Jewish Values: Basket Full of Figs, A

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When the mighty Emperor Hadrian rides into town, all of the villagers hide in their houses except for one elderly man. He ventures outside to plant a fig tree. Hadrian questions the man: “the tree is so small and you are so old! Surely you won’t live long enough to eat its fruit?!” The old man explains how the tree will be a gift for many years to come and reminds the emperor how earlier generations planted similar gifts. Three years later, Hadrian returns to the village and again encounters the old man. He presents the emperor with a basket of figs from his tree. Hadrian enjoys the figs and when he returns the basket to the old man, it is filled with gold. Lively, detailed pencil drawings help to illustrate this Midrashic fable adapted by Israeli writer (and co-creator of the television drama Shtisel!) Ori Elon, and translated into English by Gilah Kahn-Hoffman for the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. A lovely addition to the Tu B’Shevat bookshelf that will pair nicely with Honi's Circle of Trees by Phillis Gershator (JPS, 1994), but that can also be enjoyed year-round to illustrate the mitzvah (good deed) of caring for the environment and the Jewish values of generosity and optimism.
Sydney Taylor Winner: