Love of the Land

For the week ending 19 March 2005 / 8 Adar II 5765

In Pursuit of an Apple

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Many legends of the land are connected to the Shemita year when observant Jews faithfully obey the restrictions imposed by halacha on agricultural efforts and consumption of agricultural produce.

One of these legends of our own generation is about an apple and a Romanian gentile housemaid.

After helping out for a period in the home of a rabbi in Eretz Yisrael, this woman one day informed the rabbis wife that she was forced to immediately return to her homeland and would no longer be able to work for her. The rebbetzin looked around for something to give her as a parting gift and found only an apple, a fruit highly valued in Romania.

No sooner had this Romanian left the house than the rabbi entered and heard from his wife about the gift of the apple. "But this is a Shemita apple," cried the rabbi, "and it is forbidden to share Shemita fruit with a non-Jew!"

His startled wife rushed out of the house in desperate pursuit of the Romanian and the apple. She caught up with her at the bus stop just as she was about to get on and signaled to her that she has something which must be returned. The Romanian made believe she did not hear or see her and entered the bus. Intent on retrieving the apple, the rebbetzin also entered the bus, paid her fare and approached her quarry. Upon seeing her former employer coming towards her, the Romanian bowed her head and said, "Please dont do anything to me. Ill return everything!" She then put her hand into her purse and pulled out all of the rebbetzins jewelry including some precious heirlooms. Despite the shock of this turn of events, the rebbetzin maintained her composure and managed to retrieve the apple as well.

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