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Monsa Monster

Stories to Wake You Up

Everyone thinks stories can put you to sleep, I say stories can wake you up!

Nakhman of Bratslav
Monsa Monster brings you the treasures of Yiddish storytelling with a new monsa (story) each month. Sharing classic and modern masterpieces of Jewish imagination that explore not only the riches of the Yiddish past, but also of the cultures around us.

The Power of the Tongue

a midrash retold by Peninnah Schram

Read by Al Franken

A classic midrash draws inspiration from Proverb 18, which tells us “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” In this midrash-inspired monsa, we find the parts of the body caught in a power struggle. But where does real human power lie?

This midrash has been adapted many times. You can read a direct Yiddish translation from a midrashic collection in דער צדיק און דער גוטער וועג or in this 1922 Yiddish school primer: דער אָנפאַנגער.

This story was originally recorded as part of the series One People, Many Stories, produced by the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles, ListenUp radio, Johanna Cooper, and Abbie Phillips. Monsa Monster is supported, in part, by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and also by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

More Monsas for You

The Power of the Tongue

Read by Al Franken

Labzik the Depression Dog

Read by Chance Bone

Domestic Bliss

Read by Mindy Sterling

The Pious Cat

Read by YidLife Crisis

Rachel the Clever

Read by Laurie Metcalf

The Market Wedding

Read by Anne Meara

The Neighborhood Sneezes

Read by Hershey Felder

The Feather Merchants

Read by Leonard Nimoy

Yiddishkayt’s Monsa Monster project celebrates the memory of Johanna (Chani) Cooper, who spent her life toiling in the fertile fields of storytelling.