So, what’s eating Cain?

This post is dedicated to all those who answered the call to defend Israel. May G-d protect them and return them to their families safely – and soon.

Cain is a ‘tiller of the soil’.  Abel is a keeper of sheep.  Both are rivals for God’s attention, but God only accepts to Abel’s offering.  God offers no explanation why Abel’s offering is more acceptable. He only warns Cain to do the right thing and not let distress lead him towards sin.

Apparently, Cain ignores God’s warning. I say apparently because we are faced with a gaping hole in the narrative.  The text reads “Cain spoke to his brother Abel…and when they were in the field Cain set upon his brother Abel and killed him” (Bereshit 4:8). We do not know what triggered the killing. What did Cain say? How did Abel respond?  Various midrashm offer explanations and elaborations but the Torah itself is silent.

It’s a silence that teaches volumes.

By not telling us who said what to whom, the Torah is teaching us a valuable lesson.  There is no legitimate excuse for murder.  Murder is an act of terror. Period! Regardless of what was eating Cain, no matter what rationalization he used to justify his actions, murder is unjustifiable. Moreover, the Torah is saying that murder not only plunges the world into pre-Genesis chaos. It’s the seed of an ungodly universe where the cries of innocent blood drown out the light created by God’s ‘Yehi or’ – ‘Let there be light’.

Hamas’ Simhat Torah massacre gave us a glimpse of what an ungodly universe looks like. We will have to  to work six time as hard to bring the world back to where it should be. And we need to work together to undo that damage and rebuild the world anew.

About the Author
Rabbi Sid Slivko is a rabbi and educator who moved to Israel in 1997, where he taught at the Fuchsberg Center, Hebrew Union College, B’nei Akiva and ran educational programs for the Jewish Agency. He currently works in marketing and social media and is an artist and writer and Community Relations Coordinator for Olim Paveway. Rabbi Sid was ordained at RIETS (Yeshiva University), and lives in Jerusalem with his wife and family.
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