There was once a hard-working family that lived on an apple farm in the great northeast. Their apples were so sweet that the family was able to market them throughout the world.
The apples also provided many health benefits — especially to the at-risk families, who were fortunate to receive them.
Everyone in this hard-working family had a job on the farm. The boys ran the tractors and the high-pickers, machines that could operate at a height of anywhere from 32.8 feet to 36 feet. Mother and Father organized the seasonal care of their apple crop and arranged for its distribution to the many markets. The girls, who ranged in age from seven to 27, often picked, polished and sorted the apples during harvest season. They also baked apple cakes and pies and offered them for sale. The baked goods and ripe red apples kept many a neighbor healthy and well fed.
The distant markets gave these apples a place of pride on their shelves, with sellers often espousing the health benefits of eating at least one apple a day – especially during their hungry seasons when food was less plenty.
One season, when Sarah and Leah, the twin girls in the family, were assigned a “pick and clean day” out in the far orchard, they came upon new trees — trees that they didn’t remember planting or tending. These young trees were old enough to bear the most beautiful apples — round, red, firm and juicy.
The twins noticed also that the trees on one side of the orchard had green apples, perfect for pies and other more tangy baked desserts. The girls swore that these red apple trees were the best they had ever encountered on their farm. Sarah said, “Let’s pick these apples. Leah, you go left to the green ones, and I’ll go right to the luscious red ones. Let’s see who can gather more apples.”
Leah replied, “I bet I’ll gather more and they will be so tasty that Mother and Father will insist on giving me a special gift for finding them. And so many of them!” Sarah just went on her way with her carts, donkeys and baskets to gather the red apples.
Later that evening, the sisters returned to the apple shed to weigh, count, examine and sort the wonderful fruit the family had gathered from the existing and the new orchard. Leah’s mind was on the competition Sarah had created. She was sure that one of the batches of apples would be prized over the other that evening.
When the family sat down to dinner, talk was of ordinary things: farm work, animal care and how the harvest looked this season. Then Leah spoke up: “I found these marvelous green juicy apples where none had been planted before and the crop is bountiful and tasty. I bet the townsfolk will eat well from our apples this year.”
Sarah said little but did remind the family that she, too, had found new trees with bountiful red ripe apples that she had placed in the barn. The parents thanked the two sisters heartily, careful not to elevate one sister’s accomplishments over the other’s.
Still, Leah just had to burst out, “But mine are new and so much more plentiful than Sarah’s. They will feed the animals and are wonderful for storing or for making baked goods, which we can sell or even give to our townsfolk. I worked really hard, I did so much. Go see.”
Father then said, “Dear Leah, I have no doubt you worked very hard and that these apples will go a long way to feed many families this winter. But we are a family, a working family. One does not prize one basket of perfection over the next. Be aware that the people who eat these apples know only that they come from our loving family farm, not from any individual member of the family. I praise and love all my children equally. I know that I could not do what we do without any of you.”
This parable is a New Year’s tale of misplaced pride, humility and family. It is a tale of equanimity that I composed, with love, for all my Hadassah sisters who work so hard.
No matter which segment of the work we do, we work together, without ego, to achieve our mission of tikkun olam (repair of the world). Each day, each year, we strive to build a better world, all hands joined together as Hadassah.
Our mission promises to deliver a better world each New Year. And may this one be blessed with peace.