Once, a long time ago, in a small village somewhere not so far away lived a woman.
This woman was not a bad or evil woman, but she did have a bad habit of gossiping. One day, a particularly nasty story she had spread resulted in a good deal of grief to her neighbor and his family. This woman felt terrible about what she had done, and went to see the rabbi. "Rebbe", she asked, "what can I do to make this terrible thing I have done right? How can I make amends?".
The rabbi thought a long time, and finally looked up at the woman...
"You must go home and take a pillow from your bed, take it to the farthest edge of the village, cut it open, and scatter the feathers into the winds."
The woman was gone for some time, but eventually came back to the home of the rabbi.
"I did as you said, rabbi, I let the wind catch the feathers and scatter them far and wide. What will this accomplish?"
The rabbi smiled sadly, "Oh you are not done yet."
"What must I do now?" asked the woman.
The rabbi paused a moment, and then looked deeply into her eyes "Now you must go and gather up each and every feather."