Who Had It Better?
TOLD BY ZALMAN BEN-AMOS TO DAN BEN-AMOS
I'm sure you believe that in the other world everything is good for the righteous and bad for the wicked. But let me tell you, you're dead wrong. How do I know? I'll tell you what happened.
One Erev Shabbat,* late Friday afternoon, a righteous man died and went to the other world. When he arrived there in the other world, they all said: "Where will he be sent? To Gan Eden,** of course! He was such a righteous and God-fearing man!
But then a fly appeared and said it had something bad to report. What was it?
The fly told its story: "One day, when the rabbi was sitting and learning Torah, I was flying in the room. I felt tired and landed on his forehead. The rabbi gave a slap and killed me. So there is a question about him, and a beit din§ must be convened to issue a ruling."
It was Erev Shabbat, and the heavenly tribunal does not sit on the Shabbat. What did the president of the other world court decide? That the righteous man and the fly should be taken and put in a special room together, and, with God's help, a beit din would be convened on Sunday and issue a verdict.
One Erev Shabbat a freethinker died and went to the other world. When that sinner arrived there in the other world, they all said: Where will he be sent? Here it is Erev Shabbat, and he is a freethinker, after all. The verdict was to Gehenna.§§
Then a fine young shiksa*** appeared and said she had something good to report. What was it? "When he was a young man, he used to like to ogle the girls bathing naked in the river. He hid among the trees and watched
*Yiddish for "Sabbath eve."
"Garden of Eden or Paradise.
§A Jewish court of law.
***A woman who is not a Jew, usually a derogatory term.