A conundrum is introduced through a parable from the Talmud about a rabbi who questions God on the world’s need for rain balanced against man’s comfort.
Rabbi Hanina is enjoying himself on a walk when a thunderstorm begins and renders him “soaked to the bone!” Drenched and upset, he asks God, “Master of the Universe! The whole world is happy, and Hanina is suffering?” The rain suddenly stops, and the rabbi continues home, changes into dry clothes, and prepares a soup. He’s finally comfortable, but he does not eat when he looks outside to notice that all’s not well. “The ground was parched, the trees were thirsty, the river was dry, and the frogs were staring at the sky longingly.” Once again he questions God: “Master of the Universe! The whole world is suffering, and Hanina is happy?” The thunder and lightning resume along with the downpour while the satisfied rabbi stays comfortably warm inside enjoying both the soup and the sweet-smelling spring rain. Soft, lovely illustrations depict a gray-bearded, pale-skinned sage and his simple abode set in a Middle Eastern garden. The subtle significance of the rabbi’s questions and his ultimate revelation may well encourage discussion—even, perhaps, about our current climate change concerns. The text of the original story from the Babylonian Talmud is printed in both Hebrew and English in the backmatter. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 58.3% of actual size.)
The simple Talmudic lesson has resonance for our contemporary world.(Picture book. 6-8)