ב"ה

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Yesodei haTorah - Chapter Seven, Yesodei haTorah - Chapter Eight, Yesodei haTorah - Chapter Nine

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Yesodei haTorah - Chapter Seven

1

It is [one] of the foundations of [our] faith that God conveys prophecy to man.

Prophecy is bestowed only upon a very wise sage of a strong character, who is never overcome by his natural inclinations in any regard. Instead, with his mind, he overcomes his natural inclinations at all times. He must [also] possess a very broad and accurate mental capacity.

A person who is full of all these qualities and is physically sound [is fit for prophecy]. When he enters the Pardes and is drawn into these great and sublime concepts, if he possesses an accurate mental capacity to comprehend and grasp [them], he will become holy. He will advance and separate himself from the masses who proceed in the darkness of the time. He must continue and diligently train himself not to have any thoughts whatsoever about fruitless things or the vanities and intrigues of the times.

Instead, his mind should constantly be directed upward, bound beneath [God's] throne [of Glory, striving] to comprehend the holy and pure forms and gazing at the wisdom of the Holy One, blessed be He, in its entirety, [in its manifold manifestations] from the most elevated [spiritual] form until the navel of the earth, appreciating His greatness from them. [After these preparations,] the divine spirit will immediately rest upon him.

When the spirit rests upon him, his soul becomes intermingled with the angels called ishim, and he will be transformed into a different person and will understand with a knowledge different from what it was previously. He will rise above the level of other wise men, as [the prophet, Samuel] told Saul [I Samuel 10:6]: "[The spirit of God will descend upon you] and you shall prophesy with them. And you will be transformed into a different person."

א

מִיסוֹדֵי הַדָּת לֵידַע שֶׁהָאֵל מְנַבֵּא אֶת בְּנֵי הָאָדָם. וְאֵין הַנְּבוּאָה חָלָה אֶלָּא עַל חָכָם גָּדוֹל בַּחָכְמָה, גִּבּוֹר בְּמִדּוֹתָיו, וְלֹא יְהֵא יִצְרוֹ מִתְגַּבֵּר עָלָיו בְּדָבָר בָּעוֹלָם אֶלָּא הוּא מִתְגַּבֵּר בְּדַעְתּוֹ עַל יִצְרוֹ תָּמִיד. וְהוּא בַּעַל דֵּעָה רְחָבָה נְכוֹנָה עַד מְאֹד. אָדָם שֶׁהוּא מְמֻלָּא בְּכָל הַמִּדּוֹת הָאֵלּוּ שָׁלֵם בְּגוּפוֹ, כְּשֶׁיִּכָּנֵס לַפַּרְדֵּס וְיִמָּשֵׁךְ בְּאוֹתָן הָעִנְיָנִים הַגְּדוֹלִים הָרְחוֹקִים, וְתִהְיֶה לוֹ דֵּעָה נְכוֹנָה לְהָבִין וּלְהַשִּׂיג וְהוּא מִתְקַדֵּשׁ וְהוֹלֵךְ וּפוֹרֵשׁ מִדַּרְכֵי כְּלַל הָעָם הַהוֹלְכִים בְּמַחֲשַׁכֵּי הַזְּמַן, וְהוֹלֵךְ וּמְזָרֵז עַצְמוֹ וּמְלַמֵּד נַפְשׁוֹ שֶׁלֹּא תִּהְיֶה לוֹ מַחֲשָׁבָה כְּלָל בְּאֶחָד מִדְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים וְלֹא מֵהַבְלֵי הַזְּמַן וְתַחְבּוּלוֹתָיו, אֶלָּא דַּעְתּוֹ פְּנוּיָה תָּמִיד לְמַעְלָה קְשׁוּרָה תַּחַת הַכִּסֵּא לְהָבִין בְּאוֹתָן הַצּוּרוֹת הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת הַטְּהוֹרוֹת, וּמִסְתַּכֵּל בְּחָכְמָתוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כֻּלָּהּ מִצּוּרָה רִאשׁוֹנָה עַד טַבּוּר הָאָרֶץ וְיוֹדֵעַ מֵהֶן גָּדְלוֹ, מִיָּד רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ שׁוֹרָה עָלָיו. וּבְעֵת שֶׁתָּנוּחַ עָלָיו הָרוּחַ תִּתְעָרֵב נַפְשׁוֹ בְּמַעֲלַת הַמַּלְאָכִים הַנִּקְרָאִים אִישִׁים וְיֵהָפֵךְ לְאִישׁ אַחֵר וְיָבִין בְּדַעְתּוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ כְּמוֹת שֶׁהָיָה אֶלָּא שֶׁנִּתְעַלָּה עַל מַעֲלַת שְׁאָר בְּנֵי אָדָם הַחֲכָמִים, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּשָׁאוּל (שמואל א י ו) "וְהִתְנַבִּיתָ עִמָּם וְנֶהְפַּכְתָּ לְאִישׁ אַחֵר":

2

There are a number of levels among the prophets. Just as with regard to wisdom, one sage is greater than his colleague, so, too, with regard to prophecy, one prophet is greater than another. They all, [however, share certain commonalities]. They receive prophetic visions only in a visionary dream or during the day after slumber has overtaken them, as [Numbers 12:6] states: "I make Myself known to him in a vision. I speak to him in a dream."

When any of them prophesy, their limbs tremble, their physical powers become weak, they lose control of their senses, and thus, their minds are free to comprehend what they see, as [Genesis 15:12] states concerning Abraham: "and a great, dark dread fell over him." Similarly, Daniel [10:8] states: "My appearance was horribly changed and I retained no strength."

