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Scattering Feathers in the Wind


An old Jewish tale well illustrates the consequences of spreading hurtful gossip. Told in various forms, the gist of the story is as follows.
A man went about town slandering the town’s wise man. Later, the malicious gossiper realized his wrong and went to the wise man to ask for forgiveness, offering to do whatever was necessary to make amends. The wise man had one request: The gossiper was told to go and take a feather pillow and cut it open, scattering the feathers to the wind. Though puzzled by the request, the gossiper did as he was instructed and then returned to the wise man.
“Am I now forgiven?” he asked.
“First, go and gather all the feathers,” the wise man responded.
“But how can I? The wind has already scattered them.”
“It is as difficult to repair the damage done by your words as it is to recover the feathers.”
The lesson is clear. Once spoken, words cannot be retrieved, and it may be impossible to undo the hurt they cause. Before spreading a bit of gossip, we are wise to remember that we are, in effect, about to scatter feathers in the wind.




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