Pesach Avrohom and Iyov

by Rabbi Shaul Dov Felman shlit"a

Chag Kasher Vesameach!


Pesach 5763

In Masches Pesochim 116a we are taught that when we recite the Haggadah we need to be “maschil bignus and mesayem beshevach;” begin with relating the disgrace of Bnei Yisroel and conclude with their glory. There are two opinions in the Gemara how to fulfil this requirement. Rav says that “disgrace” entails relating how our forefathers were idol worshippers while Shmuel says we tell how we were slaves in Egypt. On this evening of commemoration of “Yetzias Mitzrayim” why truly would it be necessary to go to the trouble of going all the way back to telling about the idolatry of our forefathers? Is that so pertinent to the night of the Seder?

Let us begin with explaining a very difficult passage of Gemara. Bava Basra 15b: On a certain day the angels came to stand before Hashem and the Satan too came with them. Hashem said to the Satan, “From where to you come?” Satan answered etc. (Hashem) saying, “From exploring the earth, and wandering about on it.” (Iyov 1’6’) The Gemara explains that the Satan said, “Master of the Universe, I have explored the entire world, and I have not found anyone as loyal as your servant Avrohom to whom you said: Arise, wander about the land (of Canaan) through its length and breadth! For to you I will give it. Yet, when Avrohom was unable to find a place to bury his wife Sarah (until he bought the cave of Machpela for four hundred shekels of silver) he did not ponder your ways!” Hashem said to the Satan, “Have you paid attention to my servant Iyov? For there is none like him on earth etc. (a perfect and upright man, who fears G-d and eschews evil). (Iyov 1’8’)

The Gemara expounds R’ Yochanan said: Greater are (the praises) stated regarding Iyov than those stated about Avrohom. For regarding Avrohom it is written: For now I know that you are one who fears G-d; whereas regarding Iyov it is written: A perfect and upright man, who fears G-d and eschews evil.

A baffling question arises when pondering this Gemara. Imagine a fellow comes to one of us and profusely compliments a beloved child of ours. The response would generally be one of tremendous joy. Yiddishe nachas. None of us would think for a moment to tell the fellow, “ if you think my child is special, go take a look at the neighbor’s kid!” That would be ridiculous! Here, Hakadosh Boruch Hu receives such a warm compliment in regard to Avrohom Ovinu who is regarded to as “Avrohom Ohavi” and Hashem tells the Satan to look elsewhere at Iyov for a seemingly more exemplary person. How are we to understand this exchange? Truly we see further in the Gemara that Reb Levi said: The intentions of the Satan and Peninah were for the sake of Heaven. When the Satan saw that the Holy One, Blessed is He, was partial to Iyov, he said to himself, “G-d forbid that He will forget the mercy of Avrohom. Therefore he set out to demonstrate Iyov’s failings. That still doesn’t explain what was Hakadosh Boruch Hu himself thinking?

The narrative is resumed with Satan’s response to G-d’s praise of Iyov. The Satan answered Hashem saying, “Is it for nothing that Iyov fears G-d? Have you not protected him, his household etc. (and all that he has? You have blessed whatever he has undertaken and his possessions are spread throughout the land.)? Iyov’s righteousness is not surprising in view of the special blessings that you have bestowed upon him.

The rest is history. Hakadosh Boruch Hu sent the Satan and slowly he chipped away at Iyov. His wealth, family, and even his own health were all painfully taken away by the Satan. He was smitten with an awful case of boils. The instructions to the Satan were that Iyov is free game as long as he does not tamper with Iyov’s soul. The rest of Sefer Iyov is a discussion as to how Iyov fared with these tremendous tests. This brought on what is described in the following verse in the Gemara. “For he has shattered me with a whrilwind (s’arah), multiplied my wounds for no reason. Rabbah said: Iyov angered G-d with the word s’arah and he was answered with the word s’arah. He angered G-d with the word s’arah as it is written for he has shattered me with s’arah which on a homiletic level means as the following: Iyov said before G-d, “Master of the Universe! Perhaps a whirlwind passed before You and You confused my name Iyov with the word “oyev” (enemy). Iyov suggested that G-d’s punishment of him was a mistake. He was answered with the word s’arah as it is written: then G-d answered Iyov from out of the whirlwind saying etc. “Gird up your loins like a warrior. I will put questions to you and you will enlighten Me.” Basing himself on the similarity between the words whilrlwind and hair, Rava interprets the phrase, G-d answered Iyov from out of the whirlwind as an allusion to the following argument. Hashem said to Iyov, “I created many hairs on a person and for each and every hair I created it’s own hole, so that two hairs do not grow from one hole, for if two hairs were to grow from one hole they would darken a person’s eyesight. I do not confuse one hole with another. Would I confuse Iyov and Oyev?” The Gemara than goes on to describe how Hashem continues to explain with various examples to Iyov how the world was created with such precision so it can’t be that there was any confusion as far as Iyov was concerned.

