once told me an anecdote meant to relate the distinction between Jewish heaven
and Jewish hell
(laying aside for a moment the observation that there is no hell in Judaism
. The Rabbi explained:
Hell is a massive banquet in a hall filled with tables laden with every kind of food. But the people sitting at these tables are perpetually in misery -- because they can not get up from their benches and their arms are securely lashed to very lengthy spoons, preventing them from ever getting any food into their wanting mouths.
Heaven (the Rabbi continued) is exactly the same, except for one major difference -- all the people in heaven were joyfully eating -- because each person there was using the spoon lashed to their own arm to feed the person across the table from them!!
The takeaway from this story is, naturally, that heaven is a place where people perpetually care about each other. I didn't wish to insult the Rabbi, but for me the heaven version of the story is almost as horrifying as the hell version -- imagine, after all, spending unrelenting eternity
strapped to a bench, unable to rise or sleep or take a nap on the beach
, long spoons irremovably strapped to your arms, and not only that but perpetually responsible for seeing to the gustatory happiness of the person across from you, and equally eternally reliant on their provision of food to you. On the other hand, at least you have the occasional pleasure of eating, while in some models of heaven you get eternal existence without even that meager distraction
Note that, though I heard this anecdote from a Rabbi, a little research reveals that it is well worn enough to be espoused by adherents to a variety of religions.