A delicious story for your Tu b'Shvat gala
In a great oak forest where the trees grew tall and majestic, there was a little apple tree. It was the only apple tree in the forest and so it stood alone.
Winter came. As the snow fell to the forest floor, it covered the branches of the little apple tree.
The forest was quiet and peaceful.
One night the little apple tree looked up at the sky and saw a wonderful site. Between the branchesof all the trees, the little apple tree saw the stars in the sky, which appeared to be hanging on the branches of the oak trees.
"Oh God oh God," whispered a 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 of my branches, just like the oak trees have! Then I would feel truly special!
God looked down the little apple tree and said gently, "Have patience! Have patience little apple tree!"
Time passed. The snows melted and spring came to the land. Tiny white and pink apple blossoms appeared on the branches of the little apple tree. Birds came to rest on its branches. People walked by the little apple tree and admired it's beautiful blossoms.
All summer long, the apple tree continued to grow. The branches of the tree formed a canopy overhead as they filled with leaves and blossoms.
But night after night, the little apple tree looked up at the sky with the millions, and millions, and millions - and millions of stars and cried out, "Oh God, I want more than anything in the world to have stars in my tree and on my branches and in my leaves - just like those oak trees."
And God 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 nest on so they can sing their song?"
The apple tree sighed and answered simply, "Dear God, I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but that is not special enough! I do appreciate how much pleasure I give to others, but what I really want more than anything in the world is to have stars, not blossoms, on my branches that I would feel truly special!"
God smiled and answered, "Be patient little apple tree."
The seasons changed again. Soon the apple tree was filled with many beautiful apples. People walked in the forest. Whoever saw the apple tree would reach up to pick an apple and eat it. And still, when night came to the forest, the apple tree look at the stars in the oak trees and called out, "Oh God, I want more than anything in the world to have stars in my branches! Then I would feel truly special."
And God asked, "But apple tree, isn't it enough that you now have such beautiful apples to offer people? Does that satisfy you? Does that give you enough pleasure and make you feel special?
Without saying a word, the apple tree answered by shaking its bracnches from side to side.
At that moment, God caused a wind to blow. The great oak trees began to sway and the apple tree began to shake. From the top of the apple tree an apple fell. When it hit the ground, it split open
"Look," commanded God, "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 God laughed a gentlelaugh and added, "So you do have stars on your branches. They've been there all along, you just didn't know it."
(Origin unknown. Re-crafted by Peninnah Schram and Rachayl Eckstein Davis in
The Chosen Tales)
And here's yet another explanation!
While aboard his ark, Noah assigned the two dogs responsibility for patrolling the ark. It was the dogs' job to check on all the other animals, and to report back to Noah and his wife Na’ama. This included using their superior sense of smell to detect anything that was, let us say, kind of fishy.
One day, the dogs were taking their daily stroll when they noticed a coin-sized leak, through which water was rushing in at a rapid rate. They looked at each other and knew instinctively what to do. One dog ran for help, while the other dog gallantly stuck her nose in the hole to plug up the leak. In what seemed like an eternity, Noah and Na'ama came running, to find the poor dog in great pain and gasping for breath. They immediately relieved him of her duties and
quickly filled the hole with pitch, averting what could have been a major disaster.
After the work was completed, Noah and Na'ama pawsed, and realizing what a ruff experience it had been, spoke to the dog saying "Little dog, you kept us all safe - our family, and all the animals - with your little nose. All future generations will know of your great deed, as your nose will always be cold and wet, just as it is today."
This tail is done, and now you know another story explaining why dog's nose has fur-ever remained cold and wet!
(Origin unknown - retold by R' Mark Novak, silly wabbit)
My late rebbe, R' Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, zt"l, (זכר צדיק לברכה) was a master storyteller. He taught: "a good story is one where the mind surprises the heart". "A Year of Stories" is dedicated to his memory. I invite you to forward the link to these stories so that they find their way into the hearts of other listeners and tellers.
Please consider offering a tax deductible donation to support this project and the work of DC's Jewish Renewal community Minyan Oneg Shabbat. A shout out to Judy Young for your generous offering in support of this project.
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Mark Novak is a "free-range" rabbi who lives in Washington DC and works, well, just about everywhere. In 2012 he founded Minyan Oneg Shabbat, home to MOSH (Minyan Oneg Shabbat), MindfulMOSH (Jewish mindfulness gathering), and