Some years back, my daughter Leba Lieder and I wrote a children’s book with drawings about a mouse and Chanukah. Here is the story without the drawings.
Moti the Mouse and the True Miracle of Chanukah
There once was a mouse named Moti who lived with his mother, father, older sister and younger brother. The five of them lived with Moti’s grandmother in a small hole in the Old Holy City of Jerusalem.
Moti’s parents were very proud of his brother and sister, but Moti didn’t think they were proud of him. You see, Moti could not scare people and animals like his brother and sister.
Moti’s sister won first prize at the mouse contest for scaring the elephants at the zoo.
His younger brother also won first prize for scaring a new bride holding a wedding cake.
As much as Moti tried, he couldn’t scare anything.
Moti’s parents, brother, sister and grandmother didn’t know that Moti was special in another way, really special. He was smaller than other mice and his tail was much shorter. Some people thought that he didn’t have a tail at all. For a mouse, this was terrible. But although Moti was different, there were no other mice that could do what Moti could do. You see, Moti could solve his family’s problems.
When Moti tried telling his mom, dad, sister, brother and grandmother about the many things he did that helped them, they would laugh at him and would say “Sure, whatever you say ?!?.”
Now something happened on the night before the holiday of Chanukah, the holiday when lights would be lit in a special menorah with candles or oil. It was cold and rainy outside. Moti’s grandmother started complaining of a headache. Dr. Mouse rushed to Moti’s house. He tried to help grandmother, but everything he did to help her wouldn’t work. She just lay in bed in pain. Moti’s family was very worried.
Mother and father called for Dr. Mouse again but he was far away delivering baby mice and sent them a mousegram saying he could not come for a few days.
Moti’s grandmother complained of more pain and was even unable to stand. Mother and father tried giving grandmother her favorite cheese, but she could not eat it.
The family was very sad. Tomorrow was Chanukah but, for the first time, there was no spirit of Chanukah in the mouse’s hole in the holy city of Jerusalem.
But, you see, Moti did not give up. He remembered the many times he helped his family in the past, even though they never believed that he did it. He thought that perhaps if he put some oil into grandmother’s ear it would soothe her pain. However there was no extra oil left in the city. Both humans and mice had only enough oil to burn in the Chanukah menorah.
How did Moti come up with his idea about the oil? Moti remembered the story that his grandmother once told him about his great great grandfather. The story was about King Solomon who was listening to two women who were arguing about a baby. Each woman said that the baby was her baby.
King Solomon listened and listened and listened to the two ladies complain. One was crying so much that his head started to hurt. Moti’s great great grandfather Yechezkel Mouse crawled over to King Solomon’s ear and told him to put some oil in his ear and it would get rid of his pain.
Sure enough, when King Solomon took a break from the two women, he put oil into his ear and some cotton and he felt much better. Somehow, listening to the two ladies became more bearable. King Solomon felt better and he was able to decide who the true mother of the baby was.
Moti also remembered another family story about pain and oil. It was a story about his great great great great Uncle Yossie Mouse. Uncle Yossie was living in the country in Egypt at the time. He was tired of living in the city. One day he saw a woman with a small baby in a basket. She wanted to put the baby into the river. She looked afraid. They baby was crying so much.
She saw Egyptians running after her looking for the baby. She wanted to protect the baby. So she took some oil and dipped some into his ear. It must have made him feel good since he became quiet. She then kissed her baby goodbye and put him into the Nile River in a basket. Uncle Yossie never knew what happened to the baby.
Moti thought that perhaps the lesson from these stories could help him with his grandmother.
So Chanukah was coming and all that his brother and sister were worried about was who was going to make the donuts, who was going to play dreidel with them.
So on the first night of Chanukah, when the Mouse family lit the first candle, Moti snuck towards the Chanukah menorah and dipped his finger inside the menorah.
He kissed his grandmother and wished her “Happy Chanukah.” And no one saw that he slipped a bit of oil into her ear.
All night the candles flickered, they seemed about to go out. Moti’s parents were worried that there was not enough oil. It seemed as if someone taken some oil from the menorah. His brother and sister, being the selfish siblings that they were, were worried that their friends would make fun of them that they didn’t have a Chanukah menorah burning the right amount of time. But it did.
Each night, without anyone knowing, Moti dipped his finger into the oil of the Chanukah menorah, and then carefully and lovingly put some oil into his grandmother’s ear.
When Dr. Mouse came, he saw Grandma Mouse feeling so much better. No one could explain what happened. “How did she get well?” they said. Everyone thought that it was a miracle of Chanukah. Moti saved his family once again, and no one knew what he did. And now you know, and it is our little secret.