Job – Chapter 36

What'll It Be, Job?

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Elihu continued:

“Be patient and I will explain things to you; there’s a lot to know about G-d. I will say it loud and clear and I will only proclaim G-d’s righteousness. What I’m telling you is true and G-d’s knowledge is perfect. He is infinitely great and merciful and He doesn’t hate the oppressed. Instead, He takes action on their behalf. When He acts to protect the needy, He separates the wicked from them and does not preserve the oppressors. G-d always watches His righteous, until He lifts them up like exalted kings. If you see righteous people suffering, it is as payment for their sins. By means of their pains, G-d informs them of their misdeeds; if they are receptive and change their ways, they will enjoy good for the rest of their lives. If they refuse to listen and persist in their ways, they will perish.”

“Evil people bring on G-d’s wrath and do not change their ways.” (Rashi says that when misfortune strikes the wicked, they blaspheme instead of turning to G-d.) “Their souls will be terminated, but G-d will save those of the righteous by means of their suffering. He leads people from the narrow place to wide open spaces, to enjoy a fully-stocked table.” (Rashi says the narrow place is Gehinnom – Hell – and the wide open place is Olam HaBa – the Next World, i.e., paradise.) “If you’ve had enough suffering, this will save you from a dire afterlife, so you should embrace it. Otherwise, G-d will direct His wrath towards you and carry you away – and nothing can save you then!”

“So, what’s it going to be, Job? Will you complain that you should never suffer? If so, what will be done to pay off your misdeeds? Don’t go looking to trade the pains G-d has chosen for you with others you think might be preferable. If you think poverty might have been a better punishment, what you have now is better.” (Don’t be misled into thinking that Job was also impoverished. Rashi points out that Job may have lost his flocks, but he retained his gold and silver.)

“G-d is the Supreme Power – no one can outdo Him. He teaches us to repent through warnings and then through punishments. Who can criticize Him for not following the system He created? Look how wondrous all of His works are! G-d is infinite and beyond our comprehension! He makes the Heavens rain for the sake of the righteous who pray to Him. Can you comprehend the way He spreads His clouds across the sky? He uses them to judge the nations of the world, by granting or withholding rain. He increases the portion of one who has many children. He withholds rain when the people sin until they investigate their actions and correct their misdeeds.”

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