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The story of Jonah & The Whale is the Haftorah on Yom Kippur, illustrating the need to sometimes reach out of our comfort zone (or end up in the belly of a whale).

  • part of Jonathan Adler\'s menagerie collection
  • high fired stoneware with a matte white glaze
  • 8" long x 3" wide x 4" high

Read more about Jonah & The Whale by clicking "more."

Patrick explains Jonah & The Whale:

In the Book of Jonah (Yonah), Jonah was commanded by G-d to deliver a prophesy to the wicked, evil people of Nineveh; if they repented from their evil, G-d would spare them from total destruction, Sodom and Gamorrah style. Jonah couldn\'t believe it: the people of Nineveh were the enemies of Israel. And G-d wants him to help spare their lives? Jonah is thinking, "heck with this, I\'ll run off and let G-d destroy those jerks who are bent on destroying Israel."

So Jonah jumps on a ship and G-d (who apparently knows a thing-or-two about human nature) sends a terrible storm to destroy the ship. The crew on the boat throw Jonah overboard so the storm will stop, and...well...you know what happens next: the whale swallows Jonah. Jonah is stuck in the belly of the whale for three days and prays for G-d\'s mercy. Of course, G-d commands the whale to spit Jonah out.

Like a good reluctant prophet, Jonah goes to Nineveh and lets everyone know that if they turn good, G-d won\'t annihilate them. And they do! Nineveh was saved.

But Jonah is angry. He hoped he would fail at being a prophet and the enemy city would be destroyed. Like an obsessive, jealous lover, Jonah sets up a hut outside the city and spies on Nineveh, waiting to see what will happen to them.

G-d decided to mess with Jonah\'s head. Noticing the overbearing sun that is burning Jonah, G-d gives Jonah a tree to keep him cool. Jonah loves it! Then, G-d psyches him out by destroying the tree. Jonah cries about his loss, and G-d says something to the effect of, "Hey Jonah, you\'re so upset about your tree being destroyed, but you have no problem with a city filled with thousands of people being burned to the ground? What\'s the matter with you?"

The end.

As something of an amateur Torah scholar, I gain two lessons from this story:

First, we have to be willing to reach out of our comfort zone. Jonah couldn\'t imagine that G-d would want him to care for the alien people of Nineveh. How often do we pass on the opportunity to do something good for other people because it challenges our preconceived notions or makes us step outside of ourselves and take a chance?

The story also shows me that the spirit of our tradition is change. In earlier stories, G-d was very clear about G-d\'s favoritism toward the Hebrews. But over time, G-d shows another side: one that is universally loving toward all good people. In the same way, I believe we should be open to reviewing our traditions and our way of thinking to maximize this loving energy to all people, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.

Besides, who doesn\'t like whales? They\'re like the gray school buses of the ocean!

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