What the book is About:

An entertaining selection of eighteen tales from Jewish history, folklore and tradition, told as puzzles for the clever reader to solve. This short book is divided into even shorter stories, each no more than a few pages long. Appropriate for readers young and old, these are written in a style somewhat resonant of fairy tales and legends of long ago (and do require solid reading/vocabulary skills). Kids will enjoy challenging themselves and their friends; each story on its own is ideal as a read aloud choice before bedtime or a fun conversation starter at the Shabbat table.

Jewish Content and Values

A detailed afterword called “About the Stories” describes the Jewish sources for each tale, along with additional background information.

Positive Role Models

  • In the title story, Hillel the Elder, a Talmudic sage from the first century, is challenged by a man to teach him the entire Torah while he stands on one foot.  Instead of losing his patience at the sheer nerve of such an impertinent question, Hillel answers patiently. 
  • In “The Case of the Boiled Egg,” a young Solomon finds a clever solution to a legal case that his father, King David, is asked to judge.  Although King David was a mighty ruler, he was not too proud to accept his son’s wisdom and rule accordingly.

Content Advisory


Talk it Over

Most of us take books for granted, but hundreds of years ago, the average person could neither read nor write. Tales of cleverness and wisdom were passed from generation to generation, through stories, puzzles and riddles. What are some ways that we use to pass on wisdom and information today?

More For You

Hillel the Elder served as leader of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court, in 31 BCE.  Of the many famous quotes he is remembered for, this one best encapsulates his views on leading a balanced and fulfilled life:
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, then when?”
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