Contact Us

A group of people were travelling in a boat. One of them took a drill and began to drill a hole beneath himself.

His companions said to him: "Why are you doing this?" Replied the man: "What concern is it of yours? Am I not drilling under my own place?"

Said they to him: "But you will flood the boat for us all!" (Quoted in Midrash Rabbah, Vayikra 4:6).

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also know by the acronym "Rashbi," lived in the Holy Land in the 2nd century C.E. A disciple of Rabbi Akiva, Rashbi played a key role in the transmission of Torah, both as an important Talmudic sage and as author of the Zohar, the most fundamental work of Kabbalah. He was buried in Meron, Israel, west of Safed.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous Maryland July 27, 2016

The Vice-Versa theory I believe the purpose of this story is to show how one person's action has a ripple affect of other peoples. If the hole were to be drilled, theoretically it would result in the death of all of the passengers which would then affect family, friends, and the community. In this story, one bad deed will affect many lives in a negative way. Furthermore, if this is true, than the same theory can be applied to good deeds : one good deed will positively affect many people. Reply

Anonymous January 26, 2015

Our Actions Affects Others This teaching can be applied to Western culture since we tends to focus on the individual and on individual rights. We assume that people have the right to do what they would like, at least as long as those actions don't interfere with others. From a biblical prospective, the actions of Adam and Eve severely altered and affected the Life of Mankind forever. The only Way to correct this sin of Adam's actions would be an Atonement of One Man's Action who is without sin to set up free from death and He is the One who is, who was, and who is coming, forever. Reply

J.M Australia January 15, 2015

The boat is a whole person. The structure of the boat is mitzvot, of which compose 613 parts of a person. Reply

Fresi July 24, 2014

It is said, "No man is an island". We are but fooling ourselves if we think that our actions only affect us, because each life like a string of pearls is connected to its neighbor's. Reply

Anonymous April 8, 2014

positivity When one Jew does one "small" good deed, all our brethren are affected in a positive way! Reply

Anonymous January 17, 2014

it's life the boat is life, the water is suffering and negativity. Each person has his/her own life (place in the boat) but the truth of the story is that life (the boat) shared by all, interconnected. If one person decides to destroy himself with negativity, he thinks its his right to do what he wants with his life, but he has no idea that it affects everyone around him. They will eventually become negative and suffer, too Reply

Peter Spiro Stevenson, WA January 2, 2014

Usury The hole in the boat is a loan with interest. When one man in a household borrows on credit, the whole house is submerged in debt. Reply

JJ January 2, 2014

huh? The river is the tide. An empty boat has no soul, which is a good thing. Reply

Simone Rousseau Sydney Australia December 27, 2013

The Tides of Life Every day we step in to our boat to weather the oceans. Some days the seas are calm, barely a ripple floats by, the water tepid and tranquil. However some days the seas rise and the waves bekon. It tips our boat into the dark and deep cold waters below, the water and sand gushes into our nostrils as we get dumped and thrashed this way and that. We stand up, recover and brave the ocean again. Every day we step into our boat and the more challenges we face, the stronger we become experienced to navigate our way through life and avoid crashing into the rocks. Our boat becomes stronger. Reply

Peter Spiro Stevenson, WA December 2, 2013

O Holy Boat The boat with the hole is the Holy Beit, the Beit HaMikdash.

The drilled hole is the molten calf of Idolatry which shatters the holiness of the community into which flood the waters of the evil influence.

As holiness shatters, the community scatters into exile, and though the boat appears to sink into the abyss of the deep waters, it is only concealed from the shocked swimmers struggling to stay afloat bearing the heavy burdens under the waters of the evil influence.

The boat is unsinkable! Made better than Titanic. O Holy Boat of Divine providence.

"Love thy neighbor as thyself." Lev 19
It plugs up the holes. Reply

Palistine Morocco December 1, 2013

hello I believe that the boat deeply represent the underdevloped countries struggling on the sea of globalization. Reply

Paul June 15, 2013

The Boat The boat is like G-d. Without Him, we can do nothing! Reply

Anonymous April 19, 2013

hmm what if the driller knows something we don't? Reply

Shalom Dauermann Southern California January 12, 2013

It's not about where the boat is heading The marshal/parable is about community as contrasted with individualism. We need to remember that what we do or fail to do affects those with whom we are in covenant relationship of some kind, in community. We can never simply say, "It's my life and nobody else's business what I do or do not do. Reply

Nathan Redlands December 25, 2012

The boat The boat I believe represents the Jewish people. If one Jew sins and rebelled against G-d it affects us all, and all of us will suffer G-d's wrath until it is rectified. Reply

Anonymous November 6, 2012

the boat.. ok,what if we represent the boat as the world..and that one man will destroy it,all the people will be vanished,another person must have to do action before it will be happened,to save us all! Reply

Anonymous May 13, 2012

The Boat Since there are such people in this world, we must admonish him gently, but if he continues, we must destroy him. Do not humor the suicide bomber. Reply

Peter Spiro Stevenson, WA July 11, 2011

It all depends .... Where was the boat going? If it were ferrying the people across the River Styx into the land of the dead, then then man was trying to save them all. Reply

Rosairo kahawatta, srilanks December 23, 2009

no man is an island... that means we are connected people by the very fact we are humans. Therefore if there is evil action it must be stoppede by someone. In the same way good actions must be encouraged. Selfishness must go broad mindedness mudt come in. Each one must look at others as brothers of the same blood. Live,love and serve. The world will be different. Reply

Tony Mattia, B.A., Religious Studies A.S.U. phoenix , arizona via April 5, 2009

The Human Boat The "Boat" example allows me to reflect upon myself and how we are interconnected with each other. The "Boat" made me ask the question, "Can I truly understand myself without being connected to others? Reply

Related Topics