Wednesday, July 28, 2021



This is a reference pice for my essays on Kaplan and Heschel

JUDAISM IN TRANSITION ( 1970 -original paper for Dr Moshe Davis-written c 1980, during debate on acceptance of women at JTS- abridged and published in Jewish Spectator, 1982)

Proposal for a Conservative Mechanism for Creative Adaptation

The Conservative Movement has come to a cross-road since the tabling of resolution on the ordination of women as Rabbis by the faculty of the Jewish Theological Seminary. At stake, even more than the issue of women's status within Judaism, is the purpose and meaning of the Conservative Movement: what is to be the rational for adhering to tradition or to change, what is to be its process for decision making, and what its direction for the future.

It is the contention of this paper that the mechanism of direction be kept as open and flexible as possible as to allow a maximum of responses to the needs of Judaism entering the Twenty First Century. The following is a discussion of the nature of change within Judaism in modern times, the question of making projections into the future, and a methodology for coping with the task. Hopefully, this will serve as a stimulus for healthy debate within the Movement that will lead to a clearer self-understanding.


The most recent "earthquakes" of Jewish consciousness have been the Holocaust and the birth of Israel. To these events, no formal theological or halakhic response has seriously developed, not only within the Conservative Movement, but in American Judaism as a whole (Viz Robert Hammer, " Not to Mourn " Conservative Judaism,  Vol.25, Summer, 1971).

Mordecai Kaplan, in his the symposium of Response,of Winter, 1970, suggested that Judaism was still reeling from the impact of the Emancipation, some two centuries ago. Similar thoughts have been developed by David Rudavsky in Emancipation and. Adjustment, and Jacob Neusner in Judaism in a Secular Age.

The crisis of modern Judaism must be traced back even farther; the sense of "gevalt"„ which has become in our generation a reflex, can be seen to be rooted in early modern times as early as the late 15th and 16th centuries. Certainly that is the case of European Jewish history. One can say that since the Spanish expulsion, the Jewish people have been faced with constant internal challenge to the fundamentals of belief. The past centuries have seen the rise and demise of .radical Lurianic mysticism, the Sabbatian movement, the Frankists heresy, the anti-intellectual revolt of Hassidism; all of this preceded the modern developments of Reform, Haskalah, Neo-Orthodoxy, and so forth.

The solution. of the "Jewish problem" was an issue long before the Zionist theoreticians began to speak of its resolution, or before Hitler's perversion of the issue.

At no point, from early modern times till now, is it possible to speak of a "normative Judaism"; the early Reform is as Jewish a model as is Habad,, and both are less radical than their Sabbatian predecessors.


To be aware of having been in a state of continued crisis is insufficient; there must be an adequate response at each step that meets the needs of the generation in each case. Toynbee proposed that a civilization must constantly meet new challenges and respond to them in order to survive.

We may question if, indeed' in modern times, we are above the laws of history (or sociology or economics.)  With each response in each age, we may have lost some of the resiliency of the preceding era. Early Reform was a. response to the Enlightenment and Emancipation; Conservatism in America, a response to the dislocation, socially and

spiritually, of East European immigrants; Zionism, a response to the revival of nationalism and the death of universalism in the 19th and 20th century. Each response was sufficient in its time for the needs of Jewry. Yet each may have left Jewish civilization weaker than before.

As new challenges arise, will any of the various bodes, movements organizations create a form of Judaism or forms of Judaism that will have vigor and. vitality to maintain the Eternal People? Will the Conservative Movement, which lays claim to having inherited the mantel of 'normative" Judaism, be able to come to grips with the future? As much as we are affected by the past Emancipation or Holocaust or the rebirth of Israeli we are even more directly affected by developments of the Present. Our Weltanschaunq changes as rapidly as the Paris haute contour change designs. A summary glance of the "relevant issue" that have the front pages of popular media and attention over the past several years is sufficient: the race to the moon; Civil Rights; domino theory;counter culture; Death of God; the imperial Presidency; the Great Society;the Limits of Growth; Born again Christianity.


