The Test of the False Prophet

The Test of the False Prophet

    

Rather in the place that Hashem will select in (the portion of) one of your tribes, there you shall offer your Olah sacrifices and there you shall do all that I command you. (Sefer Devarim 12:14)

The Torah requires that we obey the prophets. A prophet establishes his credibility by either performing a wonder or by consistently predicting future events. Once the prophet has established himself we are required to obey his instructions. However, the authority of the prophet is not absolute. He cannot decide questions of halachic practice based upon prophecy. He is not permitted to revise or alter the commandments of the Torah.

This last limitation does not preclude the prophet’s temporary suspension of a specific law. The Books of the Prophets provide examples of prophets temporarily suspending a specific law. The best known example involves the prophet Eliyahu. Eliyahu challenged the priests of the Ba’al to a contest. He suggested that he and they each prepare a sacrifice but not set fire to the fuel underneath the offering. Each would pray to their respective deity to send forth a flame and consume their offering. The challenge was accepted and first the priests of Ba’al called upon their god to take their offering. As they ever-more desperately pleaded with the Ba’al to respond Eliyahu ridiculed and humiliated the priests. After their mortifying failure, Eliyahu prepared his offering. He thoroughly doused it with water and then called upon Hashem to take His offering. A flame descended from heaven and the offering was consumed. Eliyahu emphatically, and dramatically proved the authenticity of Hashem and the deceit of the priests of the Ba’al.[1]

The Sages note that Eliyahu violated the Torah in his challenge. He defeated the priests of the Ba’al by offering a sacrifice outside of the Holy Temple – the Bait HaMikdash. This violates the mitzvah described in the above passage. The pasuk explains that once the Bait HaMikdash is built all sacrifices must be offered upon the altar of the Temple. The first Bait HaMikdash was built by King Shlomo and was not destroyed until long after the time of Eliyahu. Therefore, in offering his sacrifice on an altar outside of the Bait HaMikdash, Eliyahu violated the mitzvah described in the passage.

The Sages explain that this incident demonstrates that a prophet has the authority to temporarily suspend a mitzvah in order to preserve the Torah’s overall observance. Eliyahu suspended the mitzvah prohibiting offering sacrifices outside of the Bait HaMikdash in order to discredit the worship of the Ba’al and to return the nation to observance of the Torah.[2]

However, some commandments cannot be suspended even temporarily. Theses mitzvot are those directly prohibiting idolatry. This exclusion is easily explained. The temporary suspension of a commandment is only permitted in order to strengthen observance of the Torah. The prohibition against idolatry is central to the Torah. Therefore, suspension of the prohibition against idolatry in order to preserve the Torah is an oxymoron.[3]

You should not listen to that prophet or that dreamer of dreams for Hashem your G-d tests you to know whether you love Hashem your G-d with your entire hearts and your entire souls. (Sefer Devarim 13:4)

The passage above discusses the false prophet. This person has established his credibility as a prophet through either performing a wonder or through consistently, successfully predicting future events. The prophet exposes himself as a charlatan by directing the people to adopt idolatrous practices. As explained, it is completely inconceivable that a true prophet under any circumstances would issue such instructions. Therefore, any claimant to prophecy who does direct the people to adopt idolatrous practices is immediately known to be a fraud.

The above passage focuses on a theological issue related to the false prophet. How does Hashem allow this provocateur to perform wonders or predict the future? In other words, why does Hashem not protect His true believers from such confusing tests? The passage responds that Hashem is testing our commitment to His service. He allows the provocateur to achieve recognition and even acclaim as a prophet in order to test whether we can be fooled by this impostor.

And it was after these things and Hashem tested Avraham and said to him, “Avraham” and he responded, “Here I am.” And He said: Take your son, your only one, (the one) that you love, Yitzchak and go to the Land of Moriah and offer him as an Olah sacrifice on one of the mountains that I will announce to you. (Sefer Beresheit 23:1-2)

The proposition that Hashem “tests” His followers appears a number of times in the Torah. The first instance in which this proposition is explicitly expressed is in regard to Avraham. The above passages introduce the agonizing test to which Avraham was forced to submit. He was directed by Hashem to offer his beloved son, Yitzchak, as a sacrifice. Avraham demonstrated his willingness to make even this terrible sacrifice. After preparing his son for offering, Hashem called out to Avraham and commanded him to spare Yitzchak.

