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The Two Candidates to Paradise

By Judith Weber

When Moshe, having well passed the mark of his eightieth birthday presented himself before his creator, he was asked two simple questions.

"How was it on Earth, Moshe and what did you with the life you were granted?"

And Moshe said, "I was unlucky, O Lord! Oh yes, the planet was beautiful all this green pastures, those oceans and these countries so rich and easy to live in… But I spent my life fighting an hostile environment, hostile neighbors and I did not stop cursing the day I put foot in this country. It was hard and dangerous. And if I wanted to leave and go somewhere else, it looked more dangerous still, as in my quality of member of the Chosen People, I was hated by everybody. I suffered a lot, I did not like to work. O Lord, I spent my life taking my revenge on others; I beat my wife who resented my laziness, I renounced my children who fled my house, I killed my dog. True, I was a bad man, O Lord, but it is hard to be kind and honest in a country like Israel. I believe I deserve some compensation for all these sufferings, and now that I am here, could I not have some time in paradise?"

The Almighty stroke pensively his beard. "Ah, Moshe," he said, "you did too many bad things to be granted acceptance in my paradise, like this, on the spot, right away. I have to give you some punishment so that you can atone for your sins. I am sending you back to Earth…"

"Please, Lord," Moshe implored, "to New York or to Paris…"

"No", the Almighty said, "back to Israel. Archangel Gabriel will bring you to King Solomon's mines. I think they still exist. Fifty years. Go."

Archangel Gabriel carried Moshe away paying no heed to the brandished fist, the foaming lips and the proffered, raging insults.

When Shlomo who had also well passed the mark of his eightieth birthday presented himself before his creator, he was asked the same questions.

"How was it on Earth, Shlomo, and what did you do with that life that was granted to you?

"O Lord!" Shlomo enthused. "I was so lucky, really! The planet was blue and white, fertile and beautiful, and I lived in a marvelous country. I had neighbors with whom I tried to get along and share the milk and honey. I always tried to be a good Jew, a good husband and a good father, and all my children were there to close my eyes when the time came. Oh sure, work was hard, sometimes, but it was so good to sit in the evenings, at home, surrounded by my loved ones, watch television and look with pity in my heart at the outside world fighting stupid wars. O Lord, I loved with all my heart, that spot you entrusted me with and I am grateful for that Life you gave me, so satisfactory in spite of the hardships"

And the Almighty stroke his beard, and expressed his pleasure. "Very well, Shlomo," he said. "You are a good candidate for my paradise. But before I let you pass the gates, I am going to give you a reward. You are going back to Earth. Archangel Gabriel will take you to Jerusalem. Fifty years for you to sing your praise. Go."

Archangel Gabriel carried away a happy Shlomo who was smiling with bliss and praising the Lord.

When Archangel Gabriel came back from his mission, he said, "I do not understand, O Lord. You punish Moshe by sending him back to Israel, and you reward Shlomo in the same way!"

And the Almighty nodded and smiled, "Moshe was unhappy in Israel, he will go on being unhappy and will be punished. Shlomo was happy there and he will go on being happy so he'll be rewarded. You see, Gabriel, Israel is not only a country. Israel is a state of the soul."

~~~~~~~

from the October 2005 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

 

 

 

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