It was an offer too good to pass up: a chance to reserve your place in paradise.
The online auction site eBay hosted one of its more unusual lots when New Yorker Ari Mandel put up for sale his portion in the olam haba’ah, the world to come. Within a day, his supernatural offering had attracted 180 bids, with the price having climbed to a staggering $99,900.
Rabbinic lore might suggest a precedent for the practice.
But Mr Mandel, 30, who grew up in Chasidic Monsey, spent five years in the US army and is now a college student, admitted the sale was “a joke. I never dreamt it would take off the way it did. I had had the idea for a while, then I decided what the heck, go for it.”
Posting the offer under the pseudonym Rachmuna Litzlon — a talmudic phrase that introduces bad news — he said he hadn’t anticipated “anything serious”.
He could not tell how many responses were genuine but, as word spread, he received private offers independent of eBay for thousands of dollars.
There were also voices of disapproval, with one comment posted on a website exclaiming; “Never in my life did I think we, as a Jewish people, would sink so low.”
Mr Mandel, however, will not be in a position to count his riches just yet.
“People picked it up on Orthodox websites,” he explained, “Some were offended and reported me to eBay. eBay said they had to pull it.”
In a note to the vendor, eBay explained that the offer went against its policy on “intangible items”.