- Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
- Reader: Could you tell me what is the Jewish opinion and
belief of Nostradamus and his writings?
- Mesora: If you ask, what is
Judaism's view on man's ability to predict the future, the response is
as follows: Man's mind is limited, primarily to the functions of
comprehension, memory, comparison, analysis, induction, deduction,
reason, intuition and imagination. Man cannot function outside of his
limitations. Just as man cannot fly, as flight is outside our range of
physical ability, so too is knowledge of the future outside the range
of our mental ability. Without God informing us of the future, it is
impossible for us to know it.
- The reasons why predictions are impossible are three;
1) Foreknowledge: Our minds can only work with knowledge, and
knowledge is always about something which already exists. The future
does not exist, so we cannot know it with our minds' design.
2) Cause and Effect: We reason based on cause and effect
relationships, and our minds cannot grasp the vast number of factors
contributing to future events.
3) The Freewill Factor: The future of Earth is most certainly centered
around man, who functions outside of cause and effect, as we each have
freewill. This precludes our cause and effect reasoning from arriving
at any accuracy of prediction.
- Reader2: I read your answer to the question about Nostradamus
(I have copied it below). I was surprised to read the answer. The 1st
paragraph was correct but left out the possibility that man can
predict the future, although that future is changeable. We say that
Adam HaRishon told Hashem that he would not have children and he
learned this from the Mazalot. We have cases in the gemara where men
predict the future. The whole idea of MAZAL applies to individuals
(eyn mazal l'yisrael is only applicable as a nation). We know of Rabbi
Akiva's fear about his daughter's possible death on her wedding
night... The list goes on. We now shy away from learning from the
Mazalot but they were a way of telling the future even though they
were not 100 percent effective.
- Mesora: 3 Points:
- 1) You take midrashim literally, this is an error.
2) You also contradict yourself when you say, "even though they
were not 100 percent effective..." Prediction, by definition,
means 100% accuracy. Anyone can be partially correct. This is
precisely why the Torah demands 100% accuracy for determining one a
prophet of God. The Torah realizes that people can be partially
correct, and that foreknowledge is humanly impossible. The Torah
thereby teaches that the only valid proof that one has future
knowledge, is that it is divine in origin.
- 3) You have also not shown any flaw in my reasoning.