A Sack Full Of Feathers Storytelling
A Sack Full Of Feathers Storytelling

Read A Sack Full of Feathers, by Debby Waldman and illustrated by Cindy Revell, or share the story “The Gossiper” (below) to help address the value to use nice words—lashon harah. As a follow-up activity, take a feather pillow outside, cut it open, and shake out the feathers. Ask students to try to gather all the feathers, but call students together before they can possibly collect them all. Discuss the lesson of the story: Mean words, like blowing feathers, go out into the world and cannot be taken back. Relate this back to Chrysanthemum. Even though the other children stopped teasing Chrysanthemum, did that make everything okay? What else do the children need to do?

The Gossiper

A woman repeated a story (gossip) about a neighbor. Within a few days everyone in the community knew the story. The person she talked about heard what had been said about her and she was very sad. Later, the woman who had spread the story learned that it was not true. She was very sorry and went to a wise rabbi and asked what she could do to repair the damage.

After giving this some thought, the rabbi said to her, “Go home, get one of your feather pillows, and bring it back to me.” Surprised by the rabbi’s response, the woman followed his advice and went home to get a feather pillow and brought it to the rabbi.

“Now,” said the rabbi, “open the pillow and pull out all the feathers.” Confused, the woman did what she was told to do.

After a few minutes, the rabbi said, “Now, I want you to find every one of the feathers and put them back into the pillow.”

“That’s impossible,” said the woman, almost in tears. “The window is open and the wind has scattered them all over the room and blown many feathers outside. I can’t possibly find them all.”

“Yes,” said the rabbi. “And that is what happens when you gossip or tell a story about someone else. Once you talk about someone, the words fly from one person’s mouth to another, just like these feathers flew in the wind. Once you say them, you can never take them back.”


Use Nice Words—Lashon Hara


It doesn’t take much to speak a rumor, and once you do, you can never completely undo the wrong.


What else do you think the rabbi might have told the woman who spread the story to do to try to make things right (for example, apologize to the person she talked about and apologize to all the people who, in turn, spread the story)?