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Michael Laitman
Founder and president of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute

How Could You Apply the Story of Cain and Abel to Today?

Cain murdering his brother, Abel, is about when we follow our egoism, i.e., our desire to enjoy at the expense of others, trying to fulfill its demands.

Cain and Abel describe two inner directions and forces in our development. Abel is a relatively positive path, and Cain is a tougher path, when we think that we can get what we want by force. In our development, these two directions enter into conflict within us.

Cain prevailing over Abel describes the descent of the soul, i.e., the overcoming of creation’s egoistic nature over the original altruistic nature. This line of descent has continued throughout humanity’s development until today. We can see the consequences around us of how the desire to enjoy at the expense of others comes out ahead in the world.

It is written that Cain slew his brother out of envy, but I would say that both Cain and Abel were envious of each other. The difference is in how each implemented the envy: Cain made use of force while Abel was diplomatic and peaceful. That is, envy comes to us from the collision of these two forces in nature.

Before Cain murdered Abel, God said to Cain: “Why are you so vexed, and why is your face downcast? After all, if you do good, you will be forgiven, and if you do not do good, sin lies at the entrance, and you are attracted to it. You rule over it.”

There is a directive that says it is possible to rule over your sin, i.e., your egoistic and divisive impulses—the Cain in yourself—but of course, it does not work out. It is the voice of our inner conscience, our inner strength that, in principle, tells us that the sin we are about to commit is an incorrect action. However, as we can see, such a conscience is still insufficient for us to overcome our egoistic drives to this day.

The reason for evil prevailing as it did in the story of Cain and Abel is for us to become convinced that the sole correct path is one of increasing love for each other. However, it is a very difficult path. Suffering shows us time and again that we chose the wrong path, and that it is our self-centered nature that led us to it.

Love, however, is our ultimate foundation and it will ultimately triumph. We are reaching a point in our development where we find that the more we follow our egoistic impulses, the more we are led to lives of despair and emptiness. In other words, we discover how the path we have taken for thousands of years is wrong. At this juncture, we need to undergo a serious self-scrutiny in order to look into how we can overcome our egoistic impulses and follow a path that leads to absolute love and bestowal, the higher nature beyond our own.

We need to correct the sin that Cain carried out and reach a corrected version of the relationship that Cain and Abel should have had if egoistic impulses did not overcome—an understanding of how to treat one another, dividing everything we receive from nature in a balanced and harmonious manner.

While Cain did not rule over the sinful inclination inside him as God had directed, we today—with the added experience of seeing how the evil quality has run havoc in our lives over thousands of years—need to seek help from the very force that created us: to give us the strength to overcome this egoistic quality within us that makes us exploit, manipulate and abuse one another.

We need to want to rule over ourselves, our original sin, but in order to do so, we need the help of the upper force. Without its help, we are left to the devices of our egoistic nature, and we are then doomed to failure. That was Cain’s mistake, and it continues to be humanity’s error—continually justifying ourselves in inflicting harm to others.

What, then, should we do in order to find and uproot the Cain the murderer, the envious person, within us? We need to reach a state called “recognition of evil,” feeling the full extent of our egoism as a negative quality that brings our lives nothing good, only detriment. The more we develop and find ourselves suffering in life, the closer we come to such a state.

It eludes us for the time being though. To truly awaken this recognition of evil, we need the very force that created us to reveal it to us.

How do we attract that force? It is by trying to emulate its vector of love, care and giving in our relations, and asking for its help.

When we see our egoism as an evil quality, and wish to rise above it, then we come to feel humanity not as a pack of strangers, like we do now, but as people we care dearly about, as if everyone is a member of our own family.

That state is called “the revelation of the Creator to His created beings in this world,” i.e., the higher force that created us shows how interconnected and interdependent we are, to a point where strangers become more important to us than we are to ourselves. In such a state, we will experience harmony and bliss unlike anything we have ever experienced before.

If we wish to reach this peaceful state sooner rather than later, i.e., by alleviating the need for more and more suffering to befall us, then we should hold the request from the higher force to grant us the ability to rise above our egoism. By reaching a genuine prayer for help in becoming as loving and caring as the force of love itself, we will draw its positive influence into our lives, start gaining the ability to rise above our nature, and discover the original nature that created us in all of its perfection and eternity.

About the Author
Michael Laitman is a PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah. MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics. Founder and president of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute. Author of over 40 books on spiritual, social and global transformation. His new book, The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism, is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jewish-Choice-Anti-Semitism-Historical-anti-Semitism/dp/1671872207/