ב

הַנְּבִיאִים מַעֲלוֹת מַעֲלוֹת הֵן. כְּמוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ בַּחָכְמָה חָכָם גָּדוֹל מֵחֲבֵרוֹ כָּךְ בַּנְּבוּאָה נָבִיא גָּדוֹל מִנָּבִיא. וְכֻלָּן אֵין רוֹאִין מַרְאֵה הַנְּבוּאָה אֶלָּא בַּחֲלוֹם בְּחֶזְיוֹן לַיְלָה. אוֹ בַּיּוֹם אַחַר שֶׁתִּפּל עֲלֵיהֶן תַּרְדֵּמָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יב ו) "בַּמַּרְאָה אֵלָיו אֶתְוַדָּע בַּחֲלוֹם אֲדַבֶּר בּוֹ". וְכֻלָּן כְּשֶׁמִּתְנַבְּאִים אֵיבְרֵיהֶן מִזְדַּעְזְעִין וְכֹחַ הַגּוּף כָּשֵׁל וְעֶשְׁתּוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם מִתְטָרְפוֹת וְתִשָּׁאֵר הַדַּעַת פְּנוּיָה לְהָבִין מַה שֶּׁתִּרְאֶה. כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּאַבְרָהָם (בראשית טו יב) "וְהִנֵּה אֵימָה חֲשֵׁכָה גְדלָה נֹפֶלֶת עָלָיו". וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּדָנִיֵּאל (דניאל י ח) "וְהוֹדִי נֶהְפַּךְ עָלַי לְמַשְׁחִית וְלֹא עָצַרְתִּי כֹּחַ":

3

When a prophet is informed of a message in a vision, it is granted to him in metaphoric imagery. Immediately, the interpretation of the imagery is imprinted upon his heart, and he knows its meaning.

For example, the ladder with the angels ascending and descending envisioned by the patriarch, Jacob, was an allegory for the empires and their subjugation [of his descendants]. Similarly, the creatures Ezekiel saw, the boiling pot and the rod from an almond tree envisioned by Jeremiah, the scroll Ezekiel saw, and the measure seen by Zechariah [were all metaphoric images]. This is also true with regard to the other prophets.

Some would relate the allegory and its explanation as these did. Others would relate only the explanation. At times, they would relate only the imagery without explaining it, as can be seen in some of the prophecies of Ezekiel and Zechariah.

All of the prophecies come in the form of metaphoric imagery and allegories.

ג

הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁמּוֹדִיעִים לַנָּבִיא בְּמַרְאֵה הַנְּבוּאָה דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל מוֹדִיעִין לוֹ וּמִיָּד יֵחָקֵק בְּלִבּוֹ פִּתְרוֹן הַמָּשָׁל בְּמַרְאֵה הַנְּבוּאָה וְיֵדַע מָה הוּא. כְּמוֹ הַסֻּלָּם שֶׁרָאָה יַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ וּמַלְאָכִים עוֹלִים וְיוֹרְדִים בּוֹ וְהוּא הָיָה מָשָׁל לְמַלְכֻיּוֹת וְשִׁעְבּוּדָן. וּכְמוֹ הַחַיּוֹת שֶׁרָאָה יְחֶזְקֵאל וְהַסִּיר נָפוּחַ וּמַקֵּל שָׁקֵד שֶׁרָאָה יִרְמְיָה וְהַמְּגִלָּה שֶׁרָאָה יְחֶזְקֵאל וְהָאֵיפָה שֶׁרָאָה זְכַרְיָה. וְכֵן שְׁאָר הַנְּבִיאִים. מֵהֶם אוֹמְרִים הַמָּשָׁל וּפִתְרוֹנוֹ כְּמוֹ אֵלּוּ. וְיֵשׁ שֶׁהֵן אוֹמְרִים הַפִּתְרוֹן בִּלְבַד. וּפְעָמִים אוֹמְרִים הַמָּשָׁל בִּלְבַד בְּלֹא פִּתְרוֹן כְּמִקְצָת דִּבְרֵי יְחֶזְקֵאל וּזְכַרְיָה וְכֻלָּן בְּמָשָׁל וְדֶרֶךְ חִידָה הֵם מִתְנַבְּאִים:

4

All the prophets do not prophesy whenever they desire. Instead, they must concentrate their attention [upon spiritual concepts] and seclude themselves, [waiting] in a happy, joyous mood, because prophecy cannot rest upon a person when he is sad or languid, but only when he is happy.

Therefore, the prophets' disciples would always have a harp, drum, flute, and lyre [before them when] they were seeking prophecy. This is what is meant by the expression [I Samuel 10:5]: "They were prophesying" - i.e., following the path of prophecy until they would actually prophesy - as one might say, "So and so aspires to greatness."

ד

כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים אֵין מִתְנַבְּאִין בְּכָל עֵת שֶׁיִּרְצוּ אֶלָּא מְכַוְּנִים דַּעְתָּם וְיוֹשְׁבִים שְׂמֵחִים וְטוֹבֵי לֵב וּמִתְבּוֹדְדִים. שֶׁאֵין הַנְּבוּאָה שׁוֹרָה לֹא מִתּוֹךְ עַצְבוּת וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ עַצְלוּת אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ שִׂמְחָה. לְפִיכָךְ בְּנֵי הַנְּבִיאִים לִפְנֵיהֶם נֵבֶל וְתֹף וְחָלִיל וְכִנּוֹר וְהֵם מְבַקְּשִׁים הַנְּבוּאָה. וְזֶהוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א י ה) "וְהֵמָּה מִתְנַבְּאִים" כְּלוֹמַר מְהַלְּכִין בְּדֶרֶךְ הַנְּבוּאָה עַד שֶׁיִּנָּבְאוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁאַתָּה אוֹמֵר פְּלוֹנִי מִתְגַּדֵּל:

5

Those who aspire to prophecy are called "the disciples of the prophets." Even though they concentrate their attention, it is possible that the Divine Presence will rest upon them, and it is possible that it will not rest upon them.

ה

אֵלּוּ שֶׁהֵם מְבַקְּשִׁין לְהִתְנַבֵּא הֵם הַנִּקְרָאִים בְּנֵי הַנְּבִיאִים. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמְּכַוְּנִים דַּעְתָּם אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּשְׁרֶה שְׁכִינָה עֲלֵיהֶן וְאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁלֹּא תִּשְׁרֶה:

6

All the statements made above describe the path of prophecy of all the early and later prophets, with the exception of Moses, our teacher, the master of all prophets.

What is the difference between Moses' prophecy and that of all the other prophets? [Divine insight is bestowed upon] all the [other] prophets in a dream or vision. Moses, our teacher, would prophesy while standing awake, as [Numbers 7:89] states: "When Moses came into the Tent of Meeting to speak to Him, he heard the Voice speaking to him."