The list can go on extensively. Each theme becomes, in its moment, the regnant concern of all educated, sophisticated people, and then spreads to the public at large by the time the. "cultural elites" have moved on to new outlooks.

Life-styles change as quickly as the ZEITGEIST. The flight from the city became a flight from suburbia; gratification from a two- car garage has become gratification from a small gas-saver.The study of science as a popular avenue -of academic studies has been replaced by an emphasis on the Master of Business Administration.

The American Jew dwells in the mist of a maelstrom.

Whether it is ideology that determines the structures of society, or the machinery of production that determine our beliefs can be left to Engel or Marx for debate. Certainly, the number of factors, each of different weight and direction, that affect the American Jew are legion. The open society makes possible a breakdown of familial and community identity and the destruction of traditional bonds, while "Holocaust" and "Israel" serve to strengthen the Jewish identity. A strong Jewish identity, at the same time, is no longer incompatible with inter­marriage, even when the other partner remains a non-Jew.


What approach shall the Conservative Movement take in such an era?

Many have proposed "agendas” for Judaism, such as Eli. Ginsberg's Agenda for American Jews. Jacob Neusner suggested a better defined, more unified Conservative Movement to be able to play a significant role in a fragmented Jewish community ( Judaism in a Secular Age, "Agenda for Conservative Judaism , pp.I41 ff)

Can there be an agenda? The unified field theory proved elusive for the genius of Einstein; I fear that a unified agenda may also be elusive.

Prophecy has progressed from the ecstasy of Saul dancing and singing to Isaiah’s majestic poetry to its modern form, charts and statistics of the "think tank". The procedure is not to deliver the "ultimate word", but to establish multiple possible and probable scenarios. Such was the approach of a book, The Year 2000. a project of the Hudson Institute (Kahn and Weiner). Looking back over the past millennia, they discerned thirteen trends in Western Civilization, among which are the accumulation of scientific and technological knowledge. population growth, urbanization, literacy, and an increasing tempo of change.

Given these thirteen trends, it was difficult for them to project definitely for even a few decades; they proposed instead„ plausible alternatives. First, a Standard World, based. on fairly unchanging. continuation of present trends; secondly, eight. Canonical variations, subdivided into three groups. In addition to this, they suggest the possibility of scientific developments unforeseeable. at present. that could radically alter all predictions, - and even offer some nightmare scenarios.

The Conservative Movement must be able to deal with all eventualities,  especially those that touch upon the core of Jewish existence , ­the decline of traditional religion and the regeneration of religious inquiry. Both are not future eventualities, but realities occurring simultaneously, with which we must be able to come to grips.

A Methodology for Conservative Judaism.

Given a multi-faceted picture for the coming decades, it will be difficult, if not impossible for the Conservative Movement to adopt a strong, clear - cut position on any issue that will be acceptable to the Movement as a whole. By the time that all the various branches and wings of the Movement have fully taken size of situation and need, approached a degree of unity and agreement, and undertaken an organized response to the specific issue, that issue may itself have disappeared, been replaced by another issue radically different, or, have come to such a point that the Conservative stance, by the time it is achieved, is irrelevant or ignored.


Turn -abouts in public thought and interest can occur in five year cycles, (or even shorter); the Conservative Movement judging by the contents of Mordecai Waxman's Tradition and Change is still debating many of the same issues of fifty years ago. The question of the status of women has been an issue for many years now; attitudes toward mixed marriages, a makat medinah for a decade, are yet being formulated. Israel has been a State for over thirty years, and only recently has there been an attempt to create a Conservative Zionist Movement; The Holocaust has yet to elicit a specific development from within the Conservative Movement. (Both topics are mentioned in passing in Seymour Siegel's Conservative Judaism and Jewish lay) published by the Rabbinical Assembly.)

Nevertheless, the Conservative Movement has become the largest of the major variants of American Judaism, despite its lack of ideology or resolution (or perhaps because of it). Marshall Sklare promulgated his well-known contention that the movement grew because of a fortunate social and economic development in American Jewry ( Conservative Judaism: An American Religious Movement)

We must take it seriously, with the realization that the current forms of Reform and Orthodox are equally products of American society. Each Rabbi and his (or her) congregation has, in Conservative Jewry, developed a working ideology that has fit the needs of the particular congregation at its particular moment in history.


