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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Jewish Thought (6/12)
Section - Question 12.39: How does halacha, the messiah, and the prophets affect the daily life of a Jew?

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                                  Answer:
   
   Traditional Jews live their lives in accordance with halachah ("the
   way"; ie Jewish law). It dictates everything from prayer to what one
   eats to how one shaves in the morning. Halachah is viewed as the terms
   of the contract between the Jewish people and G-d made at Mt Sinai. In
   other words, a Jew's day is filled with activities that are being
   performed because of that covenant. Even for non-traditional Jews,
   halacha dictates ones lives, for the teaching of halacha dictate the
   moral codes that are followed and the holidays obverved.
   
   As for the messiah, note that in Judaism the messiah is simply the
   first king of the restored Davidic line, i.e., a person (and thus, the
   "m" is not capitalized). Jews hope and pray for the messiah, and
   aspire to deserving of the messiah, and we consider such belief and
   aspiration to be part of the definition of our faith. But in terms of
   daily influence it's quite small. One is supposed to do the right
   thing because it's the right thing, and because G-d wants us to--not
   in order to bring the messiah or some other reward. [And although it
   sounds like a small point, this is in fact a key difference between
   Judaism and Christianity, where commonly actions are not done "because
   it is right" but for some future reward after death.]
   
   The prophets allow one to refocus on the forest, rather than get
   caught up in the trees of all the details of the law. Prophecy is
   concerned a phenomenon limited to generations that had and will have
   greater faith than ours, so "the prophets" really only refers to the
   canonized prophetic texts.

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Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Jewish Thought (6/12)
Previous Document: Question 12.38: Can a Jew donate blood?
Next Document: Question 12.40: What must one do to lead "a good life" in Judaism?

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