You know how, back when you were in school, the teachers used meshalim left and right to explain different concepts to the class? I know that my Chumash and Navi notes were always full of the terms “mashal” and “nimshal,” both the ones that Chazal teach us and the ones the teachers came up with on their own in order to clarify whatever point they were trying to make. Of course I can only speak for myself, but those lessons taught via these meshalim were usually the ones I understood—and remembered—best.
There’s definitely something about the mashal that makes it such a powerful tool in the hands of teachers and storytellers—and this power of the mashal becomes even more apparent when it comes to children. Fables, especially, with foxes that are hungry, frogs that are jealous, and clever chickens and birds, are extremely popular with youngsters. When a child hears a story about a weak chick who comes up with a plan and outsmarts a wily (and of course hungry) fox, that truly drives home the message that intelligence and forethought are superior to physical strength. And the downfall of the traitorous bat, who turned against his friends in order to ensure that he remain on the winning side, speaks louder than words about the importance of loyalty.
If you’re in agreement with me as of this far, then you will absolutely love the newest kids book we have just released out on the market, a book called A Mashal and a Message. This beautifully-illustrated, extra-large-sized book is a collection of eleven of the meshalim of Rav Berachya ben Rav Natronai Hanakdan, a master of meshalim who lived during the Middle Ages and authored the sefer Mishlei Shualim (“Fox Fables”). In this book, Rabbi Avrohom Ochayon presents these meshalim to young readers in an age-appropriate way that they can comprehend and enjoy.
Who says learning important lessons for life can’t be fun? Sit back and read this book to your child—and let the magic of the mashal overtake you…