Sefer Yechezkal; Perakim 1-6
N.B. It seems clear that the prophecies are not in chronological order; e.g. perek 1 is whilst in exile, whilst perek 4-6 seem to be regarding pre-exile.
Perek 1: The prophecy of the merkava (chariot). [enough said!]
Perek 2: Yechezkal receives prophecy after having been called by HaShem, and is told of his mission to convey HaShem’s message to the people; and HaShem will protect Yechezkal.
Perek 3: Yechezkal is told to internalise his mission, and is warned that the people will not listen to his prophetic messages. Another vision of HaShem’s Glory.
Perek 4: Yechezkal is to act out the siege on Jerusalem and is told information by HaShem about how long the siege will last and the famine therein.
Perek 5: Yechezkal is to perform a ‘ceremony’ with the sword, fire, and wind. This is to represent Yerushalayim and their disloyalty to HaShem.
Perek 6: Yechezkal’s prophecy towards the mountains with regards to the destruction of the Land of Israel
In perek 3, Yechezkal is told to internalise his prophetic mission via the parable of ‘eating a book.’ If Yechezkal has already been told this mission by HaShem Himself, why is there an extra need to internalise it – he knows it as clear as day?
We shall briefly explore another issue before coming back to our question…
The Bnei Yisrael are taken out of Egypt, and are then chased by the Egyptians, and escape through the sea, leaving the Egyptians to drown…and we live happily ever after (well at least until amalek come). This was the climax of yetzias mitzrayim; when the Torah reports ‘they believed in HaShem and Moshe His servant’ ie they reached a new level of emunah which was not created by the 10 plagues. Chazal tell us that at the Red Sea even the lowest of the Bnei Yisrael saw a propehcy greater than Yechezkal. The question is simply how could Bnei Yisrael have ever sinned after that; and we know they did sin e.g. the manna, complaining, etc. How could one have sinned after such a clear revelation of Divine providence?
The key is in a line Bnei Yisrael said in the shirah after they crossed the yam suf; ‘ze keli veanveihu’ – “this is my God and I will glorify Him.” (shemos 15;2) The Targum translates this as ‘this is my God and I will build Him a mikdash.’ Why was it at this point in time
that Bnei Yisrael were talking about building a beis hamikdash??
The answer is given based on a Ramban in Mishlei. He says that in order to keep inspiration alive one must make a kli (physical vessel) for it before it flows away, ie to take on something practical to do to clothe that inspiration and express it in the world.
Thus, bnei yisrael knew they were experiencing massive miracles and boundless inspiration, but they wanted to make sure that they made it all part of them by making a physical vessel; a project to put their inspiration into – to build a mikdash. But if this was the plan, how could they have sinned later on in the wilderness; surely they successfully internalised this experience?
Well, the gemarra sotah 30b says that the shirah was sung responsively; Moshe said a line and bnei yisrael repeated it. Based on this, I heard it suggested that Moshe put in the line of commitment ‘to build a mikdash’ to ensure bnei yisrael would not lose this experience, but when the line was repeated by them, this full internalisation was not achieved, and so the inspiration faded over time, allowing for future sins to occur.
This is the answer to our question regarding Yechezkal. One can have the clearest prophecy available, and one can be sure of what they have to do in life. But if one has not internalised that message and made it part of you then one’s loyalty to that message/inspiration will wane.