Prophecy & Divine Inspiration

Prophecy & Divine Inspiration
Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman
Ohr Chadash / 495 pages

In what may very well be his best work yet (but they’re all good! really!), the ever prolific Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman presents “Prophecy & Divine Inspiration.” This work is essentially an encyclopedia on everything to do with prophecy, making it a valuable reference book in addition to its content as a “commentary on the prophets.”

On the encyclopedic side, (which interests me most), the book thoroughly discusses many of the mysterious and lesser-known topics in the world of prophecy such as: ruach hakodesh, bat kol, prophecy throughout Tanach, prophecy and music, the realities of being a prophet, false prophets, the end of prophecy, divine inspiration and contemporary sages said to have such powers, how to achieve prophecy today, and much more. Rabbi Trugman enlightens us on what these concepts are all about, pushing aside the common misconceptions surrounding them.

In addition to these topical entries, there is much material on the importance and messages of the haftarot, the sefirot, dreams, symbolism, social justice, mashiach, repentance, the prophecies of various biblical figures, and more.

The work is large type and very easy to read. While the content is consistent with normative teachings, a more thorough presentation of textual sources and footnotes for further study would have been appreciated by the advanced reader. So too, Rabbi Trugman allows questionable and controversial concepts and characters to get off a little too easy, in my opinion. To cite but one example, the presentation on Rabbi Abraham Abulafia includes his well-known claim to have been a prophet, and the like. While Rabbi Abulafia certainly made a contribution to Jewish history and scholarship, I would have liked to see him being called to task as a severely disturbed false messiah whose “prophecies” failed to materialize. Indeed, there is no more prophecy since the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, and anyone who claims to be a prophet (and there is no shortage of such Baba-type figures today) is inherently a fraud and should be exposed as such.

Nevertheless, the book is a great read, full of important information, and as mentioned, makes a wonderful reference guide on the topics. Heavy on kabbala with Trugman’s trademark dash of Carlebach, Prophecy & Divine Inspiration is a valuable and worthwhile contribution to Jewish scholarship in this area --possibly the best work of its kind to date-- and has earned its place on the Jewish bookshelf.

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