Aug 10, 2011

Life Isn't Fair, or Is It?

A popular book with insights as to how to keep little things from getting to us has a chapter called, "Surrender to the Fact that Life Isn't Fair."  It says that one of the mistakes we make is that we think life should be fair, or that some day it will be.  It's not and it won't, says the author.

It reminds me of the high school teacher who told us the same thing, "Life isn't fair."

Well, that a non-Jewish author claims this to be so is one thing, but that a frum Jew should say this?! If it was put, "Life doesn't seem fair, but Hashem is in charge, and He is perfectly fair," that would be altogether different.  But that is not what was said.

It says in parshas Haazinu, "Ha'tzur tamim pa'alo... tzaddik v'yashar hu" - Hashem's actions are perfect... He is righteous and straight. 

All of Shaar Ha'Bitachon in the Chovos Ha'Levavos is predicated on Hashem being all loving and doing what is best for us.  We believe that "gam zu l'tova" - this too, is for the good.

There are so many things in life that seem unfair to us.  As it was written in Pirkei Avos millenia ago, "R. Yanai says "Ein b'yadeinu lo mi'shalvas ha'resha'im v'lo mi'yisurei ha'tzaddikim", by which he means that - we cannot understand why on the one hand there are wicked people who live tranquil lives, while there are righteous people who suffer.  This is nothing new.  The reason we think life should be fair is because we have an innate sense that G-d is in charge and that He is good.  Ultimately, we will see how everything is as it should be.

There is a Medrash (Seder Ha'Doros) that tells how Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi asked Eliyahu Ha'Navi if he could accompany him.  Eliyahu refused, saying R' Yehoshua would not understand what he saw.  R' Yehoshua pleaded until Eliyahu agreed, on condition that as soon as R' Yehoshua began questioning him, they would part company.  R' Yehoshua saw some puzzling things but kept quiet until he couldn't restrain himself any more, at which time Eliyahu explained what he saw. 

There are answers, but we are not privy to them.  There is a famous story that is told (with various names) about someone who explained that the reason he enjoyed longevity is because he never questioned G-d.  He said, others ask, "why me?" and so on, and Hashem takes them from this world so their questions are answered. 

Life is fair.  May we merit to see how this is so with the coming of Moshiach.

1 comment:

  1. Life itself is not based on our limited concept of fairness. There is however, fairness related to laws, business matters, etc. We have a right to complain if a business has not treated us fairly.