Monday, January 01, 2007


A few things:
Please bring a Hebrew-English dictionary to class tomorrow.

Also, a number of you have raised some key questions in some of the more recent blogs that are worth discussing. Why don’t you write them down on some note-cards and we’ll see if we can find time in class to talk about them (it would be after the quarter ends but before we leave for the Mission).

The Word of God Came To Abram in a Vision

The ברית בין הבתרים between ה' and אברהם opens with the following words:
אחר הדברים האלה היה דבר ה' אל אברם במחזה לאמר

Rav Hirsch, in his commentary on Chumash, stops on the phrase “במחזה” and writes the following:
Far from presuming to wish to penetrate into the methods of any prophetic revelation, we still think that we may go into some consideration of that which is told us of them in the words of the Scriptures themselves. There is surely a difference whether it says “A spoke to B” or “A’s words came to B.” In the first case A is opposite B, is present with him. In the second case th hearer only receives the words, the speaker need not necessarily be present himself, he appears to be in amore distant, less intimate relationship to the hearer.

Equally so, מחזה. "חזה" is seeing in the distance, or seeing that which is not visible to the ordinary physical eye. Hence חזה [also means] the breast, the seat of the heart, with which, according to the Hebrew feeling for the use of language, one sees the invisible. חזה would be to penetrate with one’s spiritual eye, into that which is hidden to other peopled. But it is nevertheless always an actual seeing, not merely mental. It is, in any way, something that is incomprehensible to, and beyond our ordinary experience. Human words can only be heard. God’s words are heard and seen at the same time, thus also רואים ושומעים את הקולות, they saw what they heard and heard what they saw. This is the highest state that the human mind and spirit can reach, that it at once sees realized that which it comprehends, and what it hears with its actual ears also absorbs at once with its “mental ear.”

How does this compare with what we saw in the Rambam? How does this relate to the sublime nature of prophecy? I have often claimed that true prophecy cannot be confused with voices from hidden speakers. Is this quote consistent with that claim?