[Divine insight is bestowed upon] all the [other] prophets through the medium of an angel. Therefore, they perceive only metaphoric imagery and allegories. Moses, our teacher, [would prophesy] without the medium of an angel, as [Numbers 12:8] states: "Mouth to mouth I speak to him," and [Exodus 33:11] states: "And God spoke to Moses face to face." [Numbers 12:8] states: "He gazes upon the image of God" - i.e., there was no metaphor. Rather, he would perceive the matter in its fullness, without metaphor or allegory. The Torah testifies concerning him [Numbers 12:8]: ["I speak to him...] manifestly, without allegory." His appreciation of prophecy would not be through metaphor, but through open revelation, appreciating the matter in its fullness. All the [other] prophets are overawed, terrified, and confounded [by the revelations they experience], but Moses, our teacher, would not [respond in this manner], as [Exodus 33:11] relates: "[God spoke to Moses...] as a man speaks to a friend" - i.e., just as a person will not be awe-struck from hearing his friend's words, so, too, Moses' mental power was sufficient to comprehend the words of prophecy while he was standing in a composed state.

All the [other] prophets cannot prophesy whenever they desire. Moses, our teacher, was different. Whenever he desired, the holy spirit would envelop him, and prophecy would rest upon him. He did not have to concentrate his attention to prepare himself [for prophecy], because his [mind] was always concentrated, prepared, and ready [to appreciate spiritual truth] as the angels [are]. Therefore, he would prophesy at all times, as [Numbers 9:8] states: "Stand and hear what God will command you."

He was promised this by God, as [implied by Deuteronomy 5:27-28]: "Go and tell them: `Return to your tents,' but you stand here together with Me." This should be interpreted to mean: When prophecy departs from all the [other] prophets, they return to their "tents" - i.e., the needs of the body like other people. Therefore, they do not separate themselves from their wives. Moses, our teacher, never returned to his original "tent." Therefore, he separated himself from women and everything of that nature forever. He bound his mind to the Eternal Rock. [Accordingly,] the glory never left him forever. The flesh of his countenance shone, [for] he became holy like the angels.

ו

כָּל הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ הֵם דֶּרֶךְ נְבוּאָה לְכָל הַנְּבִיאִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים וְהָאַחֲרוֹנִים חוּץ מִמּשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ רַבָּן שֶׁל כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים. וּמַה הֶפְרֵשׁ יֵשׁ בֵּין נְבוּאַת משֶׁה לִשְׁאָר כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים. שֶׁכָּל הַנְּבִיאִים בַּחֲלוֹם אוֹ בְּמַרְאֶה וּמשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ מִתְנַבֵּא וְהוּא עֵר וְעוֹמֵד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ז פט) "וּבְבֹא משֶׁה אֶל אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לְדַבֵּר אִתּוֹ וַיִּשְׁמַע אֶת הַקּוֹל מִדַּבֵּר אֵלָיו". כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים עַל יְדֵי מַלְאָךְ. לְפִיכָךְ רוֹאִים מַה שֶּׁהֵם רוֹאִים בְּמָשָׁל וְחִידָה. משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ לֹא עַל יְדֵי מַלְאָךְ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יב ח) "פֶּה אֶל פֶּה אֲדַבֶּר בּוֹ". וְנֶאֱמַר (שמות לג יא) "וְדִבֶּר ה' אֶל משֶׁה פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים". וְנֶאֱמַר (במדבר יב ח) "וּתְמֻנַת ה' יַבִּיט" כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁאֵין שָׁם מָשָׁל אֶלָּא רוֹאֶה הַדָּבָר עַל בֻּרְיוֹ בְּלֹא חִידָה וּבְלֹא מָשָׁל. הוּא שֶׁהַתּוֹרָה מְעִידָה עָלָיו (במדבר יב ח) "בְּמַרְאֶה וְלֹא בְּחִידוֹת" שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִתְנַבֵּא בְּחִידָה אֶלָּא בְּמַרְאֶה שֶׁרוֹאֶה הַדָּבָר עַל בֻּרְיוֹ. כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים יְרֵאִים וְנִבְהָלִים וּמִתְמוֹגְגִין וּמשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ אֵינוֹ כֵן הוּא, שֶׁהַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (שמות לג יא) "כַּאֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר אִישׁ אֶל רֵעֵהוּ", כְּלוֹמַר כְּמוֹ שֶׁאֵין אָדָם נִבְהָל לִשְׁמֹעַ דִּבְרֵי חֲבֵרוֹ כָּךְ הָיָה כֹּחַ בְּדַעְתּוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ לְהָבִין דִּבְרֵי הַנְּבוּאָה וְהוּא עוֹמֵד עַל עָמְדוֹ שָׁלֵם. כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים אֵין מִתְנַבְּאִים בְּכָל עֵת שֶׁיִּרְצוּ. משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ אֵינוֹ כֵן אֶלָּא כָּל זְמַן שֶׁיַּחְפֹּץ רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ לוֹבַשְׁתּוֹ וּנְבוּאָה שׁוֹרָה עָלָיו וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְכַוֵּן דַּעְתּוֹ וּלְהִזְדַּמֵּן לָהּ שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא מְכֻוָּן וּמְזֻמָּן וְעוֹמֵד כְּמַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת. לְפִיכָךְ מִתְנַבֵּא בְּכָל עֵת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ט ח) "עִמְדוּ וְאֶשְׁמְעָה מַה יְצַוֶּה ה' לָכֶם". וּבָזֶה הִבְטִיחוֹ הָאֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ה כז-כח) "לֵךְ אֱמֹר לָהֶם שׁוּבוּ לָכֶם לְאָהֳלֵיכֶם וְאַתָּה פֹּה עֲמֹד עִמָּדִי". הָא לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁכָּל הַנְּבִיאִים כְּשֶׁהַנְּבוּאָה מִסְתַּלֶּקֶת מֵהֶם חוֹזְרִים לְאָהֳלָם שֶׁהוּא צָרְכֵי הַגּוּף כֻּלָּם כִּשְׁאָר הָעָם. לְפִיכָךְ אֵין פּוֹרְשִׁין מִנְּשׁוֹתֵיהֶם. וּמשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ לֹא חָזַר לְאָהֳלוֹ הָרִאשׁוֹן לְפִיכָךְ פֵּרַשׁ מִן הָאִשָּׁה לְעוֹלָם וּמִן הַדּוֹמֶה לוֹ וְנִקְשְׁרָה דַּעְתּוֹ לְצוּר הָעוֹלָמִים וְלֹא נִסְתַּלֵּק מֵעָלָיו הַהוֹד לְעוֹלָם וְקָרַן עוֹר פָּנָיו וְנִתְקַדֵּשׁ כְּמַלְאָכִים:

7

There is the possibility that a prophet will experience prophecy for his own sake alone - i.e., to expand his mental capacities and to increase his knowledge - [allowing him] to know more about the lofty concepts than he knew before.

