If I could choose the best story to tell my children for Tu Bishvat, I would probably tell them the legend about the old man and the fig basket- הזקן וסל התאנים. In a nutshell, the story goes like this:
The Roman emperor Hadrian once went for a walk in Tiberias. On his way he saw an old man planting a fig tree. Hadrian asked him:
“Old, old man! If you were working when you were young, you should not have to work now when you’re old.”
The old man replied:
“I worked when I was young and also now when I’m old, and I let God decide whatever is good for Him in His eyes.”
“And how old are you today?” Hadrian wanted to know.
“A hundred years old” said the old man.
“Do you believe that you will, able to eat from the fruits of the tree you are planting today?”
The old man said, “If I am able to, that would be wonderful. If not, let my children enjoy the fruits as I enjoyed the fruits planted by my father!”
The old man’s words touched the heart of the emperor, who asked the old man to let him know when the tree bore fruit, hoping he would still be alive.
A few days passed; the tree bore fruit and the old man was still alive. The old man went and filled a basket full of figs for the emperor.
When the emperor saw him, he ordered his servants to carry the old man in a chair made of gold and he filled his basket with gold coins.
The emperor answered, “If God respected him, shouldn’t I?”
This beautiful story is only one of many!
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