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Life Is Not Fair!

Life Is Not Fair!

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Question:

It seems to me that G‑d is not fair. Children don't get to chose where or to whom they will be born. Some are born in affluent societies to parents who love them and shower them with G‑d's truths, while others are born in very poor countries to parents who abuse them. That is not fair.

Response:

How right you are. Life is indeed not fair. We constantly hear of bad things that happen to innocent people. Yet, at the same time, the wicked may prosper and have it all going their way. In a perfect world, one would think, the righteous should prosper and evil doers should suffer hardships, not the other way around.

For some perspective, let me share with you an incident I had with my 4-year-old son the other day. It was 7:30 PM, his bedtime, but instead of changing to pajamas and brushing his teeth, he wanted to stay awake and play with his older sister. As a parent, I had the foresight to know that staying up late would be the beginning of a vicious cycle: he would be extremely tired the next day and not in the best of moods. This would then impact his behavior and interaction with his siblings and friends.

But all he could think of was how unfair it was that he had to go to bed while his sister got to stay up a bit later. No matter how much explaining I did or how much sense it made to me, he simply refused to accept the unfairness of it all. I can only hope that one day, when he is a father himself, he'll see how, though unfair, dad was probably right.

The same can be said for our questioning G‑d:

We may not always understand G‑d's ways. We don't have insight into His motives, nor has He consulted with us for our opinion. All we know is that there must be a master plan, and from G‑d's perspective this is what's right. We might not get it or even accept it, but we know that a loving and kind G‑d only wants the best for His creations.

Is it easy? Of course it isn't. But we can rest assured that He knows what He's doing, even when we don't.

And we can hope and pray for the time when everything in the world will be only revealed good for all to see.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon,

Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov

P.S. You may also want to read Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? or browse through the many articles we have on this subject.

Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov is co-director, along with his wife Chanie, of Chabad of Northwest Indiana, and a member of Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi team.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (7)
September 3, 2010
Ouch. This touches on something dear to me.
I SO do not believe G-d creates TERRIBLE things to happen in life and it's for our own good. OH, I VERY MUCH do not believe that. The G-d I worship is VERY DIFFERENT that the one you seem to promote. My Hashem is LOVING and kind, and ALLOWS rain to fall on the just and unjust, NOT always to teach us a lesson, but because that is the way of the world. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people and that's just a fact, with NO REASON behind it all for the most part. We can READ INTO events that G-d caused it "for our good", but the G-d I know would NEVER do such MEAN and terrible things. I do not believe ANY of the stories in the scriptures that imply bad things happened because of G-d. If I believed it, then I would HATE G-d, HATE Judaism, and HATE all of religion. As it is, I maintain FAITH in G-d's goodness and wishes that we have a good life, and that He CRIES with us when we cry. No, my G-d is one of LOVE and empathy. I did not DESERVE BC, etc.
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA, USA
August 13, 2010
A parent explains, or tries, God does not
Oh, I think that most children will not obey!

They will touch the stove again ...

G-d gives the guidelines and it's up to me to do my best to deal with my life and His guidelines.

So far, He has been with me throughout my life, no matter how many times I fall.
Marny
Vista, CA
August 12, 2010
A parent explains, or tries. God does not.
The article says:

"No matter how much explaining I did or how much sense it made to me, he simply refused to accept the unfairness of it all."

This is a critical distinction.

Although he refused to accept it, you do explain your reasons.

You did not simply "you shall do it because it will please me". You did not say "on every third day of the month, you shall play only with green toys and no red toys. You shall follow this rule because you shall fear me, your father."

Yet, that is what the Torah frequently does. There are reasons given for a few commandments, but most are given without explanation; some are explained in the Talmud or elsewhere, but that does not change the lack of a reason in the Torah.

If you tell a child "Do not put your hand on the stove because it is a sin", the child will get burned. But if your child touches a candle flame and then you show the child the flames of the stove and explain that it is like 100 candles, the child will obey.
Anonymous
Camarillo, CA
July 23, 2010
Life is Not Fair
How much fun I've had with my maiden name being FAIR.

All I had to say to my beautiful husband was: "Honey, that's not fair!" and he would smile and with his amazing love say to me:

"Honey, get with the program ... you're no longer Fair ... it's Fischer."

Rabbi Harold Kushner helped me when my brother was dying ... and made the difference in how I could let my brother (60) go ... as well as my husband (55).
Marny
Vista, CA/USA
July 14, 2010
Madam Kushner
To my dear Madam Kushner,

Perhaps it is not G-d that is merciless, but rather the world of men that is so.

Pollutants, bad food, and the slings and arrows of modern society often afflict us with ill health of both mind and body.

Yet, G-d has given us nature from which cures and balm abound.
Anonymous
Miami, FL
May 5, 2010
interesting choice
I would think that most people clicking into this qestion have problems such as seriious health issues, death of a loved one and not compared to the unfairness of being able to stay up like his sister.
My husband died at age 59 of ALS.
He was highly religious.
My son and his young Jewish wife lost 3 babies the last 2 years but didn't want to burden me. They have none as yet.
Her mother has progressive breast cancer.
Her sister was born without an arm.
I lost three babies before my son Joseph.
In fact, my husband and I started and ran the synagogue in Augusta Maine our first years of marriage.
We did everything expected.
G-d does not seem to be merciful as it is written.
Perhaps he created life but then washed his hands to the rest of it.
Perhaps not.
My cousin is Harold Kushner
Liba Malke Kushner
West Haven, CT
April 26, 2010
I love it!! wonderful lesson. in the real world dealing with what fathers deal with daily, we become the enemy not the caring parent. thank you Rabbi!!!!
Larry dean Bowles
Carriere, MS.
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