Long, long ago in the Land of Israel there lived a farmer. In the spring, he plowed his land in order to plant wheat seeds. Throughout the summer he tended his crop so that in the autumn, he could harvest wheat. He would thresh the wheat on the threshing floor, separating out the grains of wheat which he could grind to make bread for his family. The man had two sons, Shimon and Isaac. The brothers were best friends. Every spring and autumn Shimon and Isaac helped their father to plow the earth. Then they would help sow the seeds.

When the wheat grew so tall that the boys could hide among the stalks, playing hide-and-seek, it was harvest time. The father would take his sickle and cut down the great stalks of wheat, and tie them in bundles. Shimon and Isaac helped their father load the sheaves of wheat onto the back of a donkey, who carried it back home to the threshing floor. Sometimes, the boys road on top of the sheaves.

When the father had grown so old that he could no longer farm his land, he called his sons, Shimon and Isaac to him. "You have grown to be good men and I have taught you how to be good farmers," he told them. "Now I am too old to plow and plant, harvest and thresh the wheat. Soon I will die. I am dividing my land in half. Each of you shall receive one half. Farm it as you have seen me farm it, and it will support you and your families. Take care also of one another."

No long after, the father died, leaving Shimon and Isaac grieving. After they had completed the period of mourning for their father, Shimon and Isaac divided up their father's land, as he had instructed. Each son built himself a house on his parcel of land. In time, Shimon married a woman named Rachel and they were blessed with three healthy children. Isaac, however, never married, and lived alone in the house he had built. The two brothers remained best friends.

Time passed. Every spring, the brothers plowed their land. Then they planted seeds. As Shimon's children grew, they learned to follow behind the plow and sow the grains of wheat. In autumn, each harvested his crop of wheat. Then they would join together to celebrate their bounty.

One year, very little rain fell. The wheat dried up. When harvest time came, there was very little wheat to cut down and bundle into sheaves. Few bundles lay on the threshing floors of either Shimon or Isaac.

One night Shimon could not sleep. He lay tossing and turning in bed. He got up and walked to the window, but it was Rosh Chodesh, the night of the new moon, and so it was very dark outside. Shimon could see nothing, so her returned to bed.

"What's bothering you?" asked his wife, Rachel. "What is on your mind?"

"I cannot stop thinking about my brother, Isaac. He lives all alone. I have you, and we have three wonderful children. They will take care of us when we grow old. But Isaac has no one to comfort him now and no one to care for him when he grows old. Yet each of us has the same amount of land and the same amount of wheat. It doesn't seem fair."

"What will you do about it?" asked Rachel, smiling to herself, because she knew what her husband would do.

Shimon thought for some time. Finally, he turned to her and smiled. "I know what to do," answered Shimon. "I will take some of my wheat to my brother."

It was early midnight. Shimon dressed in a hurry and rushed out of the house. He harnessed his sleepy donkey and piled his back high with sheaves of wheat. "We have something important to do," he whispered to the donkey. "I'm sorry to disturb your sleep, but this is even more important than sleep." Shimon led the donkey across his field, and across his brother's field, to his brother's threshing floor. There he unloaded the wheat, and then quietly returned home. When he crawled back into bed, he felt much better, and slept soundly the rest of the night.

The very same night, Isaac could not sleep either. He was thinking about his brother, Shimon. "My brother has a wife and three children to feed. I have only myself to feed. Yet we both have the same amount of land and therefore the same amount of wheat. That just doesn't seem fair, especially when we are suffering a drought, and wheat is scarce."

Isaac got out of his bed and loaded his donkey with wheat from his threshing floor. He led the donkey across his field, across his brother's field, and to Shimon's threshing floor. There he unloaded his load of wheat. Feeling wonderful, he returned home and slept well.

When the sun rose the next morning, Shimon arose, dressed and went to examine his threshing floor. He rubbed his eyes. "What? How can this be?" he asked in astonishment. "There is just as much wheat here today as there was yesterday. I suppose I didn't take enough wheat to my brother. I'll have to bring him more tonight."

That same morning Joel, too, awoke with the sun, dressed and went to his threshing floor to examine his wheat supply. He, too, rubbed his eyes in disbelief. "This is extremely peculiar," he muttered to himself. "I know I brought wheat to Shimon last night, but it seems that there is just as much here this morning. I suppose I did not take enough. Ah, well, I'll take more tonight to make things right."

That night, at midnight, the two brothers again arose from their beds, dressed, and loaded their donkeys with wheat from their threshing floors. It was dark, with barely a sliver of a moon in the sky, and they did not see each other crossing the field. The next morning, each was amazed to see that he had as much wheat on his threshing floor as he had had the day before. This continued every night for the next two weeks, with each brother carrying wheat across the fields to his brother.

On the night of the full moon, Shimon and Isaac started out on their journeys at the same time. The sky was clear and the moon cast a beautiful and generous light on the fields. The two brothers met halfway where their farms joined. Seeing one another leading a donkey loaded with sheaves of wheat, they simultaneously realized what had been happening all month. Without saying a word, they dropped the reigns of their donkeys and embraced one another.

Shimon and Isaac grew old. Many generations passed. Hundreds of years passed. King David came and built a city where the wheat fields had been. God commanded David's son, King Solomon, to build the Holy Temple in Jerusalem on the very spot where the brothers had met and embraced. It is the holiest place in the world, for there two brothers acted out of pure love for one another.


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