Hershel was a bit of a teivele (devil). He was the only boy in his village who could not see, but that did not stop him from making mischief, as boys will do.
He behaved well in school, but grew bored when the others practiced their writing; that was when he pulled a frog from his pocket and let it loose to revel in hearing the teacher, Reb Shimmel, jump up and down and dance around the frog.
He caught his frogs at the river, his favorite place in the town. There he had frogs, water, and friends--and mud to play in besides, He loved building tunnels and mountains in the smooth cool mud, and often came home dirty.
His mother Basha would scold him for getting so dirty, for it made more work on top of all she had to do to keep them clothed and fed since Hershel's father had died.
This year when Purim came, he wanted more than anything to help his mother make the Hamantashen--shaped like Haman's hat--the cakes that they would carry from house to house as sweet gifts to remember the joyful victory of good over evil so long ago in Shushan. His mother told him that to help, a person needed eyes.
Hershel climbed into bed, said the Shema, and whispered his prayer to God, to be able to really help his mother. That night he dreamed of an angel descending on a silver ladder, who bent and spoke to him. "Make what you see," she told him. "But I don't see," he protested. "The doctor from Kotsk said I shall never see again."
When Hershel awoke the next day, he told his mother the story from his dream, and determined to help her shape the Purim cookies that year--by feeling.
Guidelines prevent me from telling precisely what happened in the last 12 pages of this story--but it's quite a tale. And, as the song says, Purim was "a happy holiday, What a happy holiday!"
The book also includes a two-page summary of the Story of Esther and a recipe for Hamantashen. Alyssa A. Lappen