“Sons of G-d” angels (Job 1) and Rosh HaShanah

Question: Who are the “sons of G-d” in the verse Job 1:6?

Answer:

The verse Job (Iyov) 1:6 says, “Now the day came about, and the sons of G-d came to stand beside the L-rd, and the Adversary [“Sotahn” in Hebrew], too, came among them.”

In this context, the “sons of G-d” means angels. Rashi explains that this verse is describing a Heavenly event that took place on the New Year’s Day in the Hebrew calendar, Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is G-d’s appointed day of universal judgment for the entire year, on which all the creations in all the worlds are judged by G-d. It is the anniversary of the day that Adam and Hava (Eve) were created.

When a person observes one of his Divine commandments or does a good deed in general, this is brought up before G-d’s Heavenly court in the person’s defense on Rosh Hashanah, in the merit of the good that was done. When a person violates one of his Divine commandments or does something bad in general and has not yet repented to G-d, this is brought up for the person’s prosecution on Rosh Hashanah, accusing the person for the bad that was done. The leader of the angels that accuse people for their sins is the angel Sotahn (“Satan”).

Furthermore, even the angels in the Heavenly worlds and the animals, birds, etc. in this world are judged by G-d for their degree of culpability. This sounds mysterious to us, because those creations do not have free will as we understand it. However, it is understood somewhat by the fact that only G-d is perfect, and in some way even those creations that lack free will are also judged with regard to their imperfections.

This is illustrated by the following story in the Jerusalem Talmud (Shevi’it 9:1 25b):

[The great sage] Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai … saw a hunter catching birds. When Rabbi Shimon heard a voice from Heaven say, “Dimus, dimus!” (“Pardoned, pardoned!”), that bird escaped. But when he heard the voice say, “Spekula!” (“Sentenced!”), that [other] bird was caught and trapped. He said, “A bird is not caught except with the will of Heaven, [so] all the more so for a human being.”

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