The Arizal based on the Zohar Hakadosh makes a remarkable revelation as far as the above events are concerned. He claims that this all took place at the time of Bnei Yisroel crossing over the “Yam Suf” the Red Sea. There was at that time a tremendous “kitrug” a Satanic claim on Klal Yisroel that prevented the splitting of the sea. The Satan claimed that there is no difference between the Egyptians and the Jews. These are idol worshippers and those are idol worshippers. Why save the Jews and destroy the Egyptians? In order to distract the Satan, Hakadosh Boruch Hu busied him with Iyov, and when the Satan was away, he was able to split the sea, which brought on the demise of the Egyptains and the salvation of the Jewish people. The Arizal brings many hints to this from the Chumash of which we will mention a few. To begin with, right before the “Shira” the Posuk says the words “Es Hashem Vayaaminu Bashem.” One immediately notices that the first letters in Hebrew of those four words spell out Iyov. In the Shira it states “Yemincho Hashem Tiraatz Oyeiv.” The Ari says that in the word Oyeiv is a hint to Iyov for the letters of both words are the same. Bearing the above in mind how clear it is that Iyov asked Hakadosh Boruch Hu that he might have possibly confused Iyov with Oyev.

The Arizal makes another revelation. In explaining the greatness of Tzaddikim and what they can accomplish, specifically in reference to Avrohom Ovinu, he points out that the Tzaddik has the capability of being able to rectify his own neshama, from whatever background he may come from. However, that is not all. He is able to rectify even the neshama of his father, as wicked as he may have been. We know that Avrohom Ovinu immediately after the promise of redemption after the exile of 400 years and that the people of Israel would leave with great riches, he was promised that he would return to his forefathers in peace (Bereishis 15,15) which Rashi explains means that Terach repented. This was of course in the merit of Avrohom. The Ari explains that Iyov was a “gilgul” of Terach and that it was through the test of Iyov that Terach came to his final rectification.

Let us return to the Gemara in Bava Basra. When Hakadosh Boruch Hu hears the wonderful news about the discovery of the Satan; the righteousness of Avrohom Ovinu, certainly there is nothing that would make him happier. What he points out to the Satan is that he has not realized the greatness of Avrohom Ovinu to the fullest. If one wants to know the epitome of this greatness, one must look at Iyov, being that through Iyov, Terach came to his “Tikkun” and that was all in the merit of Avrohom. That was the crowning accomplishment of Avrohom Ovinu. Not only was he able to perfect himself; he was able to bring about the “Tikkun” of his wicked father as well.

In truth, we may pose a simple question. If Hakadosh Boruch Hu needed to get the Satan “off his back,” there would be many ways to do it. He might have sent him to the store to buy a carton of milk! Why did he choose, of all things to send him to Iyov? However, once we have recognized the connection between Iyov and Terach we can find hidden depth.

The Medrash relates as we pointed out, that the claim of the Satan was that the Jews were idol worshippers as well. This is true in the sense that we come from Terach that most definitely fit that category. If so essentially, the Satan has a point and we may fall into that category as well. However, the moment we have cleared Terach’s name through the test of Iyov, we have simultaneously cleansed the slate of Terach by which we are not in essence idol worshippers. True, Bnei Yisroel here and there may have succumbed to sin but as long as our roots are not rotten, we in no way compare to the Egyptians and we are worthy of salvation. This is precisely why Hashem chose to busy the Satan with Iyov, thereby facilitating the “Tikkun” of Terach, which inevitably removed the claim of the Satan against Bnai Yisroel.

We can then understand why on the Seder night we are commanded to of the disgrace of Bnai Yisroel all the way back to Terach. For in truth, through the final Geulah of Pesach, which culminates in the splitting of the sea, the disgrace of Terach turns into glory. How fitting is it that on Pesach, which the Tur says is the Yom Tov that corresponds to Avrohom Ovinu, is when Avrohom reaches the apex of his accomplishments that in his merit, his wicked father Terach comes to his Tikkun, which in turn facilitated the splitting of the sea.

The above thoughts truly can inspire us into understanding that as far as a person may find himself, he is never too far for Hakadosh Boruch Hu to bring him back. We see that both as far as the Jews in Egypt were concerned and now hidden in the miracle of the splitting of the see, the “tikkun” of even the wicked Terach. May Hakadosh Boruch Hu bring us all closer to Him and we should merit seeing miracles today of the Final Redemption as we did in the time of “Yetzias Mitzrayim.”

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