“Gershon saw it rising from the sea: an immense black monster covered with scales like iron plates. On each scales was written one of Gershon’s misdeeds.”
Gershon never apologized. Instead he swept his tiny sins into the cellar and once a year dragged them to the sea until one day they became a hug sea monster.
GERSHON’S MONSTER: A STORY FOR THE JEWISH NEW YEAR
by Eric A. Kimmel
by Jon J. Muth
Horror Fiction Books, Illustrated Children’s Story, Fantasy,
Horror Fiction Books, Sin, Forgiveness, Repenting, Children, Monsters, The Black Sea, Hasidic Traditions, Tzaddik, Rabbi, God, Baker, Pollution.
Gershon, A baker who never asks for forgiveness.
Fayga, Gershon’s wife.
The Tzaddik, A wonder rabbi who lives in Kuty.
Joseph, A young boy, twin to Sarah.
Sarah, A young girl, twin to Joseph.
Gershon, a baker, was an ordinary man who, like other men, made mistakes, told small lies and sometimes got angry for no good reason. But, unlike other men, Gershon never apologized for his thoughtless acts. He swept those tiny monsters into the cellar and once a year collected them all into a huge bag and dragged it to the sea.
“Now Gershon was not always the best person he could be.”
Gershon and his wife Fayga were childless. When she heard about a tzaddik — a rabbi who can work miracles — Fayga sent Gershon to ask the tzaddik to bless them with a child. Gershon implored the tzaddik to help. At first he was rebuked but Gershon didn’t give up until the wise man capitulated. When the tzaddik promised the miracle, however, he gave Gershon a stern warning that, if he weren’t careful, in five years Gershon’s misdeeds would catch up with his coming children.
Gershon returned home and soon he and Fayga had twins, a boy and a girl. By the time five years had passed, however, the baker had forgotten the warnings of the tzaddik. But, he made a mistake, and while the children were playing at the seashore, a huge, black, iron-plated sea monster made out of the collection of all of Gershon’s tiny monsters rose out of the sea.
This is a retelling of an early Hasidic legend that Mr. Kimmel first heard as a child that illustrates the importance of asking forgiveness and trying to make amends. Even though Gershon makes mistakes like other people do, he does not apologize or correct his misdeeds until one day his misdeeds become so monstrous they threaten his precious children.
“Go now, unhappy man. I can do nothing for you.”
The illustrative paintings are beautiful and they are both regional and periodic to Poland only a few generations ago. The tiny monsters are small, looking like black smoke given a pudgy body and definitely not scary. The sea monster made out of all the tiny monsters is also black and smoky but definitely menacing. The monsters are Gershon’s sins, although that word isn’t used in the story.
Appropriate for children ages 4 to 8, and my five-year-old daughter enjoyed the story. It did not give her nightmares. The paintings helped her understand what was going on in the story, although she still had questions about the tzaddik.
On the last page is an author’s note which describes where the story came from and some of the themes in it. He explains the tashlikh (the casting of one’s sins into the sea) and t’shuvah (repentance). The author’s page is optional.
Age range is between 4 years old and 8.