T heir ship was lost at sea for several days. The storm raged so fiercely that the captain ordered all passengers and much of the crew below deck. The ship traveled aimlessly across the vast ocean for what seemed like eternity.

Finally, the ship stopped spinning and the last winds of the great storm faded. Cautiously, the passengers emerged onto the deck.

“Quel désastre!” the captain exclaimed, looking at them. “We are nowhere near England! That storm blew us close to North Africa!”

Cries of terror erupted from the passengers.

“Pirates rule these seas! If we stay here they’ll capture us and sell us all as slaves!” the captain’s first mate whispered urgently into his ear.

“Can we rebuild the ship’s tiller?” the captain whispered back.

“It’s impossible!” the first mate replied grimly. “The storm destroyed everything. There is no hope...”

“Maybe there is...” the captain said, pushing his way toward the front of the ship. “Regardez (look)! Everyone! There, in the distance!”

There was no mistaking the growing shape on the horizon. A ship was coming toward them.

“We are saved!” a sailor roared with happiness and everyone began clapping with joy.

“Par ici! Par ici! (Over here!)” The passengers and crew screamed to the approaching ship.

“Form lines!” the captain cried as the ship neared closer. “Women and children first!”

“I don’t recognize that flag,” Reb Chaim said to Rav Shimshon as they joined the long lines. “I’ve traveled the world and I’ve never seen it...”

The cheering on deck suddenly died out. There was no mistaking the massive cannons aiming at them from onboard the other ship. The men grinning maliciously at them from the other vessel looked like pirates! They were holding sharp weapons and seemed eager to use them.

Suddenly, a black flag with a skull printed on it was hoisted to the mast of the other ship.

Screams of terror now replaced the excited yells heard just moments earlier. A huge explosion shook the air and a cannon ball whizzed over the passengers; heads.

“Everyone down!” the captain roared as he flung himself to the deck. “Sailors, lay down your arms! We’re outgunned! Surrender peacefully and perhaps we will survive!”

Rav Shimshon and Reb Chaim gripped each other tightly as ropes were tossed onto their ship. Dark-skinned pirates with wild eyes boarded the broken vessel. Moving swiftly, they separated the men from the women. Chained tightly, all of the passengers were transferred to the pirate ship.

A few sailors who decided to fight were beaten and left chained on the French ship. Gleefully, the pirate captain gave the order to fire all of their cannons!


The French ship erupted into a fiery ball. With a great creaking noise, it tilted onto its side and began to sink.

The pirates triumphantly left the burning wreckage behind them as they sailed toward land. Rav Shimshon and his brother were soon hauled off to the local marketplace. They were paraded around like merchandise as their merciless captives tried to sell them as slaves. Dark-skinned locals examined all the captives curiously. They spoke a language the brothers had never heard before.

As the nightmarish day unfolded, the brothers watched the passengers being dragged off by slave owners. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 698)