Guest blogged from IYYUN: Center for Jewish Spirituality.
Once in a small town in Poland, there lived a wealthy learned and pious man by the name of Reb Yankel. In this town, other than Reb Yankel all the townsmen were poor. One day, this Reb Yankel send out a proclamation inviting all the leaders of the community to a feast, promising to be a feast worthy of paradise. That evening as the leaders arrived they were escorted into the living room where they saw the table set delightfully with magnificent cutlery set for each guest. The butler than showed the quests to their seats. Sitting anxiously in their place at the table, the butler enters the room and hands Reb Yankel a bowl of hot soup. Strangely, he offers no soup for the guest. Eating his soup, Reb Yankel lifts his head and says ‘Oh, what a delicious soup, I am sure my friends, you have never tasted such a tasty soup. When he finished his soup he was brought a full course meal. Once again the guest weren’t served, and once again as he was eating he kept on remarking on how delicious the food was. Finally one of the guest could contain himself no longer, and he burst out ‘Reb Yankel have you invited us here to mock us.’ The invitation, he continued, promised a feast worthy of Paradise, and here, not only did we not get to partake in the feast but worse of, we have to suffer through watching you eat. Reb Yankel smiled, indeed, he said, this is meal is truly worthy of paradise. Do you know what paradise is, do you think that it is a restaurant where you come to eat. Paradise is a place / a state, where people love each other enough so that they can take pleasure in another persons’ happiness. In paradise, we are content watching our fellow mans’ success. There, not only are we not envious, what’s more we even feel happy for them. Now that you have all understood the paradise part of the feast, dinner can be served, enjoy. Continue reading