The Tale of Meshka the Kvetch
copyright 1980 by Carol Chapman
illustrations by Arnold Lobel
published by E.P. Dutton New York
This little tale makes me quite happy. I love the soft color palate and texture in the illustrations and I love the language in this tale -words and phrases like,
Meshka, Yiddish, Kvetch, kosher pickles, oy vey, and Wall of Jericho
This is a picture book, but it’s a good read for anyone of any age. My daughter and I read it together, I read it aloud to my son, and then again to my husband. Just maybe, I needed this tale of Meshka when I found this little treasure at the thrift store.
“…Meshka, who was considered by all to be the village kvetch. Now kvetch is a Yiddish word for complainer, and that’s just what Meshka did. Complain.”
She complains to everyone she can. She complains about her tiny house, her life, and her children until all her complaints start to come true. The rabbi comes by and sees her in her troubles and quickly diagnoses her problem,
“I’m afraid you have the Kvetch’s Itch.
…it causes everything the kvetch complains about to come true.”
Meshka is a complete mess. How can she be cured? The rabbi helps her, but I love that he tells her she can’t be cured.
Isn’t that really the case for all of us? Can we ever be cured of complaining?
I’ve read so many negative things online that I’ve made a promise to myself never to post complaints on social media. I try to share what inspires me, stories I find fascinating, simple encouragement, or the beauty I see in nature. Even with my best intentions I fail.
So what does the rabbi recommend?
“if you praise the good in your life, these problems you mention will cease.”
Since Meshka has never praised anything in her life, her first attempts at praising good things are hilarious. The rabbi gives her a few pointers and eventually she gets the hang of it.
“And from that day on, whenever Meshka would start to complain and say, “Oy vey”– she quickly said instead, “Things are good and I am happy.”
Meshka’s tale reminds me of one of my favorite books, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. Life is messy and hard at times, but Ann reminds the reader joy is found when we look for the blessings in our lives and give thanks. Ann, like the rabbi, offers up a remedy for life. She calls it a Joy Dare. It’s a dare to count and list three blessings a day for a year. 1,000 gifts.
“Joy is a function of gratitude — and gratitude is a function of perspective. So take these prompts to help you see and change perspective — give thanks — and live all His joy!” -Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare
I’ll praise the good with you today, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Our problems may not cease, but our perspective will.