Ari Mandel was an observant Hassidic Jew until the age of 23. Then he became an atheist. Now 31, he decided that since he was no longer going to heaven, the spot that had once been reserved for his soul was now vacant and so he decided to put it up for sale on eBay.
He promised the winning bidder a signed contract guaranteeing his spot in Habaah, plus another contract guaranteeing that he would live free of sin in order for that spot to be secured. He also promised never to return to religious life and steal the spot back for himself.
That sounds fair enough. The bidding started at 99 cents but rocketed up to $100,000 that same day before eBay yanked the ad, reportedly due to complaints by some people that it was offensive. eBay merely said that “We don’t allow listings that aren’t offering anything for sale or those that have intangible items (generally things don’t physically exist).”
To those who were offended, Mandel replied that it was a “harmless prank”, adding, “To those of you who took this seriously, chill out. It was just a joke. Whether or not you’re a believer in this sort of thing, chill out.”
More serious is eBay wading into deep theological waters and making the judgment that heaven and the human soul ‘don’t physically exist’. Surely such an assertion should be more offensive to religious believers than someone selling their spot in heaven?
But at least we now have some idea about how much heaven is worth.