Dear Rabbi,

My sister was involved in a car accident that broke her legs and caused her significant pain; however, she recovered almost completely within six months. Since then she has used her injuries as an excuse not to work. She lives off welfare, blames many other people for her injuries and considers herself the victim in everything.

In a couple of weeks, she will be awarded more than half a million dollars.

I, on the other hand, work hard at my job, do many good deeds and try to do the right things in my life. However, I am struggling with bills and expenses in order to maintain my household.

How can I overcome the resentment I feel towards my sister who has done nothing to help herself for years while I struggle from day to day?

Answer:

I hear your frustration. If life were exactly what we see on the surface, it would truly be unfair. However, in the same way that you wouldn't want a person to look at you and make a decision about you based purely on a surface appearance, rather according to what you are deep down on the inside, so too, there is way more to life than what meets the eye. And so we must look past the appearance of what things are to their inner reality.

We can all get more in touch with this internal reality by learning about it and talking about it, and thereby developing our faith that G‑d oversees all, and that nothing at all can happen in the world without Him wanting it to happen exactly the way it did. G‑d is the ultimate good and knows what we need in this life (also based on previous lives) better than we do. If we could see things as they are from G‑d's perspective, there would be no complaints. I understand that this seems theoretical and hard to connect to. It is a continual process to make this idea a living reality in our lives.

You might also consider that your sister went through physical and emotional trauma from the accident and the recovery process. Perhaps she's still overwhelmed by it and it prevents her from functioning properly. Also consider that every person reacts to trauma differently, and your sister is reacting differently than you would have reacted. I can assure you that no one feels good sitting around doing nothing, not putting effort into something or working towards goals. The fact is that most people who win the lottery are not happy and their lives often fall apart.

We can never judge ourselves and our situation based on other peoples' situations. What we can do is look to those with less (your sister has less physical and emotional health than you do) and be grateful for what we have. We can look for good traits in others and try to acquire those traits ourselves.

You might look for ways in which you can help your sister and also strengthen your relationship. Are you spending time with her? Could you play a game with her once in a while? Maybe you could you take her on an outing she would enjoy? You could pick up a lunch for her once in a while, and bring it to her home.

In life we can only do what's in our power, and the rest is up to G‑d, including the physical things we do or don't have.