I've decided to post exchanges that I have with one of our congregants, a past President and a close reader of the Torah. I enjoy these exchanges, and I hope that you do, too. The sections in italics are my emails.
Dear Rabbi,I could have commented on the concept of "justice" and "righteousness" which apparently come from the same word given for what I do for a living,
and which coincidentally became a part of today's discussion, but the following caught my fancy:
The Fourth Aliyah, in part speaks of prohibitions against divination, fortunetelling and similar occult practices. Instead of probing into the future, we are commanded to put our faith and trust in G‑d.
Well that is a great deal to take in. Fortunetelling and looking into the future are no-nos but there are prophets speaking on behalf of G-d that will tell us what will happen if we don't heed their words and then that is topped off with punishments for those who make false claims of speaking in G-d's name.
For me this is either contradictory or beyond anything that I can comprehend. Further, in my life time I have never met a prophet but there are those that say they speak on G-d's behalf and have made a very good living convincing others that they are "visionaries" of G-d's word. Sun Myung Moon did very well with his "Moonies" and became a political force in this country. There are also those that did meet with a not very nice ending but took innocent people with them when they went. Jim Jones and Jonestown comes to mind.
Further modern Judaism doesn't escape this belief. What comes to mind is a certain sect of the Orthodox community that believes that the Messiah did walk on this earth not to long ago and that he will return soon. I did not agree with many things that Rabbi Steinhart said from the pulpit, but one day he stated something that struck me as true when he said the following: The Messiah will someday come but he will not rise from a grave in Brooklyn NY.
I have both a question and a comment relating to today's service. As to the question, if the Torah gives us he right to eat meat, why do rabbi's think we will all be vegetarians after the Messiah comes? By the way as someone that has a curiosity as it relates to Holocaust survivors, many of them became vegetarians because the smell of burning flesh in the camps turned them off from meat forever. It is something you can never forget.
Your question about becoming a vegetarian brings back my youth. Unlike my sister, I was not a good eater and I was extremely stubborn which carries over to this very day. In desperation, my mother would give me what I wanted to eat. So unless you can feed me a hot dog that tastes as good as the meat variety, it is not in the cards for me. I will say that since I have eaten the new meatless hamburgers, I prefer them to the ones that come from a cow. Maybe there is some hope for me yet. I am totally confused about the Messianic time. Are you saying that we will abandon the teachings of the Torah and revert to the innocence of Adam and Eve, pre tree of knowledge debacle, who by the way were not Jewish.
I am surprised that you consider that "prophecy has ceased" because isn't it the job of religious leaders to "show us the light" and if we do not heed the words, we are in trouble. I also have trouble with your distinguishing prophets as "speaking the truth" which will "affirm the future", as opposed to "foretelling the future". Assuming there was such a thing as a "soothsayer" are you saying that his "vision" cannot be stopped or can it be said that the "soothsayer" is warning about a future disaster unless one repents.