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Happy Birthday, Fig Tree!

Part 1

Narrator: Once upon a time, there was a little girl named

Flora. Why was she called Flora? It’s really very simple, as

you will soon see.

Just as her name seems to tell us, Flora just loves flowers –

and not only flowers, but also trees and plants – everything

green. Her bedroom is always painted in some shade of

green, and even the parrot she got for her birthday is green.

Flora’s favorite season is spring, when everything is blossoming.

Sometimes her bedroom looks more like a little

vegetable garden. Her favorite holiday is, of course, Tu

BiShvat – the New Year for trees; and in fact, Flora’s birthday

is on Tu BiShvat.

Parrot: Flora, I know why they call you Flora. Flora, I

know why they call you Flora. Flora, I know why they ….

Flora: Oh, Nutty, cut it out. You’ve already told me that a

thousand times!

Parrot: Flora, I know why they call you Flora. Flora ….

(Flora waves her hand in annoyance at the parrot, to make

him be quiet.)

Parrot: Squawk! (With an insulted expression on his face,

19 he stalks back into his cage and stops talking.)

Flora: Nutty, you’re really a nutty parrot.

*

Narrator: There’s an old fig tree in Flora’s yard, and she

loves it very much. During the summer she sits under its

shade and eats its sweet fruits. During the winter she likes

to sit at her window and watch the raindrops washing over

its leaves.

The tree is very old. In fact, no one remembers when it

was first planted. Even Flora wonders how old it is.

*

Flora prepares a basket with a sample of each of the seven

shivat haminim. Next to her, she has a roll of gift-wrapping

paper, scissors, and other things to use for wrapping

gifts. She sings to herself: “Eretz chitah use’orah, v’gefen

ute’einah, v’rimon, eretz zeit shemen udvash” (“A land of

wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates, a land of

olives that contain oil, and [date] honey”).

Parrot: Hmmm, that’s so nice. “Happy birthday to you!

Happy birthday to you...” Flora, are you making yourself a

present?

Flora: Oh, Nutty. You’re so nutty! Who would wrap up

a birthday present for himself?! (With enthusiasm:) I’m

wrapping up a present for someone who is very, very

important to me. It’s for the old fig tree in the yard! My

teacher told us that next week we’ll be celebrating a very

special day, called Tu BiShvat, which is the birthday of the

trees. By the time Tu BiShvat comes around, most of the

winter rains have already fallen, and the trees have gotten 20

all the new strength they need to give us their fruits this

year. Now do you understand, Nutty? The old fig tree was

born on Tu Bishvat, and I’ve decided to celebrate my birthday

together with that tree. Oh, I’m so excited!

Part 2: The Birthday Party in Flora’s Yard

Flora: Happy birthday! Mazal tov to us! Here, I brought

you a special present. (Flora places the fruit basket on a

branch of the fig tree.)

Parrot: (sings) ; “Happy birthday, dear Flora and fig

tree….” I prepared birthday presents too – crowns made

of leaves from the yard. (He places the crowns on the tree

and on Flora.)

Fig Tree: This is wonderful! Flora, how did you guess the

secret? Tu Bishvat is a very special day for us trees. It is

our Rosh Hashanah. Mazal tov to you, too, Flora.

Parrot: Wait a minute, Fig Tree. You must be at least 200

years old by now. How will we manage to lift you up in

the air 200 times?

Flora: Oh, Nutty! You don’t have to lift a person up in the

air on his birthday. (The parrot makes a face that shows

he’s insulted.)

Flora: Here, dear Fig Tree. Here’s a fruit basket filled with

the fruits of the shivat haminim – the seven fruits that are

the pride of Eretz Yisrael. And you, my dear fig tree, are

lucky enough to be one of them. You’re so special! (The

tree makes a pained expression and tries not to cry.)

Flora: Hey, my fig tree, why are you so sad? I so much

21 wanted to make you happy with my present.

Parrot: Flora has tissues in her bag, if you’d like one. (He

hands the fig tree a tissue.)

Fig tree: I really am sad. Whenever I see the shivat haminim,

I feel so unimportant. All the others – wheat, barley,

grapes and pomegranates – have important jobs. Just listen

– each one will tell you how important it is.

Part 3: The Shivat Haminim

Wheat and Barley: My name is wheat … and I’m barley.

