The parsha this week, Ki Tavo, instructs the children of Israel to bring the first ripened fruits of their harvest to the Temple as a show of gratitude to God for all of the blessings God has bestowed upon them. When reading this, I immediately thought of apples. Crisp, sweet, juicy, farm fresh apples. The kind of apples that you can only find at farmers markets in September and October.
When I translate the Hebrew blessing for apples for older children, I translate the blessing literally: "Blessed are you, Lord and God, Sovereign of the Universe, for creating the fruit of the tree." For younger children, I take a more liberal approach. I tell the children the blessing means: "Thank you God for making apples. They're really delicious." In taking a moment to thank God for the fruit of the tree, we're teaching our children about a special kind of gratitude. It's easy to say "thank you" when someone helps you open your lunchbox or tie your shoes. It's harder to remember that we should still be thankful for the things most of us take for granted, like delicious, crisp, sweet, juicy apples that only autumn brings.