We bear burden, as a consequence, of appearing parve, neither Reform nor Orthodox, and feel apologetic, as we express "What is Conservative Judaism" to those wishing to learn while standing on one leg. The very strength and hallmark of Judaism, which we are proud to flaunt - namely its openness to ideas and development - becomes, in terms of Conservative Judaism, it appears, its shortcoming,

We need a new conception of Conservative Judaism to fit the reality of our movement. Our uniqueness is our being "holistic" a more contemporary term than "Catholic Israel" we deal with the entire being of Judaism. Jewish Community Center and Federations can only deal with the body; Jewish intellectualism ( a la New York Jews.) Jewish secularism, Yiddishism, can deal only with the mind, as can an only academic approach to, Judaism; the classical Reform and today's left wing Reform on the one hand, and Baalei Teshuvah Yeshivot, the Hasidic: and Yeshivah movements concentrate on the heart.

 In our terms, as Rosenzweig postulated, "Nothing Jewish is alien." Herein is our hallmark; Peoplehood; a faith in one God; a commitment to expressing that faith in life of mitzvot.

Reform originally denigrated peoplehood, and has not, today, developed a commitment to that which has held true throughout Jewish history: an expression of the faith through a pattern of life. Orthodoxy, in its various manifestations has peoplehood: faith, and the commitment to a life of mitzvot but this is at the cost of mind - at the expense of bifurcating critical thought from Judaism: of a split mentality. All developments within Conservative Judaism ,in all its manifestations, are reflections of these fundamental characteristics; hence, of all expressions of modern Judaism, secular or religious, only Conservative Judaism can claim to be not a "sticking to ritualism" nor a watering down of Judaism" but rather to be the most legitimate of all Jewish developments in our time. Such self-surety must stand at the base of Conservative Judaism.

Within these considerations, all variations of Conservative Judaism are not only tolerated, but welcome. Rather than being a sign of organizational weakness, vacuity, or lack of purpose,.,. this reflects the true "attire of classical Judaism. It is the Essence of Judaism.."

At the beginning, I posited that since early modern times, the fabric of Jewish life has been sorely worn; however, even in the best of times, the Jewish outlook has been a variegated as Joseph's -"coat of many colors." We are only now discovering that instead of the unitary image presented by the Mishna and Talmud of Judaism in the time of the Second Temple and thereafter, there was a highly dynamic religion of many different trends. Even within the forerunner of classical Judaism, Pharisaism, there is the divergence between the schools of Hillel and Shamai; the Talmud records,"Elu ve Elu",both are of divine authority. The Conservative Movement is oft described as the Pharisaic movement of our day, and we must recognize, then, that within ourselves, there are many legitimate schools of thought, and Elu ve Elu , all are right, and must be given free room to develop. If, in Temple times, there was a Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, so, in present structure of the Conservative movement, legitimization must be made for a Beit Mordecai,Belt Heschel, Beit Shaul, and the structure must be arranged to enable each to flourish, unimpeded by the other.

A variety of possible constructs comes to mind. One could, for instance, consider certain central planks, to which, in general, the different Batim of Conservative Judaism could assent, with liberty to interpret the implications of these planks left explicitly open. One could take Mordecai Kaplan's four areas of agreement (see Waxman, Tradition and Change, pp.214-215): 1)Eretz Yisrael, 2) The primacy of Religion, 3) The maximum plenitude of Jewish content, 4) The enco uragement of scientific learning.


Under the plank of Eretz Yisrael, one could find a group which considers Israel to be the effective exclusive, legitimate center of the Jewish people; one could also accept a group which would see Israel as an equal focus in the Jewish ellipse with American Jewry as the other focus. Under primacy of religion, there could be a wide variety of theological schools: pantheistic, naturalistic, trans-natural, existential, traditional. Under maximum plentitude, one could conceive of groups for whom Halakha is the central concern, to be relatively unchanged, to those who would make extensive changes but only in accord with traditional methods of exegesis, to those who would remake halakha entirely, based on contemporary conditions. In the area of scientific inquiry, there could also be a range from limited acceptance of scientific criticism on the Bible, to acceptance as "written under divine inspiration" to an understanding of Bible as the expression of human yearning for the divine.