The commentaries are disturbed by the idea of Hashem testing Avraham. After all, Hashem is omniscient. He knows our thoughts. He does not require a test in order to uncover our true character. Why was it necessary to test Avraham? Various answers are suggested. Nachmanides suggests that Avraham’s test was not designed to discover Avraham’s true character. Instead, it was designed to give expression to Avraham’s character. Nachmanides’ contention is that a higher level of human excellence is achieved when potential is given expression through action and deed. Hashem only tests those who He recognizes have the capacity to “pass” the test. The test is designed to lead the person to this higher degree of personal excellence expressed in actual deeds.[4]

Rashi understands Avraham’s experience not as a test but as a demonstration. Avraham demonstrated that although Yitzchak was beloved, his love of Hashem exceeded his love for his son.[5] Rashbam understands the experience as an affliction. He explains that it was designed as a punishment for previous errors committed by Avraham.[6],[7]

Nachmanides extends his interpretation of Hashem testing His followers to our parasha. He explains that the false prophet is another instance in which Hashem subjects His followers to a test which forces them to give expression through deed to internal attitudes. Through rejecting the false prophet who instructs the people to adopt idolatrous practices, the nation gives physical expression to its dedication to Hashem.[8]

Rashi does not comment on the “test” in the parasha. However, Rashbam offers an explanation that is very different from his understanding of Avraham’s experience. He explains that the false prophet does pose a real test for the people and the outcome of the test is not known in advance. In other words, Hashem poses this test as a real challenge.[9]

Of course, this leaves unexplained the purpose of this challenge. It seems that according to Rashbam, the purpose of this challenge is to actually provide the people with a growth opportunity. Challenges are often scary and cause us anxiety. However, challenges are an essential catalyst for personal growth. Most individuals do not grow through developing and implementing a strategy for personal growth and spiritual development. Instead, the greatest strides in personal development occur through the process of confronting and coping with intimidating challenges. It is overcoming these challenges that we develop new strengths, define and our values, and make enduring commitments.

The false prophet presents this type of catalyst-challenge. This prophet makes his pronouncements with the full force of enormous authority. He has performed wonders; he has seen into the future. By virtue of his stature, he is regarded as a sacred religious figure. His direction to engage in idolatrous practices carries with it his full authority. Immense courage, confidence in one’s convictions, and clarity are required to resist and oppose such an imposing figure. Mounting this resistance and denouncing this established religious icon as a charlatan can only occur through a process of painful soul-searching, value clarification and an iron-willed commitment to Torah-true ideals even in the face of certain condemnation from an established religious leader. However, one who passes through the gauntlet of this challenge will emerge a giant.[10]

1. Melachim 1, chapter 18.

2. Rabbaynu Moshe ben Maimon (Rambam / Maimonides) Mishne Torah, Hilchot Yesodai HaTorah 9:3.

3. Rabbaynu Moshe ben Maimon (Rambam / Maimonides) Mishne Torah, Hilchot Yesodai HaTorah 9:5.

4. Rabbaynu Moshe ben Nachman (Ramban / Nachmanides), Commentary on Sefer Beresheit 22:1.

5. Rabbaynu Shlomo ben Yitzchak (Rashi), Commentary on Sefer Beresheit 22:1.

6. Rabbaynu Shemuel ben Meir (Rashbam) Commentary on Sefer Beresheit 22:1.

7. Each of these commentators adjusts his translation of the key term nisa in the passage in order to accommodate his interpretation of the incident. Nachmanides accepts the traditional translation and renders the term to mean “test”. Rashi does not provide a specific translation. Rashbam translates the term to mean that Hashem afflicted Avraham.

8. Rabbaynu Moshe ben Nachman (Ramban / Nachmanides), Commentary on Sefer Devarim 13:4.

9. Rabbaynu Shemuel ben Meir (Rashbam) Commentary on Sefer Devarim 13:4.

10. Rashbam’s interpretation of the passage provides a response to a common question. Hashem no longer performs open miracles. Many doubters rationalize their confusion by contending that they have not been provided with the overpowering evidence of Hashem’s existence and omnipotence that is provided by an overt and magnificent miracle. Their argument in defense of their skepticism is that if indeed Hashem exists, then their confusion is a consequence of His own passive conduct. They are eager and willing to lay their doubts to rest but G-d has not provided the evidence of His existence.

