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Feathers in the Wind

Published September 15, 2010
Countries: Israel
Age Levels: 8 and up

A Rabbi was talking to a small group about the Ten Commandments.  Heads rose and everyone's face looked up when the he recited, "I am the Lord your God.  You shall not have any other gods before me."  The heads nodded in agreement.

They looked down when the Rabbi pointed at the empty table in front of him and said, "You shall not worship idols."

One by one, he shared the commandments.  With each one, the Rabbi looked for understanding in the eyes of the listeners.  Only once did he see a question on the face of one young man.  Afterwards the Rabbi asked that man to stay afterwards to talk.  "I sensed that you had a question for me." the Rabbi said.

"I understand the commandments like, 'You shall not steal,' and, 'You shall not kill' and most of the others," said the man.  "But, I do not understand the importance of the commandment that, 'You shall not slander.'"

"I will be glad to tell you why that commandment is as important as the others if you do one favor for me first.  First, fill a sack full of feathers.  Then I want you to put one feather on the doorstep of every house in the village.  When that is done, come back, and we will talk.

The young man looked puzzled, but agreed to do what the Rabbi told him.  He left and got a feather pillow.  He cut open the pillow and went from door to door.  He put a feather on each step.  As he walked away from some of the houses, the wind blew up, and the feathers went flying.  He chased the feathers down and put them back on the steps as nest he could.  Then he went to see the Rabbi.

"Now can you tell me, Rabbi, why it is important not to slander another person?"

"I will tell you after you go pick up all of the feathers," said the Rabbi.

"I can't do that," complained the man.  The feathers will be all over town.

"Then you know the answer," said the Rabbi.  "Slander means saying something that is untrue about another person that hurts their reputation.  People spread rumors.  Bad news is as fast as feathers blowing in the wind.  The news spreads whether it is true or false, and it can never be taken back."  

"I think I understand," said the man.  "I can never get all the feathers back, and a person could never take back something that has been said and shared with other people."

"Now you know why the commandments remind us to never slander or say anything untrue about our neighbors.  Telling lies about others is like feathers blowing in the wind."


Dr. Mike Lockett is an educator, storyteller and children's author from Normal, IL. Dr. Lockett has given more than 4000 programs across the USA and as far away as eastern Asia. Contact Mike by writing to in order to book him for a storytelling program or young authors program or to inquire about purchasing his books and CDs.