A Rainy Day Story

Ruth Calderon, Noa Kel­ner (illus­tra­tor)

  • Review
By – April 5, 2021

Tal­mu­dic tales are a rich source of lit­er­a­ture for chil­dren. They are redo­lent with atmos­phere, packed with lay­ers of mean­ing, evoca­tive of his­toric times, and fea­ture char­ac­ters sur­pris­ing­ly easy to con­nect with and love. This one focus­es on the earth and the cycle of nature. It tells us nev­er to take rain for grant­ed; to remem­ber that it pro­vides sus­te­nance, nour­ish­es the earth, and is vital to life.

Rab­bi Han­i­na Ben Dosa is caught in a ter­ri­ble down­pour and is sud­den­ly, soak­ing­ly, uncom­fort­ably wet. He knows that the rain is good for the earth and its crea­tures, and that the grow­ing things depend on its reg­u­lar appear­ance but still … he wants to be warm and dry. He prays for the rain to stop, which it does. Han­i­na is sat­is­fied until he remem­bers the plants, the ani­mals, and the cracked, thirsty soil. When the rain once again begins to fall, Han­i­na real­izes he can stay warm and cozy inside his home while the rest of the world enjoys and ben­e­fits from the won­der­ful rain outside.

A sim­ple after­word retells the sto­ry of Rab­bi Han­i­na and the rain in a pas­sage trans­lat­ed from the Baby­lon­ian Tal­mud. The sto­ry is accom­pa­nied by art so rich­ly col­ored and lush­ly drawn that it seems to have soaked up the ben­e­fits of a gen­tle, heal­ing rain.

There’s much to learn from this sim­ple sto­ry; it deliv­ers the kind of les­son that sticks. Once absorbed, it can change a child’s out­look and will last for a lifetime.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

Discussion Questions