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A Moment in Time: The Difference Between Heaven and Hell

[additional-authors]
March 2, 2022

Dear all,

People often ask if Judaism has a concept of Heaven and Hell. While there are certainly Jewish theologies regarding the afterlife, we typically don’t emphasize the hereafter.

That said …. I recently saw my children sharing milk, and it reminded me of a story I often tell our religious school at Temple Akiba.

There was once a man who wanted to know the difference between Heaven and Hell. An angel granted him the opportunity, and he chose to visit Hell first. When he arrived, he saw a large banquet table with incredible foods. The people were dressed in beautiful clothes, looking forward to their feast.

The visitor wondered, “How can this possibly be Hell?”

He then noticed that the people had no elbows! Try as they might, they could not get the food from their plates into their mouths. They soon became irate and crazed. They began to rant and yell. The dinner transformed into chaos.

The visitor then cried out to the angel, “Please, take me to Heaven!”

In Heaven, the visitor saw the very same dinner table with the same foods and the same clothes. The dinner guests even had the same condition, lacking elbows.

”How can this possibly be Heaven?” asked the visitor.

He then noticed something incredible. Rather than trying to feed themselves, the dinner guests reached out to feed one another.

I can’t teach what what will definitively happen in the afterlife. But I can share that in each moment in time, we can make choices of how to create Heaven or Hell here on earth.

Let’s begin with our outreach toward others today!

Rabbi Zach Shapiro

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