Rashbam’s analysis of the test of the false prophet suggests that he would be completely dismissive of such an argument. The evidence of Hashem’s existence and omnipotence is provided through the historical miracles that He performed before masses of people. However, the skeptic must balance this evidence against his own desire to avoid the implications of the existence of Hashem. The skeptic realizes that such an acknowledgement will require that he submit himself to the will of the Creator. This is a test that Hashem has put in place. One who passes the test has chosen to be guided by the evidence and to abandon his own willful existence. This requires a careful process of value clarification and the courage to face one’s own desires and impulses. However, passing the test – meeting this challenge – results in a truly committed religious personality and lifestyle.

Were Hashem to provide each generation with its own overwhelming miraculous demonstrations of His existence and omnipotence, this test would be undermined and cease to be meaningful. Adoption of religious values would be a consequence of the overpowering intimidating impact of these demonstrations and not a result of a painstaking process of value clarification. Religious practice and devotion to Hashem would be an expression of submission to intimidation and not an expression of personal spiritual stature and achievement.

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His leadership and television interviews have gone trough out the world. Luden Centeno of Converso Marano Jewish background from Spain resides permanently in Jerusalem. His analysis of Middle Eastern events as they relate to Israel is regularly broadcast through internet radio and television through out the world, especially the USA. Luden has given close to 500 television interviews in Israel Jerusalem and broadcasts live from Jerusalem Israel on the radio. On our last 6 radio programs we have had over 500,00 listeners listening in. Our main goal is to educate the world about Israel and its right to protect herself from any form of terrorism that comes out of Ramallah and the occupied territories that belong to Israel. Israel faces many challenges and dangers since a very long time. There is an unprecedented propaganda campaign initiated by the Arab League to demonize, discredit and delegitimize the Jewish people and their state, within their own land! The efforts of the Arab League were recently seen in the UN Resolution 2334 text as follows, adopted by the UN Security Council at its 7853rd meeting, on 23 December 2016. Reaffirming its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), and 1850 (2008), guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, reaffirming the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949, and recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice, condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions. In order to achieve their goals, the Arabs have for more than 30 years resorted to a deliberate misinformation campaign. This propaganda campaign by the Arab League – both in their own countries and for the last three decades exported to Europe and North America has caused Israel what would seem irreparable damage and indeed, it was the main culprit in the reawakening of dormant European anti-Semitism. Israel continues to suffer many attacks from terrorists and should not bow down under the pressure imposed by the USA, the EU. the Quartet, nor the UN. The former Obama administration was working behind the scenes to get UN Resolution 2334 to pass. even while allowing Iran to continue to develop their nuclear facilities by using John Kerry and others to fulfill their hidden agenda. On December 23rd 2016 the US abstained from exercising its veto to UN resolution 2334 which allowed it to pass. Then John Kerry immediately blasted Israel over the presence of Israeli settlements within Israel's own land. The Obama Administration's hidden agenda came to light. The former Obama administration was trying to force Israel to give up more land for false peace as we have seen in the past. Judea and Samaria and possibly the Jordan Valley were on the negotiating table. For perspective, if the so-called Palestinians obtained Judea and Samaria and possibly the Jordan Valley, Givat HaRoe’eh in the Samaria community of Eli, Ramat Gilad and Giv’at Assaf (also in Samaria), and Mitzpeh Lachish, near Nehogot outside Hebron. they could easily rain down rockets towards any city within Israel, leaving without defensible borders. We say no to land for false peace as we have seen in the past. By former President Barrack Hussein Obama who had a hidden agenda against Israel who will face many difficult challenges ahead (see Tehillim / See Psalms 83) As we have seen what happened with Gush Katif where almost 9,000 Jews were forced out of their own Jewish land due to US pressure, now Bet El Almuna and Migron and Judea and Samaria face the same threat. More than 17,000 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel since Israel uprooted 9,000 Jewish families. Over 11,000 were fired from Gaza towards the southern Israeli city of Sderot by Islamist extremist whose