The abundant vineyards on the Judean Hills contained many terraces whose vines were in constant need of care.
One balmy spring morning, Ahinadav and his sons walked to their vineyard and stopped in front of the stone wall surrounding it.
“Like I said this morning, sons,” Ahinadav began, “I instruct the workers and then leave for my meeting with the King.” He looked intently at his two surly looking sons, Zakkur and Adriel. “I expect both of you to work today. No slouching!”
“Of course, Abba, you know I’m a good worker,” Adriel looked slyly at his brother.
Ahinadav put his hand on Adriel’s shoulder. “I know you are. God bless you, my son!” He turned to Zakkur. “Can I count on you today?”
Zakkur looked angry. “I really don’t feel like it, Abba. You know my heart’s not in it. I prefer sheep tending.”
“Well, I can’t force you; you’re too old for that.” Ahinadav sighed and entered the wooden gate. When he told the waiting workers what needed to be done he left for his appointment.
Still leaning against the outer wall, a sullen Zakkur looked at the retrieving figure of his father. He saw the slumped shoulders, and suddenly felt guilty.
He looked at the pruning sickle in his hand and made a decision.
“I’ll make you proud of me today, Abba!” he said to himself and followed the men to the higher terraces.
To his surprise, Adriel didn’t begin to work straight away, but went to the storage chamber that was hewn into the bedrock.
“Are you going to check on the wine?” Zakkur suddenly became suspicious. Although his brother had promised their father to work, he often had a way of doing things behind his back.
“In that you are right, my brother,” Adriel grinned. “I’m suddenly very thirsty. Care to join me?”
“You know Abba won’t allow it!”
“Abba’s not here to find out. Well?” Adriel broke the stopper from one of the wine vats and with a dipper ladled wine in an earthenware cup. “Here, taste!”
Zakkur took a step backwards. “Oh, no! Not for me in the morning. This isn’t right! What you’re doing is wrong.” He turned around. “I’ve decided to go to work today after all.”
“Suit yourself, and be a good Abba’s boy! Le Chaim! To life!” Adriel sat down and lifted the cup as a salute to Zakkur’s back.
The rains had been abundant that winter and many of the terrace’s stones had become loose. Zakkur began to repair the many breaches on the first terrace. It was hard work and he wiped the sweat of his brow with his coarse sleeve. The vineyard was big and most of the workers were spread out. Zakkur was alone on his terrace and wondered if his brother was planning on getting drunk. It saddened him, for surely it would be like a slap in the face of their father.
He straightened and looked around him. The ground had to be plowed and cleared of weeds that had sprung up abundantly. Taking a vine between his fingers, he observed the seemingly dead wood that in several places had begun to bud hesitantly. A lot of pruning had to be done, for there were many dead and fruitless branches.
Zakkur sighed. The work was so immense. Suddenly overwhelmed by the vastness of it, he felt tempted to join his brother.
“No! I mustn’t! If Abba sees that two of his sons refuse to help him, it will kill him,” Zakkur spoke out loud.
He quickly looked around to make sure nobody had heard him. Everything was quiet, except for the singing birds. He took a deep breath and began to cut away the dead branches with his pruning knife.
“I’ll take one step at a time and see how far I will come,” Zakkur decided.
Half-way through the morning he found himself humming a merry tune. He smiled when he realized that, while reluctant at first, he found that he even began to enjoy the rigorous work.
It had been a productive day when the sinking son told Zakkur it was time to go home. He picked up his tools and headed home.
Adriel was too drunk to walk. Zakkur saw the look of hurt on his father’s face when he saw Adriel being carried in by the vineyard workers.
Ahinadav’s grateful look however was for him. For Zakkur it was an added blessing to a day well spent.
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