By Laura Seymour
Every Jewish holiday is filled with rituals and traditions. Rosh Hashanah, for some, means synagogue and shofar; for most, it also means apples and honey. This wonderful story — presented in a somewhat shortened version — is part of our family’s holiday celebration. Please credit Peninnah and Rachayl if you pass it along, making it as long or short as your storytelling skills allow.
“The Apple Tree’s Discovery” by Peninnah Schram & Rachayl Eckstein Davis
In a great oak forest where the trees grew tall and majestic, there was a little apple tree. One night the little apple tree looked up at the sky and saw the stars, which appeared to be hanging on the branches of the oak trees.
“Oh G-d, oh G-d,” whispered the little apple tree, “how lucky those oak trees are to have such beautiful stars hanging on their branches. I want more than anything in the world to have stars on my branches! Then I would feel truly special.”
G-d looked down at the little apple tree and said gently, “Have patience, little apple tree.”
Time passed. Tiny white and pink apple blossoms appeared on the branches of the little apple tree. People walked by it and admired the beautiful blossoms. But night after night, the little apple tree looked up at the sky with the millions and millions of stars, and cried out, “Oh G-d, I still want more than anything in the world to have stars on my branches.”
And G-d looked down at the little apple tree and said, “You already have gifts. Isn’t it enough to have shade to offer people, and fragrant blossoms, and branches for birds to rest on?”
The apple tree sighed and answered simply, “Dear G-d, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but that is not special enough! What I really want more than anything in the world is to have stars on my branches!” G-d smiled and answered, “Be patient, little apple tree.”
The seasons changed again. Soon the apple tree was filled with many beautiful apples. And still, when night came to the forest, the apple tree looked at the stars in the oak trees and called out, “Oh G-d, I want more than anything in the world to have stars on my branches! Then I would feel truly special.”
And G-d asked, “But apple tree, isn’t it enough that you now have such wonderful apples to offer people? Doesn’t that make you feel special?”
Without saying a word, the apple tree answered by shaking its branches. At that moment, G-d caused a wind to blow. From the top of the apple tree an apple fell. When it hit the ground, it split open. “Look,” commanded G-d, “Look inside yourself. What do you see?”
The little apple tree looked down and saw that right in the middle of the apple — was a star. And the apple tree answered, “A star! I have a star!”
And G-d laughed a gentle laugh and added, “So you do have stars on your branches. They’ve been there all along; you just didn’t know it.”
Epilogue: When we want to cut an apple, we usually cut it by holding the apple with its stem up. But in order to find the star, we must turn the apple on its side. Likewise, if we change our own direction a little bit, we too can find the spark that ignites the star inside each of us. The star is right there within you. Look carefully, look closely, and you’ll find that beautiful star.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.