Older Than DirtBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Each of Job’s friends has spoken and Job replied to each. Elifaz, the friend who first addressed Job, now speaks again.
“I’m surprised,” Elifaz told Job. “You’re supposed to be so wise, but your words are full of hot air. How does it benefit you to argue your position? All you’re going to accomplish is eroding others’ faith in G-d by undermining Him.” (Remember, Job hypothesized that G-d turned control of the world over to the stars, which is not the case.) “Your yetzer hara (evil inclination) is tempting you to say such things; you should take the time to consider your words and speak more wisely. I’ll ask you a question and when you answer, it’ll be your words that condemn you, not mine.”
Here’s the question Elifaz asked Job. “Are you older than Adam, or older than the hills, and therefore so much wiser than us? What do you think you know that we don’t? Tzofar may be younger than you, but Bildad and I are older and we three all agree. What do you see that causes you to deny G-d’s ‘hands-on’ approach to the world? Give it a rest. How can you, an imperfect human being, accuse G-d of being unfair? Even the angels, who lack the capacity to sin, are inferior before Him.”
“Nobody’s perfect. All people sin, but wise people confess their misdeeds and are rewarded for their integrity.” (Rashi gives the examples of Judah and Reuben, who admitted the error of their ways in Genesis.) “An evil person who does not repent will spend his life suffering in anticipation of his fate. He will live in a state of dread and when he does know peace, robbers will come upon him. He doesn’t think he can ever escape the darkness and he sees destruction at every turn. His life is one of insecurity and anxiety all because he’s too stubborn to humble himself before G-d. Such a person will not prosper and his legacy will not endure. He will be eradicated by his own words.” (Or, possibly, by G-d’s.)
“A person who was misled into folly will not accept that the same will be his fate. He will be cut down prematurely, before he has a chance to fulfill his potential, because G-d will discard him. No one likes a hypocrite and G-d’s wrath will consume things built with ill-gotten gains. They bring these fates upon themselves through their actions.”