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When Equality Fails

When Equality Fails

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I was a kid who liked things to be fair. And I thought that meant that each of us four siblings had to get exactly the same amount of French fries, spending money and pretty much everything else. I didn’t realize that watering a tree and a small plant with the same amount of water would do justice to neither of them, and that trying to equalize things when people are inherently different leads to epic failure. Think communism.

Korach was also stuck on things being “fair.” In this week’s Torah portion, he challenged Moses’ leadership, claiming that all Jews are just as holy as Moses, and therefore Moses had no right to “raise himself” among the masses.

The same way equality with “stuff” is counterproductive, so is equality in status. G‑d created different people with different abilities, and He created a nation where leadership is imperative. The Jews needed direction and guidance, and Moses was chosen by G‑d to provide that. “Dethroning” him would be a disservice to the Jews, as well as to Creation as a whole. For true unity is not achieved when all differences are banished, but when every person is allowed to fulfill his or her individual potential.

As a teacher and a mother, I now know that just as my students may need differentiated instruction, one of my children may need more attention than the others. I can grasp that “fair” doesn’t mean blurring boundaries or denying G‑d-given qualities, but giving everyone an “equal” opportunity to have his or her individual needs met.

Thoughtstream: Today, I will celebrate who I am as a woman and as an individual, without trying to be “equal” to anyone else.

(Adapted from Shulchan Shabbat: Bamidbar, p. 170, and Likkutei Sichot, vol. 18, p. 202.)

Sara Blau is a teacher and extracurricular director at Beth Rivkah High School. She is a wife, mother, and author of several children“s books.
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