It is also possible that he will be sent to one of the nations of the world, or to the inhabitants of a particular city or kingdom, to prepare them and to inform them what they should do or to prevent them [from continuing] the evil which they are doing.

When he is sent [on such a mission], he is given a sign or a wonder [to perform], so that the people will know that God has truly sent him.

Not everyone who performs signs or wonders should be accepted as a prophet: only a person who is known to be fit for prophecy beforehand; i.e., his wisdom and his [good] deeds surpass those of all his contemporaries. If he follows the paths of prophecy in holiness, separating himself from worldly matters, and afterwards performs a sign or wonder and states that he was sent by God, it is a mitzvah to listen to him, as [Deuteronomy 18:15] states: "Listen to him."

It is possible that a person will perform a sign or wonder even though he is not a prophet - rather, the wonder will have [another cause] behind it. It is, nevertheless, a mitzvah to listen to him. Since he is a wise man of stature and fit for prophecy, we accept [his prophecy as true], for so have we been commanded.

[To give an example of a parallel:] We are commanded to render a [legal] judgment based on the testimony of two witnesses. Even though they may testify falsely, since we know them to be acceptable [as witnesses], we presume that they [are telling the truth].

Considering these matters and the like, [Deuteronomy 29:28] states: "The hidden matters are for God, our Lord, but what is revealed is for us and our children," and [I Samuel 16:7] states: "Man sees what is revealed to the eyes, but God sees into the heart."

ז

הַנָּבִיא אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּהְיֶה נְבוּאָתוֹ לְעַצְמוֹ בִּלְבַד לְהַרְחִיב לִבּוֹ וּלְהוֹסִיף דַּעְתּוֹ עַד שֶׁיֵּדַע מַה שֶּׁלֹּא הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ מֵאוֹתָן הַדְּבָרִים הַגְּדוֹלִים. וְאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיְּשֻׁלַּח לְעַם מֵעַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ אוֹ לְאַנְשֵׁי עִיר אוֹ מַמְלָכָה לְכוֹנֵן אוֹתָם וּלְהוֹדִיעָם מַה יַּעֲשׂוּ אוֹ לְמָנְעָם מִמַּעֲשִׂים הָרָעִים שֶׁבִּידֵיהֶם. וּכְשֶׁמְּשַׁלְּחִים אוֹתוֹ נוֹתְנִין לוֹ אוֹת וּמוֹפֵת כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ הָעָם שֶׁהָאֵל שְׁלָחוֹ בֶּאֱמֶת. וְלֹא כָּל הָעוֹשֶׂה אוֹת וּמוֹפֵת מַאֲמִינִים לוֹ שֶׁהוּא נָבִיא. אֶלָּא אָדָם שֶׁהָיִינוּ יוֹדְעִים בּוֹ מִתְּחִלָּתוֹ שֶׁהוּא רָאוּי לִנְבוּאָה בְּחָכְמָתוֹ וּבְמַעֲשָׂיו שֶׁנִּתְעַלָּה בָּהֶן עַל כָּל בְּנֵי גִּילוֹ וְהָיָה מְהַלֵּךְ בְּדַרְכֵי הַנְּבוּאָה בִּקְדֻשָּׁתָהּ וּבִפְרִישׁוּתָהּ וְאַחַר כָּךְ בָּא וְעָשָׂה אוֹת וּמוֹפֵת וְאָמַר שֶׁהָאֵל שְׁלָחוֹ מִצְוָה לִשְׁמֹעַ מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יח טו) "אֵלָיו תִּשְׁמָעוּן". וְאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה אוֹת וּמוֹפֵת וְאֵינוֹ נָבִיא. וְזֶה הָאוֹת יֵשׁ לוֹ דְּבָרִים בְּגוֹ. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן מִצְוָה לִשְׁמוֹעַ לוֹ הוֹאִיל וְאָדָם גָּדוֹל וְחָכָם וְרָאוּי לִנְבוּאָה [הוּא] מַעֲמִידִים אוֹתוֹ עַל חֶזְקָתוֹ. שֶׁבְּכָךְ נִצְטַוֵּינוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּצְטַוֵּינוּ לַחְתֹּךְ אֶת הַדִּין עַל פִּי שְׁנֵי עֵדִים כְּשֵׁרִים וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁהֵעִידוּ בְּשֶׁקֶר הוֹאִיל וּכְשֵׁרִים הֵם אֶצְלֵנוּ מַעֲמִידִין אוֹתָן עַל כַּשְׁרוּתָן. וּבַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן נֶאֱמַר (דברים כט כח) "הַנִּסְתָּרֹת לַה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ וְהַנִּגְלֹת לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ". וְנֶאֱמַר (שמואל א טז ז) "כִּי הָאָדָם יִרְאֶה לַעֵינַיִם וַה' יִרְאֶה לַלֵּבָב":

Yesodei haTorah - Chapter Eight

1

The Jews did not believe in Moses, our teacher, because of the wonders that he performed. Whenever anyone's belief is based on wonders, [the commitment of] his heart has shortcomings, because it is possible to perform a wonder through magic or sorcery.

All the wonders performed by Moses in the desert were not intended to serve as proof [of the legitimacy] of his prophecy, but rather were performed for a purpose. It was necessary to drown the Egyptians, so he split the sea and sank them in it. We needed food, so he provided us with manna. We were thirsty, so he split the rock [providing us with water]. Korach's band mutinied against him, so the earth swallowed them up. The same applies to the other wonders.

What is the source of our belief in him? The [revelation] at Mount Sinai. Our eyes saw, and not a stranger's. Our ears heard, and not another's. There was fire, thunder, and lightning. He entered the thick clouds; the Voice spoke to him and we heard, "Moses, Moses, go tell them the following:...."

Thus, [Deuteronomy 5:4] relates: "Face to face, God spoke to you," and [Deuteronomy 5:3] states: "God did not make this covenant with our fathers, [but with us, who are all here alive today]."

How is it known that the [revelation] at Mount Sinai alone is proof of the truth of Moses' prophecy that leaves no shortcoming? [Exodus 19:9] states: "Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people will hear Me speaking to you, [so that] they will believe in you forever." It appears that before this happened, they did not believe in him with a faith that would last forever, but rather with a faith that allowed for suspicions and doubts.

