A man was caught stealing a loaf of bread and sentenced by the sultan to be hanged.
While awaiting his fate, he told the jailer that he knew a marvelous secret, and it would be a pity for it to die with him. He knew how to make a single pomegranate seed instantly sprout and bear fruit.
The sultan was told, and decided to attend the hanging. The thief was brought out, and given a single pomegranate seed.
He asked for a hole to be dug, then kissed the seed and said, “This seed will only grow if the one who plants it has never stolen anything. I, being a thief, cannot do it.”
The man offered the seed it to the executioner, but he said, “I have taken things from the pockets of those I have executed…”
So the man offered the seed to the jailer, but he said, “In my youth, I retained things I ought not…”
The man looked to the sultan’s mighty vizier, but he said, “I deal with large sums of money from the sultan’s treasury. It is possible some of it may have been misplaced…”
So then the man said, “The mighty sultan shall plant the seed!”
But he said, “I have taken whole countries from other sultans…”
“O mighty and powerful people, you who have everything cannot plant the seed, while I am to be hanged for stealing a loaf of bread to feed my family!”
The sultan laughed, “I need a wise fellow like you around to remind me that a life can be saved by a single pomegranate seed.” He made the man his personal gardener and moved his family into the palace, and they were never hungry again.
Adapted from “The Wise Rogue,” a Moroccan Jewish folktale found in Nathan Asubel’s Treasury of Jewish Folklore
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