The Jewish religion celebrates The Festival of Sukkot to commemorate the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters made out of dry palms and branches. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah the Jewish families have built outside their homes each year and some people sleep there as well. The sukkah is reminiscence these fragile dwellings the Jewish people after their freedom from slavery in Egypt before they reached the Promised Land of Israel. Symbols from the past can help us remember what our ancestors did to gain our freedom.
In honor of Yom Kipper, below is the story of Johan and the Whale. In Judaism, it is common to share the story of Jonah and the Whale during the afternoon since the story shares of God’s willingness to forgive those who repent. The book of Jonah in the Torah is different from the other books because it is completely a narrative of Jonah’s adventure. Jonah is also mentioned in the Bible, the Qur’an and by Mohammad. To get craft instructions, visit our Craft Page!
Jonah and the Whale
Jonah was a prophet. One day God asked Jonah to go to a place called Ninevah and tell the people living there to live with knowing God in their hearts. But, Jonah did not want to help the people there so he ran away and got on a ship sailing across the Mediterranean Sea. Shortly after the boat left shore, there was a very large storm. Jonah was just sleeping in the bottom of the boat. Then the sea got rougher and it became a larger storm and the storm washed water over the boat and tossed the board up in the air. The sailors were afraid but Jonah knew what to do. He said “the sea is very rough because I have disobeyed God. Throw me overboard and you will live.” But they did not want Jonah to die. “It is the only way,” said Jonah. So, the sailors threw him over the side of a ship. But what was outside the boat? A great big whale. This whale saw Jonah and swallowed him whole. Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three full days and three full nights.
Just think for a second what it would be like to be inside of a fish. There are no windows, and lots of strange things floating around that you can’t see because it is so dark. Other than that, I’m not sure what it would be like, but Jonah probably didn’t know if he would ever see daylight again.
While he was in the whale, he thought about God, and what he had done, and knew that he had not been doing his best. He knew that he had to do what was best for himself and the people of Ninevah. He thought about how he has run away. He was grateful that he did not drown. God forgave Jonah and the whale spit Jonah out onto the land and the whale swam away. Jonah was happy to be out of the dark belly of the fish, but boy, did he need a shower. He was slimy and smelly.
So Jonah went to the town of Ninevah and told the people that they needed to understand that they needed to do the right thing. Jonah was happy that the people listened to him and they were grateful to God and sorry for the bad things they had done. Everyone knew that god loved them and their city would not be destroyed.
Last night, my 10 year old had trouble going to sleep and, while my older son and husband slept, he and I shared one of those precious, unforgettable moments. Now that they are older, they read stories on their own of Hogwarts and Berk. But, last night was a throw-back to earlier days as we snuggled together and I shared the stories. And, I was reminded why this work is so important to me.
Every one of the stories we shared concluded with a wide eyed instance of surprise and understanding from my son. The Emperor and the Seed (Muslim), How the Fly Saved the River (Native American). Watching his real time realization of the message in the story touched my heart.
I just compiled 19 of my family's favorite "The Golden Thread Of Truth" stories from Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Native American, Buddhist, Zen and Tao teachings in downloadable format for you to share with your children and grandchildren. Enjoy! Download Here
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