Monday, October 8, 2012

The Etrog

A Sukkot story, courtesy of Rabbi Fred Kazan at Kesher Israel in Philadelphia:

Once upon a time, there was a king who was unhappy. One night, the king had a dream in which God told him that he would be made happy again by a citrus fruit. In the morning, he summoned his advisors and asked them to find him this fruit. The advisors put their heads together to think about which fruits brought the most happiness and they came back to the king with a round orange fruit.

"Oranges," they said, "are the happiest fruit. They smell good and taste good."

So the king ordered orange trees planted throughout the land and soon he had orange groves and became rich(er) off the sale of orange juice. But the king was still unhappy.

His advisors thought some more and came back with a large round fruit. "The grapefruit is healthy and will help lower your cholesterol," they told the king. So the king had grapefruit trees planted throughout the kingdom. Eating the grapefruits helped him lose weight and he became more physically fit. But the king was still unhappy.

His advisors brought him one last fruit. "This one is great," they said. "You can put it in your water and use it to season chicken or fish. It is zesty!" The king had lemon trees planted and they did put zest in his life. But he was still unhappy.

The king's advisors were out of ideas. "Isn't there anyone in this kingdom who can help me?" the king asked. His advisors responded, "There is a man, a Jewish sage. He is a learned man who has a close relationship with God. He may know the fruit you seek." They brought the sage before the king and the king said, "I am unhappy and God has told me that only a citrus fruit can restore my happiness. Do you know of such a fruit?"

The sage smiled. "Of course," he told the king. "The answer is obvious - the fruit you want is named for citrus. It is called a citron, or an etrog."

"Perfect! What will it do for me?" the king asked.

"Nothing. It can't be used to cook. it doesn't taste good, and it won't help your diet."

"I don't need any of those things," the king said. "I have become wealthy from orange juice sales, my health is excellent because of all the grapefruit I eat, and I feast on lemon chicken every night. This etrog can't do anything else for me?"

"No," the sage responded. "The etrog is a fruit for the man who has everything."

The king thought. He had wealth and health and delicious meals. He did indeed have everything. So he took the etrog and he was happy.