א

משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ לֹא הֶאֱמִינוּ בּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִפְּנֵי הָאוֹתוֹת שֶׁעָשָׂה. שֶׁהַמַּאֲמִין עַל פִּי הָאוֹתוֹת יֵשׁ בְּלִבּוֹ דֹּפִי שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה הָאוֹת בְּלָט וְכִשּׁוּף. אֶלָּא כָּל הָאוֹתוֹת שֶׁעָשָׂה משֶׁה בַּמִּדְבָּר לְפִי הַצֹּרֶךְ עֲשָׂאָם. לֹא לְהָבִיא רְאָיָה עַל הַנְּבוּאָה. הָיָה צָרִיךְ לְהַשְׁקִיעַ אֶת הַמִּצְרִיִּים קָרַע אֶת הַיָּם וְהִצְלִילָן בְּתוֹכוֹ. צָרַכְנוּ לְמָזוֹן הוֹרִיד לָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן. צָמְאוּ בָּקַע לָהֶן אֶת הָאֶבֶן. כָּפְרוּ בּוֹ עֲדַת קֹרַח בָּלְעָה אוֹתָן הָאָרֶץ. וְכֵן שְׁאָר כָּל הָאוֹתוֹת. וּבַמֶּה הֶאֱמִינוּ בּוֹ. בְּמַעֲמַד הַר סִינַי שֶׁעֵינֵינוּ רָאוּ וְלֹא זָר וְאָזְנֵינוּ שָׁמְעוּ וְלֹא אַחֵר הָאֵשׁ וְהַקּוֹלוֹת וְהַלַּפִּידִים וְהוּא נִגַּשׁ אֶל הָעֲרָפֶל וְהַקּוֹל מִדַּבֵּר אֵלָיו וְאָנוּ שׁוֹמְעִים משֶׁה משֶׁה לֵךְ אֱמֹר לָהֶן כָּךְ וְכָךְ. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים ה ד) "פָּנִים בְּפָנִים דִּבֶּר ה' עִמָּכֶם". וְנֶאֱמַר (דברים ה ג) "לֹא אֶת אֲבֹתֵינוּ כָּרַת ה' אֶת הַבְּרִית הַזֹּאת". וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁמַּעֲמַד הַר סִינַי לְבַדּוֹ הִיא הָרְאָיָה לִנְבוּאָתוֹ שֶׁהִיא אֱמֶת שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ דֹּפִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות יט ט) "הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי בָּא אֵלֶיךָ בְּעַב הֶעָנָן בַּעֲבוּר יִשְׁמַע הָעָם בְּדַבְּרִי עִמָּךְ וְגַם בְּךָ יַאֲמִינוּ לְעוֹלָם". מִכְלַל שֶׁקֹּדֶם דָּבָר זֶה לֹא הֶאֱמִינוּ בּוֹ נֶאֱמָנוּת שֶׁהִיא עוֹמֶדֶת לְעוֹלָם אֶלָּא נֶאֱמָנוּת שֶׁיֵּשׁ אַחֲרֶיהָ הִרְהוּר וּמַחֲשָׁבָה:

2

Thus, those to whom [Moses] was sent witnessed [his appointment] as a prophet, and it was not necessary to perform another wonder for them. He and they were witnesses, like two witnesses who observed the same event together. Each one serves as a witness to his colleague that he is telling the truth, and neither has to bring any other proof to his collegue.

Similarly, all Israel were witnesses to [the appointment of] Moses, our teacher, at the [revelation] at Mount Sinai, and it was unnecessary for him to perform any further wonders for them.

This concept [is alluded to in the interchange between God and Moses at the revelation of the burning bush]. At the beginning of his prophecy, the Holy One, blessed be He, gave him the signs [and wonders] to perform in Egypt and told him [Exodus 3:18], "And they will listen to your voice."

Moses, our teacher, knew that one who believes [in another person] because of signs has apprehension in his heart; he has doubts and suspicions. Therefore, he sought to be released from the mission, saying: "They will not believe me" [Exodus 4:1], until the Holy One, blessed be He, informed him that these wonders [were intended only as a temporary measure,] until they left Egypt. After they would leave, they would stand on this mountain and all doubts which they had about him would be removed.

[God told him:] Here, I will give you a sign so that they will know that I truly sent you from the outset, and thus, no doubts will remain in their hearts. This is what is meant by [Exodus 3:12]: "This will be your sign that I sent you: When you take the people out of Egypt, you will serve God on this mountain."

Thus, we do not believe in any prophet who arises after Moses, our teacher, because of the wonder [he performs] alone, as if to say: If he performs a wonder we will listen to everything he says. Rather, [we believe him] because it is a mitzvah which we were commanded by Moses who said: If he performs a wonder, listen to him.

Just as we are commanded to render a [legal] judgment based on the testimony of two witnesses, even though we do not know if they are testifying truthfully or falsely, similarly, it is a mitzvah to listen to this prophet even though we do not know whether the wonder is true or performed by magic or sorcery.

