A Hole in the Ship
Written by: Adi Zelichov-Relevy
Illustrated by: Shiraz Fuman
Ten sailors are sailing along peacefully on a ship until one of them decides to drill a hole in his cabin. This fable on mutual responsibility teaches readers about belonging, and how each individual can impact society as a whole.
"All the People of Israel are responsible for one another" (Midrash Sifra Leviticus, 7:5)
This story was adapted from and inspired by a midrash describing how the act of a single person impacts many people around him. "All the People of Israel are responsible for one another" is an expression coined by Our Rabbis, and means that each of us is impacted by the actions of others, and is therefore responsible for them.
We are not always aware of the powerful implications of our actions on the world around us. We must remember that just as the sailor only wanted to drill a hole in his cabin, failing to realize that he could sink the entire ship, so each of our actions – be it positive or negative – resonates and ripples in widening circles around us.
Proposed Family Activities:
- You may want to sit and leaf through the book together. Perhaps you would like to ask your child to look for the ten sailors in the illustrations, and try to identify each one using their description. Did you find any of the illustrations funny? You may want to ask your child to tell the story in their own words, according to the order of the illustrations.
- You may want to stop reading at the point where the fisherman sailor chooses to drill a hole in his cabin, and ask your child what they think will happen next. You could suggest that your child draw a picture of the ship filling up with water and fish.
- In the first few pages of the book, the sailors are depicted with a rope connecting them. What do you think binds the sailors together? What connects you to your family? You may want to tell your children about the expression "All the People of Israel are responsible for one another", and think about how we each contribute to the wellbeing of others.
- Each sailor on the ship has a role to play, and each depends upon the others. You could take a large sheet of paper and draw a family drawing together in which each family member chooses just one color. In order to create a colorful drawing, the entire family must cooperate, each member using one color and coordinating their actions with all the others.
- What sort of story is created when the entire family writes it together, one part after the next? Probably a very amusing one. You may enjoy starting to write a story, stopping after one line, and letting other family members write the rest in turn, adding more directions, and letting the plot evolve.
- Perhaps you might like to put a jigsaw puzzle together as a family. Once you are done, take one piece out. What does the puzzle look like with one piece missing?
- Each of us can contribute to the growth or collapse of a building. You may enjoy playing with blocks, wooden bricks, or magnets, and building a tall tower together. Once it is up, try removing pieces from it without letting it collapse.
Enjoy reading and discussing the book together!
The following story was inspired by the Midrash in Leviticus Rabba 4:6:
מָשָׁל לִבְנֵי אָדָם שֶׁהָיוּ יוֹשְׁבִין בִּסְפִינָה,
נָטַל אֶחָד מֵהֶן מַקְדֵּחַ וְהִתְחִיל קוֹדֵחַ תַּחְתָּיו.
אָמְרוּ לוֹ חֲבֵרָיו: מָה אַתָּה יוֹשֵׁב וְעוֹשֶׂה?
אָמַר לָהֶם: מָה אִכְפַּת לָכֶם, לֹא תַּחְתַּי אֲנִי קוֹדֵחַ?!
אָמְרוּ לוֹ: שֶׁהַמַּיִם עוֹלִין וּמְצִיפִין עָלֵינוּ אֶת הַסְּפִינָה.
A tale of passengers sitting in a ship. One of them took out a drill and started drilling under his seat. The others asked him: “What are you sitting and doing?”, and he replied: “What's it to you? Am I not drilling under my own seat?”. They answered: “When water fills the ship, we’ll all go down!”