Parashat Re’eh starts the laws of the centralization of worship, the establishment of the בית המקדש:
There’s an important detail in this:
But it’s very strange. How can a mitzvah demand the participation of a נביא? Once the Torah was given, נבואה isn’t part of the halachic process:
There are two aspects of this: אלה המצות, a נביא cannot claim that G-d told him to order new מצוות; and לא בשמים הוא, a נביא cannot claim that G-d told him how to understand the existing Torah.
This became important when it came time to actually build the בית המקדש:
What is going on here? Rabbi Leibtag points out something interesting. David first goes to נתן to ask a פסק as a חכם: he is “darshening out the pasuk”. The Torah says הניח לכם מכל איביכם מסביב, and David sees his situation as ה׳ הניח לו מסביב מכל איביו, so it’s obviously time (David of course did not read the words of the תנ״ך; the author here is pointing out what the situation was). And נתן, wearing his “Rabbi” hat, agrees: it it time to build the בית מקדש. Then comes the נבואה, and the הוראת שעה: no, David cannot. And this outweighs the פסק. But why? What about לא בשמים הוא?
First we need to see what the power of a נביא actually is.
So a command of a נביא is a הוראת שעה only, not something that can be a principle of law, that we can learn from. And such a thing is not meant to be recorded in תנ״ך:
But that’s clearly not true, since we do have prophetic הוראות שעה recorded:
The common factor in the instances of a prophetic הוראת שעה in תנ״ך is that they are related to the sacrifices and the בית המקדש. And this is a specific law of the מקדש:
Inherent in the halachot of עבודה is the involvement of the נביא. This manifests in a number of ways. The Chasam Sofer comments:
And the description of the next Temple in יחזקאל is nothing like the laws outlined in the Torah. The Rambam explains:
And Rav Hutner explains that this הוראת שעה in the inauguration of the בית המקדש is necessary:
Rav Kook summarizes:
But why? Why does עבודה need נבואה? We don’t know the טעמי המצוות, but I would suggest that עבודה is the aspect of Judaism that brings G-d into our lives. There are three prongs to our religion (משנה אבות א:ב): על שלשה דברים העולם עומד, על התורה ועל העבודה ועל גמילות חסדים. When we learn Torah, we explicitly exclude ה׳’s involvement. ה׳ gave us the Torah 3500 years ago, and now it is up to us to understand and internalize it:
And when we do גמילות חסדים, we also exclude ה׳’s involvement. There’s a famous saying attributed to the Baal Shem Tov:
So our עבודה is where we invite ה׳ into our lives. For us today, this is in our תפילה, but the ideal is the service of the בית המקדש, and the halacha recognizes this by making the voice of ה׳ an active part of the establishment of the בית המקדש.