Part 3: Chapter 1, Verse 6
Verse 6. "One day the sons of G-d came to stand before the Lord and Satan
came among them."
The 'One day' in the verse above is Rosh Hashana, the Day of Judgement. On
Rosh Hashana G-d convenes His court to judge all of His creation. At
present in our text the case brought before the court is that of Iyov.
Mishna in tractate Rosh Hashana, (see our last installment) inhances our
understanding of the verse for it says. "On Rosh Hashana all the
inhabitants of earth pass before G-d in judgement." In the High Holiday
prayer book, the Machzor, there is a very poignant prayer commonly known as
the Netane Tokef prayer which deepens our understanding of the essence of
"Let us now relate the power of this day's holiness, for it is awesome and
frightening. On it your Kingship will be exalted; Your throne will be
firmed with kindness and You will sit upon it in truth. It is true that
You alone are the One Who judges, proves, knows, and bears witness; Who
writes and seals, (counts and calculates); Who remembers all that was
forgotten. You will open the Book of Chronicles-it will read itself, and
everyone's signature is in it. The great shofar will be sounded and a
still, thin sound will be heard. Angels will hasten, a trembling and
terror will seize them--and they will say, 'Behold, it is the Day of
Judgment, to muster the heavenly host for judgment!'--for they cannot be
vindicated in Your eyes in judgment. All mankind will pass before You like
members of the flock. Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, making sheep
pass under his staff, so shall You cause to pass, count, calculate, and
consider the soul of all the living; and You shall apportion the fixed
needs of all Your creatures and inscribe their verdict."
"On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how
many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live
and who will not; who will die at his predestined time and who before his
time; who by water and who by fire; who by sword, who by beast, who by
famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation,
and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in
harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquillity and who will
suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be
degraded and who will be exalted."
Let us return to the verse, the 'children of G-d' symbolize the sum total
of all humanity.They are judged regarding all that has or has not been
accomplished in this world during the previous year. The individual and
collective deeds of mankind, the fruits of our own free will choices are
all scrutinized by the Divine tribunal on Rosh Hashana. G-d has an all
encompassing plan for the course of human affairs.Throughout history the
ultimate goal is redemption.
As we mentioned previously, every physical phenomenon has a spiritual life
force behind it. In Hebrew these forces are called malachim. They too are
amoung the 'children of G-d' who stand before the Divine tribunal on Rosh
Hashana. To the extent that our choice of actions lead us down a path that
converges with G-d's plan, the approriate malachim are instructed to assist
in every way possible so that we may sustain our constructive activities.
However, should our decisions lead us to behavior contrary to the Divine
plan G-d may take measures to counterbalance our misconduct in order to
insure the fulfillment of His will. At this point the Satan may be
enrolled. It is his job to create obstacles that will compel us to take a
detour from our deviant ways. This whole process, which takes place over a
period of many generations, may be circuitous but inevitably it will lead
At times the human capacity for free will can interfere with the Divine
plan for redemption. Therefore, it becomes necessary every year that G-d
make the necessary adjustments in world affairs so as to restore the
correct direction towards fulfillment of His objectives. These corrections
are often described as the decrees of heaven. They are far too intricate
and complex for us to completely fathom. We lack the essential depth of
historical perspective and adequate peripheral vision in order to fully
appreciate the global effects of these decrees.
It is understandable to all that G-d will utilize the deeds of the
righteous to bring to fruition His universal scheme for redemption.
However,it is not so obvious that He also manipulates the evil deeds of
the wicked in order to get us back on track. This is where the Satan is
useful. We will discuss this concept at greater length in our next lesson.
On Rosh Hashana all of creation is on trial and the children of G-d are the
defendants. The on-going evolution of world history is the direct result of
the annual Rosh Hashana tribunals. G-d charges each one of the appropriate
malachim with its task for the coming year on the Day of Judgement, Rosh
Hashana. At that time they are imbued with a life force that they in turn
impart upon their respective physical counterparts. Among the malachim
that stand before G-d at this awesome time is the Satan. The Satan is
selected by G-d to serve as the spiritual force behind all that is evil and
destuctive in this world. (see our previous installment) He too is
assigned a new list of activities for the new year ushered in on Rosh
Hashana. At the top of his list this year is - Iyov.
ext Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Y. Schwartz and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Rosh Hayeshiva (Dean) of
Orchos Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem.