A Note from Rabbi Jachter to Our Readers


We have received some criticism of the 3-part series in Kol Torah which very effectively defends Chazal from the accusation that the chronology of Seder Olam does not match the accepted chronology of ancient history. Two points in particular need to be clarified. We recognize that most Orthodox authorities do not accept the idea of their being a hidden Navi embedded by Chazal in Yeshayahu Perakim 40-66. Our esteemed alumni presented the view of Rav Menachem Liebtag, a world renowned Orthodox Tanach scholar, who along with other Tanach experts at Yeshivat Har Etzion adopts such a view. If one wishes to explore this matter further one may read the following article written by Yeshivat Har Etzion's Rav Amnon Bazak:


Rav Bazak summarizes the issue as follows:

“However, the substantial arguments that we have cited against seeing Yeshayahu as a single work are valid and compelling, completely independently of discussions to do with the prophet's status and abilities. As we have seen, they are based on the content of the prophecy itself, and on simple, clear proofs from the style and structure of the text, as well as the conspicuous absence of any mention of Yeshayahu himself from Perek 40 onwards. There is no doubt that these considerations were borne in mind by Ibn Ezra, too, when he wrote his commentary to chapter 40 of  Sefer Yeshayahu. In any event, we can discuss the matter without trespassing into the territory of fundamental Jewish beliefs. The positing of the existence of two separate prophets is certainly compatible with a religious world-view that is willing to address the text itself.”

We also wish to clarify that Rav Bazak far from panders to secular academic scholars. In fact, if one reads his Ad HaYom HaZeh (or his English equivalent that appears at vbm.etzion.org in a series entitled "Fundamental Issues in Tanach"), he will see that Rav Bazak vigorously criticizes and very effectively refutes anti-religious approaches to Tanach. Rav Bazak provides the intellectual ammunition needed to enthusiastically sustain and advocate the belief in the divine origin of the Torah.

One may very comfortably disagree with Rav Bazak and Rav Liebtag regarding the authorship of Yeshayahu Perakim 40-66. For the record, I do not subscribe to their point of view. I do not find their arguments compelling. However, even if one disagrees with these Har Etzion Rabbeim, their ideas should not be classified as heresy, since in their view, their ideas fit with the teachings of Chazal.

A second criticism of the 3-part series was on the idea of unfulfilled prophecies. A reader asked that if the words of a Navi constitutes the word of Hashem, how a Navi’s words could possibly go unfulfilled. We answered that sometimes the words of a Navi may be interpreted to not have been immediately fulfilled. For example, Yonah's prophecy that Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days was not fulfilled. The reason, of course, is that the Nevuah applied only if Nineveh did not repent. We know that Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedakah can reverse a negative decree. Tosafot (Yevamot 50 s.v. Teida) extend this principle even to a positive prophecy. Tosafot explain, “A Navi prophecies only what is worthy to occur if one does not sin.” Malbim (Chagai 1:1) applies the same principle regarding the Nevuot of Chagai which discuss Bayit Sheini. Due to sin, these prophecies went unfulfilled, and their inevitable fulfillment deferred to a later time. Malbim articulates this principle often throughout his commentary on Navi.[4] We firmly believe BeEmunah Sheleimah that all the positive Nevuot of every Navi will eventually be fulfilled even if they were not fulfilled at an earlier time when there was potential for it to be fulfilled.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot by Tzvi Rotblat

What’s in it for me? by Rabbi Yaakov Blau