A Nev­er-End­ing Tale: Illus­trat­ed Para­bles of the Ba’al Shem Tov and His Disciples

Gadi Pol­lack; Gadi Pol­lack, illus;Yitzchok Korn­blau, trans.
  • Review
By – January 9, 2012
The illus­tra­tions are tru­ly illus­tra­tive in the third of a series of books of para­bles (Once Upon a Tale; A Mov­ing Tale). Fishel is back, and as his day pro­gress­es, each sit­u­a­tion offers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn through the sto­ries of great rab­bis. The Ba’al Shem Tov, Rab­bi Shneur Zal­man of Lia­di, Rab­bi Nach­man of Breslav, and oth­er Chas­sidic lumi­nar­ies use sto­ries to teach the pow­er of the yet­zer ha-ra (evil incli­na­tion), the prop­er way to approach dav­en­ing (prayer), not blam­ing oth­ers when things don’t go our way, rec­og­niz­ing God’s involve­ment in our lives, and find­ing the right path with the help of our tzad­dikim (right­eous peo­ple) and Talmidei Chachamim (learned schol­ars). Gadi Pollack’s detailed, mut­ed illus­tra­tions tie these sto­ries togeth­er. The dou­ble spreads have bub­bles for the words spo­ken by the char­ac­ters in the scene and the para­ble boxed for empha­sis. There are bits of whim­sy that includ­ed a hot air bal­loon on each spread, some cats look­ing for food, and a lizard. But with no glos­sary, no biogra­phies of the rab­bis, and no his­tor­i­cal con­text, the book will find lim­it­ed read­er­ship out­side the Ortho­dox com­mu­ni­ty. While these insight­ful para­bles and mas­ter­ful pic­tures are acces­si­ble to read­ers of all ages, those from an Ortho­dox back­ground would enjoy it most. Ages 10 – 14.
Kathe Pinchuck, M.L.I.S., is the librar­i­an of Con­gre­ga­tion Beth Sholom in Tea­neck, New Jer­sey. She is cur­rent­ly the chair of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Com­mit­tee of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries.

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