Dear Rabbi Shvat,
I forgot to ask ... two questions:
In previous email within last 2 weeks, based on Question 4 ... regarding the "Eternity Question." I was just wondering ... if you knew of a scripture ... that specifically states that the Covenant People of Israel ... will actually live with God, Himself .. for all of eternity, .... from everlasting-to-everlasting ... with God??
Regarding Ques. 9 ... So, basically, there are no scriptures that shows where absolutely no "priest, elders" were re-instated back into office ... after a "major fall from grace." Some people try to use King David as one ... who was restored to his high office ... but I counteract their statements with .... "But, King David did NOT teach the Israelites regarding the Torah ... or even served in a capacity as a Rabbi ... to the people. He was a King ... and althought he was able to retain his kingdom ... upon repentance ... that, although David wrote the Psalms .... it does not mean he was a Rabbi to the people ... and taught them to the people??? Rabbi, will you give me your thoughts about this??
In VaYikra (Leviticus, 26, 12), it says that when Israel is in the Land of Israel and acts properly, G-d says that He will “be among us”, in our every day life, and so it will be in the time of redemption. See also (Kings I, 6, 13), that G-d will dwell among us forever, and this is in this (!) world. Regarding after death, it says in Ecclisiastes Kohelet 12, 7, that the soul/spirit returns to G-d, its source, where it continues to live on for eternity. Regarding the resurrection of the dead, see Daniel 12, 2, “and many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awaken, some to everlasting life...”, in other words, with G-d for eternity.
In general, the Bible doesn’t deal that much with the afterlife, simply because that’s not what’s supposed to preoccupy us. We are meant to focus on being G-dly in this world, and making sure that Israel has it well. The Torah mentions physical reward and punishment (like peace, rain, prosperity, children, etc.) because, in the words of R. Yisrael Salanter, “my neighbor’s physical pleasure is my spiritual pleasure”. Contributing to the Jewish economy, army, State, etc. are all holy and spiritual acts which is what we should be concentrating on, and not on our individual, even spiritual, reward.
Regarding Ques. 9 ... Many have fallen, repented, and were forgiven and returned to their previous status. The idea of fixing and repentance is very important and basic to Judaism. Israel fell and worshipped the golden calf, and the Chosen People would have come from Moses, were it not for Moses’ prayer for forgiveness. The oral tradition recounts that in the future, the service in the Third Temple will return to the firstborns, who although they were punished, eventually will return to serve together with the kohanim (priests). We also believe that all of mankind will return to the level of the Garden of Eden, we will return to being vegetarians, etc. The Talmud has many stories of great rabbis who slipped, returned to G-d, and continued in their positions, and even King David, together with his political and military leadership was also, according to the oral tradition, also a religious leader, as is clear from many places in Tehilim (Psalms), and he too continued, even after his sin, and his repentance was total. This is what Yom Kippur is all about, but we should be improving all year round!
With Love of Israel,
Rav Ari Shvat