The passing of the 21st of December 2012 means the whiff of predicting the future is still in our collective nostrils. It’s perhaps ironic that a new school has opened in Tel Aviv which claims to teach the ancient art of Judaic prophecy. According to AP:
For just 200 shekels, about $53, and in only 40 short classes, the Cain and Abel School for Prophets says it will certify anyone as a modern-day Jewish soothsayer.
The school, which launched classes this month, has baffled critics, many of whom have dismissed it as a blasphemy or a fraud.
On a religious level, Jewish tradition recognizes a few dozen prophets from the biblical era — from the monumental figures of Abraham, Moses and Elijah to lesser known foretellers of doom and tormented questioners like Micah the Morashtite and Habakkuk. Tradition says no one can be a prophet ever since the Romans destroyed the second temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 and the era of prophecy can only be revived with the arrival of the Messiah and the temple’s rebuilding. As one Talmudic phrase puts it, the only prophets now are children and fools.
Anyone looking in the curriculum for “Parting the Sea 101” or “How to Predict the Future” or even “Principles of Proclaiming A Jeremiad” will be disappointed. Instead, students learn about the meaning of dreams, the classification of angels, the mysteries of the holy spirit. They learn how to discern a person’s inner feelings from his or her external behavior and appearance.
Hapartzy can’t guarantee his course will give his students a direct line to God. But, he says, the syllabus provides the essential tools to bring out the prophet in anyone.
“In the past there were prophets but even now, in our time, divinity is being revealed to everyone. We just need to open our eyes to it,” said Hapartzy at his introductory course, which is held at a religious center in grungy south Tel Aviv, known more for its licentious street parties than piety.
And graduates do get a diploma.
There’s little “profit” motive to the venture. Hapartzy said the token fee is to prove students’ dedication and is donated to the religious center hosting the school. There’s no application process — anyone who wants to become a prophet can do so by just showing up for the course.