Rabbi Yochanan ben Zachai says, that coming once upon a man who was
gathering wood, he addressed him, but at first he made no reply.
Afterward, however, he came up and said, "Rabbi, I'm not a living man,
but a dead one." "If thou art a dead man," said I, "what is this wood
for?" He replied, "When I was alive upon earth, I and an associate of
mine committed a certain sin in my shop, and when we were taken thence,
we were sentenced to the punishment of mutual burning; so I gather wood
to burn him, and he does the same to burn me." I then asked him, "How
long are you to be punished thus?" He replied, "When I came here my wife
was _enceinte_, and I know she gave birth to a boy. May I beg thee,
therefore, to see that the child is instructed by a teacher, for as soon
as he is able to repeat, 'Bless ye the blessed Lord!' I shall be brought
up hence and be free from this punishment in hell."
THE MIDRASHIM, _Tanu d'by Eliyahu._