Job – Chapter 2

Satan Says

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Not long after, Yom Kippur rolled around and all the angels re-grouped in front of G-d, the Satan included. G-d said, “How about that Job, huh?” (Very loosely paraphrased.) “You did all that and he still didn’t lose his cool at Me.”

“I’m not surprised,” the Satan replied. “People don’t care as much about their property as they do their own bodies. If You were to afflict him bodily, he would curse You to Your Face.” (We might as well mention here that the idea of cursing G-d is so abhorrent that it is euphemized as “birkas Hashem,” blessing G-d. In the interest of clarity, we are translating it “curse,” but the concept is so distasteful, it ought be euphemized under normal circumstances. See Talmud Pesachim 3a on the subject of when to speak bluntly vs. when to employ euphemisms.)

G-d granted the Satan permission to afflict Job bodily, being careful not to kill him. So, the Satan smote Job with painful boils from head to toe.

Job took a piece of pottery with which to scratch himself and he sat in the ashes, a custom of mourning. (The Midrash says that the upper boils were dry and itchy, but the lower boils oozed pus, so he sat in the ashes to absorb the discharge.) Job’s wife said to him, “What a mess you are! Can’t you take a hint? Why don’t you end your troubles by cursing G-d so that you’ll die?” (Either she expected that G-d would strike Job dead, or that he would be executed for blasphemy, which is forbidden under the seven universal laws of mankind.)

Job replied with shock at his wife’s suggestion. “How can you say such a thing? Should we only accept it when G-d does things we like?” (The Talmud in Baba Basra 16a infers from the words, “he did not sin with his lips” that Job actually agreed with his wife, he just didn’t say so out loud.)

Job had three friends who heard about his troubles and came to visit. Their names were Elifaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuchite and Tzofar the Naamasite. They saw him from a distance, but he was so changed by his suffering that they didn’t even recognize him. When they realized it was him, they tore their robes in grief and put dirt on their heads. They joined Job in sitting on the ground, but none of them could address him first because of his tremendous pain. (This is similar to how visitors to a house of mourning should not speak until they are addressed by the mourner.) After a full week, Job finally opened up and he cursed the day he was born.

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