A Poor Boy’s Blessings At Sea

Once upon a time a certain boy went to sea aboard a ship. On the ship were people of 70 different nations. A violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up (Jonah 1:4) as giant waves crashed down on the ship.  The wind, the torrents of rain and the waves the washed over the deck of the ship caused even the bravest to fear for life.

The people cried to the captain, “come save us from this distress.”

It did not help in the least, in fact the storm grew more violent. The people tore the hair of their heads in the hair of their beards and begged the captain to save them from the storm.

When they saw that the captain could not help them at all, they said to one another, “there is no value in our trust and admiration of the captain and his skills.” Look at this young boy, when he saw the storm beginning he had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. (Jonah 1:5) The men went down to him and said:

“look at the distress and danger around us, how can you sleep? Come call upon your G-d, maybe He will save us so that we shall not be lost.”

The boy stood below the ship’s deck and prayed to the Holy One, blessed be He, saying, “I pray to You, L-rd of the universe. Let your power and might and great name be known this day and remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to whom You talk and now let all the people admit that You are a G-d of truth and let them know that you are a merciful and gracious G-d.”

The Holy One, blessed be He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. (Psalm 107:29), and caused a gentle wind to fill the sails.

When they came to land, each of them brought himself food, and they said to the boy, “buy yourself food as well.” “What are you asking of a poor boy like me?” Said he. “I have no money or wealth with which to buy.” You are not poor,” said they, “but very rich, but all of us people are poor for we cried to powers that did not respond but you, wherever you go, your G-d answers you.”

“You are indeed very foolish” Said he to them. “It seems to me that your gods who hang around your neck are very far away. But my G-d who seems to be far away from me when he is near at hand, as a Psalms says, ‘the L-rd is near to all who call upon him’ (145:18) Moses also said (Deuteronomy 4:7), ‘for what great people is there that has a G-d so close to them as the L-rd our G-d is whenever we cry to him.'” At this, they all began to declare, “your lips speak the truth.”

All blessings begin with “Blessed are You” – as though man were addressing an intimate friend. (Sefer Raziel haGadol , 13th cent.) Blessed be he who comes in the name of the L-rd. (Psalms 118:26)

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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