Joe bolted from the meeting without so much as an "excuse me," and dashed down the hall. As he waited for the elevator he looked out of the window and noticed that it has started to pour. Joe had fifteen long blocks to race, and the chance of catching a cab in New York City during the rain was all but impossible.
Dodging pedestrians and running between cars in heavy traffic, Joe weaved his way through the crowded, wet streets. After just one block he realized that, at this pace, he would never make it to the train station in time. But he wasn't about to give up. Taxis weren't the only way to get around New York City and he sprinted over to the Union Square Subway Station. It was only three stops from there to Penn Station and if he didn't waste a second he just might make it on time.
Running like a madman, Joe barreled through the station, his attaché case bumping into anyone not quick enough to get out of his way. Racing as if his life depended upon it, he had just one more staircase to climb, but there, blocking his way, was a beggar.
"Pencils for a quarter! Pencils for a quarter!" the man called out. With all of the noise in the subway station it wasn't easy to hear what he was shouting. And under normal circumstances Joe would have just waited for the fellow to get out of the way, but now he had no time for waiting or for being nice. Joe fished a coin out of his pocket, tossed it into the can the fellow was holding, and took off for the subway platform at breakneck speed.
It wasn't far now, just one more staircase and he would be there. But the beggar with the can was on his heels. "Mister! Yo, Mister!" he kept shouting. Joe couldn't even take the time to look back. What did this guy want, anyway? He'd already put money in the can. Why wouldn't the bum leave him alone?
Bounding up the stairs like a mountain goat, Joe was still being followed: "Mister! Yo, Mister!"
Joe couldn't take it any longer and turned around to face the stranger.
The fellow, out of breath from his chase, waved a pencil. "Your pencil! Mister, here's your pencil. You paid for it, now take it!"
Hanoch Teller has done it again by capitalizing on a good idea and properly marketing it. More specifically, everyone loves stories and the chareidi world really loves stories about tzaddikim, and they really, really love stories about tzaddikim if they are connected to a dvar Torah and they really, really, really love stories if they are aimed at children. Need I say more?
Teller has thus converted his ever popular series on the weekly Torah reading, A Midrash and a Maaseh into a set for kids. What is new in The Mini A Midrash and a Maaseh is that the graphic format is obviously more aimed at a younger reader, the stories are delightfully illustrated and each section concludes with a poem that ties together the dvar Torah and the contemporary, true story that compliments it.
It must be said to Teller’s credit that The Mini A Midrash and a Maaseh is not merely a “kiddified” version of his two-volume set on the weekly Torah reading for the more mature reader, A Midrash and a Maaseh. The material, both divrei Torah and stories, are primarily different, although there are occasional repetitions.
I home-tested The Mini A Midrash and a Maaseh and it was a regrettable mistake to bring only one set home. My kids fought bitterly over the books and I can truthfully report that my nine-year-old daughter hugs the books the way she does her Barbie, and my fourteen and twelve-year-old sons consult the books all the time. I see all three of them laughing out loud over the same stories that they have read 15 times!
If you wish to make some youngster (and their parents) happy, buy them this attractive set that comes slip-cased. If you care about family harmony, buy two! You will be treasured, and the stories will be cherished for a lifetime.
Reviewed by Hadassah Magazine
Words of Praise
|“One of our greatest storytellers, Reb Nachman of Breslov, once said: ‘Throughout the world stories are told in order to put children to sleep. Our stories must be told so that the children remain awake.’ Particularly in a generation whose imagination has been so stimulated by the provocative shallowness of modern literature, art and entertainment, it is essential that we find an exciting way of conveying the breathtaking beauty of Torah and Mitzvos to our children. Over the years, Rabbi Hanoch Teller has perfected a remarkable new Torah language. His tales, so enjoyable and yet so meaningful, have a unique ability to engage the hearts and minds of a people struggling to remain awake. The great Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yitzchok Hutner once expressed his concern that children may be intimidated by constantly hearing stories of brilliant and saintly people. It is necessary for them to learn from the lives of simple ‘ordinary’ Jews that each and every one of us has the capacity for greatness. Rabbi Teller’s books allay the Rosh Yeshiva’s fear. Rabbi Teller has a refreshing way of using a story to demonstrate the relevance and urgency of the Torah’s lessons. When reading these stories each child can hope, one day, to be that simple Jew, who rises to greatness, to become the kind of “super-hero” Hashem intended him (her) to be.”|
Rabbi Moshe Weinberger
|“Each of the beautiful stories in Rabbi Hanoch Teller’s latest series, The mini A Midrash and a Maaseh is a shingle in the protective shield that we as parents toil endlessly to construct for our children. The stories and the powerful messages that they transmit provide a critical moral compass for children growing up in a turbulent world.If a picture is worth a thousand words, the stories in the meaningful book paint an entire photo album of our precious mesorah (heritage), and assist parents in transmitting our beautiful Torah values to yet another generation of children. Rabbi Teller continues to provide a great service to Jewish families around the world by providing them with excellent reading material.”|
Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz