Part 4: Chapter 1, Verses 6-7
Verse 6. "One day the sons of G-d came to stand before the Lord and Satan
came among them."
Verse 7. "And the Lord said to Satan, Where have you been? Satan said,
'I've been going back and forth, and walking up and down across the earth.'"
It is noteworthy that the Satan is described as coming "also" among the
children of G-d. This seems to indicate that he came apart from the rest of
the group (the children of G-d). We have already mentioned that the day
when these events took place was Rosh Hashana. The children of G-d allude
to the malachim (angels) that come to argue on behalf of their earthly
counterparts. Their main line of defense is to present evidence that will
demonstrate that the virtues of the accused obviate the condemnation of the
prosecution. The Satan is the prosecutor. His line of prosecution is based
upon the character faults and transgressions of the Divine Will perpetrated
by the defendant.
As one can imagine, for some people the case may be 'open
and shut', for better or worse. Still, there are many difficult cases where
the presentation of the prosecution and the defense are equally convincing.
In these cases a higher level of judicial scrutiny must be exercised in
order to decide the case. A closer and more exacting examination of the
virtues and the faults of the accused may shed new light upon the case.
Maimonidies explains that the fact that the Satan came apart from the
children of G-d indicates that he was not an equal party in this group. His
appearance is secondary to that of the children of G-d, hence his
separation from the rest of his colleagues. Herein lies a deep
philosophical idea. The potential for evil and destruction in this world
is not commensurate with the potential for good. The purpose of evil is
to facilitate our capacity for free will. Like many other phenomena in this
world, these forces can be used or abused.
Our challenge is to overcome the
temptation of evil. In so doing we can continually reach higher levels of
moral and spiritual perfection. When we chose to prevail over the
temptation of evil we help to abate its existence. However, if we chose to
exercise the option for evil the end result is inevitably destruction at
various levels and degrees. Like a virus, evil has the capacity to consume
its host and undermine its own existence.
Whether we overcome it or succumb to it, evil has no permanent place in
this world. The fact that the effects of our decisions are not immediately
evident does not diminish from the truth of this spiritual law of nature.
Figuratively speaking we can describe evil as a black whole, or the
anti-matter of the spiritual world that governs the physical creation. An
overdose of it will cause its host to implode from its own weight.
He stands off to the side of the 'children of G-d' to indicate that his
existence is not a permanent fixture of creation.
Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Y. Schwartz and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Rosh Hayeshiva (Dean) of
Orchos Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem.