Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ruach Hakodesh today

Does Ruach Hakodesh still exist today? I would like to share a number of quotes from Rav Aryeh Kaplan's book "Handbook of Jewish Thought." I will give the page references, and I highly recommend seeing the book itself for a better understanding, as there are numerous footnotes that will direct you to the sources of the statements.

Pages 86-87:

6:18 The lowest level of inspiration is Divine guidance that is granted to a person without his knowledge. This was the minimal attainment of all the great Biblical and Talmudical leaders, who were guided by God in all their words and deeds. It is thus written, "God's council is with those who fear Him" (Psalms 25:14). Such inspiration also marked the beginning of the careers of the prophets.

6:19 The gift of Divine guidance is granted to those who teach Torah publicly, bringing the people closer to God. It is thus written, "This book of the Torah shall not depart from you... and you shall observe everything written in it, for then you shall... have good success" (Joshua 1:8). Therefore, any Torah leader whose works have been accepted by all Israel is assumed to have been divinely guided.

6:20 This gift is attainable by any person, at any time or place, as long as the person makes himself worthy of it.

On page 87, in note 33, Rav Kaplan writes, "Actually, the Talmud states that Ruach Hakodesh ceased to exist after the death of the last prophets, see below, note 258. This is speaking of the level described in 6:21 or 6:27 [higher levels of Divine inspiration then what we are talking about here - ag]."

On page 206, in regards to the original semicha which went back to Moshe Rabbenu, he writes:

10:33 The greatest Torah scholars of each generation are automatically qualified for ordination. It is thus written, "You shall go to the... judge who shall be in those days" (Deuteronomy 17:9). This indicates that each generation has its own standard.

Pages 241-242:

12:25 In every generation, there are certain rabbis who, because of their great scholarship and piety, are generally accepted as religious leaders and authorities, as it is written, "You must observe all that they decide for you" (Deuteronomy 17:10). Although this commandment relates specifically to the Sanhedrin, it also applies to the religious leaders of each generation.

On page 248, in speaking of the community rav, he states:

12:44 In all such cases, the rabbi must depend on his own judgment. He can be secure in the promise of Divine guidance, as it is written, "Consider what you do, for you judge not for man, but for God, and He is with you in your decision" (2 Chronicles 19:6).

Finally, on page 286, Rav Kaplan finishes the book with the following:

13:84 One of the fundamental unvoiced concepts of Judaism is that God reveals His will to us, not only through prophecy, but in the common destiny of all who seek Him. Therefore, even such seemingly prosaic concepts as legal decisions and customs partake of God's continuous process of revelation.

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