Part 2: Chapter 1, Verse 6
6. "One day the children of G-d came to stand before the Lord and the
Satan came among them."
"One day the children of G-d came to stand before the Lord and
the Satan came among them."
"The day" that the verse is referring to, according to Rashi's commentary,
was Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. Obviously the plight of Iyov is the
result of Divine judgment. The Mishna, in tractate Rosh Hashana, explains
that on the first day of Rosh Hashana all the inhabitants of this planet
come before the heavenly tribunal for judgment. The due-process of Divine
justice follows, to a great extent, the same pattern as a modern-day court.
Judge, prosecutor, defendant and witnesses are all part of the scheme. Our
sages observed that G-d structures the kingdom of heaven similar to the
style of earthly kingdoms. This is, at first, a difficult concept for us to
appreciate and requires some serious thought and discussion.
The human mind, no matter how great, is finite; i.e., its capacity for
understanding and knowledge is limited. Hence, the concept of an infinite
Being who possesses infinite wisdom and power can be confounding. In order
to get a "grasp" on the Divine we require an approach that is familiar to
our human experience. To this end G-d convenes His heavenly tribunal on the
day known as Rosh Hashana. Certainly G-d does not require a court system in
order to judge His mortal subjects. For us, however, the familiarity of a
judicial proceeding can be a great benefit. The knowledge that we stand in
judgment at least once a year helps us fulfill our commitment and measure
up to the higher authority of G-d. It also helps us develop our own personal
relationship with our Creator.
The fear of prosecution drives home an acute awareness of our responsibility
and accountability. At the same time, it is comforting to know that we have
a personal advocate to argue on our behalf. This gives us the strength not
to fall into despair, and the courage to continue our efforts to reach even
higher levels of character perfection. To stand in judgment can be a
daunting experience, especially if one does not understand the course of
due-process in the Divine court.
It is fundamental to Jewish thought that everything in the physical world
has a spiritual counterpart, commonly referred to as angels, which are
responsible for the growth and sustenance of all that exists in creation.
These spiritual forces do not function independently of G-d. Rather, they
are His delegates who are charged with specific missions. In this light we
can understand the role of the "Satan" mentioned in verse #6. He is the
prosecutor of the Divine court. Our sages describe the Satan as the force
responsible for evil, death, destruction and temptation.
In addition to his role as prosecutor, the Satan is the chief instigator of
crime against man and G-d. It is axiomatic that in order to fully exercise
free will, equal opportunity for good and evil must exist. There can be no
virtue in choosing good over evil if the latter is not, at the very least,
equally accessible. The provocation of the Satan manifests itself in every
moral and ethical dilemma we are faced with. Our deliberation may be an
internal struggle of conscience or a battle with external social norms. The
result is mental turmoil - the signature of the Satan. Temptation?.... it
takes stress to forge mind and soul. The Satan's role is not a scheme to
corrupt our spirit. In fact, the Satan has a central role in the
transformation of the mundane human being into a sanctified person.
On the day of judgment, Rosh Hashana, we find our friend Job in the
defendant's chair. He faces a powerful prosecutor, the Satan. Along with his
task of chief prosecutor in the Divine court, the Satan is the spiritual
source of all evil. What remains for us to discuss on this verse is the role
of the "children of G-d". This lesson will undoubtedly take some time to
'digest' so let us leave that topic for the next lesson.
Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Y. Schwartz and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Rosh Hayeshiva (Dean) of
Orchos Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem.