Honi – who lived many, many years ago -was on a journey when he saw an old man planting a tree.
“What kind of tree are you planting?” asked Honi curiously.
“A carob tree,” answered the man.
“Doesn’t the carob tree take a long time to bear fruit?” asked Honi
“But you won’t even be alive to ear the fruit of this tree,” said Honi.
“No. But my grandchildren will be. Just as there were carob trees when I came into this world, so there will be carob trees for them.”
Honi walked to a shady spot and sat down to eat his meal.
Such a long time and never to see the fruit, Honi thought. If he planed an olive tree or a fig tree, he might live and eat the olives and figs for his efforts.
Honi began to feel drowsy and soon fell asleep, as he often did in the middle of the day.
But Honi’s sleep was not an ordinary sleep. For as he slept, the small rocks all about him slowly grew larger until they enclosed him and hid him from view. Nor was his sleep of ordinary length. For Honi slept not just one hour or two, not just one year or two, or three, but for a full seventy years.
When Honi awoke from this sleep, he looked about in confusion. He did not remember these big rocks about or the tall weeds.
How odd, he thought as he looked about. I will find the old man planting the carob tree and ask him why everything looks so different.
Honi followed a path through the boulders and saw the old man’s field. There where the old man had planted the sapling, was a tall, healthy carob tree with a wide trunk, glossy green leaves, and luscious pods of fruit. A young man picked the fruit and fed it to his little girl, who took great delight in sucking the sweet juices from the pulp.
Honi walked over to the young man. “I remember an old man planting a tree here,” said Honi. “Do you know where I can find him?”
The man looked puzzled. “You couldn’t be thinking of this tree,” he said. “My grandfather planted this one seventy years ago. You must be thinking of a different tree.”
“Seventy years ago!” exclaimed Honi. “Could it be that I have slept for so many years.”
He watched as the young man gathered the fruit in his baskets and the little girl ate from the pods, the juices trickling through her fingers.
How wise that old man was, thought Honi, to plant a tree not for himself, but for the generations to come.
It was then Honi realized that his seventy-year sleep was a gift. A gift that made the old man’s words as clear as the scene before him.