Can Hens Give Milk?
Joan Betty Stuchner
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Tova lives with her family on a small farm in the famous town of Chelm, a mythical village populated, according to Jewish folklore, by fools. Tova's farm has hens and even a rooster, but no cow. Her mother, Rivka, wishes they could afford to buy a cow, so they could have fresh milk and butter every day. One night Tova's father has a dream about how to get milk without actually owning a cow. He asks Tova to help him find a way to get milk from their hens, and the results are hilarious. Finally, to the family's joy and the hens' relief, the problem is solved by none other than the wise Rabbi of Chelm himself, and a little extra help from Tova.
Tova. “Did you check underneath the hens?” The rabbi looked down at little Tova and frowned. Then he put on his reading spectacles. He picked up a hen, turned it over and examined it more closely. The rabbi’s brows rose in amazement. He turned to Shlomo. “Tova is a true daughter of Chelm.” “What do you mean?” said Rivka. The rabbi showed Shlomo the hen’s belly. “Look.” “What?” asked Shlomo. “There’s nothing there.” “Exactly,” said the rabbi. He pointed. “These hens have no udders. They are
daughter set out to find a way to get milk from their hens, and the results are not only funny, but also wacky. Earlier versions of this story first appeared in Spider Magazine (May 2003), published by Carus Publishing Company, and also in a Scott Foresman Read Aloud Anthology for Grade 2 in the United States. Orca Book Publishers is dedicated to preserving the environment and has printed this book on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges
v8r 6s4 www.orcabook.com Printed and bound in Canada. 14 13 12 11 • 4 3 2 1 For the Children of Temple Sholom -J.B.S. For my wife and children -J.W. A Note About Pronunciation The “ch” in Chelm is pronounced like the “ch” in the Scottish loch or the German Bach (as if you’re clearing your throat). S hlomo and Rivka lived on a tiny farm in the town of Chelm. They had five children, twelve scrawny hens, one rooster and not much money. One day Rivka said, “We have plenty of eggs from our
hens, but if we owned a cow, we would also have milk and cheese.” Shlomo thought about what his wife had said. That night he lay in bed and thought about it until he fell asleep. Shlomo was a dreamer, and, sure enough, he had a dream. In his dream, a cow was eating fresh green grass in their small field. Then he noticed Rivka milking the cow. Shlomo woke with a start and shouted, “That’s it!” His shouting woke Rivka. It also woke their six-year-old daughter, Tova. Tova rushed into her
pellets that look like grain. Then the hens will eat them.” Rivka clapped her hands. “Who would dare to say our little Tova does not have a wise head on her shoulders? She is a true daughter of Chelm.” Shlomo and Rivka rolled the grass into pellets. The children scattered the pellets around the yard. Everyone watched and waited. But still the hens only ate the grain. “Tovaleh, you are smart,” said Shlomo. “It’s the hens who are stupid. You must think of something else.” And she did. Tova