Rabi Yochanan said, "Since the Temple was destroyed, prophecy has been taken away from the prophets and given to fools and children."
What is meant by fools? The Talmud (Bava Batra 12b) narrates the following story to prove its point:
One day Mar, the son of Ashi, was standing in the marketplace of Mechuza when he heard a certain fool exclaim, "The man who is to be elected head of the Academy of Matha Mahuza (a town on the Tigris, south of Baghdad) is the one who signs his name Tabiumi "
He then said to himself, "Who among the rabbis signs his name Tabiumi if not myself? This implies that my lucky moment has come and I will be appointed head of the academy." Tabiumi was Mar ben Ashi s nickname. Tab-Yumi means good days, for in his time the Jews enjoyed freedom from religious persecution.
He quickly went to Matha Mahuza. When he arrived, he found out that the rabbis had voted to appoint Rabi Aha of Difti as their head.
However, when they heard that Mar ben Ashi had arrived in town they delayed the appointment. They then sent two rabbis to consult with him upon his availability. When the rabbis arrived, Mar ben Ashi detained them with discussion of the Torah. When they did not report back the rabbis sent another pair of emissaries and he again detained them until ten of them arrived. When the ten were assembled, he began to discourse and expound the Oral Law and the Scriptures. The reason he waited until ten persons arrived was because one must not begin to lecture if there are less than ten persons present.
The rabbis -- with Mar ben
Ashi and they voted him to become the head of the academy.
When Rabi Aha saw that he had lost his chance, he applied to himself the saying of the sages, "If a man is in disfavor with Heaven, he does not readily come into favor with his fellow man and if a man is in favor with Heaven, he does not readily fall into disfavor with mankind."
Prophecy By Children
How has prophecy been given to children? The Talmud relates that once the little daughter of Rabi Hisda was sitting on her father's lap and in front of him were sitting Raba and Remi ben Hama.
He said to her, "Which of them would you like to marry?"
She replied, "Both of them!"
Raba immediately remarked, "I shall be the second one."
And so it happened. She lived for ten years with Remi ben Hama and did not have any children. After his death she married Raba. At first he was reluctant but she convinced him that she had always hoped that her childhood prophecy would be fulfilled and she thought very highly of him.
G-d Hearkens To True Love
This is a story of how G-d hearkened to the true love of a man and his wife.
In the city of Tzadon, in the days of Rabban Shimon bar Yochai there lived a man and his wife who were very devoted to each other. They
were charitable and kind and respected by their neighbors. The one thing they lacked was a child. Although they prayed constantly for an heir, G-d did not bless them with one.
After ten years, the barren couple dutifully came to Rabban Shimon bar Yochai for a divorce, for according to the law, if a child was not forthcoming in a decade, a couple could divorce and go their separate ways.
Seeing their deep love for each other, Rabban Shimon bar Yochai said, "I cannot grant a divorce until you have had a farewell party, where you may divide your possessions. Just as you had a party when you married, so should you have one when you part from each other."
Obeying the rabbis edict, they prepared a feast and invited their many friends. At the height of the festivities the husband announced, "My loyal and devoted wife, before we depart, take those of my possessions which you cherish most"
The husband had been drinking freely and he soon fell into a deep sleep. Then his wife called the servants and they carried him to her father's home. During the night the husband awoke with a start amid strange surroundings. "Where am I?" he asked.
"In my father's house," answered the wife.
"But why am I here?" he asked, confused.
"Did you not tell me to take what I most cherished
in your house?" she answered. "I desire you above any- thing in the world."
When Rabban Shimon bar Yochai heard of this great love he prayed to G-d on their behalf and the following year they were blessed with a child (Shir Hashirim Rabbah).
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