Humans Don’t Murder

After Cain kills his brother, Abel, he is asked by Hashem, “Where is your brother, Abel?” He was given an opportunity to explain himself.

The Keli Yakar is very surprised by Cain’s answer. He says, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” What did he mean when he said, לא ידעתי, “I do not know?”
Could he have been saying that he did not know that murder was unacceptable? He did acknowledge that there was a G-d, because he did go to the trouble of offering a sacrifice to the Creator.

Hashem’s initial response to Cain, is how is it possible for you not to know? The taking of a life, falls under the category of מצוות מושכלות, Mitzvot that the intellect would dictate that this is wrong, even without a formal commandment.

If murder was permitted, humanity would cease to exist. This is why the אדמה, the earth cries out. It is because of the desolation that remains, when lives are taken.
I can recall accounts of the first, “March of the Living,” when the death camps were visited. Students spent time reburying bones that had been exposed. One spiritual friend said, “The ground has not yet recovered from the atrocities committed there.”
This is the meaning of the verse, “The voice of your brother’s blood, is crying out from the earth.”

It is clear that those involved in the horrific savagery of this past Shabbat, have lost any semblance of humanity. They are lower than animals, and epitomize evil to the highest degree.

It is our responsibility to remove evil from this world, and to get people to act human. This includes the numerous individuals who justify a life of immoral behavior, where anything goes. This behavior reduces them to a level below animals as well.

Self indulgences are not as bad as butchering human beings, but the world is still affected negatively, when it loses all sense of decency. There is right and wrong, that will become clear when all evil is removed from the face of the earth. The immediate obligation is to deal with Hamas, and those who threaten the Jewish people. When this is done, the world will be a better place. Other evils will become more blatant, and gradually, people will return to their senses. There will once again be the realization that it is G-d that runs the world, and all must put their faith in Him.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at
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