The role of the prophet has been considered and reconsidered numerous times, most prominently by the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who identified a certain frame of being in which the prophet acts. In my eyes, however, a prophet is more of an agent of change than anything else. Prophets provide paradigm-shifting experiences through modeling behavior and working outside the bounds of current reality. In essence, prophets don’t push the envelope, they destroy it, pointing out that the envelope that boxed in reality prior to their coming was no more than an assumed reality, and that there are other ways to see the world.
Menachem Alexenberg is such a prophet. As Menachem Wecker writes both on his blog and in a review of Alexenberg’s mindshattering book, The Future of Art in the Digital Age, in the Forward, Alexenberg isn’t just a philosopher or an intellectual, he is a doer, a creator, a model for new models of Jewish thinking that contain within them the wisdom of our civilization adapted for this new age of Information Technology. I have been blessed with a number of occasions to learn from Alexenberg throughout the years–in fact, as the father of a good friend of mine in Israel, he is in many ways a person who made me who I am today. By revealing patterns in the world, pointing out the workings of those systems that surround us at present, and by expanding my horizons to Judaism as a spiritual practice that is in fact aspiritual–that is, as real as the kreplach one may eat–Alexenberg has been known to instill in many a love for the Jewish wisdom ensconced in the Jewish People that some kiruv organizations, both secular and orthodox, can only dream of.
Alexenberg’s latest project is a living memorial to the six million Ahmadinejad of Iran aspires to murder through the acquisition of nuclear weapons. Let us hope that Alexenberg’s prophecy leads the West to play the role of Nineveh–and may we be blessed with learning more from this prophet of our times.