An alternative model for the structuring of Conservative Judaism could be derived from the philosopher Wittgenstein who suggested that, in search of the understanding of groups, one should not look for universal characteristics:

“We see a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing sometimes overall similarities, sometimes similarities of detail. . .   "family resemblances". "An example of his concept is to picture a set with the features ABCDE, with members in that set, edcba„ each of which have four of the five features, with one missing in each member. Thus                                         .











(from Wittgenstein, The Philosophical investigation, Edited by.George Pitcher, pp.188-189)

Under such a format, we might posit many positions, most of which would have to be accepted by each Bayit within the Conservative Movement. For example, one might place on one plane, all possible concepts within Conservative Judaism (only a few are listed herein):










God as spiritual being

God as power for salvation

God as I-Thou

Torah as revelation of God

Torah as search for God

Torah as binding

Torah as guiding

Halakha with moderate change

Halakha reconstructed


One can conceive of a Bayit which would include A,E,G, and I; their platform could be: "We conceive of God as a spiritual entity which elicited from the Jewish people the Torah, a guiding source of authority, and in recognition of this, a Jew follows the Halakha as revised extensively to meet the changed needs of modern society."

Or Bayit BEFH-: "We see God as the power that makes for salvation, and the Torah as the search of the. Jewish people for God. The Torah, as the product of the Jewish People, is binding in authority, and Jewish law, as the expression of the people, shall be followed with only slight modification."

The possibilities are legion.

Such a structure exists, informally, in that the members of the Movement, and their various bodies, are of radically different dis­positions. This is particularly so of the hard core of the Movement, the members of the Rabbinical Assembly, who can best serve as the leaders of the movement, by being both learned and in touch with the realities of American Jewry. By providing a structuring to give expression to this great variety, confusion can be changed to direction and action.

It would be possible to produce a multiple of Battim in the style of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, along several parameters: strictness or liberalness of interpretation of Jewish law; traditional philosophical, Rabbinic, or non-traditional theology; ethnic or universal oriented; high synagogue or low synagogue (Havurah) oriented; rational or mystical. For example, along three-dimensions of observance, theology, and ambience (religious - mystical or ethnic-secular), one can see the following grouping


The old demarcation - Left - Right .- Center - is of no validity in such a structure.

There is no canonicity to this grouping; many more or fewer division could be accommodated according to various modalities; some could closely be aligned with others and some could be at variance with every other one. Such a structure would be flexible enough to allow for creative development in several directions at once. Certain Battim would increase in backing with time, others might shrink or be merged, yet, given the rapid changes facing the American Jewish community, could regrow or be revitalized to match a new reality.

The individual Jew, at present lost in attempt to define for himself what it means to be a Conservative Jew, would then have specific "concepts", tendencies, "trends" to identify with and chose as meeting his/her Jewish needs and beliefs.

To structure and co-ordinate such an organization would require administrative ingenuity and talent, which can easily be found in the Rabbinical Assembly. An example might be taken from American Orthodoxy, which, according to Charles Liebman (Orthodoxy in American Jewish Life; AJYB 1965 ), although splintered into many small groups, has been experiencing a revival and is thriving despite predictions of immanent demise made a few decades ago.

We could not afford, however, to leave things to the will of heaven and structural anarchy; the roof organization would be vital. Jewish educattion is too costly a venture to split, as goes for the training of Rabbinate, or the machinery for placement position papers and policies vis a vis the rest of the Jewish community or the general public.

This multi-formed approach should be better able to coordinate the varied institutions that are now growing in American Jewry within, or independent of, formal synagogues. A new United. Synagogue would. then be commissioned to reflect the divergencies, and house under one roof, the following types of Betei Knesset:

1)    The standard large synagogue/Hebrew school/ center complex which would meet the needs of people who are looking for either the programming variety possible in such a large institution, or who are looking, admittedly, for a less intense Jewish involvement -suffice with a pleasant service, a good school, and some pleasant social gatherings. This should not be scoffed at, as through these, we reach the great bulk of the Jewish community.

