Stories connect us to the time-tested wisdom of the world's peoples--and teach spiritual and moral lessons we want to pass on to our kids. Each week, Beliefnet will present a spiritual story from a different faith tradition, followed by simple activities that bring the message home. We invite you to share the stories with your children, do the activities together, and make "Teaching Tales" a joyous part of family life.

Reprinted with permission from "How the Children Became Stars" by Aaron Zerah, published by Sorin Books.

A holy man named Aman made a journey to see the powerful Horoun Al-Rashid, the Caliph, who governed a great empire. When Aman was at last allowed to see the Caliph, the simple man asked him a simple question. "If you were dying of thirst and alone in the desert, what would you give for a single cup of water?"

The Caliph did not even pause for a moment. "I'd give half my kingdom!" he shouted.

Aman nodded. Then quietly he asked, "And, what if the water you drank somehow filled you up so much you were about to burst? With your life in danger, O great Caliph, what would you give for a few pills that would cure your condition and keep your soul alive?"

"Surely I would give up the other half of my kingdom," Haroun Al-Rashid declared.

"Why then, O great Caliph," the saintly Aman inquired, "do you talk about what fantastic worth your kingdom has when you yourself are willing to give up the whole kingdom for a mere cup of water and a handful of pills?"

Bringing It Home

To Do This Week

  • Imagine you are the holy Aman. Draw or paint a picture of what it's like living in the desert. Draw or paint a picture of what it's like being Caliph Haroun Al-Rashid, living in a magnificent palace.
  • Pretend you are Haroun and you are alone in the desert. Do you have what is really important to you, or are you missing something?
  • What would you give to save yourself or a family member from a serious illness? Discuss what is of the greatest value to you.
  • Join the Discussion
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