The Way of G-d 2:6:4
G-d allowed for a prosecutor in His court, famously known as satan 1. His role is to argue against the accused, which them enables the Judge to come to a detailed decision 2. After all, G-d’s ways are fair and good, so He doesn’t arrive at a decision until a prosecutor make his claims 3 – even though G-d already knows the status of the defendant 4.
This phenomenon also has its rules as to how and when it’s to come into play. Thus we’re taught that satan “makes his claims during times of danger” (Bereishit Rabba 91:9), for example; that “three things bring a person’s sins into focus” (Ibid. 55a) 5; and the like 6.
1 See Job 1:6 and 2:1, Zachariah 3:1-2, and Psalms 109:6.
See Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 126 and Clallei Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 8.
2 The term satan is less heinous than it’s assumed to be. Its Hebrew root is שט which means “side”. As such, it means one who turns aside or away from, or opposes something or someone; hence his designation as a prosecutor.
3 Indeed, a court would need both a justice for the defense and a prosecutor if the truth were to be determined.
4 See Zohar 3:99b1. Also see 2:6:2-3 above regarding G-d’s foreknowledge.
5 That is, there are three inauspicious instances (among others of course) in which a person’s sins are brought into focus by satan: When that person stands against “an unsound wall, (when he) examines (the efficacy of his) prayers, and when he asks for someone else to be punished by Heaven”.
6 In times of plenty, for example (Bereishit Rabba 38:9).
(c) 2020 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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Rabbi Feldman’s new annotated translation of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag’s “Introduction to the Zohar” is available as “The Kabbalah of Self” on Kindle here. His annotated translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here and his annotated translation of Rabbeinu Yonah’s “The Gates of Repentance” is available here.
He has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).