Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2

By Dan Ben-Amos | Go to book overview

46
A Trial in Heaven

TOLD BY YEHUDAH HERMANN TO
YIFRAḤ ḤAVIV

A certain man died—may it not happen to us—and went up to Heaven.

He came to the guardians of Heaven. There were two angels standing in front of him, the good angel and the bad angel, with a scale in front of them. The bad angel began: "This man must go to Hell."

"Why?"

"Because he is wicked and a miser." And he tossed many sins onto one pan of the scale.

Said the good angel, "I have something that will weigh down my pan." He brought a man, a woman, and six children, and put them on the pan of the scale.

"What's this?" asked the bad angel.

"The good deed performed by this 'wicked man,' as you would have him, that is of equal weight to all the sins that you brought."

"How can that be?"

"Do you see this family? They were on the verge of death. They almost died of hunger. The father came to our deceased man and asked for tzedakah.* He gave it to him gladly. They bought food and lived. After that they had luck and became rich and blessed your wicked man all the time."

"All right. If that's how you're going to play, I too have someone." He went and brought a certain man and put him on his pan of the scale. "You see this?" he asked.

"What is it?" asked the good angel.

"You're asking who this is?"

"Yes, who is he, and what does he have to do with wickedness?"

"This man—the wicked man asked him for a loan. He gave it to him; but the wicked man did not repay it, and the lender died on account of him. So what is your good deed worth if this man died because of him?"

*Charity.

-338-

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