The Way Meat Loves Saltby Nina Jaffe, Louise August (Illustrator)
Many years ago in Poland, there lived a rabbi who had a wife and three daughters. One day, the rabbi asks his children a powerful question: "How much do you love me?" His older daughters profess their love in gold and diamonds, but his youngest daughter, Mireleh, declares she loves her father the way meat loves salt. For this remark, she is banished from her
Many years ago in Poland, there lived a rabbi who had a wife and three daughters. One day, the rabbi asks his children a powerful question: "How much do you love me?" His older daughters profess their love in gold and diamonds, but his youngest daughter, Mireleh, declares she loves her father the way meat loves salt. For this remark, she is banished from her father's home.
In this flavorful Jewish Cinderella tale, Mireleh's courageous journey is peppered with a perfect blend of magic and romance, leading to a reconciliation with her beloved father. Lavishly illustrated in Louise August's bold linocuts, The Way Meat Loves Salt will make a wonderful gift for the Jewish holidays.
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The Way Meat Loves Salt
A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish Tradition
By Nina Jaffe, Louise August
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 1998 Nina Jaffe
All rights reserved.
Once upon a time in Poland, in a small town near the city of Lublin, there lived a rabbi who had a wife and three young daughters. The eldest daughter's name was Reyzeleh. The middle daughter's name was Khaveleh. And the youngest daughter's name was Mireleh.
The children grew up watching their mother in all she did. Once a week, they would help her carry sacks of flour and baskets of vegetables back from the marketplace. In time, Reyzeleh became an expert seamstress. She could sew and embroider elegant hallah covers and the most delicate tablecloths.
Khaveleh loved to sing. From morning till night, her voice could be heard echoing through the halls of the house as she hummed a fiddler's tune or a Sabbath melody. Only Mireleh had no special gift. She spent her time daydreaming by the window. Whenever she saw her father walking up the path, she ran to greet him. The rabbi loved all his children, but he had a special place in his heart for Mireleh.
One day the rabbi found himself beset by a problem — a question he could not find the answer to. It was not written in any of his holy books. It was not discussed in the pages of the Talmud, the books of Jewish law. Still, the question kept appearing in his mind. "I know that I love my children," the rabbi said to himself, "but how much do they love me? I must discover the answer."
That evening, as Reyzeleh sat in her chair, sewing a new hallah cover, the rabbi stopped and asked her, "Reyzeleh, how much do you love me?" She replied, "Oh, Father, I love you as much as diamonds!" And he was content. Then he went to Khaveleh and asked her, "Khaveleh, my little turtledove, how much do you love me?" And she replied, "Father, I love you as much as gold and silver!" And he was happy. Finally he went to Mireleh and asked her, "Mireleh, my youngest child, my precious one, how much do you love me?" Mireleh looked straight at him and replied, "Father, I love you the way meat loves salt."
The rabbi was horrified. "What? You love me no more than salt?"
At that moment all the laws and commandments of loving-kindness flew from his head. He was so angry and hurt by her words that he drove her from the house and told her never to return.
Mireleh ran down the road, past the synagogue and the marketplace, past the walls of the town, out into the countryside. The tears ran down her cheeks like summer rain. "Where am I to go?" she wept to herself. "What am I to do?"
As she stood there, not knowing which way to turn, a stranger appeared before her. He was an old man with a long, flowing beard — yet he had the shining eyes of a gentle young man. A golden glow seemed to surround him. In one hand he carried a tall silver staff, and in the other, a small wooden stick.
The stranger spoke to Mireleh and said, "Mireleh, I know why you are running down this road, but do not fear. Dry your eyes. I am here to help you, for you have always been a kind and loving child. Now listen carefully to my words. Take the path that goes to the east, over a wooden bridge and past a grove of birch trees, until you see a large stone house. It is the home of Rabbi Yitskhok ben Levi, the renowned scholar of Lublin. He lives there with his wife and son.
"Before you leave, you must take this. It is a magic stick. All you have to do is tap it on the ground three times and anything you wish for will appear. It may help you in times of trouble. You have heard my words and you have my blessings. Now go!" And before Mireleh had time to thank him, a puff of wind blew through the air, and he disappeared.
Many hours later, when Mireleh reached the large stone house, she walked up to the window and looked inside. There was a rabbi, his wife, and their son, a tall young man. Rabbi Yitskhok was reciting the blessing over the loaves of hallah bread. Mireleh knocked softly and the rabbi came to the door. Once inside, she rushed to the kitchen, sat down by the stove, and began to cry. Her clothes were torn and her face was covered with dust and ashes. Rabbi Yitskhok and his wife and son stood around her, wondering what to do.
"Why are you crying?" the rabbi's wife asked, but Mireleh did not reply. The good woman went to the table and brought Mireleh a bowl of chicken soup. But Mireleh couldn't eat or speak; she could only sit in the corner by the stove and weep. "Well," the rabbi said, "she is poor and homeless. We must help those in need. Let her stay here. She can sleep in the attic."
Excerpted from The Way Meat Loves Salt by Nina Jaffe, Louise August. Copyright © 1998 Nina Jaffe. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Nina Jaffe is the award-winning author of While Standing on One Foot: Puzzle Stories and Wisdom Tales from the Jewish Tradition, co-authored with Steve Zeitlin, as well as A Voice for the People: A Biography of Harold Courlander (both Holt). She lives in New York City with her family.
Louise August illustrated In the Month of Kislev: A Story of Hanukkah by Nina Jaffe, which was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. A painter, printmaker, and muralist, Ms. August lives in New York City.
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