Job – Chapter 5

No Pain, No Gain

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Having finished relating his prophecy, Elifaz resumes his response to Job’s complaint. “Cry out,” Elifaz says, “and see what angel can spare you from all this. Anger will cause the end of foolish people. When I see such a person thrive, I know it will not end well. His children will be far from salvation and no one will help them in times of need. This evil, angry person will see his property carried off by those he wronged in his lifetime.”

“Trouble just doesn’t happen,” Elifaz continues. “It doesn’t just spring spontaneously from the ground. Trouble happens because man is born inherently flawed. It is inevitable that he will sin, unlike angels, who have no temptations and only soar upward. If these calamities happened to me, I would turn to G-d with repentance and prayer.” Elifaz then enumerates some of G-d’s praises, acknowledging that the full scope of His wondrous deeds could never be counted.

Among his praises, Elifaz describes how G-d does not allow the plans of the wicked to succeed and how He saves the weak from the sword of the strong. The Targum takes this section as a reference to G-d taking the Jews out of Egypt, an interpretation that fits quite nicely. For example, Elifaz says that the wicked will grope in darkness in the middle of the day, which is a clear parallel to the plague of darkness that struck the Egyptians.

Elifaz concludes, “A person is fortunate if G-d sends troubles to push him back onto the proper path. Don’t reject this rebuke. G-d may cause you pain, but He will also bind your wounds. He will save you from famine, war, the accusing tongue, plunder, wild animals and ‘the stones of the field’ (which Rashi says refers to a type of person, though he does not elaborate). “Then,” Elifaz says to Job, “you will have peace and tranquility, lacking nothing. You will depart this world at a ripe old age, surrounded by your many descendants. Listen to what I say; you know it’s true.”

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