end-game is the total destruction of my people Israel. Hamas terrorists are supported by Iran and now Hamas has joined hands with Fatah. The Iranian Lebanese proxy Hezbollah who also operate in Syria are committed to the total destruction of Israel and has over 100,00 rockets aimed at Israel .Now Al Qaeda and ISIS who are operating in Syria Egypt and the Sinai Desert they will do anything in their power to destroy my people Israel and all Jews. Judea and Samaria (the heartland of Israel also known as the West Bank) face many challenges in the days to come as Abu Mazen will try to pressure the entire world and former US President Barrack Hussein Obama the UN the EU and the Quartet into giving more land for false peace. We saw what happened after the Oslo Accords were signed, dramatically increasing Islamic terror against Israel. Abu Mazen the fake Palestinian Authority leader approached the United Nations many times and has petitioned to be declared as a recognized nation within Israel's known borders. The time has come to tell the entire world the real truth about the enemies of Israel. We speak on the Quran using a Power Point video presentation. We have been aired on CNN, German TV, Finland TV, CCTV, China Al Jazera, Al Arabiya Turk TV and many radio stations on the current issues of Israel. Luden Centeno has a heart for his people Israel and will continue to inform the entire world the real truth as many News Media outlets throughout the world hold anti-Semitic views and won’t tell you the real truth. Centeno, a former police officer who studied Political Science at Temple University USA was born in the USA and currently lives in Jerusalem Israel, knowing karate and boxing having played semi-pro baseball. He has two children, a girl and a son, both born in Jerusalem. Centeno discovered in 2004 that there were possible Converso Marrano Jews from Spain whose ancestors were forced to convert to Catholicism during the time of the Inquisition in 1492. The family names Centeno and Perez are registered in El Libro Verde De Aragon in Spain. The Roman Catholic Inquisitors maintained all the names of all Jewish families who were forced to convert to Catholicism during that horrible time period in Spain. Since 2004 Centeno has been flying intercontinentally to the USA speaking to the nations on the current issues of the the state of Israel (see Psalms 83′ as the nations gather against Israel.) He has spoken on Al Arabiya TV, Dubai TV, Holland TV, German TV and also on American Family Radio which links up with 700 radio stations. His goal is to educate the entire world that Israel has the right to self-determination and the right to defend itself from terrorism. The Moslem Arabs in that area started calling themselves “Palestinians” merely only 40 years ago. “Palestinian” refers to people who live in Palestine: Arabs (“Arabic speaking peoples”), Bedouins, Druze, Christians, and Jews lived in then the British Mandate of Palestine. No people or nation called Palestine ever ruled as a sovereign national entity on this land. There is no Palestinian language or culture in past history. Palestine, as a country does not presently exist. No Arab nation has their historical roots on the land and no one had laid claim to this territory other than the Jews. The Jewish rule of this land extended over a period of over 2000 years. Israel became a nation in the land in 1312 BC. God gave them the land in a covenant (Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20) and they lived there. See the following Quote from the Quran, "Death to the enemies of Allah! Those that make war against Allah and His apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be slain or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land. They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in the hereafter: except those that repent before you reduce them. For you must know that Allah is..." This is what radical Islam says about us Jews’ “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim) Psalms Chapter 83 תְּהִלִּים א שִׁיר מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף. 1 A Song, a Psalm of Asaph. ב אֱלֹהִים אַל-דֳּמִי-לָךְ; אַל-תֶּחֱרַשׁ וְאַל-תִּשְׁקֹט אֵל. 2 O God, keep not Thou silence; hold not Thy peace, and be not still, O God. ג כִּי-הִנֵּה אוֹיְבֶיךָ, יֶהֱמָיוּן; וּמְשַׂנְאֶיךָ, נָשְׂאוּ רֹאשׁ. 3 For, lo, Thine enemies are in an uproar; and they that hate Thee have lifted up the head. ד עַל-עַמְּךָ, יַעֲרִימוּ סוֹד; וְיִתְיָעֲצוּ, עַל-צְפוּנֶיךָ. 4 They hold crafty converse against Thy people, and take counsel against Thy treasured ones. ה אָמְרוּ–לְכוּ, וְנַכְחִידֵם מִגּוֹי; וְלֹא-יִזָּכֵר שֵׁם-יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹד. 5 They have said: ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.’ ו כִּי נוֹעֲצוּ לֵב יַחְדָּו; עָלֶיךָ, בְּרִית יִכְרֹתוּ. 6 For they have consulted together with one consent; against Thee do they make a covenant; God’s word says in Zechariah 8:23 "Thus saith the LORD of Hosts: In Those days it shall come to pass, That ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying: We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."

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