ב

נִמְצְאוּ אֵלּוּ שֶׁשׁוּלַּח לָהֶן הֵם הָעֵדִים עַל נְבוּאָתוֹ שֶׁהִיא אֱמֶת וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת לָהֶן אוֹת אַחֵר. שֶׁהֵם וְהוּא עֵדִים בַּדָּבָר כִּשְׁנֵי עֵדִים שֶׁרָאוּ דָּבָר אֶחָד בְּיַחַד שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶן עֵד לַחֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁהוּא אוֹמֵר אֱמֶת וְאֵין אֶחָד מֵהֶן צָרִיךְ לְהָבִיא רְאָיָה לַחֲבֵרוֹ. כָּךְ משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל עֵדִים לוֹ אַחַר מַעֲמַד הַר סִינַי וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת לָהֶם אוֹת. וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בִּתְחִלַּת נְבוּאָתוֹ בְּעֵת שֶׁנָּתַן לוֹ הָאוֹתוֹת לַעֲשׂוֹתָן בְּמִצְרַיִם וְאָמַר לוֹ (שמות ג יח) "וְשָׁמְעוּ לְקלֶךָ". יָדַע משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ שֶׁהַמַּאֲמִין עַל פִּי הָאוֹתוֹת יֵשׁ בִּלְבָבוֹ דֹּפִי וּמְהַרְהֵר וּמְחַשֵּׁב וְהָיָה נִשְׁמָט מִלֵּילֵךְ וְאָמַר (שמות ד א) "וְהֵן לֹא יַאֲמִינוּ לִי". עַד שֶׁהוֹדִיעוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁאֵלּוּ הָאוֹתוֹת אֵינָן אֶלָּא עַד שֶׁיֵּצְאוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם וְאַחַר שֶׁיֵּצְאוּ וְיַעַמְדוּ עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה יִסְתַּלֵּק הִרְהוּר שֶׁמְּהַרְהֲרִין אַחֲרֶיךָ שֶׁאֲנִי נוֹתֵן לְךָ כָּאן אוֹת שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ שֶׁאֲנִי שְׁלַחְתִּיךָ בֶּאֱמֶת מִתְּחִלָּה וְלֹא יִשָּׁאֵר בְּלִבָּם הִרְהוּר. וְהוּא שֶׁהַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (שמות ג יב) "וְזֶה לְּךָ הָאוֹת כִּי אָנֹכִי שְׁלַחְתִּיךָ בְּהוֹצִיאֲךָ אֶת הָעָם מִמִּצְרַיִם תַּעַבְדוּן אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה". נִמְצֵאתָ אוֹמֵר שֶׁכָּל נָבִיא שֶׁיַּעֲמֹד אַחַר משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ אֵין אָנוּ מַאֲמִינִים בּוֹ מִפְּנֵי הָאוֹת לְבַדּוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁנֹּאמַר אִם יַעֲשֶׂה אוֹת נִשְׁמַע לוֹ לְכָל מַה שֶּׁיֹּאמַר. אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי הַמִּצְוָה שֶׁצִּוָּה משֶׁה בַּתּוֹרָה וְאָמַר אִם נָתַן אוֹת (דברים יח טו) "אֵלָיו תִּשְׁמָעוּן". כְּמוֹ שֶׁצִּוָּנוּ לַחְתֹּךְ הַדָּבָר עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם עֵדִים וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ יוֹדְעִין אִם הֵעִידוּ אֱמֶת אִם שֶׁקֶר. כָּךְ מִצְוָה לִשְׁמֹעַ מִזֶּה הַנָּבִיא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ יוֹדְעִים אִם הָאוֹת אֱמֶת אוֹ בְּכִשּׁוּף וְלָט:

3

Therefore, if a prophet arises and attempts to dispute Moses' prophecy by performing great signs and wonders, we should not listen to him. We know with certainty that he performed those signs through magic or sorcery. [This conclusion is reached] because the prophecy of Moses, our teacher, is not dependent on wonders, so that we could compare these wonders, one against the other. Rather we saw and heard with our own eyes and ears as he did.

To what can this be compared? To witnesses who gave testimony concerning a matter to a man who had observed the situation with his own eyes. He will never listen to them and will know for certain that they are false witnesses.

Therefore, the Torah states (Deuteronomy 13:3-4) that "[Even] if [such] a sign or wonder will come, you should not listen to the words of that prophet." He comes to you with signs and wonders to deny what you saw with your own eyes. We believe in a wonder [as evidence of a prophet's reliability] only because of the mitzvah which Moses commanded us. Therefore, how can a wonder [cause us to] accept this [person] who comes to deny the prophecy of Moses which we saw and heard?

ג

לְפִיכָךְ אִם עָמַד הַנָּבִיא וְעָשָׂה אוֹתוֹת וּמוֹפְתִים גְּדוֹלִים וּבִקֵּשׁ לְהַכְחִישׁ נְבוּאָתוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ וְאָנוּ יוֹדְעִין בְּבֵאוּר שֶׁאוֹתָן הָאוֹתוֹת בְּלָט וְכִשּׁוּף הֵן. לְפִי שֶׁנְּבוּאַת משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ אֵינָהּ עַל פִּי הָאוֹתוֹת כְּדֵי שֶׁנַּעֲרֹךְ אוֹתוֹת זֶה לְאוֹתוֹת זֶה. אֶלָּא בְּעֵינֵינוּ רְאִינוּהָ וּבְאָזְנֵינוּ שְׁמַעֲנוּהָ כְּמוֹ שֶׁשָּׁמַע הוּא. הָא לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה לְעֵדִים שֶׁהֵעִידוּ לָאָדָם עַל דָּבָר שֶׁרָאָה בְּעֵינָיו שֶׁאֵינוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁרָאָה שֶׁאֵינוֹ שׁוֹמֵעַ לָהֶן אֶלָּא יוֹדֵעַ בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁהֵן עֵדֵי שֶׁקֶר. לְפִיכָךְ אָמְרָה תּוֹרָה שֶׁאִם בָּא הָאוֹת וְהַמּוֹפֵת (דברים יג ד) "לֹא תִּשְׁמַע אֶל דִּבְרֵי הַנָּבִיא הַהוּא". שֶׁהֲרֵי זֶה בָּא אֵלֶיךָ בְּאוֹת וּמוֹפֵת לְהַכְחִישׁ מַה שֶּׁרָאִיתָ בְּעֵינֶיךָ וְהוֹאִיל וְאֵין אָנוּ מַאֲמִינִים בְּמוֹפֵת אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי הַמִּצְוֹת שֶׁצִּוָּנוּ משֶׁה הֵיאַךְ נְקַבֵּל מֵאוֹת זֶה שֶׁבָּא לְהַכְחִישׁ נְבוּאָתוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה שֶׁרָאִינוּ וְשֶׁשָּׁמַעְנוּ:

Yesodei haTorah - Chapter Nine

1

It is clear and explicit in the Torah that it is [God's] commandment, remaining forever without change, addition, or diminishment, as [Deuteronomy 13:1] states: "All these matters which I command to you, you shall be careful to perform. You may not add to it or diminish from it," and [Deuteronomy 29:28] states: "What is revealed is for us and our children forever, to carry out all the words of this Torah." This teaches that we are commanded to fulfill all the Torah's directives forever.

It is also said: "It is an everlasting statute for all your generations," and [Deuteronomy 30:12] states: "It is not in the heavens." This teaches that a prophet can no longer add a new precept [to the Torah].

Therefore, if a person will arise, whether Jew or gentile, and perform a sign or wonder and say that God sent him to:

a) add a mitzvah,

b) withdraw a mitzvah

c) explain a mitzvah in a manner which differs from the tradition received from Moses, or

d) if he says that the mitzvot commanded to the Jews are not forever, but rather were given for a limited time,

he is a false prophet. He comes to deny the prophecy of Moses and should be executed by strangulation, because he dared to make statements in God's name which God never made.

God, blessed be His name, commanded Moses that this commandment is for us and our children forever, and, God is not man that He speak falsely.

