Tu Beshvat has passed. The New Year of Trees was celebrated by eating a variety of fruits,especially those grown in the land of Israel, by planting trees in Israel and by raising our consciousness regarding our responsibility to our natural environment.
It was also a time for stories about trees. One story, a children's story, is a favorite of mine. I would like to share it with grown-ups as well.
Once upon a time--all good stories start that way--there was a tall oak tree whose leaves almost touched the stars. He couldn't resist any chance he had to boast about his height and might.
Alongside him was a tiny apple tree. One day,the apple tree complained to God, crying that he could not reach the stars like the mighty oak tree. He was too short and could barely see the sky. He felt terribly inadequate and inferior.
"Why wasn't I made as tall and strong as the oak?" he asked tearfully.
God in His wisdom and compassion bent over the little apple tree and plucked one of the apples off the branch. He took a knife, and sliced the apple in half. When the apple tree had dried his eyes, God showed him the apple's core; lo and behold, at the center was the shape of a star.
"See," God said. "You have your own star in each apple." When the apple tree saw this he broke into a big smile and understood how lucky he was.
Since then he was able to hold his head high, feeling at times even taller than the mighty oak.
Each of us has the star of a soul deep within us, a soul that makes us special and unlike anyone else. Tu Beshvat reminds us again to be grateful for who we are, and thank the Giver of all things for the gift of our own, special stars.
PS. The next time you eat an apple, cut it width wise in half-you too will discover your star.