by Him (=prophecy). 

An individual had to be strong, wealthy and wise. 

"Strong" is a person with the ability to control himself, his body, his appetites and the words he utters form his mouth. The highest level of strength is achieved when an individual is also able to control his emotions and thoughts.  'Strength' is not measured by the ability to control other people, but by the ability to overcome our own impulses and appetites. 

"Wealthy" is the one who is content with his material possessions, whatever they are. He does not need more and he is not greedy to have more than what he possesses. In Judaism, wealth is not about quantity but appreciation. One person could be wealthy with 100 dollars, while other person could be considered poor even if he has 1 billion . Richness is not measured by what one has but by what one needs. The correct formula is not: the more you have the richer you are, but the less you need (regardless of how much or little you have) the richer you are. 

"Wise", is not the person who knows everything, for that is impossible, but the one that is constantly growing in his or her thirst to know and learn. Usually, we think we know something, but as our life's experience become richer, we get to new levels of understanding on the matters we thought we know. Jewish wisdom is the opposite of intellectual stagnation.  
(To be continued...)