The Rose Bush and the Apple Tree: A story for the fifth night of Chanukah
There was once a beautiful rose bush growing in the garden of a rich man. The blooms were stunning, rich and red and fragrant. People who walked in the gardens never failed to admire the bush and some even went as far as to pick the roses for their loved ones.
Now, next door there was an apple tree. Old and gnarled, its boughs often bent with the weight of the fruit it bore. Some of the branches hung over the wall, and from where it stood in a meadow, the old apple tree could also see and admire the king’s rose bush.
The rose bush was very full of itself. It would often comment aloud:
“I am so beautiful! I am the rose bush of a king, and all come and admire me. But you, old apple tree, seem to get just as many admirers. How can that be? Your boughs are bent and misshapen, your fruit often unattractive to look at and you reside in the meadow where the people let their animals roam.”
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The apple tree took its time in answering. It sighed deeply feeling sorry that the rose would not like what it had to say. Then, with a dry voice that held the wisdom of the years it had lived, it slowly said,
“Oh, dear rose, it is true your blooms are beautiful and fragrant but you do not give up your flowers willingly. Your thorns are thick and sharp and prick the fingers and thumbs of those that would pluck your buds. Also you live in a king’s garden where only the rich can visit you and see your splendour; they have jewels they value more than flowers, and perfumes that seem to them more perfect than your scent. On the other hand, I live in a meadow where all can see me and shelter in the shade beneath my branches, and even my misshapen fruit is useful to eat. The rotten windfalls are devoured by their animals, and my bent branches provide climbing for the young children that play in the fields. I even give up my fruit when stones are thrown at me.”
The old apple tree is still there, a haven for birds and children alike, none of whom mind his misshapen limbs; but the rose bush – well, it did not like the answer that the apple tree gave on that day. It grew old and gnarled; its thorns became so thick and dangerous that no bird went near it; no human plucked its roses. It remained alone in its beauty, always envious of the apple tree.