Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Story of Hell

You would be hard pressed to find today an individual that believes in hell.  Hundred of years ago people were ignorant and superstitious and lived in terror at the very thought of burning for all eternity.  That, however, never acted as a deterrent, the evil that prevailed in past centuries is beyond our comprehension.

But when and how did such a concept originated?  After all, the Old Testament (the starting point for our monotheistic religions) does not talk of hell.

Those of you who had read some of my previous articles got acquainted with cousin David.  For the rest, sufficient to say that David was a very learned man in religious matters.  The Talmud, The Kaballah, and The Zohar held no secrets for him.  David scoffed at the notion of a hell, and indeed at a heaven as we understood it.  Hell did not exist; when an evil person died, he died for good.  While heaven is a very beautiful place (places really), you didn’t sit there for all eternity twiddling your thumbs, you learned and you worked; you helped God attain His objectives.

This then is the story of hell as it was told to me by David many years ago.

Gehinnom (which means hell in Hebrew) was a site near Jerusalem in a place referred to as the Valley of Hinnom.  Gehinnom was the place where the rubbish, animal carcasses, and cadavers of criminals were disposed off.  A garbage dump in other words!  Once in a while a huge fire was lit in this valley to burn all this refuse.

Back in antiquity, people were very superstitious; as well, sinners were warned of dire punishment; it did not take long therefore for a connection to be made between the fires of Gehinnom and the kind of retribution to be meted out to evildoers.

Keep in mind that this was an analogy, and despite the ignorance prevailing in those days, the people understood that there really was no such place where you burned for your sins.

In time, however, the original context was lost; and hell became a real place!  Subsequent religions liberally mentioned the terrifying fate awaiting those who did not follow the dictates of their religions.  Even Judaism espoused hellfire in the Talmud.  Except for Judaism, other religions went a step further:  You burned in hell for all eternity!  Talmudic scholars though, for the most part, viewed hell as a sentence:  one year at the most, thereafter, you were allowed to enjoy the delights of heaven.

But was the original context really lost?  Not according to David.  Even in our modern age many talmudists understood that hell was a euphemism for the punishment awaiting the racha’a (the sinner).  As to how this person atoned for his sins, it could be through isolation, doing undesirable work, etc.

David accepted that other religions were divinely inspired.  When they came into existence, he believes that the mention of hell simply meant that you paid for any harm inflicted on your fellowmen, and for when you offended your Maker.  Thus at the dawn of, first, Christianity, and then Islam, hell was taken into its proper context.

Unfortunately, context seems to have been lost again!  And hellfire installed itself once more on this confused planet.

The good news is that we are too advanced to ever accept that a God of love would ever throw us into a fiery pit for all eternity!

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