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Friday, October 30, 2015

Parashat VaYera 5776


Following the binding of Isaac, our parasha ends with the genealogy of Abraham’s family in the old country. It includes many names which we do not really hear from again.
בראשית פרשת וירא פרק כב
Genesis Chapter 22
(כ) וַיְהִי אַחֲרֵי הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וַיֻּגַּד לְאַבְרָהָם לֵאמֹר הִנֵּה יָלְדָה מִלְכָּה גַם־הִוא בָּנִים לְנָחוֹר אָחִיךָ:
(20) Then it was after these happenings it was told to Abraham, saying: Behold Milkah also gave birth to children from Nachor your brother.
(כא) אֶת־עוּץ בְּכֹרוֹ וְאֶת־בּוּז אָחִיו וְאֶת־קְמוּאֵל אֲבִי אֲרָם:
(21) Utz his firstborn, Buz his brother, and K’muel the father of Aram.
(כב) וְאֶת־כֶּשֶׂד וְאֶת־חֲזוֹ וְאֶת־פִּלְדָּשׁ וְאֶת־יִדְלָף וְאֵת בְּתוּאֵל:
(22) And Kesed, and Chazo, and Pildash, and Yidlaf, and B’tuel.
(כג) וּבְתוּאֵל יָלַד אֶת־רִבְקָה שְׁמֹנָה אֵלֶּה יָלְדָה מִלְכָּה לְנָחוֹר אֲחִי אַבְרָהָם:
(23) And B’tuel sired Rebecca; these eight Milkah birthed from Nachor, the brother of Abraham.
(כד) וּפִילַגְשׁוֹ וּשְׁמָהּ רְאוּמָה וַתֵּלֶד גַּם־הִוא אֶת־טֶבַח וְאֶת־גַּחַם וְאֶת־תַּחַשׁ וְאֶת־מַעֲכָה: ס
(24) And his concubine, and her name was R’uma; she also gave birth to Tevach, and Gacham, and Tachash, and Ma’akhah.

Rashi explains these verses much in the sense in which I have always read them. Their entire point it to bring us to Isaac’s future wife, Rebecca.
רש"י שם
Rashi on the above
ובתואל ילד את רבקה - כל היחוסין הללו לא נכתבו אלא בשביל פסוק זה:
And B’tuel sired Rebecca - All of these family connections were only written for this verse.

However, the Palestinian Talmud tells us that Utz, uncle of Rebecca, was actually Job. It notices that Utz is also the name of the land in which Job resides. After meandering through other suggestions (I cut out the proof texts), it comes back around to that first opinion: that Job lived during Abraham’s time.
תלמוד ירושלמי (וילנא) מסכת סוטה פרק ה, הלכה ו
Palestinian Talmud (Vilna Edition), Tractate Sotah, Chapter 5, Law 6
אימתי היה איוב רבי שמעון בן לקיש בשם בר קפרא בימי אברהם אבינו היה הדא היא דכתיב איש היה בארץ עוץ איוב שמו (איוב א:א). וכתיב את עוץ בכורו (בראשית כב כא).
When was Job? Rebbi Shimon son of Lakish in the name of the son of Kafra: He was in the days of Abraham our father. This is what is written, “There was a man in the land of Utz; Job was his name,” (Job 1:1). And it is written, “Utz his firstborn,” (Genesis 22:21).
רבי אבא אמר בימי אבינו יעקב היה ודינה היתה אשתו...
Rebbi Abba said: He was in the days of Jacob our father and Dina was his wife...
רבי לוי אמר בימי השבטים היה...
Rebbi Levi said: He was during the days of the tribes.
רבי יוסי בן חלפתא אמר בירידתן למצרים היה ובעלייתן מת.
Rebbi Yose son of Chalafta said: He was among those who descended to Egypt, and in the coming out he died...
תני ר' ישמעאל איוב מעבדי פרעה היה ומגדולי פמילייא שלו היה...
It was taught by Rebbi Yishmael: Job was among the servants of Pharaoh, and of his household grandees....
רבי יוסי בר יהודה אומר בימי שפוט השופטים היה...
Rebbi Yose son of Yehuda says: He was in the days of the judging of the Judges.
רבי שמואל בר נחמן בשם רבי יונתן בימי מלכות שבא היה...
Rebbi Shmuel son of Nachman in the name of Yonatan: He was in the days of the kingdom of Sheba...
רבי נתן אמר בימי כשדים היה... רבי יהושע בן קרחה אמר בימי אחשורוש היה
Rebbi Natan said: He was in the days of the Chaldeans...
רבי יהושע בן לוי אמר מעולי גולה היה. רבי יוחנן אמר מעולי גולה היה וישראל היה...
Rebbi Yehoshua son of Levi said: He was among those who ascended from the exile. Rebbi Yochanan said: He was among those who ascended from the exile and was an Israelite.
רבי שמעון בן לקיש אמר איוב לא היה ולא עתיד להיות. מחלפה שיטתיה דר' שמעון בן לקיש. תמן אמר רבי שמעון בן לקיש בשם בר קפרא בימי אברהם אבינו היה והכא הוא אמר הכין
Rebbi Shimon son of Lakish said: Job never was and never will be. Switch the approach of Rebbi Shimon son of Lakish. There Rebbi Shimon son of Lakish said in the name of the son of Kafra, “He existed at the time of Abraham our father.” But here he says thus.
אלא הוא היה וייסורין לא היו. ולמה נכתבו עליו אלא לומר שאילולי באו עליו היה יכול לעמוד בהן.
Rather, he existed but the tribulations did not happen. Then why were they written about regarding him. To tell you that if they had happened to him he could have withstood them.


