Tattling or telling on others in order to get them in trouble is wrong. In this week's portion a pair of lowly men wrongfully told on Moses to King Pharaoh. Their tattling almost caused Moses' death and a lot of trouble for the Jewish people.
In our story a kid discovers the trouble with tattling.
GETTING OVER THE HURDLE
"Okay - whoever was the joker who turned all the hurdles backwards, step forward right now!" barked Coach Green to the snickering members of the school track team. The laughing stopped, but nobody stepped forward.
"So you think I'm kidding?" the coach went on. "Well to show you I'm not - I'm setting my stopwatch for exactly one minute and if the guy who did it doesn't admit it and take his punishment, then I'm canceling today's track meet."
The kids shuffled nervously as the coach clicked the start button of the big stopwatch he always wore around his neck. This was the first meet of the year and they had been practicing for weeks. Most of the team members had family or friends coming to watch.
They all knew it was Paul who pulled the prank of moving the track equipment around - they had all laughed as he did it. They thought it was funny, but obviously the coach didn't seem to find it funny at all and seeing that, Paul was too scared to confess.
"Thirty more seconds," the coach said as he peered into the face of his watch.
"Wait!" a voice cried out. Everyone turned to look at Kenny.
"I'll tell you who did it!" Kenny said, pointing his finger accusingly in the scared boy's direction.
"Shh! Be quiet," a few of the guys said, looking angrily Kenny's way, but still he went on.
"I'm not missing out on this meet for nothing! It was Paul. He's the one who did it!" Kenny smiled smugly. Suddenly noticing the icy stares of his teammates, he continued, "I mean, I didn't say it only for my own sake. Why should everyone get punished when it was just one kid who did something wrong? Now instead of all of us missing out, just Paul will have to. Isn't that right, coach?"
Now all eyes were on the coach.
"Not exactly," the coach replied. "Kenny, I asked for a confession, not an accusation," he said sharply. Kenny looked stunned. "Ratting out a teammate is poor sportsmanship. Paul should have put the whole team first and come forward. But you put yourself first, and that's not the kind of thinking I want on this track team," the coach continued. "I think you should sit this meet out and think about what you've done."
"Me? Why me? I didn't turn over the hurdles! I didn't do anything wrong!"
"You may not have turned over the hurdles, but you definitely did something wrong. As bad as fooling around with the equipment is, telling on one of your own teammates is even worse."
"But I thought you wanted to know who did it..."
"I did," the coach snapped. "I asked the perpetrator to confess on his own. I would never ask one teammate to inform on another about something like this. I admit I'm annoyed about the prank, but I also admit I admired the way you guys stuck together. I was about to tell you all that and let it go with a warning, but now I see that not all of you know how to stick together. Kenny, you'll have to sit this one out and cheer your teammates on from the sidelines."
Q. How did Kenny feel about telling who did it at first?
A. He felt it was okay to save himself from getting punished.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He saw how it's wrong to tell on someone and get him into trouble.
Q. What life-lesson do you think someone could learn from this story?
A. To tell on someone, even if he did something wrong, isn't a simple matter. True, it was a difficult test, as the guys felt they were going to have to take the rap, yet it still would have been better than turning in their teammate.
Q. Are there ever times that it's right to inform on others?
A. There can be times, if someone is doing something seriously destructive to himself or others, that telling a fair responsible person who can help is in order. But simply to tell to get someone into trouble is wrong.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Do you think that saving oneself from trouble justifies informing on someone else?
A. While there may be exceptions, generally speaking, telling on others is so ethically wrong, one should be willing to accept personal difficulties rather than to tell.
Q. Do you think it makes a difference whether what one is informing about is true?
A. Certainly making up something to falsely tell on someone is far worse, however even to inform about something true is often unethical as well.