א

דָּבָר בָּרוּר וּמְפֹרָשׁ בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁהִיא מִצְוָה עוֹמֶדֶת לְעוֹלָם וּלְעוֹלְמֵי עוֹלָמִים אֵין לָהּ לֹא שִׁנּוּי וְלֹא גֵּרָעוֹן וְלֹא תּוֹסֶפֶת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר אֵת כָּל הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם אֹתוֹ תִשְׁמְרוּן לַעֲשׂוֹת לֹא תֹסֵף עָלָיו וְלֹא תִגְרַע מִמֶּנּוּ. וְנֶאֱמַר (דברים כט כח) "וְהַנִּגְלֹת לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ עַד עוֹלָם לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת". הָא לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁכָּל דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה מְצֻוִּין אָנוּ לַעֲשׂוֹתָן עַד עוֹלָם. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם. וְנֶאֱמַר (דברים ל יב) "לֹא בַשָּׁמַיִם הִיא". הָא לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁאֵין נָבִיא רַשַּׁאי לְחַדֵּשׁ דָּבָר מֵעַתָּה. לְפִיכָךְ אִם יַעֲמֹד אִישׁ בֵּין מִן הָאֻמּוֹת בֵּין מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְיַעֲשֶׂה אוֹת וּמוֹפֵת וְיֹאמַר שֶׁה' שְׁלָחוֹ לְהוֹסִיף מִצְוָה אוֹ לִגְרֹעַ מִצְוָה אוֹ לְפָרֵשׁ בְּמִצְוָה מִן הַמִּצְוֹת פֵּרוּשׁ שֶׁלֹּא שָׁמַעְנוּ מִמּשֶׁה. אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר שֶׁאוֹתָן הַמִּצְוֹת שֶׁנִּצְטַוּוּ בָּהֶן יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵינָן לְעוֹלָם וּלְדוֹרֵי דּוֹרוֹת אֶלָּא מִצְוֹת לְפִי זְמַן הָיוּ. הֲרֵי זֶה נְבִיא שֶׁקֶר שֶׁהֲרֵי בָּא לְהַכְחִישׁ נְבוּאָתוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה. וּמִיתָתוֹ בְּחֶנֶק עַל שֶׁהֵזִיד לְדַבֵּר בְּשֵׁם ה' אֲשֶׁר לֹא צִוָּהוּ. שֶׁהוּא בָּרוּךְ שְׁמוֹ צִוָּה לְמשֶׁה שֶׁהַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ עַד עוֹלָם וְ (במדבר כג יט) "לֹא אִישׁ אֵל וִיכַזֵּב":

2

If so, what is meant by the Torah's statement [Deuteronomy 18:18]: "I will appoint a prophet from among their brethren like you, and I

will place My words in his mouth and he will speak..."? He is not coming to establish a [new] faith, but rather to command the people [to fulfill] the precepts of the Torah and to warn against its transgression, as evidenced by the final prophet [Malachi], who proclaimed [Malachi 3:22], "Remember the Torah of Moses, My servant."

Also, a prophet may command us to do something which [is neither permitted nor forbidden by Torah law] - for example, "Go to such and such a place," "Do not go there," "Wage war today," or "Do not do so," "Build a wall," or "Do not build it."

[In these instances,] it is a mitzvah to listen to him. Anyone who violates his directives is liable for death at the hand of God, as [Deuteronomy 18:19] states: "And a person who will not heed My words which he speaks in My name, I will seek [retribution] from him."

ב

אִם כֵּן לָמָּה נֶאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה (דברים יח יח) "נָבִיא אָקִים לָהֶם מִקֶּרֶב אֲחֵיהֶם כָּמוֹךָ". לֹא לַעֲשׂוֹת דָּת הוּא בָּא אֶלָּא לְצַוּוֹת עַל דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה וּלְהַזְהִיר הָעָם שֶׁלֹּא יַעַבְרוּ עָלֶיהָ. כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַר הָאַחֲרוֹן שֶׁבָּהֶן (מלאכי ג כב) "זִכְרוּ תּוֹרַת משֶׁה עַבְדִּי". וְכֵן אִם צִוָּנוּ בְּדִבְרֵי הָרְשׁוּת כְּגוֹן לְכוּ לְמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי אוֹ אַל תֵּלְכוּ. עֲשׂוּ מִלְחָמָה הַיּוֹם אוֹ אַל תַּעֲשׂוּ. בְּנוּ חוֹמָה זוֹ אוֹ אַל תִּבְנוּהָ. מִצְוָה לִשְׁמֹעַ לוֹ. וְהָעוֹבֵר עַל דְּבָרָיו חַיָּב מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יח יט) "וְהָיָה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִשְׁמַע אֶל דְּבָרַי אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר בִּשְׁמִי אָנֹכִי אֶדְרשׁ מֵעִמּוֹ":

3

Similarly, a prophet who violated his own prophetic instructions, and one who refrains from prophesying, are liable for death at the hand of God, since concerning the three of them, it is said, "I will seek [retribution] from him."

When a prophet - who has already proven himself to be a prophet - instructs us to violate one of the mitzvot of the Torah or many mitzvot, whether they be of a severe or light nature, for a limited amount of time, it is a mitzvah to listen to him.

The Sages of the early generation taught as part of the oral tradition: If a prophet tells you to violate the precepts of the Torah as Elijah did on Mount Carmel, listen to him with regard to all things except the worship of false gods. This applies when his command is temporary in nature.

For example, on Mount Carmel, Elijah offered a sacrifice outside [the Temple's premises], even though Jerusalem was chosen for such [service], and one who offers a sacrifice outside [the Temple's premises] is liable for karet. Since he was [already established as] a prophet, it was a mitzvah to listen to him. The commandment, "Listen to him," applies in these circumstances as well.

If they would have asked Elijah: How can we violate the Torah's command [Deuteronomy 12:13]: "[Be careful...] lest you offer your burnt offerings everywhere"?, he would have told them: We should not say anything, but anyone who offers a sacrifice outside [the Temple premises] is liable for karet, as Moses said. [The present instance,] however, [is an exception]. I am offering a sacrifice today outside [the Temple] at God's command in order to disprove the prophets of Ba'al.

Similarly, if any [other] prophet commands us to transgress for a limited time, it is a mitzvah to listen to him. If, however, he says that the mitzvah has been nullified forever, he is liable for execution by strangulation, for the Torah has told us: "[It is] for us and our children forever."