Nice to meet you! We are very important. People take our

kernels and grind them into flour, and from that flour they

make bread. Bread is the main food that people eat, and it’s

what fills them up. That’s why there’s the special brachah

of Hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz that people recite before

eating bread.

And that’s not all. For Shabbos, people make delicious

challos out of me.

Grapes: What about me? The most important drink – wine

– is made from me! At every Shabbos or Yom Tov meal

they make Kiddush over a cup of wine, and after Shabbos

they say Havdalah – thanking Hashem for separating Shabbos

from the weekdays – over another cup of wine. What’s

more, I have my very own brachah Borei pri hagafen.

Parrot (tastes some wine, and remarks) : Mmmm … it really

is good.

Pomegranate: Hi! I’m pomegranate. It’s nice to meet you.

People eat me on Rosh Hashanah, and they ask Hashem to

make them full of mitzvot just like a pomegranate is full of

seeds. Yes, I’m packed with juicy red seeds. I’m so beauti- 22

ful and red! In shul, they decorate the Torah with designs

and ornaments that are shaped like me.

Olive: What about me? My branches are a symbol of

peace. If you squeeze me very, very hard – hey, not that

hard! You’re squeezing out all my juice! – ahh, then you’ll

get fine, healthy oil that can be used to light the Menorah

in the Beit Hamikdash and to light Chanukah menorahs.

Flora: Hey, Nutty! Why are you so quiet all of a sudden?

Parrot: I’m still drunk from that wine…

Date (standing next to a lulav) : I’m a date. I grow on a

very special kind of branch, which is used as part of the

arbaa minim (lulav, etrog, hadassim and aravot) during

Sukkot, and also as sechach for a sukkah. People also

make very sweet, juicy syrup from me. Next time you’re in

the grocery store, don’t forget to buy a jar of silan, which

is date honey.

Fig tree: You see? All my friends can boast about their

important jobs all through the year, and especially on holidays.

I’m the only one who does nothing special. I’m just a

poor old fig tree.

(Flora also looks very sad.)

Parrot: Don’t be sad. Soon people will start thinking that

it’s my birthday.

Neta: You really are very important, Fig Tree. You must

be important, or you wouldn’t have been picked as one of

the shivat haminim. Wait a minute – I have an idea. I’ll go

ask my grandfather. He’s very wise, and he knows how to

23 answer every question! Nutty, you stay here with the fig

tree and keep an eye on the present. (The parrot sits down

and begins munching on the fruits that Flora prepared.)

Grandfather, Grandfather! I have a big problem. My fig

tree is very sad. Could you please come over and make her

happy?

(They arrive at the fig tree, and Flora explains:) The

fig tree feels like it’s the least important of all the shivat

haminim. The others all feel important, since people use

them for all sorts of good things. But the fig tree doesn’t

know what makes her special.

Grandfather: The fig tree?? It’s very, very important,

maybe the most important tree of all. Did you know that

the Torah itself is compared to a fig tree?

Flora: The Torah? What does the Torah have to do with a

fig tree?

Grandfather: All the other fruits have some parts that are

not good to eat, like seeds or peels. There’s only one fruit –

the fig – that people can eat the entire fruit.

And it’s the same with the Torah. Every single part of the

Torah is important – it’s the wisdom of our Creator, and

there’s not one letter of it that’s not important!

But there’s another thing that the Torah and the fig tree

have in common. Tell me, Fig Tree, how long is the season

when people can pick your fruits?

Fig Tree: Oh, it goes on for a long time. I’m not like other

trees, that have only a short time when you can pick their

fruits. Whenever you come to me, there are always some

fruits to pick. The figs growing on me ripen very slowly, a 24

few at a time, so there are almost always some figs on me

that are ready to be picked.

Grandfather: Very good! This is something very special

indeed about the fig tree, and in that way it’s similar to our

Torah. People cannot learn the Torah all at once. They have

to review it again and again. Young children learn Torah,

and adults learn Torah. Each time they review it, they gain

a little more of its wisdom.

Parrot: Wait – what about me? I’m also important, aren’t

I?

Grandfather (laughing) : You? You’re the most important

one of all. Without you, Flora would be really bored! Seriously,

though, there’s no such thing as someone who isn’t

important. Always remember: Each one of us is special in

some way, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first.

(Flora brings a fruit cake to the fig tree, and they all sing

together, “Happy Birthday.”)

The End

 

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