2)    The large standard synagogue, with all the above facilities, coordinating, as its main aspect, or in addition to its regular programming, Havuroth, as is the case in many large synagogues today. The different Havuroth could give expression to the different manifestations of Conservative Judaism, while all sharing the same central facilities.

3)    Independent Havuroth, which succeed in drawing people into Jewish life who would otherwise remain untouched by more traditional Jewish structures. Since the Havurah has started to become a movement of its own, with a national convention, it would be vital for the Conservative Movement to be able to work through this vehicle.

4)    Stiebel complex. In Jerusalem, there are many buildings which house several services, simultaneously, or in succession, of different colorings -Hasidic, straight davening, Yekish. Each one reflects the different mood, traditions, and backgrounds of the worshippers gathered therein, yet they are all brought in proximity and fellowship by being under one roof, constantly intermingling upon entering, leaving, and just milling around. Some synagogues have several services in recognition of different needs of the congregants; rather than be considered a sign of lack of cohesion, it should be a source of pride. Under one roof, there could be a highly traditional service ("orthodox"), a standard Conservative service, of choir, Cantor, and Rabbi, cum sermonis; an alternative service emphasizing variation in music, creative readings, different formats for seating; a purely meditative service, of as yet unimagined format, since it is better to .meditate in shul, than in ashram. All could run simultaneously, with all members entering together, and following services, rejoining for a joint Oneg Shabbat or Kiddush, wherein would be preserved the atmosphere of a congregation and community.

5)         Jewish outreach centers. We are embarassed by the drive and success of those most committed to avoiding the. Twentieth Century in being able to reach out to people who have had no traditional background. Both the Baptists and Habad put us to shame. In Houston, there is a Main Point, a joint outreach project of the local Southern Baptist churches; in this facility, every program and course is offered to the young person, especially the single, with no strings attached, with no membership fees, but with a lavish helping of religion. Habad has done equally well in attracting Jewish students who had no previous Jewish connection. Not everyone is searching for the intense authoritarianism of a Habad„ but many young adults, singles, or senior adults, are waiting for someone to reach out to them. Half of all Jews belong to no synagogues, yet most Jews, in surveys call themselves "Conservative"; they have to be pulled in with an open arm, not a call for dues.





Under such an approach, Conservative Judaism will be able to legitimately be viewed as normative Judaism, reflecting both the histor­ical pluralism which has been Judaism's intellectual hallmark and the will to expressing Jewish faith accordingly. This will allow freedom of conscience, not _only for. those who feel that certain categories of.halakhka are immutable but also for those who believe, as well, that halakha must be adjusted where necessity demands; one need not close out the other. Under such an approach, those within the Reform movement, who "lean" towards Conservatism will find, within it, a body of like-minded colleagues among who will feel entirely at ease; Reconstructionism could, with full intellectual integrity, reunite, keeping it’s own identity; those among the Orthodox, who have recognized the intellectual arguments of modern criticism, will find the way open to aligning themselves within those groups .in the Conservative movement whose attitude to halakha is similar, without feeling themselves involved with colleagues who, in their eyes, would be too radical. Sitting in the center and opening to new blood in both directions, the Conservative Movement could serve to become the Sanhedrin for mainstream variants of Judaism in the Twenty-first Century.

 " We are one" would not be a slogan for the mindless melting of ideology and surrender of principles, but instead, the practical meeting of creative bodies for common goals. Chancellor Gerson Cohen, in referring to the tabling of the proposal to ordain women has offered hopes of seeing the time when we shall be able to tolerate differences within our ranks. To adopt such an outlook would be to concretize that hope. It would be revolutionary, and be justifiable, as in the words of the previous Chancellor: "Revolutions can be justified in only one way, by being successful."

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Why me? For Tisha B Av , for the Individual and for the Nation


Why me? For July 17

For the video of my discussion go to:



  Ziyon Halo Tish ali

 Job Opera by Yuyal Avital

 A Look at Responses to Suffering and the story of Job-

By Zunkir - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

1)Ludlul Bel Nemeqi- Akkadian Job 1700 BCE?

