Section: Tanach   Category: Iyov
Iyov Part IV Perek 2-3: Iyov Curses His Mazal, Which He Claims Controls His Life

"And Iyov's three friends heard about all the evil that had befallen him, and each came from his place, Eliphaz the Temani, Bildad the Shuchi, and Tzophar the Naamati, and they met together to moan for him and to comfort him."

How did Iyov's friends hear about his misfortune? The Gemara says that this group of four friends each had three trees which represented the other three friends. If one of the trees wilted, each would know that that particular friend was experiencing distress. Their friendship was unusually strong and deep; it was about Iyov's friends that the Gemara says, "Friends like the friends of Iyov, or death!"

"They lifted their eyes from afar, but they didn't recognize him. They raised their voices, and they cried. Each man tore his robe, and they threw dust on their heads toward Shamayim. And they sat down with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, but they did not say a word to him because they saw that his pain was very great." Rashi says that Iyov's friends did not recognize him because his face had changed as a result of his suffering.

"Afterwards, Iyov opened his mouth, and cursed his day." Iyov believed that everything that happens in life is a result of one's mazal or the position of stars he is born under. Therefore, it is impossible to escape one's fate. This attitude led to his bitterness.

"And Iyov raised his voice and said. ‘The day I was born should be lost, and the night of my conception." According to Iyov, his mazal was preordained already on the night of his conception and the day of his birth. He felt that since he was fated to suffer such ill fortune, it would have been better if he had never been born. In addition, he felt that most people suffer more distress in life than good, and therefore they yearn for death. If this is so, what is the point of life?

"There (in the grave) the wicked cease from anger and those who are weary rest." Iyov maintains that death would be better than his continued existence in this world. In fact, it would have been better if man would not have been created at all, since the evil in life outweighs the good.

"Why does He give light to the one who toils, and life to those with bitter souls? Those who wait for death and it is not there, and they seek it more than hidden treasures." Iyov conceded that some people do experience more good in their lives, and they want life more than death. However, that fact does not answer the question of, "Why does He give light to the one who toils?" This light is referring to the light of sunrise. Those unfortunate people who are fated to spend their lives in hard labor do not welcome the light of sunrise. Conversely, the light of sunrise is a signal that another day of torture is about to begin. The "bitter of spirit" are even more unfortunate. These are people with lives so full of sorrow that their only wish is for death. In addition, Iyov complains that some people have difficult lives full of poverty and suffering, and constantly wish for death, which does not come. Finally, at the end of their lives, they find a "treasure" and their lives turn around, and then death arrives, when they finally desire life.

In summary, Iyov is bitter, and maintains that death is better than life which can be filled with so much suffering and ill fortune. He believes that man is a helpless victim of the position of the stars he is born under; he cannot do anything to control his fate. Death is cruel, both to those who wish for it and it doesn't come, and to those who wish for life, but face death instead. Iyov still maintains that Hashem is all good, so obviously, He could not be responsible for the bitter fate of man. Hashem is too lofty to interfere in the petty details of man's life. Iyov viewed his own life as proof of this; he was aware of his tziddkus and realized that his suffering was not a result of his sins. He also couldn't blame his troubles on coincidence since the loss of his children and possessions happened in such a supernatural way, with one disaster after another, followed shortly afterwards by his intense physical suffering. He felt he had no choice but to blame his suffering on his mazal, and if he was fated to bear such suffering, it would have been better if he had never been born.