ג

וְכֵן נָבִיא שֶׁעָבַר עַל דִּבְרֵי עַצְמוֹ וְהַכּוֹבֵשׁ נְבוּאָתוֹ חַיָּב מִיתָה בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם וּבִשְׁלָשְׁתָּן נֶאֱמַר (דברים יח יט) "אָנֹכִי אֶדְרשׁ מֵעִמּוֹ". וְכֵן אִם יֹאמַר לָנוּ הַנָּבִיא שֶׁנּוֹדַע לָנוּ שֶׁהוּא נָבִיא לַעֲבֹר עַל אַחַת מִכָּל מִצְוֹת הָאֲמוּרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה אוֹ עַל מִצְוֹת הַרְבֵּה בֵּין קַלּוֹת בֵּין חֲמוּרוֹת לְפִי שָׁעָה מִצְוָה לִשְׁמֹעַ לוֹ. וְכֵן לָמַדְנוּ מֵחֲכָמִים רִאשׁוֹנִים מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה בְּכָל אִם יֹאמַר לְךָ הַנָּבִיא עֲבֹר עַל דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה כְּאֵלִיָּהוּ בְּהַר הַכַּרְמֶל שְׁמַע לוֹ חוּץ מֵעֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַדָּבָר לְפִי שָׁעָה. כְּגוֹן אֵלִיָּהוּ בְּהַר הַכַּרְמֶל שֶׁהִקְרִיב עוֹלָה בַּחוּץ וִירוּשָׁלַיִם נִבְחֶרֶת לְכָךְ וְהַמַּקְרִיב בַּחוּץ חַיָּב כָּרֵת. וּמִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא נָבִיא מִצְוָה לִשְׁמֹעַ לוֹ וְגַם בָּזֶה נֶאֱמַר (דברים יח טו) "אֵלָיו תִּשְׁמָעוּן". וְאִלּוּ שָׁאֲלוּ אֶת אֵלִיָּהוּ וְאָמְרוּ לוֹ הֵיאַךְ נַעֲקֹר מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה (דברים יב יג) "פֶּן תַּעֲלֶה עלֹתֶיךָ בְּכָל מָקוֹם". הָיָה אוֹמֵר לֹא נֶאֱמַר אֶלָּא הַמַּקְרִיב בַּחוּץ לְעוֹלָם חַיָּב כָּרֵת כְּמוֹ שֶׁצִּוָּה משֶׁה. אֲבָל אֲנִי אַקְרִיב הַיּוֹם בַּחוּץ בִּדְבַר ה' כְּדֵי לְהַכְחִישׁ נְבִיאֵי הַבַּעַל. וְעַל הַדֶּרֶךְ הַזֹּאת אִם צִוּוּ כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים לַעֲבֹר לְפִי שָׁעָה מִצְוָה לִשְׁמֹעַ לָהֶם. וְאִם אָמְרוּ שֶׁהַדָּבָר נֶעֱקַר לְעוֹלָם מִיתָתוֹ בְּחֶנֶק שֶׁהַתּוֹרָה אָמְרָה (דברים כט כח) "לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ עַד עוֹלָם":

4

Similarly, if [a "prophet"] nullifies a concept which was transmitted by the oral tradition, or states with regard to one of the Torah's laws that God commanded him to render such and such a judgment, or that such and such is the law regarding a particular instance and the decision follows a certain opinion, he is a false prophet and should be [executed by] strangulation. [This applies] even if he performs a wonder, for he is coming to deny the Torah, which states: "It is not in the heavens."

If, however, [he states that] for a limited time [we should follow a particular course of behavior], he should be listened to with regard to all things.

ד

וְכֵן אִם עָקַר דָּבָר מִדְּבָרִים שֶׁלָּמַדְנוּ מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר בְּדִין מִדִּינֵי תּוֹרָה שֶׁה' צִוָּה לוֹ שֶׁהַדִּין כָּךְ הוּא וַהֲלָכָה כְּדִבְרֵי פְּלוֹנִי הֲרֵי זֶה נְבִיא הַשֶּׁקֶר וְיֵחָנֵק. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעָשָׂה אוֹת. שֶׁהֲרֵי בָּא לְהַכְחִישׁ הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁאָמְרָה (דברים ל יב) "לֹא בַשָּׁמַיִם הִיא". אֲבָל לְפִי שָׁעָה שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ בַּכּל:

5

When does the above apply? With regard to all other mitzvot. Regarding the worship of false gods, however, he should not be heeded, even for a limited time. Even if he performs great wonders and miracles and says that God commanded him to worship false gods only on this day or only during this hour, he is considered to have "spoken perversely against God."

Concerning this, the Torah has commanded [us, Deuteronomy 13:3-6]: "If a sign or miracle is performed... [and he tells you, `Let us serve other gods...'] Do not listen to the words of this prophet... for he has spoken perversely against God, your Lord." He is coming to deny the prophecy of Moses. Therefore, we may definitely conclude that he is a false prophet, and everything that he did was performed through sorcery and magic. [Hence,] he should be [executed by] strangulation.

ה

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּשְׁאָר מִצְוֹת. אֲבָל בַּעֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ וַאֲפִלּוּ לְפִי שָׁעָה. וַאֲפִלּוּ עָשָׂה אוֹתוֹת וּמוֹפְתִים גְּדוֹלִים וְאָמַר שֶׁה' צִוָּהוּ שֶׁתֵּעָבֵד עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים הַיּוֹם בִּלְבַד אוֹ בְּשָׁעָה זוֹ בִּלְבַד הֲרֵי זֶה דִּבֵּר סָרָה עַל ה'. וְעַל זֶה צִוָּה הַכָּתוּב וְאָמַר (דברים יג ג) "וּבָא הָאוֹת וְהַמּוֹפֵת" (דברים יג ד) "לֹא תִּשְׁמַע אֶל דִּבְרֵי הַנָּבִיא הַהוּא" (דברים יג ו) "כִּי דִּבֵּר סָרָה עַל ה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶם". שֶׁהֲרֵי בָּא לְהַכְחִישׁ נְבוּאָתוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה. וּלְפִיכָךְ נֵדַע בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁהוּא נְבִיא שֶׁקֶר וְכָל מַה שֶּׁעָשָׂה בְּלָט וְכִשּׁוּף עָשָׂה וְיֵחָנֵק:

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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