The God Squad: Jews actually await two messiahs

Question: Since the Jewish people are still awaiting the Christ, who do you expect the messiah to be and what do you expect him to do? Do you await a military leader who conquers territory, a spiritual leader who conquers the ills of souls, or someone else? — C., via

Answer: Jewish legends teach that there will be two messiahs. The first, the Messiah ben Joseph, will be the military leader conquering the forces of evil in the world. The second will be the Messiah ben David, who will usher in the time when, in Isaiah's prophecy, the lion shall lie down with the lamb. The righteous of all nations will have a share in this eternity of peace and glory.


Now, back to the real world...

In response to my recent column about how eating meat does not constitute murder, but vegetarianism is clearly the higher spiritual and moral choice, "R" wrote with thinly veiled contempt:

"How do you know that plants can't think, feel, believe and endure pain silently? They clearly try to avoid death and they do communicate with each other chemically (like our sense of taste and smell). Maybe you need to read a modern textbook on biology."

My comment: I'm off to the bookstore to buy a biology book, just as soon as the screaming broccoli steaming on my stove dies its excruciating death. By the way, you should know that I only cook vegetables that have a criminal record.


Another comment I received on eating meat:

"FYI, meat does not cause artery-clogging, and depression and cancer are now linked to low-fat diets. Humans were not meant to eat vegetable oils." — Anonymous

My comment: I just threw out the dying broccoli. Now I'm hungry and depressed.


Another reader note:

"While I'm neither of the Jewish faith nor Catholic, I do enjoy your column, since it enlightens me with answers to questions I never thought to ask. A recent letter referring to the way eagles teach their young to fly piqued my interest. The writer suggested an eagle cam that might be of help to you.

"While it is worthy that those eaglets (pictured on the cam) were saved and will be released, I came away feeling as you did (that they looked bored living in cages). I have an eagle cam located in Decorah, Iowa, that lets you see the real workings of a nesting pair of eagles and their three eaglets. It operates 24/7, and you see the activity of these birds in real time.

"The eaglets hatched in early April. They endured cold, wind, even snow. It was a surprise one day to turn on the computer and see a completely white screen. Of course, it was covered in snow, which gradually slid off the lens to reveal a snow-rimmed nest with Mom and her babies, nestled beneath her warm body. The eaglets have their feathers now but not the white crown. Today, the first one to hatch was standing in the nest stretching and flapping his wings. I thought surely a gust of wind would blow him 80 feet down to the ground. I'm sure you and your readers will enjoy this site:" — D., from Florida, via

My comment: Dear God, I promise never to write about birds again!


Here's a note from "E" in Connecticut on priestly celibacy:

"In Genesis 1:18, God recognized Adam's need for companionship and created Eve from part of Adam himself. In his directions to Timothy (1 Timothy: 3) as to how bishops and deacons should be selected and how they should behave, Paul said they should be the husbands of one wife because if they can't run their own households well, how can they run God's?

"Also, Simon Peter, whom Catholics consider as the first pope, was married (Mark 1:30-31). I suspect the celibacy requirement was more about the RC church holding onto its "mammon" rather than having it subdivided among potential clerical heirs more than anything else. As a historical note, in the early church we had the apostles, then bishops (overseers) who were also presbyters (ordained elders), and finally deacons.

"As the church grew and the apostles died off, the presbyter-bishops would select one of their own to lead groups of congregations, each headed by its own presbyter (priest). This structure evolved into what we have for many churches today. So, I suggest that any church that demands celibacy of any of its clergy is once again making up its own rules contrary to Scripture."


And one final reader note on my recent column about the Sabbath:

"Sabbath (shabbat) is a day to be set apart for rest and reconnection with God. In a discussion of Sabbath, my pastor put forth the idea that the actual day is less important than that we make it a point to observe Sabbath. It is possible for people who must work on the Sabbath usually observed by their religious group to observe it on a different day. The pastor of our (United Methodist) church therefore considers Monday, his day off, to be his personal Sabbath."

My comment: So I was wrong about eagles. I was wrong about vegetarianism, I was wrong about celibacy, and I was wrong about the Sabbath. I'm going out and eat dirt, kiss my wife, shoot an eagle and rest on Thursday!

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