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August 16, 2012 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Reeh (my bar mitzvah portion!)

If there arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams–and he give thee a sign or a wonder-and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke unto thee–saying: ‘Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them’; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God putteth you to proof, to know whether ye do love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul… that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken perversion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of bondage, to draw thee aside out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. (Deut. 13:2-6).

Nachmanides looks at this passage and asks: what is a “sign”or a “wonder” anyhow? He says that a “sign” is something “foretelling what was to come” – in short, a correct prediction.  So if self-styled prophet X says “I predict a solar eclipse next week” and a solar eclipse happens, that’s a “sign”- and if you are gullible enough you might think “Wow, that guy really knows what he is doing” and accordingly follow his suggestion to worship Baal. 

According to Nachmanides, a “wonder” is a miracle- for example, if the prophet “will cast down a rod … and it will become a serpent.”  Obviously this sort of magic is easier to fake than a prediction.

Does any of this apply to Jesus? HIs alleged miracles certainly count as “wonders”.  But he didn’t necessarily tell Jews to “serve other gods.”  Obviously, we don’t know what he really said.But assuming he said he was the Messiah, that probably doesn’t count.

On a broader note, there seems to be a slight divergence between the Torah and modern Enlightenment values.  But that’s another discussion….

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