I love old stories that have a moral to them. This one is one I only recently saw on YouTube. So you may not be familiar with it too.
This old tale’s source is uncertain but many believe it came from Rabbi Haim of Romshishok. It has been told in many cultures from Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and Middle Eastern countries.
Many years ago a man became quite curious about heaven and hell. So the man asked God, “I want to know what Heaven and Hell are like.”
So God took the man to a room with two doors. “One door is the door to Hell, the other is to Heaven.”
The man chose to open the door to Hell first. As he peered in he saw a strange sight. There in the center of the room was a table with a simmering pot of stew with the most delicious smells. There was a nutritious soup bubbling in its depths.
Around the table was a group of people who were very thin and sad. They each had long handled spoons tied to their arms. The handle of each spoon was so long that no matter how hard they tried they could not bend their elbows, or shorten their arms nor the spoons’ handles to reach the spoonful of soup to their mouths. They were all a miserable group and quite hungry.
Having seen enough of this misery, the man sadly closed the door to Hell and turned away. “What is going on there?” He asked God.
God replied, “Each person is so wrapped up in their own misery and hunger that they don’t care for the person beside them who is in the same situation. Therefore they can’t see a solution to their own hunger. and endlessly are lacking for food.”
The man then opened the door to Heaven and peered in. There in the center of the room was a table with a simmering pot of stew with the most delicious smells. There was a nutritious soup bubbling in its depths. Just like in Hell around the table was a group of people. Each person had a long handled spoon tied to their arms. But these people were robust, healthy and smiling.
The man was confused until he saw something that stirred his heart. Each person was feeding the person across the table with from them with his spoon. Each person was fed by the person across from him. So everyone was feeding everyone and everyone was well fed.
The man looked quizzically at God and asked, “What is going on? Why are these people different from those in Hell?”
God replied, instead of worrying only about their own hunger and how to get the food to their own mouths, they figured out they could feed each other and all could be nourished. Thus everyone could be happy, healthy, and fed. Love for each other which brings about concern for the condition of those around them is the key.
We need each other. Nowadays there are a few of us who can raise our own food, store it, keep it at the right temperature, prepare it, and feed it to our families. For most of us each step of the process of raising, harvesting, preparing, shipping, storing, and making our food into dishes to eat is done by many people, most of which we don’t even know. Face it, we depend on others for our food supply.
Not only do we need others for food but for our clothing, shoes, coats, hats, gloves, homes friendship and so much more. Think about how dependent we are for everything in our homes. and our lives. We need each other. We need to have compassion for others even when we may not have everything we want. By working together we can make good lives for ourselves, our families, and each other.
Here is the link to the YouTube video that tells the story. (Link below.)