An explanation of why life is not fair

    October-November 2009            
Search the Jewish Magazine Site: Google


Search our Archives:

Opinion & Society


Life Just Ain't Fair

By Larry Fine

"Life just isn't fair," voiced my friend Yosef as he looked helplessly at the chocolate chip cookies and the Pepsi that someone brought to the synagogue on the occasion of a yartziet. Yosef is very heavy and the doctor told him that he is borderline diabetes. His recent medical check-up reports were not good. The doctor warned Yosef in very stern language to stop all sugars or face the insulin needle.

He sat there looking mournfully at the tasty cookies and kept mumbling that it just isn't fair. "A few weeks ago, I would have eaten them up! It is not fair!"

I asked him politely who told him that life is supposed to be fair. "My mother told me!" he answered, looking a bit down.

"Hmm," I thought, "my father taught me just the opposite: that life is NOT fair. And you know, in my humble opinion, he was correct. Life is not fair. If life was supposed to be fair, then everyone would be the same, have the same clothes, eat the same food, the same sized portions, have the same personality, do the same tasks and be exactly the same as their neighbor. But G-d in His infinite wisdom did not plan the world like that. Everything and everyone are different. Every snowflake is different from the next. One steak can taste better than the next and one person can have natural skills that the next person can not posses no matter how hard he tries. So life just can not be 'fair'."

Yosef looked a bit placated by my brief explanation.

* * *

It is strange to me just how many people are unhappy in life because they expect that life should give them what their neighbor has and since they have in this certain respect less, they are unhappy. How many people ruin their lives because they envied their neighbor, because they felt that they were entitled to something, whether it was food, as in the case of my friend Yosef, or money or even some one else's wife!

No, life is not fair; G-d did not create the universe and place man in it so that everything should be exactly the same, that everything should be fair. Just the opposite. G-d placed each man in a unique situation, a situation different from all of his friends in order that he should have the unique challenge to choose right in his case, to be able to render a specific help to his neighbor, to do something that others can not do. Sometimes this is a simple choice as in the case of my friend Yosef, sometimes the decision is quite complex and difficult. Never should a person believe that life is fair; meaning he should enjoy every thing equally just like his neighbor.

People are not equal, lands are not equal, countries and states are not equal. There is no equality; there is nothing that grants everyone the same as his neighbor.

What everyone does have in common is the need to know that G-d does not put in your path obstacles that are for the purpose of bringing destruction upon the person. Each situation is tailor made for the individual to be able to improve his situation. Each difficult situation is another chance to improve and come closer to G-d. Each difficult problem that we face is another opportunity to become more aware of G-d in the world.

During a difficult period, we may not understand the purpose for the difficulty. But we must know ultimately that everything is for the best and is through divine intervention. As time passes and we reflect on our problems and our fears that we had at the time, we will see that the problem was only given for our best interest.

In the case of my friend Yosef, he should have curbed his appetite years ago. He ate more junk food than anyone I ever met. He was so heavy that he had difficulty in walking. How much smarter would it have been if years prior he had gone on a healthier diet. But like a message from heaven, he was told that he is on the verge of developing diabetes and he must change his eating habits. Because of this he is now losing weight; he can walk with less pain; his clothing looks better on him now and his overall health has improved.

No, life is not fair. There is an active seeing G-d who directs the entire world and everything in it. If only we would open our eyes and see this clearly then we would be much happier.


from the October-November 2009 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

Please let us know if you see something unsavory on the Google Ads and we will have them removed. Email us with the offensive URL (