Just That Little Bit Removed

Oct 30th, 2010 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week
Most of my students had been taken on the Gehinnom – Hell – tour to scare them into observing all the laws carefully. It was, to say the least, an unpleasant experience for all of them, and it didn’t seem to work.

I decided to use the opposite approach and take them on the Eden tour, hoping to inspire them to live meaningful lives. We all packed some extra clothes and got on our way.

We began with the lowest level of Paradise and worked our way up. It was a wonderful and exciting experience for all. I could tell that it was working.

We were climbing the stairs to the penultimate level but no matter how far we climbed we felt that the entrance was just out of our reach. One student voiced his exasperation, “Am I the only one, or does everyone feel that no matter how many steps we climb the entrance is just that little bit removed?” The second he finished, the door opened directly before us and we entered.

There was a vast empty space beyond the door. The feeling of “just out of our reach” oozed from every direction. We could see many souls, beautiful shining souls (after all, this was the second highest level of Paradise,), you guessed it, just beyond our reach.

The angel assigned to our tour approached, and obviously accustomed to the question we all had on our minds, said, “This is the place in Paradise for characters who were of secondary importance. They played a role in the lives of the giants, but were not actually the heroes and heroines of their times. They are similar to the vice-presidents of the United States; just that little bit removed.”

I looked around and immediately noticed Yefet the son of Noah, and Ploni Almoni from the Ruth story. King David’s brothers were there. Gideon’s weapons man waved as he continued his conversation with Jonathan’s assistant. I challenged my students to a contest of who could identify the most people of this actually wonderful place.

Everyone was having such a wonderful time that they did not want to leave, but you know how tour schedules can be, we had our final tour upstairs scheduled. We regrouped and everyone felt as if they needed to stay for just that little bit longer, as if they were not quite finished.

The Tour Angel was saying his goodbyes, when one student called out, “Where is Isaac? Doesn’t he belong here? After all, he did not seem to accomplish as much as his father, Abraham, or his son, Jacob?”

Total silence was the response of everyone in the section. The Tour Angel turned to me and said, “Many people ask the same question. I think you better write a few blogs about Isaac.”


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