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    Why isn’t life fair? – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why isn’t life fair?

    A. If anyone had found the definitive answer, many philosophers would be out of work.

    There is a Sholem Aleichem story about a boy whose mother told him to grate the horseradish but warned, “If I catch you crying I will smack you!”

    He started grating and thought to himself, “It isn’t fair!” Then he began thinking of children he knew who couldn’t run and jump because they were disabled and it wasn’t fair, and he began crying. In came his mother and smacked him. It wasn’t fair!

    The Bible constantly addresses the problem, especially in Psalms, Job and Kohelet. In Kohelet there seem to be four approaches: life is unjust, life is absurd, life is a mystery, life is a challenge (“Even if you can’t explain life, live it to the full!”).

    Note that Kohelet does not take the easy approach by rejecting God and becoming an atheist. We might put it this way: just because human beings cannot understand the ways of God, is that a reason to abandon Him?

    A Jewish version is the conversation. “You don’t understand God? So stop laying tefillin!” “Stop laying tefillin? Just because I have problems with God, why should the tefillin suffer?”

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