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Using Literature to Build Jewish Values in Your Children

Let's go "Beyond the Book" with A Thread Of Kindness.

Ages 3-6

"A Thread of Kindness" is a finalist for the National Jewish Book Awards in the category of best Children’s Picture Books for 2000. Once you read the story and see the illustrations, you would choose it as a best book for your children as well!

A Thread of Kindness is an exciting story- there is suspense and reward, there is humility and goodness, there is a good old fashion happy ending, that leaves us with hopefulness for future generations. The delicate illustrations fit the soft gentle nobility of the story, set in the times after the destruction of the second temple.

Here we witness first hand, a husband’s reverence for his wife’s wisdom and insight, giving true meaning to the description in "A Woman Of Valor".

The plot centers around a family entrusted with a treasure of gold – naturally, the children have their ideas—maids for their hard working mother or candy for themselves. The mother answers:

"Hashem has given us a thread of kindness. This money is ours for just a while. If we spend it only on clothes and candy, it will soon be gone. But if we help others, the thread of kindness will stretch on forever."

She could have chosen to wait until their old age and have the gold later—but the treasure would have waited too long to do good for others! Here A Thread of Kindness teaches the young child a very deep principle:

    • Not to postpone the giving of Tzedakah, but rather seeing oneself only as a conduit- in partnership with Hashem, who gives us the opportunity to do the ultimate "roll over"- giving it to those in need.

The wife says: "Let us take the money now—and we can start the good deeds now!"

To go beyond the book with A Thread of Kindness is to speak to the concept of Tzedakah and what is the Jewish meaning of what we call charity. We are mistaken, when we feel that the giving of charity comes from the bottom of our hearts—it may not. Fortunately, we are not dependent on our personality or empathy, but rather, on our Torah obligation to give away at least a tenth of our earnings. A tenth does not belong to us! Yes, we put the hours in—we put our noses to that grindstone—we use our intellect to make the deals and yet some of that money belongs to someone else! To give is a given—our mission is to decide to whom, thus creating our threads of kindness.

The spiders spin threads, too. They must have an anchor on which to attach them and once they do, then the webs begin to take form and purpose. The threads of our past and the threads of our present, form the pattern of our "web of life", because they are anchored to the principles of Torah’s directives. The Jewish lesson is clear, we are but conduits for righteousness.

To Go Beyond The Book leads us to explain to our children that they are responsible as well and should have their own charity box in their bedroom, so they will be able to give ten percent of their allowance. Giving a few cents daily would really reinforce and make it part of their routine.

The spider’s threads are temporary—strong winds may weaken or destroy them, but our threads anchored to Jewish ideals are not fragile. They have lasted for over three thousand years. Jewish continuity is ALIVE AND WELL, because " a thread of kindness stretches on forever."


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