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The Torah warns us that we should not accumulate too many Dr. Seuss books, as it states in Deuteronomy 17:16

רַק, לֹא-יַרְבֶּה-לּוֹ סוּסִים

One should not amass Seusses

Being that one should only get a minimal amount of Dr. Seuss books, I was wondering which ones are recommended to get. Also, which ones should be avoided? Please bring sources from Scripture or Rabbinic writings.


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closed as off-topic by msh210 Mar 23 at 22:06

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  • 12
    Obviously, we want to avoid green eggs and HAM – רבות מחשבות Mar 18 at 14:04
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    One should be encouraged to read "One fish two fish red fish blue fish" on Shabbat. It is a mitzvah to eat lots of fish. And both red and blue fish are kosher. – DanF Mar 18 at 14:58
  • 2
    Seuss is actually properly pronounced "Soice". Clearly the confusion was caused between thinking the vav in סוס was a shuruk instead of a choilem. – ezra Mar 19 at 5:12
  • 1
    @רבותמחשבות: Actually, חמירא סקנתא מאיסורא. If forced to eat one, you're supposed to choose the ham over the green eggs. – Micha Berger Mar 19 at 18:20
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    Sorry to step off the Purim Torah train for a second... You can do some really good chinukh about the nature of emunah with Horton Hears a Who. – Micha Berger Mar 19 at 18:22
13

Any self-respecting Kabbalist needs a copy of Yertle the Turtle, which hints at the deep mysteries taught in Tikkunei Zohar 147b.

In Tikkunei Zohar’s discussion of the properties of a stack of turtles, we learn:

ומאן דידע שיעור קומה דילה איהו ירתעל מאד אתי

He who knows the measure of its height is Yertle, [the one who eventually] to the mud comes.

(It is of course no surprise that Kabbalah discusses stacks of turtles, an ancient meditation on the nature of infinite regress.)

16

Green Eggs and Ham would be a great choice for teaching children about brachot. Take this Mishnah Berurah (205:9), which explains when to bless, and on what.

בהם ירקות וכו' - ר"ל שרוצה לגמוע המים לבד דאלו אם אוכלן עם הירק אין שייך שום ברכה על המים דנעשין טפלה לירק:

With Ham and Greens etc. - Meaning to say, that he wants to swallow only the ham, for if he would eat it together with the green, no Bracha would be necessary on the ham because it becomes secondary to the green.

  • 1
    I wish I could give two checkmarks, but Joel's find of Yertle is hard to beat. This was very clever, though! – Y     e     z Mar 21 at 1:47
10

I am quite surprised that though there are already quite a few answers, all the answers either approve of certain books or disapprove of certain books. As this is a site about Judaism, surely there should be at least one book about which there is a machloket!

After searching far and wide, I have found such a book. At the very end of Oh, the Places You'll Go! Dr. Seuss gives us one last bit of advice:

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

Note how he emphasizes the "never" in the last line. This must be to tell you that it literally means "never, under any circumstance whatsoever", which includes if the Sages of the High Court tell you that right is left and left is right.

Yet this very idea is the subject of a dispute between the Jerusalem Talmud and certain Midrashim. The Jerusalem Talmud (Horayot 1:1) agrees with Dr. Seuss that you should not listen to the Sages if they tell you that right is left and left is right:

יכול אם יאמרו לך על ימין שהיא שמאל ועל שמאל שהיא ימין תשמע להם ת"ל ללכת ימין ושמאל שיאמרו לך על ימין שהוא ימין ועל שמאל שהיא שמאל

However, the Sifrei (Parshat Shoftim # 154) says that you must listen to the Sages even in such a case:

ימין ושמאל אפילו מראים בעיניך על ימין שהוא שמאל ועל שמאל שהוא ימין שמע להם

As R. Judah Loewe points out in his supercommentary to Rashi's commentary to Deuteronomy 17:11, this is not just a metaphor; it means that you must listen to the Sages even if they literally say that left is right and right is left:

ונראה שאפילו אם אמרו ממש על ימין שהוא שמאל ועל שמאל שהוא ימין

Accordingly, Oh, the Places You'll Go! would be a fine book according to the Jerusalem Talmud. According to the Sifrei, however, it undermines one of the most fundamental concepts of Judaism – rabbinic authority – and would thus obviously be a forbidden book.

9

Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! is obviously a must-have.

Its philosophy is very much in line with that of Mishlei 19:21:

רַבּוֹת מַחֲשָׁבוֹת בְּלֶב־אִישׁ

Many thoughts are in a man's mind.

  • 1
    We also see that the ברכה given to בצלאל is "לחשוב מחשבות", which clearly references the positive aspects of thinking. – eykanal Mar 18 at 20:26
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    Hey! You can't steal my username! – רבות מחשבות Mar 19 at 2:15
9

The Lorax teaches the dangers of non-differentiated clothing. Thneeds are the embodiment of sin that Lorax the Prophet speaks out against.

They encourage displacement of workers in favor of the factory-owner's family, a diaspora of Bar-ba-loots who leave in search of kosher foods to eat, and devastation of the land.

While his use of the Truffula tree was not for food, the factory owner has removed fruits from the Bar-ba-loot population, therefore violating Torah.

When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Is the tree of the field a man, to go into the siege before you? However, a tree you know is not a food tree, you may destroy and cut down, and you shall build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until its submission. (Deuteronomy 20:19-20)

Yet, there is teshuva.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.

The factory owner shares the story of his destructive ways and passes the means for reclaiming the land to the next generation.

7

Sorry, but this answer is an anti-recommendation: there is no apparent evidence that The Cat in the Hat is authentically part of Jewish tradition.

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    Thing One and Thing Two??? The Cat is clearly a Brisker. – Micha Berger Mar 19 at 19:15
6

The verse specifically refers to not acquiring Seusses that are also horses. So these books are definitely not suitable:

However, given that just in the last 3 weeks, a new Dr Seuss manuscript has been discovered, and it is also horse related, we may tentatively perceive how wonderfully all-seeing is the Almighty, and that this book above all should not be bought.

4

דע את עצמך is a Seuss classic, which is sold in many Jewish book stores.

2

Reread Deuteronomy 17:16. It's the KING who should not amass too many Seusses. You are not a king, so indulge to your heart's content. But, as was pointed out, I would still avoid Green Eggs and Ham.

  • 1
    Well, you're probably not a king. In the US, the din is that a man's home is his castle. And who lives in castles??? – Monica Cellio Mar 21 at 18:08
  • "Probably" reminds me of this "syllogism": If you are a woman, you are probably not a queen; Elizabeth is a queen; Therefore Elizabeth is probably not a woman. – Maurice Mizrahi Mar 21 at 19:06

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