1 I survived to the next year, | the appointed time passed. 2 As I turned around, | it was more and more terrible; 3 My ill luck was on the increase, | I could find no good fortune. 4 I called to my god, | but he did not show me his face, 5 I prayed to my goddess, | but she did not raise her head. 6 The diviner with his inspection | did not get to the bottom of it, 7 *Nor did the dream priest with his incense | clear up my case 8 I beseeched a dream spirit, | but it did not enlighten me;
9 And the incantation priest with his ritual | did not appease the divine wrath against me.


2)Bhagavad Gita 500-200 BCE

By Unknown author - & Philadelphia museum for Art, Public Domain,

Bg 2.11 — The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead.

Bg 2.12 — Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be. Bg 2.13 — As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change. Bg 2.14 — O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.

3)Buddha c 500 BCE

Chinese statue- my collection

Mother sought to shield him from suffering, would not let him out to see suffering, the aged, or the dead. Yet as a young man, first day out in the real world, saw all of these. Only solution to eternal rebirth and suffering is complete detachment from the self.

4)Christianity- God suffers physically in Jesus & redeems the world ( in the next life)

5) Biblical-Classical- This world, focused on reward and punishment. In this world, both for individual and for nation. This is both in the Torah and in the prophets. In wisdom literature- Psalms- God protects those who are righteous. Proverbs- good and righteous action lead to well being. Evil leads to destruction.


There are 3 books in Bible that deal with suffering:

Lamentations: Eichah- God is described as a bear that has attacked  suddenly. The punishment is greater than the guilt. Yet here, we have acceptance. “ I gave my cheek to the one who has struck me.” And reconciliation and return is possible: Hashivenu ,,, v ashuvah.


Koheleth- Just very miserable. He seems to have no solution for us. The only redeeming factor is the end of the book, in which it says the words of the wise are as goads, to poke us. So do right.


Our Ecclesiastes:

And I also perceived that one event happeneth to them all. [15] Then said I in my  heart: ‘As it happeneth to the fool, so will it happen even to me; and why was I then more wise?’ Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. [16] For of the wise man, even as of the fool, there is no remembrance for ever; seeing that in the days to come all will long ago have been forgotten. And how must the wise man die even as the fool! [17] So I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun was grievous unto me; for all is vanity and a striving after wind.


Now we have Job

By Internet Archive Book Images - book page:, No restrictions,


Pious man, Note: He is not Jewish, and Jewish commentators accept that. Utz- Land of Edom, an enemy nation. Rabbinic commentary- Never was, never existed.Nevertheless, we will discover, in the end, that he is a Jewish prototype.


1: 1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.

3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

 God & Satan C

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.

11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

All is lost, yet Job remained faithful:

20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.


Ch 2: Not enough

1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

2 And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.

5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.


Wife- Curse God and end it all!

Still faithful:

10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.


Dialogue with friends –Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. 7 days silence ( shiva). Then, the Job talks ( Jewish rule of shiva- don’t speak to the mourner until the mourner talks!)

He can no longer bear his pain piously: Ch 3

1 After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.

2 And Job spake, and said,

3 Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.

4 Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.


Now, his friends turn his own teachings against him:They take turns 3 cycles, he rpelies.

Chapter 4[edit]

1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,

2 If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? but who can withhold himself from speaking?

3 Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands.

4 Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.

5 But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.

6 Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?

7 Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?

8 I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:

9 Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:

10 Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields:

11 To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.


Reply: Ch 6  8 Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!

9 Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!

10 Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.

11 What is my strength, that I should hope? and what is mine end, that I should prolong my life?

12 Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh of brass?

Second friend; Ch 8

1 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,

2 How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?

3 Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?

4 If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression;

5 If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;

6 If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.

7 Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.

Response: Protest the injustice: ch 9

18 He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness.

19 If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead?

20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.

21 Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.

22 This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.

23 If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.

24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he?


Bitter protestation:

Chapter 13[edit]

1 Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it.

2 What ye know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto you.

3 Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.

