Shabbat Tzav/Zakhor 5774

I’m excited that on Shabbat morning, the teaching, Torah reading and davening will be done by members of the community–we call it Lay-Led Shabbat. I don’t want to steal Steve Teleky’s thunder, as he’s giving the dvar Torah. So instead, I’ll give a brief hint about my Friday evening dvar Torah on this week’s parshahTzav.

A few weeks ago, when the Torah gave instructions for fashioning bigdei kehunah, the priestly uniform, it talked about the Urim v’Tummim, the 12 stones on the high priest’s breastplate. This functioned as a sort of ouija board, a tool to determine Divine will. For example, it would be consulted to determine whether or not Israel should embark on a military campaign.

Rabbenu Bahye ben Asher (1255-1340), whose commentary we study at evening minyan, says that the Urim vTummim were a level on the ladder of ruah hakodesh, which I’ll translate as sacred inspiration. It was situated lower than prophecy, but higher than a Bat Kol, a heavenly voice. He then goes on to distinguish between the prophetic state and other forms ofruah hakodesh.

We’ll flesh this out Friday evening, but for now, consider this question: what does Divine Inspiration mean in the 21st century? Can anyone have it? Or does claiming to have it consign one to psychiatric treatment? Is it a good thing to claim to have, or a dangerous weapon?

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, 


Rabbi David Wise