The Passover Mouse

Joy Nelkin Wieder (auth.), Sha­har Kober (illus.)

  • Review
By – January 20, 2020

A lone­ly wid­ow, Riv­ka, has spent weeks, as have all of the oth­er vil­lagers, get­ting ready for Passover. One of their most impor­tant tasks is to rid their homes of leav­ened bread, referred to as chometz.” The final search for chometz is under­tak­en on the evening before Passover begins. Only when they are sure not a bit of chometz remains, can they begin cook­ing the Seder meal. But this nor­mal rou­tine is upend­ed when a mouse — and then two mice and a cat! — are seen run­ning in and out of the vil­lagers’ homes with bits of bread in their mouths. Have their chometz-free homes been con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed? If the search for chometz has to be repeat­ed, how will the vil­lagers ever com­plete all of the oth­er prepa­ra­tions in time for Passover?

What may be sur­pris­ing about this amus­ing sto­ry is that it is based on an actu­al pas­sage from the Tal­mud. This very sit­u­a­tion about a mouse seen with a bit of chometz before Passover was debat­ed by the rab­bis! And, although there is no defin­i­tive answer in the Tal­mud about whether or not a new search for chometz is nec­es­sary, the vil­lage rab­bi in this sto­ry decrees that a new search is need­ed. The only pos­si­ble way to accom­plish this and still fin­ish all the prepa­ra­tions in time for Passover is for every­one to work togeth­er. So, on this Passover, even one more thing is dif­fer­ent than a reg­u­lar day. This year, Riv­ka cel­e­brates the hol­i­day with her neigh­bors and is no longer all alone.

The bright­ly col­ored and expres­sive illus­tra­tions are an ener­getic match for the live­ly sto­ry. An author’s note pro­vides more infor­ma­tion on the chometz debate and the book includes a glos­sary of terms.

Susan Kan­tor was a senior writer/​editor for Girl Scouts of the USA, a chil­dren’s book edi­tor, and a past judge for the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards in the illus­trat­ed children’s book cat­e­go­ry. She is a writer and a docent at the Rubin Muse­um in New York City, where she leads pub­lic and pri­vate tours.

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