Long ago there lived an orphan boy who was very poor. He was so poor that he had no where to sleep. He slept wherever he could rest his head. He was so poor that he had nothing to eat. He ate whatever he could find. He was so poor that he didn't even have a name! People called him "Shmutzee" because his face was always so dirty.
One day, Shmutzee was passing by an orchard. He was very hungry, so he picked an apple from one of the trees and began to eat. "You have stolen an apple from the king's orchard," roared a giant soldier. "You must come with us!" The soldier grabbed Shmutzee and lifted him onto his huge horse. He rode with Shmutzee to the castle, where the poor boy was thrown into the dungeon.
Alone in dungeon with nothing but his apple core, Shmutzee was very frightened and lonely. He picked the seeds out of the core, and sat, and sat. As he sat, he put the apple seeds into his pocket, and thought of a plan.
The next day, the king's messenger came to get Shmutzee. "You will be hanged," he said. "that is the punishment for stealing from the king." They came to a courtyard in the castle, where the king and his advisors stood, waiting for Shmutzee's trial. "Before we begin," said Shmutzee, "I want to share a secret with you. I have a magic seed, and I want to give it to someone who can use it."
He pulled one of the seeds from his pocket. "This is a magic seed," announced Shmutzee. "It grows from a seed to a tree in just one minute, and bears fruit in just three minutes more. The only problem is it must be planted by someone who has never taken anything that belongs to anyone else – ever."
The king took the seed from Shmutzee's hand and placed in in the hand of his chief advisor. "Plant this magic seed!" the king commanded.
But the chief advisor only blushed. "Once, when I was a boy," he confessed, "I borrowed my brother's favorite book without asking. I lost it. So I am not qualified to plant the magic seed."
He then passed the seed to the commander of the king's army. "I'm afraid I cannot plant the seed either," said the commander. "I once took a pair of boots from the store house without asking. I am sorry, Your Majesty.
So the commander handed the seed to the king to plant.
The king looked at his advisers and at Shmutzee. He was silent for a long time.
Just then the queen, who had been watching from a window, spoke. "It appears that no one is qualified to plant this magic seed," she declared.
"Yes," admitted the king, and he made a declaration. "This seed is indeed magic. I don't know whether it grows a magic tree or not, but I do know that it grows tzedek, 'justice.'
"This young man meant no harm when he took an apple from my orchard, and he has taught us all a valuable lesson: That no human being is perfect, and that we who judge others be fair. He will marry my daughter when he grows up, and some day, he will inherit my kingdom."