I have a philosopher for a daughter. Four-year-old philosophers are the best. They ponder life in its most basic terms.

“Hashem (God) makes mistakes sometimes.”

That’s what she said to me at the dinner table one night. It was out of the blue and I was quite taken aback, or maybe caught off guard.

I replied too quickly, “Hashem doesn’t make mistakes. Everything He does is for a reason, and because He wants it that way.”

She disagreed. She put on her defiant little voice, perked up her shoulders like a little Israeli girl does, and threw her rhetorical question right at me. “No. So why does He sometimes hurt nice people?!”

Oh.

In her beautiful and innocent little world, booboos only happen because of mistakes. No one would hurt someone on purpose – and definitely not the kind and loving God who watches out for her when she’s sleeping in the scary dark!

I needed to know what was worrying her. “When did Hashem hurt nice people?”

“In Mitzrayim (Egypt). He made them work hard and they got hit when they didn’t! And Pharaoh was a scary man!”

We were more than a month away from Pesach, but that scary play she had seen about its story was still running through her head. It was her first foray into the world where bad things happen. I wished so hard that it would be the last.

What do you tell a pure child about a world where evil exists intentionally? Where people set out to harm innocents – and God doesn’t stop them?

Did she really need to know about it? About the atrocities of the holocaust, of world wars, of terrorist attacks, or of heroes taken down by celebrated savages?

I held her hand tightly. “Every morning, when you wake up, you have a choice. You get to decide if you will do nice things today, or not nice things. Everyone in the world gets to choose every day. Will they say nice things to the people they see? Or will they push people who are in their way? Will they help their little brother, or will they mess up his toys?”

She joined in, “If we listen to our Mommy and Tatty, or if we don’t go to bed.”

“Yes! Every day, every person gets to choose again. Sometimes people choose to do good things, and sometimes people choose to do not good things.”

“They make mistakes?”

“Yes sweetheart. Hashem wants everyone to choose to do the right thing, but people make mistakes. Sometimes people like Pharaoh make very big mistakes, but you know what?”

She looked at me suspiciously.

“For a long time, Pharaoh chose to do not good things. But then one day he chose to do good things.”

“Everyone can choose to do good things?”

“Every day everyone gets to choose again. And every day, everyone can choose to do the right thing.”

My little philosopher paused. She was sorting out her world, and I could see it in her eyes. She had one more question. “If everyone wakes up in the morning and chooses to be nice, then people won’t be hurt anymore?”

I hugged her tight, and for a moment I entered her world. “Yes, love. Yes.”