To create a better world, we need fairness or justice. Sometimes, it seems as if things just aren’t fair for everyone. We need a world in which people are judged equally and have the same opportunities. This is not something we can do alone, but it is something we can achieve together. Sometimes, it means standing up for what is right even if that is difficult.
Text of the Week
Yehoshua ben Perachyah says, “Make a teacher for yourself; acquire a friend for yourself; and judge everyone favorably. —Pirkei Avot 1:6
• Why do we need a teacher? The harder question that the mishnah advises is about “making” a teacher for yourself. What does that mean?
• Friends are important in life. How do we get friends? What does it mean to be a friend? The mishnah in Hebrew actually says to “buy” a friend? Why would the rabbi suggest that?
•Judging everyone favorably is what our value of the week is all about. Why is it hard to judge people fairly? Why do we judge others at all?
• The three parts of the mishnah combine to tell us something important. Why put these three ideas together? How do they help us make a better world?
Value of the Week
Fairness and justice are ideas that are hard to understand. Justice means that people get what they deserve, and fairness is about it doing the right thing for everyone. Judaism tells us that G-d practices justice but is also merciful. That means that we try to balance doing the just thing in a kind way and understanding the needs of others.
When you are just and fair, you treat each person as an individual. Fairness also means that every person’s rights are protected. We do not want people taken advantage of or treated differently because of their sex, race or religion.
Things to do
• Don’t make a quick judgment — find out the truth and act on it. Think for yourself.
• When you are just, you admit your own mistakes and accept the consequences.
• Stand up for yourself and for others. Don’t let others act like a bully or cheat or lie. This take courage.