It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folk Tale by Margot Zemach
Once upon a time, a poor man lived with his mother, his wife, and his six children in a one-room hut. The children often fought and the man and his wife argued. Unable to stand it any longer, he runs to the Rabbi for help.
He follows the Rabbi’s advice, and his life goes from bad to worse. Calamity follows catastrophe, until the poor man receives the last bit of advice from the Rabbi which finally helps him realize how good he really had it after all.
A couple areas of possible concern: 1) The author refers to the Rabbi as “Holy Rabbi.” We left off “Holy” when reading this story to our children because the Rabbi’s advice isn’t exactly divine or sanctified!
2) The author believes that the reason the children fought and the man and his wife argued, is because the space in which they lived was too small. We believe that fighting with siblings and spousal arguments are a result of sin in our hearts. Tight living quarters are simply the conditions in which those sins are more prone to manifest themselves.
Don’t let that keep you from reading the book! I highly recommend it, especially if you live in a small house, have children who struggle with complaining, or just need a fresh perspective. It’s a great lesson in thankfulness applicable to any age (and how appropriate for this time of year!).
Beautiful, full-color illustrations.