Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q12.38 TOC Q12.40 >

Question 12.39:
How does halacha, the messiah, and the prophets affect the daily life of a Jew?


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.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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