And Iyov Was Silent

One of the greatest philanthropists that ever lived was someone name Iyov. He was a very wealthy, righteous and pious man who feared G-d and shunned evil.( Bava Basra 15 b) He was also one of Pharaoh’s three advisors. He helped support every good and worthy cause. He gave charity to all that needed his help. He was a wise and clever man who was always ready to help those in need. He was a man of great moral character who always distanced himself from anything that might lead to sin. (See Avos d’Rabbi Nosson 2:5) He was a multimillionaire who owned much real estate all over the world and was blessed with a large family and everything that one’s heart desired. He was what we’d call “healthy wealthy and wise.” And then all of a sudden he was struck by a horrendous tragedy. He lost everything he had. His entire family was wiped out. All his great wealth was taken away and his body became inflicted with the dreadful disease of leprosy. He was a stricken and broken man left in sorrow and pain – destitute. From great glory and honor he was now left with only three friends who tried to console him. He went from riches to rags. From joy and happiness to suffering, misery, agony and pain. He became the historical icon of misfortune, tragedy, and sorrow.

Chazal (Sota 11) reveal the reason for this very severe punishment. “Iyov sh’shoshak, nidon b’yisurim“- Iyov who remained silent, was punished with suffering.

This particular incident took place at a special meeting called by Pharaoh to discuss the Jewish population explosion that Egypt was facing. The meeting was attended by Pharaoh’s three brilliant personal advisors; Iyov, Bilam and Yisro. Bilam, of course, advised that the Jews be killed. Yisro spoke up in defense of the Jews even though this put his life in jeopardy. He thereupon fled for his life and was greatly rewarded. Iyuv, who was afraid to speak up and defend the Jews, remained silent. One cannot remain silent when people’s lives are in danger. One must cry out even when he knows that he may be endangering his own life or that his words will fall on deaf ears.

Today we all know what the world did when they heard what the Nazis were doing to the Jews during the Holocaust. Even our best friends stood by in total silence and apathy. Even the “land of the free” closed its doors to those who tried to escape. One couldn’t even hear a whisper of protest. Those that knew, remained as silent as the dead, and even tried to hide the information so that others could not act on it. There was total silence!

Today, once again, as Arab murderers spill innocent Jewish blood, the world stands by in total silence. While many nations parrot Bilam’s call and will surely meet Bilam’s end, others shrug their shoulders in silent apathy. They fear the Arab wrath if they voice their true opinion. Oil speaks louder than blood. Even those we thought were our best of friends have sympathized with our enemy. “Kol o’haveha bogdu voh, hoyu loh l’ovim.” One wonders if the reason for the recent world economic crises and the destruction of all their cattle is in any way a result of their thundering silence. There is no novi around to answer this question. Historical precedent says that there may be a correlation. Only G-d knows the truth!