The Apple Tree – Storytelling for Everyone

Jewish Folktale

In a great oak forest where the trees grew tall and majestic, there was once a little apple tree. It was the only apple tree in that forest and so it stood alone.

One night the little apple tree looked up at the sky and saw a wonderful sight. The stars in the sky appeared to be hanging on the branches of the oak trees.

“Oh God, oh God,” whispered the little apple tree, “how lucky those oak trees are to have such beautiful stars hanging on their branches. I want more than anything in the world to have stars on my branches, just like the oak trees. Then I would feel truly special.”

God looked down at the apple tree and said, “Have patience, little apple tree.”

Time passed.  The snows melted and spring came to the land. Tiny white and pink apple blossoms appeared on the branches of the apple tree. Birds came to rest on its branches.  People walked by and admired the beautiful blossoms. The apple tree continued to grow all summer long. The branches filled with leaves and blossoms, forming a canopy overhead.

Night after night, the little tree looked up at the millions upon millions of stars in the sky and cried out, Oh God, I want more than anything in the world to have stars in my tree, on my branches and in my leaves – just like those oak trees.”

God looked down and said, “You already have gifts. Isn’t it enough to have shade to offer people and fragrant blossoms, and branches for birds to rest upon so they can sing you their songs?”

The apple tree sighed and answered simply, “Dear God, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but that is not special enough.  I do appreciate how much pleasure I give to others, but what I want more than anything in the world is to have stars, not blossoms on my branches.  Then I would feel truly special.”

God smiled and said, “Be patient, little apple tree.”

The seasons changed again.  Soon the apple tree was filled with beautiful apples.  People, walking in the forest, reached up and picked apples to eat.

Still, when night fell on the forest, the apple tree looked at the stars in the oak trees and called out, “Oh God, I want more than anything in the world to have stars on my branches.  Then I would feel truly special.”

God asked, “Isn’t it enough that you now have wonderful apples to offer?  Doesn’t that satisfy you? Doesn’t that give you enough pleasure and make you feel special?”

Without saying a word, the apple tree answered by shaking its branches from side to side.  God caused a hard wind to blow. The great oak trees began to sway and the apple tree began to shake. An apple fell from the top branch and split open when it hit the ground.

“Look,” commanded God.  “Look inside yourself.  What do you see?”

The little apple tree looked down and saw that right in the center of the apple – was a star.

“A star. I have a star!”

God laughed a gentle laugh and added, “So you do have stars on your branches.  They’ve been there all along.  You just didn’t know it.”


Note:  We usually cut an apple by holding it with the stem up. In order to find the star, turn it on its side.

If we change direction in life, we can find the spark that ignites the star within each of us. Look carefully and you’ll find that beautiful star.

Note: Chopped apples are often part of the Passover meal.


Source: This story was published as an illustrated book by Peninnah Schram and Rachayl Eckstein Davis, The Apple Tree’s Discovery. Illustrated by Wendy W. Lee. Minneapolis MN: Kar Ben Publishing, 2012.

This story also appears in the following anthology: Schram, Peninnah, Editor. CHOSEN TALES: STORIES TOLD BY JEWISH STORYTELLERS. Published by Jason Aronson Inc., an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield, 1995. Sixty‑eight stories written by storytellers/rabbis/educators. Foreword by Rabbi Avraham Weiss. National Jewish Book Award winner in Folklore. “The Apple Tree’s Discovery” appears on pp. 1-4.

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