June 20, 2006

the Biblical character, the main character in “Sefer Iyov,” the Book of Job, which contains perhaps the classic discussion of “theodicy,” why the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper, in the Bible. There is some doubt as to the authorship of this work. One opinion is that the author is none other than Moshe Rabbeinu himself, and that Iyov may or may not have been a real individual, but the allegory is written to deal with this theological problem.

Job is righteous, prosperous and has a large family. HaShem says to the Satan (Iyov 1:8), “Have you seen my servant Iyov, that there is none like him in the earth, …, who fears G-d and shuns evil.” The Satan protests that the righteousness of Iyov is due entirely to his happy and successful life, and that if his riches, family and health are withdrawn, he would surely abandon his faith. HaShem permits the Satan to reduce Iyov to a mourning shell of his former self, but not to take his life.

Iyov curses the day he was born (Iyov 3:1), “Let the day perish wherein I was born,…” but not his Maker. He complains (Iyov 16:12-14,17), ” I was at ease and He broke me apart, He took me by the neck and dashed me to pieces; …” “His archers surround me, …;” “He breaks me again and again, He runs upon me like a giant.” “Although there is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure.”

And yet we hear (Iyov 19:25-27), “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And that He will witness at the last upon the dust;” “And when after my skin is destroyed, then from my underlying flesh shall I see G-d;” “And my eyes shall behold, and not another’s…”

Beginning in Iyov 38, we find HaShem’s response to his loyal servant, who had not deserted him, where HaShem tells him that He is the Creator and Supreme Judge of the World, to Whom many options, beyond the understanding of mortal man, are available, to redress any injustice. Then Iyov says to HaShem (Iyov 42:2,5-6), “I know that You can do everything…”, “I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye has seen You.” “Wherefore, I abhor my word, and repent, seeing that I am dust and ashes.”

At the end (Iyov 42:12-13, 16-17), we find, “So the L-rd blessed the end of Iyov more than the beginning…” “He had also seven sons and three daughters, … ” “After this, Iyov lived a hundred forty years,…” “So Iyov died, being old and full of days.”

But the injustice experienced by Iyov, that was only a test that he passed with “flying colors,” but that he might have preferred doing without, was not refuted by G-d. And Iyov’s right to question the Justice of G-d was not denied.