The Babylonian Talmud has a similar discussion as to the epoch of Job. It has a later discussion which I left out where it includes some of the other suggestions in the Palestinian Talmud. However, even though it suggests the times of Isaac and Jacob, it never suggests Abraham.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת בבא בתרא דף טו עמוד א
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bava Batra 15a
That Rebbi Levi the son of Lachma said: Job was during the days of Moses...
דא"ר לוי בר לחמא: איוב בימי משה היה...
And some say: During the days of Isaac...
ואימא: בימי יצחק...
And some say: During the days of Jacob...
ואימא: בימי יעקב...
And some say: During the days of Joseph...
ואימא: בימי יוסף...
Rava said: Job was during the days of the spies. It is written here, “There was a man in the land of Utz; Job was his name,” (Job 1:1). And it is written there, “Is there a tree [etz] in it?” (Number 13:20). How are they the same. Here is “Utz,” there is “etz”! This is what Moses is saying to them: Is there such a man who years are long like a tree and he protects his generation like a tree?
רבא אמר: איוב בימי מרגלים היה, כתיב הכא: איש היה בארץ עוץ איוב שמו (איוב א:א), וכתיב התם: היש בהעץ (במדבר סיני יג:כ). מי דמי? הכא עוץ, התם עץ! הכי קאמר להו משה לישראל: ישנו לאותו אדם, ששנותיו ארוכות כעץ ומגין על דורו כעץ.
Those of our Rabbis sat in front of Rebbi Shmuel son of Nachmani, and he sat and said, “Job never was, nor was he created. Rather, he was a parable.”
יתיב ההוא מרבנן קמיה דר' שמואל בר נחמני, ויתיב וקאמר: איוב לא היה ולא נברא אלא משל היה.

The Torah Temimah notes that it is odd to make the claim Job lived at the time of Abraham. He is from Utz; that does not make him Utz. Further, the name Utz shows up at other times in Tanakh. He suggests reading the midrash as the motivation.
תורה תמימה הערות בראשית פרק כב, הערב ל
Torah Temimah, Notes on Genesis chapter 22, Note 30
Barukh ha’Levi Epstein, 19th and 20th Centuries Lithuania and America
At first glance this exegesis is surprising. For at other later times we find a place whose name is Utz like, “All the kings of Utz,” (Jeremiah 25), “Those dwelling in the land of Utz,” (Lamentations 4). And if so, what is the connection of the land of Utz to the person whose name it Utz? And further, according to this why did they not expound that he was in the days of Noah, as is written, “And the son of Aram: Utz,” (Genesis 10:23).
לכאורה הדרשא נפלאה, דהא עוד בזמנים מאוחרים מצינו מדינה ששמה עוץ, כמו כל מלכי העוץ (ירמי' כ"ה) יושבת בארץ עוץ (איכה ד') וא"כ מאי שייכות ארץ עוץ לאיש ששמו עוץ, ותו דלפי"ז למה לא דריש שהי' בימי נח דכתיב ובני ארם עוץ (בראשית י:כ"ג)...

The midrash below tells us that Abraham was fit to have more than ten trials. But Job took over for him.
במדבר רבה (וילנא) פרשת שלח פרשה יז
Genesis Rabbah (Vilna Edition), Parashat Sh’lach, Parasha 17
Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him, “Difficult tribulations and other trials were fit to come on Abraham, but they did not come. And these tribulations are the ones that came on Job - which were fit to come on Abraham. Thus it is connected to the portion [of the binding of Isaac], “ Then it was after these happenings it was told to Abraham… Utz his firstborn and Buz.” And Utz was Job.
אמר לו הקב"ה יסורין קשים ונסיונין אחרים היו ראויין לבא על אברהם ואינן באין ואלו הן היסורין אותן שבאו על איוב היו ראוין לבא על אברהם שכן הוא נסמך לפרשה ויהי אחרי הדברים האלה ויגד וגו' את עוץ בכורו ואת בוז ועוץ היה איוב

So what is the point? If I may be so bold as to make a suggestions. Whatever the meaning behind the binding of Isaac, perhaps this task is so weighty that God could no longer burden Abraham. It so broke him, even if he did pass. Instead, God has to move on to testing someone else. This gives us a sense of what the Palestinian Talmud meant that Job existed but never actually suffered such tribulations; but he could have. The trials of Abraham and Job were more than any person should ever have to suffer, though I am sure God has His reasons.

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