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Shabbat to Shabbat: There is a Story

06/21/2017 04:58:45 PM

Jun21

Rabbi Bradley G. Levenberg

There is a story: A rabbi was once asked to describe the difference between Pardes (Paradise, or TheWorld To Come) and Gehinom (purgatory). The rabbi replied: “Gehinom is a place in which there are thousands of human beings, their arms bound by splints and heavy ropes so that they cannot bend their elbows. They are seated before a large table upon which has been set large quantities of delicious food: a variety of meats; exotic fruits and vegetables; cheeses of all kinds; and a variety of warm, fresh baked breads. However, the inhabitants of Gehinom are all starving and emaciated. Though they can touch all this food, they cannot bend their elbows so as to eat it.”

“Pardes,” the rabbi continued, “is where there are also thousands of human beings and their arms are also bound by splints and heavy ropes; they too cannot bend their elbows. They are also seated before a large table upon which has been set large quantities of delicious food: a variety of meats; exotic fruits and vegetables; cheeses of all kinds; and a variety of warm, fresh baked breads. Like the inhabitants of Gehinom, they cannot bend their elbows and feed themselves. However, the inhabitants of The World to Come are not at all hungry. For in Pardes, you see, each person takes the responsibility of helping one another.”

We are presented with many opportunities as Temple Sinai congregants to do good for other people, to be reminded through our actions that we can indeed be the authors of destiny.  Every day we face new challenges and new opportunities.  Through our responses to those challenges and opportunities, we will create either Pardes or Gehinom. In these hazy days of summer, allow me to offer a challenge: consider volunteering on one of our committees that are working hard to create a bit of Pardes (you can contact Jaimee Boettcher). Or, if synagogue involvement this summer is not in the cards, consider going over to neighbors you haven’t met to  introduce yourself. For those of us who work during the day, perhaps we can find ways in our workplaces to create Pardes–take time to talk with our coworkers and bring about positive changes in the workplace. 

What kind of a world do you want it to be, Pardes or Gehinom? The choice rests with you.

Sat, July 20 2019 17 Tammuz 5779