Parable of the Spoons

By admin, December 25, 2013

There is an old Hasidic story of a rabbi who had a conversation with the Lord about Heaven and Hell.

“I will show you Hell,” said the Lord, and led the rabbi into a room containing a group of famished, desperate people sitting around a large, circular table.  In the center of the table rested an enormous pot of stew, more than enough for everyone.  The smell of the stew was delicious and made the rabbi’s mouth water.  Yet no one ate.  Each diner at the table held a very long-handled spoon – long enough to reach the pot and scoop up a spoonful of stew, but too long to get the food into one’s mouth.  The rabbi saw that their suffering was indeed terrible and bowed his head in compassion.

“Now I will show you Heaven,” said the Lord, and they entered another room, identical to the first – same large, round table, same enormous pot of stew, same long-handled spoons.  Yet there was gaiety in the air; everyone appeared well nourished, plump, and exuberant.  The rabbi could not understand and looked to the Lord. “It’s simple,” said the Lord, “but it requires a certain skill.  You see, the people in this room have learned to feed each other!”

Excerpted from The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, by Irvin D. Yalom