The Jewish Eye
Part II - Perek 1: It's Rosh HaShanah and The Satan Is Looking For Trouble
Perek Aleph begins with a description of Iyov. Iyov is described as being a man with yiras shamayim and integrity, who avoids any wrongdoing. He has been blessed with ten children and with wealth, and is well-respected within his community.
The Malbim emphasizes that Sefer Iyov begins with a description of Iyov's tziddkus because this is the key to the entire philosophical discussion about the purpose of suffering which follows. We are informed from the beginning that Iyov did not deserve his suffering and was in fact one of Hashem's most faithful servants. According to the Vilna Gaon, he was the greatest man of his generation. In addition, his suffering did not stem from a lack of financial resources or a lack of family support. The passuk tells us that his many children had a harmonious relationship with each other. There was no natural reason for Iyov to suffer.
One fateful day, disaster strikes. Rashi tells us that this day was Rosh Hashanah. The Satan was present on this Day of Judgment to prosecute the inhabitants of the earth. However, Hashem Himself attested to the tziddkus of Iyov; He knew that the Satan had no power over Iyov. The Malbim explains that the Satan has no power in the upper worlds which are completely spiritual. His only power is on earth where materialistic forces are able to rule. However, Iyov was a tzaddik and ruled over his physical and materialistic desires, and consequently, the Satan had no power over him. Nevertheless, the Satan dared to file a complaint against Iyov.
"Do You think that Iyov serves You for nothing? Haven't You blessed him and his family with great wealth?" The Satan implied that Iyov's service of Hashem was not based on his intrinsic love of goodness and spirituality. In fact, his service of Hashem may be based on materialistic concerns rather than spiritual ones. He may be serving Hashem because of his aspirations for reward or because of his fear of harm. He is aware of his many blessings, and may not have wanted to risk Hashem removing His protection because of sinful behavior.
"But if You take all that he has, won't he blaspheme You to Your face?" The Satan asserted that Iyov's tziddkus must be tested. If Hashem took away his wealth and children, Iyov's motivation for serving Hashem would be put to the test. If he was serving Hashem solely out of fear of Hashem's protection being removed from him, the loss of all that he had would cause him to lose all faith in Hashem.
Hashem then granted the Satan permission to take everything that Iyov had. However, he was not granted permission to physically harm Iyov himself. Shortly later, Iyov received the news that his wealth had been destroyed, and his children had been killed.
"Iyov stood up and tore his robe and his hair, and fell to the ground and bowed down. And he said, ‘I emerged naked from my mother's womb, and I will return there naked. Hashem gave and Hashem took. The name of Hashem should be blessed.'
The Malbim tells us that Iyov had no complaints against Hashem for taking his children and possessions since he was aware that they were gifts from Hashem. In fact, he was even able to view his losses as an act of mercy from Hashem; Hashem had taken what he had as atonement for his aveiros, but he himself remained alive and in good health. He was able to bless Hashem for these seemingly bad events just like he blessed him for the obvious good. The perek ends, "Despite all this, Iyov did not sin, and he did not have any complaints against Hashem."
Note: The explanations of Iyov follow the Malbim unless otherwise noted.
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