4 But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.

5 O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.


Affirms his righteousness and his faith

Chapter 27[edit]

1 Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,

2 As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul;

3 All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;

4 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.

5 God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.

6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.

7 Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous.

8 For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?

9 Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?

10 Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God?

11 I will teach you by the hand of God: that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal.

Speech of generic wisdom ( an aside-perhaps for  dramatic interlude)

Chapter 28[edit]

1 Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it.

2 Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.

3 He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death.

4 The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men.

5 As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire.

6 The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold.

25 To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure.

26 When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder:

27 Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.

28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.


Final attack by a new party, Ch 32 Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.

Ch 33 27 He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not;

28 He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.

29 Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man,

30 To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.

Ch 34 12 Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.

13 Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world?

14 If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath;

15 All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.

16 If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words.

Ch 36 17 But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice take hold on thee.

18 Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.



Now- Deus ex machina- God enters

Chapter 38[edit]

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,Hebrew: seararh- Storm( Samekh) or a hair!( Midrashic reading Sin)?

God of wondrous creation; Human knowledge is as nothing compared.

2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?( rebuke to the friends)

3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?

9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,

10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,

11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;

13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?


Now, an amazing challenge to Job:

Chapter 40[edit]

1 Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,

2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.

3 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,

4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.

5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.

6 Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

7 Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.

8 Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?

9 Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?

10 Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.

11 Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.

12 Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.

13 Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.

14 Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.

Description of the monsters of the world, all God’s works ( pagan gods, redone as created entities under God).

Ch 42, Job accepts God’s presence. his own finitude. It is God’s presence that concludes the debate.

1 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,

2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

3 Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.

4 Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee,  and declare thou unto me.

5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.

6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Now God justifies Job:

 And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

8 Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.


10 And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Look at this development: He pits aside his anger and his bitterness as he sees his friends have admitted their sin against him and he prays for them. Hebrew word” Shvut” captivity- Shvut is the word used to described the state of the Jewish people.

Dies ripe old age, 140, 4 generations. The daughters( not the sons) are named by name and get equal inheritance with the sons.


Now, what do you make of the message- is it despair, or is it hope.

The world runs as it runs. But behind is the presence of God. The presence of an entity beyond all comprehension, yet present, not absent from the human. We live in a world of causality and accident. But we all live in a world that is much greater. In that, the author of Job finds his answer. Although it is universal “Jederman”, it is clearly very Jewish. That word “ shvut” gives it away. Job is not only the individual, he is also the Jewish people, who appear as the “suffering Servant” in Isaiah 53.

Not Jesus, as Christians read it, but the Jewish people.



נִבְזֶה֙ וַחֲדַ֣ל אִישִׁ֔ים אִ֥ישׁ מַכְאֹב֖וֹת וִיד֣וּעַ חֹ֑לִי וּכְמַסְתֵּ֤ר פָּנִים֙ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ נִבְזֶ֖ה וְלֹ֥א חֲשַׁבְנֻֽהוּ׃  

He was despised, shunned by men, A man of suffering, familiar with disease. As one who hid his face from us, He was despised, we held him of no account.

אָכֵ֤ן חֳלָיֵ֙נוּ֙ ה֣וּא נָשָׂ֔א וּמַכְאֹבֵ֖ינוּ סְבָלָ֑ם וַאֲנַ֣חְנוּ חֲשַׁבְנֻ֔הוּ נָג֛וּעַ מֻכֵּ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים וּמְעֻנֶּֽה׃ 

Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, Our suffering that he endured. We accounted him plagued, Smitten and afflicted by God;

וְהוּא֙ מְחֹלָ֣ל מִפְּשָׁעֵ֔נוּ מְדֻכָּ֖א מֵעֲוֺנֹתֵ֑ינוּ מוּסַ֤ר שְׁלוֹמֵ֙נוּ֙ עָלָ֔יו וּבַחֲבֻרָת֖וֹ נִרְפָּא־לָֽנוּ׃ 

But he was wounded because of our sins, Crushed because of our iniquities. He bore the chastisement that made us whole, And by his bruises we were healed.

