The Woman and the Lion’s Hair

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A Lesson For the Children:

A woman came to the wise man of the village and complained that her husband does not love her anymore, and that she did not know how to make him love her once again. The man asked her, “Do you still love your husband?” And the woman replied choking back tears, “Of course! Please give me a potion or a charm to give my husband so that he will return to me, and we can once again live as a loving couple.”

The old man replied, “Okay, I will give you something for your husband. But you must know that this is not a simple potion. In order to prepare it I must obtain some very rare material.” “What is it,” the woman asked, “I will do anything you ask, and I will get anything that you need!” “Very well,” the wise man replied, “I want you to bring me three hairs from the whiskers of a lion.” “What?” the woman cried. “How can I even get close to a lion? It will simply eat me up!” And the wise man agreed, nodding his head, “You are right, but if you want a potion that will bring your husband back to me, there is no alternative.”

The unfortunate woman left the wise man and returned home with a heavy heart. That very day she made a plan. She slaughtered a sheep and cut it into small pieces, put the meat into a sack, put it on her back and started walking to the Sudanese Desert, where lions were known to roam.

The first thing she did was to climb into a tree with her sack of meat, and when she saw a lion approaching she cautiously threw down a piece of meat. The lion approached, gave out a frightening roar, and fell on the meat. He ate it, yawned, and fell asleep. The woman gathered her courage and went down to a lower branch. When she saw that the lion started to wake up, she threw it another piece of meat. The lion looked at the woman with one eye and shook his mane, and then he thoroughly enjoyed the new piece of meat. This continued for one day and the next, and each time the woman would throw the lion a new piece of meat and then go to a lower and closer branch.

On the third day, the woman decided that the time had come for her to get out of the tree. She left the tree altogether and offered the last piece of meat to the drowsy lion. The satiated lion smelled the meat, and fell into a deep sleep. The woman did not miss her opportunity. With great courage she approached the lion, put out her hand and picked three golden hairs from its whiskers, put them in her kerchief, and immediately made her way back to the wise man’s home.

“Here, I succeeded,” she said happily. “Give me the potion that you promised to make for me so that I can get my husband’s love back.” But the old wise man replied with a broad smile, “No, no, I do not have to give you anything. If you managed to get so close to a lion that you could get three of his hairs, you must know how to get your husband’s love back.”

After a moment of strained silence, the woman understood, and quickly returned to her own home. That very day she prepared her husband’s favorite meal, and gave him everything that he wanted. From that day on, she made a greater effort to understand her husband’s desires, and to give him what he wanted, without harming his feelings. It goes without saying that very soon things began to change, and the husband, like the lion, began once again to appreciate his wife, and he also provided for her and fulfilled all her desires. They both learned not only to take but also to give, and their love blossomed.

(Source: An Ethiopian Folktale)

Reprinted with permission from Zomet Institute (

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.