CAIN AND ABEL; the first murdER

Moshe Kempinski

www.shorashimshop.com

TORAH PORTION OF BREISHIT Genesis 1:1–6:8

We read in the text of the Torah portion of Breishit regarding the events that led to the first recorded murder in the Torah.Abel ( Hevel) was a shepherd of flocks, and Cain( Cayin) was a tiller of the soil. Now it came to pass at the end of days, that Cain brought of the fruit of the soil an offering to Hashem.And Abel he too brought of the firstborn of his flocks and of their fattest, and Hashem turned to Abel and to his offering.But to Cain and to his offering He did not turn, and it annoyed Cain exceedingly, and his countenance fell….And Cain spoke to Abel his brother, and it came to pass when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and slew him.” Genesis 4:2-8)

Cain was incensed and aflame with jealousy fueled by a sense of worthlessness. His reaction was horrific violence. He goes to speak to Abel his brother, but he is overtaken by his rage and he kills him without much explanation.” And Cain spoke to Abel his brother, and it came to pass when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and slew him.”(ibid8)

Anger is a cruel and merciless dictator. It conquers the soul and warps it. We have witnessed how anger unleashes hatred and violence throughout our world and it has not yet released its grip.

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto writes: “One who is quick to anger over anything which is not to his liking loses control of his senses and would destroy the entire world if he only could. He is as out of control as a wild beast and is ready to commit all the sins in the world if his anger should lead him to do so, because he is completely dominated by that anger. One who is in such a state is equivalent to an idol worshipper who lacks any sense of discipline in regard to his Creator.”

Anger waits for the opportunity pounce in the soul of every individual and in the heart of every mortal being. In the same Biblical text Hashem warns Cain about this “demon” that lay lurking waiting to pounce.”And Hashem said to Cain, “Why are you annoyed, and why has your countenance fallen? Is it not take charge of our emotional states because so that if you improve, it will be forgiven you? If you do not improve, however, at the entrance, sin is lying, and to you is its longing, but you can rule over it.” ( ibid :6-7)

If only we could take back the words we have said in anger or the actions we committed in a state of rage. If only we can clean the stains of figurative blood that lay on the floor because of our unkind tirades.

Or perhaps the solution is to take charge of the actions of our heart before we fall prey because “if you improve, it will be forgiven you”.

“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”(proverbs 16:32)

Yet there is another lesson to be learned from this Biblical text. We read in the verses “Hashem turned to Abel and to his offering .But to Cain and to his offering He did not turn, and it annoyed Cain exceedingly, and his countenance fell”.(Genesis 4:4)

Why did Hashem accept one offering over the other?

There are those in the world who teach that Hashem prefers a sacrifice of animals to the offering of fruit and produce. That understanding truly does not make sense when we see the rejoicing upon the offering of the First Fruits or of the offering of the Grain Omer offering.

The answer to the question of Hashem’s preference lies in the text itself.”Cain brought of the fruit of the soil an offering to Hashem. And Abel he too brought of the firstborn of his flocks and of their fattest”( ibid 3).Cain brought of the fruits that he found in the soil, , while Abel brought “of the firstborn of his flocks and of their fattest”.

It is not what they brought that made the difference, but rather how they brought it. It was not the type of offering that made a difference to Hashem but rather the passion of the heart of he who brought the offering.

Therein lies the directions for our journey and quest in this life.

We must learn to curb our zeal of anger and jealousy and learn to nurture our passion to love our creator and his creations

LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved

Share this post

Leave a Comment