כֻּלָּ֙נוּ֙ כַּצֹּ֣אן תָּעִ֔ינוּ אִ֥ישׁ לְדַרְכּ֖וֹ פָּנִ֑ינוּ וַיהֹוָה֙ הִפְגִּ֣יעַ בּ֔וֹ אֵ֖ת עֲוֺ֥ן כֻּלָּֽנוּ׃ We all went astray like sheep, Each going his own way; And the LORD visited upon him The guilt of all of us.”

נִגַּ֨שׂ וְה֣וּא נַעֲנֶה֮ וְלֹ֣א יִפְתַּח־פִּיו֒ כַּשֶּׂה֙ לַטֶּ֣בַח יוּבָ֔ל וּכְרָחֵ֕ל לִפְנֵ֥י גֹזְזֶ֖יהָ נֶאֱלָ֑מָה וְלֹ֥א יִפְתַּ֖ח פִּֽיו׃ 

He was maltreated, yet he was submissive, He did not open his mouth; Like a sheep being led to slaughter, Like a ewe, dumb before those who shear her, He did not open his mouth.

מֵעֹ֤צֶר וּמִמִּשְׁפָּט֙ לֻקָּ֔ח וְאֶת־דּוֹר֖וֹ מִ֣י יְשׂוֹחֵ֑חַ כִּ֤י נִגְזַר֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ חַיִּ֔ים מִפֶּ֥שַׁע עַמִּ֖י נֶ֥גַע לָֽמוֹ׃ 

By oppressive judgment he was taken away, Who could describe his abode? For he was cut off from the land of the living Through the sin of my people, who deserved the punishment.

וַיִּתֵּ֤ן אֶת־רְשָׁעִים֙ קִבְר֔וֹ וְאֶת־עָשִׁ֖יר בְּמֹתָ֑יו עַ֚ל לֹא־חָמָ֣ס עָשָׂ֔ה וְלֹ֥א מִרְמָ֖ה בְּפִֽיו׃ 

And his grave was set among the wicked, And with the rich, in his death— Though he had done no injustice And had spoken no falsehood.

וַיהֹוָ֞ה חָפֵ֤ץ דַּכְּאוֹ֙ הֶחֱלִ֔י אִם־תָּשִׂ֤ים אָשָׁם֙ נַפְשׁ֔וֹ יִרְאֶ֥ה זֶ֖רַע יַאֲרִ֣יךְ יָמִ֑ים וְחֵ֥פֶץ יְהֹוָ֖ה בְּיָד֥וֹ יִצְלָֽח׃ 

But the LORD chose to crush him by disease, That, if he made himself an offering for guilt, He might see offspring and have long life, And that through him the LORD’s purpose might prosper.

מֵעֲמַ֤ל נַפְשׁוֹ֙ יִרְאֶ֣ה יִשְׂבָּ֔ע בְּדַעְתּ֗וֹ יַצְדִּ֥יק צַדִּ֛יק עַבְדִּ֖י לָֽרַבִּ֑ים וַעֲוֺנֹתָ֖ם ה֥וּא יִסְבֹּֽל׃ 

Out of his anguish he shall see it; He shall enjoy it to the full through his devotion. “My righteous servant makes the many righteous, It is their punishment that he bears;

לָכֵ֞ן אֲחַלֶּק־ל֣וֹ בָרַבִּ֗ים וְאֶת־עֲצוּמִים֮ יְחַלֵּ֣ק שָׁלָל֒ תַּ֗חַת אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֶעֱרָ֤ה לַמָּ֙וֶת֙ נַפְשׁ֔וֹ וְאֶת־פֹּשְׁעִ֖ים נִמְנָ֑ה וְהוּא֙ חֵטְא־רַבִּ֣ים נָשָׂ֔א וְלַפֹּשְׁעִ֖ים יַפְגִּֽיעַ׃ {פ}
Assuredly, I will give him the many as his portion, He shall receive the multitude as his spoil. For he exposed himself to death And was numbered among the sinners, Whereas he bore the guilt of the many And made intercession for sinners.”

Thus, in this linkage of Job and Isaiah 53, the Jewish people are God's Suffering Servant.