Monday, October 5, 2009

The Worst Sin - a Yom Kippur Tale

It was Yom Kippur, judgment day. After taking care of all the easy cases it was time to judge the heavy sinners. They were all going to hell, for sure, but even in hell there are bad places and worse places, and each of the sinners had to be assigned his proper place.There are seven chambers in hell. Chamber 1 is bad but not as bad as Chamber 2. Chamber 2 is worse than Chamber 1, but still not nearly as bad as Chamber 3. The worst is Chamber 7.
After sitting in his chair, God told the bailiff, "Ok, send in the first sinner."
The first sinner came in.
"What is his sin?" God asked the clerk.
"He is a thief. He stole things that did not belong to him."
"What exactly did he steal?" asked God.
"You name it," said the clerk "When he was a small boy he stole toys from other children. He stole money from his mother. When he grew up he stole cars. People worked all their lives to get those things, and he just took them."
"Hm," said God. "This is bad, but I'll give him a break. Put him in Chamber 1."
The bailiff took the sinner out.
"Ok, " said God. "Send in the second sinner."
The second sinner stepped in.
"What sins did he commit?" asked God.
"He is a bigot," said the clerk. "He hates everybody who is different from him. He hates people with different color of skin, different religion, different accent. He offended people, discriminated against them, and made their lives miserable."
"This really makes me angry," said God. "I created all those people, and I created them equal. No one is better or worse than the others. Send him to Chamber 4."
The bailiff took the sinner out.
"Do we have more?" God asked the clerk.
"I'm afraid so," said the clerk.
"Then what exactly are we waiting for?" God told the bailiff. "Bring in the next one."
The third sinner entered the room.
"What did he do?" asked God.
"He is a liar," said the clerk.
"And whom did he lie to?" asked God.
"To everybody," said the clerk. "He lied to his parents, he lied to his teachers, he lied to his friends, to his wife, even to his children. Everybody. He cheated people out of their money. He even lied to the police and had innocent people put in jail."
"This is bad," said God. "Take him to Chamber 2. How many more do we have?"
"Four," said the clerk.
"Four?" God sighed. "This job is getting harder and harder or maybe I am getting older. Looks like every year we have more sinners. All right, send in the next one."
The bailiff brought in the fourth sinner.
"What is his sin?" God asked.
"He was cruel to animals," replied the clerk. "He beat dogs, cut lizards tails off, burnt cats, plucked the legs off cockroaches …"
"Ok, Ok," God got sick. "I've heard enough."
He turned to the sinner and said, "Do you know who created those animals? I did. When you hurt them you're hurting me. I am sending you to Chamber 5."
"Chamber 5?" the sinner could not believe his ears.
"You heard me," God answered.
"I am ready for the next one," God told the bailiff "Bring him in."
The next sinner showed up.
"What did he do?" asked God.
"Just a minute," said the clerk. "I need to check my notes."
"OK," said God. "But hurry up. We don't have all day, you know."
"Here," said the clerk after a few minutes. "I found it. This guy was irresponsible."
"What do you mean?" asked God.
"He left his family - a wife and five children. As if it wasn't bad enough for his children to grow up without a father, he also took all the money and left them with nothing. His wife had to take three jobs to put food on the table," the clerk said.
"What did he do with the money?" God asked.
"He spent it, or more correctly wasted it, on his own pleasures," the clerk answered. "He bought himself a new car, a boat. He gambled, he drank. This kind of stuff."
"This guy makes me sick," said God. "I have no sympathy for him. Put him in Chamber 3."
"Shall we take a break?" asked the clerk.
"No," said God. "Let's get it over with. Bring in the next one."
The next sinner was brought in.
"And what is he here for?" God asked.
"This is a heavy one," said the clerk. "He is a killer. He took from people the most important thing - their lives."
"I am not sure that this is the most important thing," God interrupted the clerk, "but it is very important. Continue."
"Not only did he take the lives of his victims, but he also ruined the lives of their families, caused pain to their friends,
"Ok, Ok," said God. "I get the picture, and I agree with you. This is a very heavy sin. I am the one who gives life and I am the only one who can take it away. Put him in Chamber 6. Is he the last one?"
"No," said the clerk. "There is one more."
"And I thought we've heard all the possible sins," said God. "What did this one do?"
"Nothing," said the clerk.
"What do you mean nothing?" asked God. "Then why is he here? Doing nothing may be lazy, but it isn't a sin, last time I checked."
"Well, then, check again," said the clerk. "I believe that doing nothing is a horrible sin."
"How so?" asked God.
"This guy saw horrible crimes and did nothing to prevent them. He saw people cheated and did not tell them the truth. He saw animals tortured and did not treat them. He saw bigotry and did not fight it. He saw injustice and did not correct it. He saw children starving and did not feed them. He saw people attacked and did not defend them. I accuse him of the worst sin - indifference. It is people like him who make all the other sins possible."
"You know what?" said God. "You convinced me. This is the worst sin. He belongs in Chamber 7."

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