Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Cheshvan 5766 - November 16, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Getting the Right Balance
by R. Chadshai

Sometimes, in a weak moment, the thought might cross our minds that things are not quite fair. When fabric softeners first came on the market, there was general jubilation; lovely soft towels to cuddle into. However it soon became apparent that things are not perfect in this world. The softener really did work, but the towels were now less absorbent! Then there was the disposable diaper. How the mothers blessed the genius whose idea it was. Here, too, there was a fly in the ointment (literally!) If you have greasy hands, from baby cream, or wet hands, from wiping him down, or if you have been using talc, the stickers will not work, so beware.

These are two 'luxury' items as it were, although some mothers would hotly deny this! There are some people in this world who feel that there is general injustice in the world, (which is really heresy) and would like to balance things more evenly.

For example: Reuven and Shimon are in the same class. The former is a bright boy, an excellent student with marvellous reports for which he gets effusive praise. Shimon is comparatively slow and struggles hard to achieve even mediocre results. He is constantly being urged to try harder. This is where the 'Seekers of Justice' come in. Surely Reuven, who has so much going for him, does not need that constant praise? It is the struggling Shimon who rarely hears a good word, who should be praised. They feel that if they were running the world, they would manage things differently.

Gavriel is a healthy well-balanced boy, growing up with wonderful parents. He is confident, well-liked by pupils and teachers and wonderfully independent. Pinchos, on the other hand, is highly sensitive and all the professionals with whom he has been in contact recommend that he be given extra love and consideration, and that since he is so vulnerable, parents and teachers should overlook some of his errors. Unfortunately, Pinchos was born into a 'problem' family who have far more important things to worry about than giving their son extra love and attention.

We might have a sneaking thought that those boys were born into the wrong families. Pinchos would have done so well with Gavriel's wonderful parents. In fact, he might not have been so defenseless in the first place. Whereas Gavriel could have coped with any difficulties, regardless of the family into which he was born.

Ruth, mother of a large family, teaches in the mornings and studies once a week in the afternoon. She takes one of the children to occupational therapy and a second one needs regular help with her homework. Besides the ongoing running of her own home, her aging parents need her help too. Ruth is snowed under by her numerous responsibilities. Her neighbor Naomi has three children, the youngest being seven. She does not go out to work and her parents are in a position to help her, should the need arise. On the contrary, Naomi has plenty of spare time to volunteer at chessed organisations: she even goes to the park sometimes just for the pleasure of a chat with neighbors.

The obvious question is why was Naomi not given those two children who needed help with their homework and taking to occupational therapy. She would have had a more fulfilling day, and Ruth would have been slightly less pressured.

When Estie buys shoes for her children, she goes by the adage "you pay for what you get." Cheap is expensive in the long run. Chedva would also prefer to buy the better quality but does not have enough money to do so. Paradoxically, Chedva ends up paying more for her children's shoes, as she has to replace them more frequently. The same applies to buying in bulk: she doesn't have the wherewithal to pay for large amounts, even though it would be cheaper in the long run.

We hear them all the time: shocking stories of large families left without a breadwinner, for whom someone sets up a trust fund in the bank. A certain bank manager tells how he just cannot come to terms with the fact that charedi families who do not have enough for themselves, donate to these trust funds. It would be more in place if others, who have more money than they know what to do with, would give instead.

We could give many more examples of this seeming inbalance in the world. We see the anomalies and wish we had a magic wand to even things out a little. Take from the rich to give to the poor: take a few children from a large family and give them to childless couples who are desperate . . . the list is long. We know that there is no such thing as coincidence. Hashem plans each event for every one of us. Hashem knows exactly what is good for us. If wealth were good for a certain person, He would surely have given it to him. He apportioned brains in the amounts which are suitable for each person. (What a person does with his gifts is left to him!)

Seeming unfairness in the world remind us of the story of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, who coaxed Eliyohu Hanovi to let him join him on his travels, so that he could better understand the running of the world. Eliyohu agreed reluctantly but stipulated that if Rabbi Yehoshua would ask even one question, that would be the end of their trip together. They stopped at a hovel where the sole livelihood of the old couple was the milk of one cow. The host really made them welcome, and as they left, Eliyohu Hanovi prayed for the cow to die.

Their next port of call was in sharp contrast, a really comfortable mansion. The host feasted right royally with his friends whilst the two guests were given bread in a dingy corner of the room. As they left, Eliyohu saw that a wall of the house had collapsed; he prayed that the wall should be miraculously rebuilt, without the help of any builder. Rabbi Yehoshua could barely contain his curiosity, but remained silent.

However, after a few more incidents of this seeming injustice, Rabbi Yehoshua finally burst out, although he knew this was the end of the way for him. Eliyohu explained how he had known that their first hostess was about to die that night, so he prayed that she might be spared, by losing the cow instead. A previous owner had buried a treasure inside the wealthy man's wall. If someone had rebuilt it, the treasure would have been discovered. Thus Eliyohu explained each event, and before they parted company, he admonished Rabbi Yehoshua, "Just remember that when a wicked man enjoys wealth and other bounties, it is surely for his detriment, and when you see a tzaddik seemingly overwhelmed with troubles, rest assured that in the long run it is for his benefit."

Our limited vision sees only a small part of the whole picture. If we ask questions, we are like the man who was examining a complicated machine and asked the purpose of one small cog in a wheel, without having an inkling of the workings of the whole machine. We know that the Creator runs this world with perfect justice which we cannot begin to fathom.

So instead of harboring thoughts of injustice, we can do our best to right things in our human way. The rich can help the poor, the healthy can help the sick, and gifted people can help the slower ones and so on, remembering at the same time that while we are trying to alleviate problems, Hashem knows exactly what He is doing. One of our great men once said, "Where there is faith, there are no questions, when there is no faith, there are no answers."


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.