Rabbi Eleazar and the Prostitute


In Judaism, no matter how badly we behave, we can always get a second (or third, or fourth) chance.

For example, one Talmudic legend describes a man named Eleazar ben Durdia, who decided to visit every prostitute in the world. One time, he crossed seven rivers to hire a prostitute with a sterling reputation. During their proceedings, she passed gas, and then remarked how far her client had strayed from his religion. “Just like this gas will never return to its place,” she said, “so too Eleazar ben Durdia will never be able to return to God.”

The prostitute’s words struck a chord with Eleazar, who fled. He sat between two mountains, and begged them to ask for God’s mercy on his behalf. But the mountains refused. He made the same request of the heavens and earth, and they also refused. So did the sun, moon, stars, and constellations.

So Eleazar realized he was the only one who could help himself. He put his head between his knees and cried until he died.

But his intense prayer must have resonated above, for the Talmud says that a voice came from Heaven and declared: “Rabbi Eleazar ben Durdia is ready for the World to Come.”

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