An Apple from the Tree Of Life

The daughter of the sultan of Turkey had fallen ill. The finest doctors of the empire could not heal her. The sultan brought them together and asked them when she would recover. Sadly, the doctors admitted they could not help the sick princess. The oldest of the doctors told the sultan, “If an apple from the Tree of Life could be brought to you daughter, she would most definitely recover.”

“Where can this wonderous apple be found?” the sultan demanded to know.

The old doctor said, “I heard many many years ago that the apple can be found in the Garden of Eden. Two trees are said to grow in the center of the garden. The Tree of Life is one of them, and the Tree of Knowledge is the other. It is said that whoever tastes an apple from the Tree of Life, no matter how sick they may be, will recover their health.”

The eyes of the sultan grew wide. “I must have one of those healing apples, who knows where this garden can be found?” asked the sultan.

The old doctor stroked his beard and answered:

“If I remember right, the elders of the Jewish community know best about the garden. What we know about the garden is told told about in their holy books of wisdom.,”

The face of the sultan grew red. “Bring in the leaders of the Jewish community at once!” he shouted.

Before an hour had passed, three of the most respected rabbis of the capital city stood before the sultan, wondering why they had been summoned on such short notice. They were quickly taken to the sultan’s Chamber of Government as soon as they arrived. The sultan was seated on his throne looking very grim and he began.

“As you know my daughter is sick and death will take her soon. Her only hope is something that is in your power to provide, and provide it you must. For if you fail, my anger will fall upon you and your community.” “Your Majesty,” one of the rabbis said, “you know that we will gladly do whatever we can. Tell us what do you want us to do?”

“Know then,” the sultan said seriuosly, “that I need an apple from the Tree of Life delivered to me within three days. If I don’t have it by then, you and all of your people will be banished!” With that, the sultan dismissed the three rabbis with a wave of his hand.

The three rabbis discussed the matter among themselves, and they all agreed that what the sultan was asking for was extremely difficult if not possible. No one knew where the Garden of Eden could be found. And even if they did, how could anyone go there and come back within three days?

So the leaders gathered all the people into the synagogue and they went from one synagogue to another, telling them the terrible news. A great sadness spread through the Jewish community, for no one believed it would be possible to get an apple from the Tree of Life in such a short time.

Now one of the three rabbis who had met with the sultan had a daughter named Leah. How she wished that such a wondrous apple could be found, so that the sultan’s daughter could recover, and the danger to all the Jewish people in Turkey would disappear.

Leah saw that her father was deeply worried by the sultan’s demands, so she said, “Surely, father, we must not give up hope. Miracles have happened before. Let us pray for one to happen for us. Tell me, is there anyone who knows the way to the Garden of Eden?”

“Only one of the thirty-six hidden saints,” her father replied. “It is said that there are thirty-six righteous ones upon whose shoulders that fate of the world rests. But no one knows where they can be found.”

“But, Father,” Leah said, “I have heard of an old Jewish mystic who lives alone in the forest. It is whispered that he might be one of the thirty-six.”

Now the rabbi remembered that he, too, had heard such things said about this old hermit. So he and his daughter set out at once to look for him.

It was not easy to find their way through that dark forest, but everyone did their best to assist the rabbi and his daughter, and finally they reached the old hermit’s house. They knocked on his door, and when he opened it, Leah was astonished to see a light surrounding his face.

The old hermit listened carefully as the rabbi explained what the sultan had demanded of them. Then he went to a shelf, took down an ancient book, and opened it. There, pressed between its pages, was a green leaf, perfectly preserved.

The old hermit took the leaf in his hand.

“This leaf has been pressed be­tween the pages of this book for many centuries. It is said to have been picked from one of the trees in the Garden of Eden. Let your daughter place this leaf on her pillow and she will dream of that glorious garden.”

Leaves from the Garden of Eden

“My daughter?” asked the astonished rabbi.

“Yes,” said the old hermit. “for she is the one destined to journey there.”

Neither Leah nor her father could believe their good fortune, yet they were mystified that the old hermit had given the precious leaf to Leah instead of to her father. Still, they both thanked the old hermit and set out to return to their home.

On their way, Leah and her father stopped at an inn, and before she went to sleep, Leah gently placed the ancient leaf on her pillow. Even though it was so very old, it looked as fresh as if it had been picked that very day. It also gave off a most wonderful aroma that filled the room.

Bathed in that beautiful scent, Leah closed her eyes, and soon she was sound asleep.

In her dream, Leah found herself in the most splendid garden she had ever seen. Every kind of fruit tree grew there, and the whole garden was filled with a beautiful, unforgettable scent. Leah suddenly realized that she had indeed traveled to the Garden of Eden. She knew that she must hurry, she must find the Tree of Life before it was too late. Tomorrow was the last day the sultan had given them to bring back the enchanted apple.

Leah looked up and saw that there was an angel sleeping in every tree. She called out to one, and when the angel opened its eyes, she asked for its help in finding the Tree of Life. The angel agreed to serve as her guide, but told her that it could take her only to the center of the garden. She would have to figure out for herself which of the two trees that grew there was the Tree of Life.

With the angel’s help, Leah soon found herself in the center of that wonderful garden. There two trees grew, each a mirror image of the other. Apples hung from the branches of both trees. She looked from one tree to the other for a clue as to which was the Tree of Life. But which one should she choose?

Then Leah happened to notice a serpent hidden in the branches of one of the trees, and she was certain that must be the Tree of Knowledge.

Without further hesitation, she plucked a ripe apple from the other tree, and in the same instant, she woke up.

Leah opened her eyes, surprised to find herself back in the inn. Then she saw it—a ripe and shining apple resting on her pillow right where the fragrant leaf had been. An apple from the Tree of Life! Somehow she had brought it back in her dream. Leah could barely believe her eyes. She re­alized that a miracle had truly taken place, and she jumped up, grabbed the apple, and showed it to her father, who had not slept a wink. His eyes opened wide when he saw it, and even wider when she told him her dream.

She shed tears of joy, for now she knew that they could still be saved.

Wasting not a moment, they set out for the sultan’s palace, and when they arrived, the rabbi presented the sultan with the apple. When the sultan saw the rabbi’s joy, he, too, was overjoyed. He himself brought the fragrant apple to his sick daughter, and held it under her nose. Slowly, she opened her eyes. The sultan then drew his knife and cut a small piece of the fruit and placed it between his daughter’s lips, and as soon as she began to eat it the color returned to her face, and she sat up. Within the hour she had indeed a miraculous recovery.

The sultan hugged his daughter and declared that day to be a holiday for all. Then the sultan publicly thanked the Jewish community for saving his beloved daughter, and never again did he threaten them.

As for Leah and her father, the sultan invited them to live in the palace, Leah and the sultan’s daughter became the best of friends. Leah never tired of telling her about her astonishing dream, and about the enchanted apple she had brought back. And the sultan’s daughter never tired of hear­ing this tale, for she, better than anyone else, knew that every word was true.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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