Painting of shipwrecked sailors on a desolate island.

The Parable of the Shipwrecked Sailors (a Jewish Parable)

The Parable of the Shipwrecked Sailors (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a) is one of the most important Jewish parables. It teaches that certain things may go unappreciated by those struggling to survive. This is a modern retelling by Juan Artola Miranda.

A long time ago, in a faraway land, a ship set sail on a great voyage across the vast sea. The vessel was filled with sailors eager for adventure and dreaming of exotic treasures. As they journeyed, the sky grew dark, the sea grew rough, and a fierce storm fell upon the ship. As the men were thrown from the decks, the tempest opened its mouth wide and swallowed the ship whole.

The sailors found themselves marooned on a desolate island, their spirits dampened by the loss of their ship and the uncertainty of their fate. Each day, they scoured the island, searching for food, water, and shelter to ensure their survival. They barely scraped by, but they scraped by.

One day, as the sailors were exploring the island, one of them stumbled upon a hidden cove. To his amazement, the cove was filled with a treasure trove of exquisite pearls, iridescent in the sunlight. The sailor, realizing the immense value of these pearls, hurried back to his comrades to share the incredible discovery.

However, to his dismay, the other sailors were uninterested in the precious pearls. They were so consumed by their search for food that they dismissed the pearls as a foolish and perhaps fatal distraction.

The sailor who discovered the pearls was saddened by his companions’ indifference, but he was not deterred. He understood that the pearls were a priceless treasure that could transform their lives and provide for them beyond their wildest dreams. Determined, he set out to collect as many as he could, certain their true value would soon be recognized.

As time passed, the sailor’s collection of pearls grew, and his faith in their worth remained unwavering. Eventually, the day came when the sailors were rescued from the desolate island, and they returned to their homeland. When they arrived, the sailor who had collected the pearls sold them for a fortune, allowing him to live a life of abundance and comfort. Or perhaps he died of starvation on that island, and it was another man who sold the collection of pearls. The records are unclear.

Juan Artola Miranda

I am Juan Artola Miranda, a fabulist living in the Mexican Caribbean. My friends know me by the name of my father's father, but that name grew into something bigger, my writing reaching tens of millions of readers. It was too strong for me to control. Artola Miranda is the name of my mother's mother. It's a better name for a fabulist.

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