by Shira Romm
Ruti was a little girl who lived in Eretz Yisrael. She lived with her family high on Har Carmel, where you could hear the jackals howling at night in the wadi. She was a quiet girl, with a shy smile and a black shiny braid down her back.
She loved nature and anything that grew from the earth. So when her Morah told the class they would each get a plant of their very own, no one was more excited than Ruti!
She stood on line and bounced up and down on her heels while she waited her turn. A plant of her very own! She would take it home and show it to Ima, and water it so carefully…
Suddenly she was in front of Morah, who was reaching out to give her a small clay pot. Everyone else had already gotten a plant and was admiring it. “Aizeh Yofi!” The children took turns exclaiming to each other, as they looked at the dark green leaves and white stems that their plants had.
Ruti looked down at her pot and was shocked. Her plant was small, crooked, and the leaves were drooping. Some had even fallen off! “Misken,” announced the boy next to her, and she had to agree. Hers was the last plant, the one no one else wanted. It was sick and would probably die.
|Illustration by Aliza Gold|
When Ima picked her up from gan, Ruti was crying quietly. She didn’t have to say anything. Ima saw all the other children with their healthy looking plants, and she understood. She took the plant from Ruti’s hands and they walked home. She tried to talk to Ruti and make her feel better, but she was convinced that her plant would die. Ima put the plant on Ruti’s windowsill, where Ruti watched it until she fell asleep.
Ima spoke to Abba that night. The next day, he went down to the wadi and came back with a bucketful of rich earth. Ruti watched him move the little “misken” plant to a bigger pot with new earth. She helped him water it. A seed of hope was planted.
Ruti watered her plant every day, but not too much. Soon it began to look much better. It grew more leaves, and got taller. By the time Ruti left gan, her plant was twice as big. All the other kids had already forgotten their plants – some had died from too much water, or not enough.
Through elementary school Ruti grew along with her plant. She would ask a neighbor to water it if they ever went away. If there was a storm, she took it inside. When it got too big for the windowsill, she put it on the back screened porch. By the time they moved from their house many years later, it was touching the ceiling. They called it Ruti’s tree.
Ruti is all grown up now. She is an Ima with children of her own. She still has the same shy smile, but she knows that she can make little things grow big. And sometimes, the smallest one grows to be the biggest!
Aizeh Yofi –How beautiful!
Misken – poor thing, nebach
Gan - nursery