Explaining fairness
By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,
seymourforweb2Kids always tell their parents, “That’s not fair!” What exactly are they thinking? What is “fair”?
Fairness is a word that is really about justice (mishpat in Hebrew) and justice may be an even harder word for children and for us.
Judaism has the message of justice deeply implanted in its spirit The Torah is filled with laws and examples of how to make a fair judgment and the importance of being fair and just.
“You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor nor show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly.” (Leviticus)
“Only to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. “ (Micah)
Rabbi Hillel said, “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.” This is an easy way to understand how to treat others. However, being fair isn’t always easy or simple. Fair doesn’t always mean the same.

Questions to ponder

  • Have you ever been treated unfairly? How did it make you feel?
  • Do you think it is fair that older children get to stay up later and do more things than younger children? Why or why not?
  • Do you think it is fair that boys get to do things that girls don’t get to do? Why or why not?
  • Some families have a rule that if there is a piece of cake to share, one person gets to cut it and the other gets to choose the first piece. How is this a fair way to divide the cake? Can this system be used in other areas?

Shabbat story discussion

A young boy came to a woman’s house and asked if she would like to buy some of the berries he had picked from his father’s fields.
The woman said, “Yes, I would and I’ll just take your basket inside to measure out 2 quarts.”
The boy sat down on the porch and the woman asked, “Don’t you want to watch me. How do you know that I won’t cheat you and take more than 2 quarts?”
The young boy said, “I am not afraid, for you would get the worst of the deal.”
“How could that be?” she asked.
The boy answered, “If you take more than 2 quarts that you are paying me for, I would only lose the berries. You would make yourself a liar and a thief.”
Talk about the meaning of this story with your family.
We should always try to do the fair and just thing — it is an important value to live by!
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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