Sotah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Five

 

Introduction

The structure of this mishnah is similar to mishnah two above.  Somebody expounds a midrash and Rabbi Joshua explains how pleased Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, his teacher, would have been had he lived to hear such a midrash.

The topic of the midrash is Job, and whether or not he worshipped God out of fear, a lower level of worship, or out of love, a higher level.

 

Mishnah Five

1)      On that day Rabbi Joshua ben Hyrcanus expounded: Job only served the Holy One, blessed be He, from love: as it is said, “Though he slay me, yet I will wait for him (lo)” (Job 13:15).

a)      And it is still evenly balanced whether to read “I will wait for him” or “I will not wait for him”?

b)      Scripture states, “Until I die I will maintain my integrity” (Job 27:5), this teaches that what he did was from love.

2)      Rabbi Joshua [ben Hananiah] said: who will remove the dust from your eyes, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, since you had expounded all your life that Job only served the Omnipresent from fear, as it is said, “A blameless and upright man that fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8) did not Joshua, the student of your student, teach that what he did was from love?

 

Explanation

Section one:  The word “for him” in Hebrew is “lo”.  “Lo” can be written either with a vav at the end, in which case it means “for him” or with an aleph, it which case the phrase would mean “I will not wait for him.”  Therefore, this verse is not conclusive evidence that Job worshipped God out of love.  Hence, Job 27:5 is brought as proof that Job’s served God out of love.

Section two:  Again, Rabbi Joshua states how pleased Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai would have been to have heard this midrash.  Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai had been forced to admit that Job only worshipped out of fear, since that is specifically stated in Job 1:8.  Had Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai still been alive, he would have been pleased to have someone prove to him that Job worshipped God out of love.

 

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