Rabbi Mayer Twersky
Rabbi Mayer Twersky

The Greatest of Men

The seventh principle of the Rambam's thirteen principles of faith affirms the unique, unprecedented, never to be equaled level and quality of Moshe Rabbeinu's prophecy. Rambam's presentation of this principle is especially interesting. Whereas he presents the other twelve principles rather sparsely (e.g. in principle two he merely affirms the oneness of Hashem, without explaining any of the profundities and implications), principle seven is presented in great detail. Rambam lists the four distinguishing features of Mosaic prophecy. The message is abundantly clear: Rambam felt it was of great importance that we be familiar with these four features[1].

This week's krias haTorah highlights two of the four unique features of Moshe Rabbeinu's prophetic experience. Thus it seems appropriate to review these differences in conjunction with the krias haTorah.

  1. Hashem communicates with all other prophets via the medium of an angel, but with Moshe Rabbeinu He communicated directly. The proof text is from this week's parsha. "Mouth to mouth do I speak to him, in a clear vision and not in riddles"[2]
  2. All other prophets prophecy in their sleep, whereas Moshe Rabbeinu was fully awake, alert and in control of his senses. "It is there that I will set my meetings with you, and I shall speak with you from atop the Cover."
  3. All other prophets are completely overwhelmed and terrified by the experience of prophecy, and accordingly feel as though they are on the verge of death. Moshe Rabbeinu, on the other hand, was not in the least fazed by his prophetic experience. "Hashem would speak to Moshe face to face, as a man would speak with his fellow."
  4. No other prophet could initiate prophecy. Moshe Rabbeinu could initiate prophecy at any time. Here too the proof text is from this week's parsha. "Stand and I will hear what Hashem will command you."

[1] The present forum is not suited for an explanation of why this is so

[2] All translations are from the Stone Edition of Tanach

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