Though puzzled by the rabbi's strange request, the man was happy to be let off with so easy a penance. He quickly cut up the pillow, scattered the feathers, and returned to the rabbi.
"Am I now forgiven?" he asked.
"Just one more thing," the rabbi said. "Go now and gather up all the feathers."
"But that's impossible. The wind has already scattered them."
"Precisely," the rabbi answered. "And though you truly wish to correct the evil you have done, it is as impossible to repair the damage done by your words, as it is to recover the feathers."