Noson Waintman

To defeat terror, we must defeat Cain

We are all so shocked, by the terrible loss of life more than anything else. The complete failure of our military and security institutions is awful, but sadly not completely shocking.

The streets are empty. Schools are closed. People are sad and frustrated. Worried and scared. Nobody knows what is going on. But this an old fight. Not just dating back to the founding of the State or the first Aliyah, but the dawn of time itself.

It is found in this week’s Torah portion, Bereshit, where Cain famously killed his brother Abel. Cain was jealous of Abel’s better quality sacrifice being accepted while his, of lesser quality, was rejected. But Cain’s murder of Abel was not just about sacrifices, was not just about his brother, but was really about God.

Cain was rebelling against God.

Cain decided to put himself on God’s level. To deny God’s decision and kill His favorite.

Where did Cain get this idea come from? Where did he get the chutzpah to challenge God’s decision and kill His favorite?

The text of the Bible itself answers the question. Cain learned to challenge God from Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God.

Right before the birth of Cain, Adam and Even are cursed and cast out of The Garden of Eden for ignoring God’s commandment and eating the forbidden fruit. But their rebellion didn’t end with their expulsion.

When Cain was born, Eve (presumably with Adam’s acquiescence) called him Cain, because, “I have acquired a man with God.” Or perhaps what she said can be translated as the even worse, “I have acquired a man, a god.” Either way, she either said she was on the same level as God or that her son was quite literally a God.

It seems that Adam and Eve did not learn from being cast out of the Garden. And their son followed this path of rebellion against God and his order, killing God’s favorite, Abel.

This eternal heresy, of Man seeing himself on par with God or even as a God is still with us. The fervor that comes with playing God leaves only destruction in its wake.

Today we have all witnessed the terrible crimes against God and His people committed by sad losers playing violent dress-up and wrapping themselves in religion to usurp God’s role in deciding who should live and who should die. When man sees himself as on par with God or even as a God, then everything is justified. Man can speak with God, like Cain and his parents, he can see himself as deeply religious and pious, but when he does whatever he wants, he is the problem that religion came to solve.

This is not to even address the cynical truth that this war is only happening because a failed regime that has lost all domestic legitimacy, has figured out, like the Soviet Union before them, that murdering enough people abroad (and at home) is a good way to stay in power and scare off threats, both domestic and international.

May we merit to see only happy celebrations.

About the Author
Noson Waintman obtained his M.S. from the Zicklin School of Business of the City University of New York and his B.A. and Rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University. A native of Canada, he currently resides in Rehovot, Israel.
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