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Torah 365, Bereishit Chapter 4
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Bereishit, Chapter 4

Dear Friends,

On Shabbat morning, Dr. Amarit Rosin delivered a thought-provoking talk focusing on abuse of power that can result when one party has knowledge and information the other does not.  Her topic was inspired by the actions of the snake against Eve in Chapter 3 of Genesis, and explored some of the relationships in which such power dynamics can form.  Dr. Rosin's talk led to a lively discussion among the participants.

Chapter 4 recounts Cain and Abel's terrifying tale of competition, jealousy, and murder.  On Shabbat morning, our guest speaker Rabbi Sam Shor will deliver a lecture entitled, "Bereishit 4: A Paradigm for Teshuva?"

Happy Learning!
Roy Feldman

בראשית ד
וְהָאָדָם, יָדַע אֶת-חַוָּה אִשְׁתּוֹ; וַתַּהַר, וַתֵּלֶד אֶת-קַיִן, וַתֹּאמֶר, קָנִיתִי אִישׁ אֶת-יְהוָה.  וַתֹּסֶף לָלֶדֶת, אֶת-אָחִיו אֶת-הָבֶל; וַיְהִי-הֶבֶל, רֹעֵה צֹאן, וְקַיִן, הָיָה עֹבֵד אֲדָמָה.  וַיְהִי, מִקֵּץ יָמִים; וַיָּבֵא קַיִן מִפְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה, מִנְחָה--לַיהוָה.  וְהֶבֶל הֵבִיא גַם-הוּא מִבְּכֹרוֹת צֹאנוֹ, וּמֵחֶלְבֵהֶן; וַיִּשַׁע יְהוָה, אֶל-הֶבֶל וְאֶל-מִנְחָתוֹ.  וְאֶל-קַיִן וְאֶל-מִנְחָתוֹ, לֹא שָׁעָה; וַיִּחַר לְקַיִן מְאֹד, וַיִּפְּלוּ פָּנָיו.  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אֶל-קָיִן:  לָמָּה חָרָה לָךְ, וְלָמָּה נָפְלוּ פָנֶיךָ.  הֲלוֹא אִם-תֵּיטִיב, שְׂאֵת, וְאִם לֹא תֵיטִיב, לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ; וְאֵלֶיךָ, תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ, וְאַתָּה, תִּמְשָׁל-בּוֹ.  וַיֹּאמֶר קַיִן, אֶל-הֶבֶל אָחִיו; וַיְהִי בִּהְיוֹתָם בַּשָּׂדֶה, וַיָּקָם קַיִן אֶל-הֶבֶל אָחִיו וַיַּהַרְגֵהוּ.  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-קַיִן, אֵי הֶבֶל אָחִיךָ; וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא יָדַעְתִּי, הֲשֹׁמֵר אָחִי אָנֹכִי.  וַיֹּאמֶר, מֶה עָשִׂיתָ; קוֹל דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ, צֹעֲקִים אֵלַי מִן-הָאֲדָמָה.  וְעַתָּה, אָרוּר אָתָּה, מִן-הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר פָּצְתָה אֶת-פִּיהָ, לָקַחַת אֶת-דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ מִיָּדֶךָ.  כִּי תַעֲבֹד אֶת-הָאֲדָמָה, לֹא-תֹסֵף תֵּת-כֹּחָהּ לָךְ; נָע וָנָד, תִּהְיֶה בָאָרֶץ.  וַיֹּאמֶר קַיִן, אֶל-יְהוָה:  גָּדוֹל עֲו‍ֹנִי, מִנְּשֹׂא.  הֵן גֵּרַשְׁתָּ אֹתִי הַיּוֹם, מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה, וּמִפָּנֶיךָ, אֶסָּתֵר; וְהָיִיתִי נָע וָנָד, בָּאָרֶץ, וְהָיָה כָל-מֹצְאִי, יַהַרְגֵנִי.  וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ יְהוָה, לָכֵן כָּל-הֹרֵג קַיִן, שִׁבְעָתַיִם, יֻקָּם; וַיָּשֶׂם יְהוָה לְקַיִן אוֹת, לְבִלְתִּי הַכּוֹת-אֹתוֹ כָּל-מֹצְאוֹ.  וַיֵּצֵא קַיִן, מִלִּפְנֵי יְהוָה; וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּאֶרֶץ-נוֹד, קִדְמַת-עֵדֶן.  וַיֵּדַע קַיִן אֶת-אִשְׁתּוֹ, וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד אֶת-חֲנוֹךְ; וַיְהִי, בֹּנֶה עִיר, וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם הָעִיר, כְּשֵׁם בְּנוֹ חֲנוֹךְ.  וַיִּוָּלֵד לַחֲנוֹךְ, אֶת-עִירָד, וְעִירָד, יָלַד אֶת-מְחוּיָאֵל; וּמְחִיָּיאֵל, יָלַד אֶת-מְתוּשָׁאֵל, וּמְתוּשָׁאֵל, יָלַד אֶת-לָמֶךְ.  וַיִּקַּח-לוֹ לֶמֶךְ, שְׁתֵּי נָשִׁים:  שֵׁם הָאַחַת עָדָה, וְשֵׁם הַשֵּׁנִית צִלָּה.  וַתֵּלֶד עָדָה, אֶת-יָבָל:  הוּא הָיָה--אֲבִי, יֹשֵׁב אֹהֶל וּמִקְנֶה.  וְשֵׁם אָחִיו, יוּבָל:  הוּא הָיָה--אֲבִי, כָּל-תֹּפֵשׂ כִּנּוֹר וְעוּגָב.  וְצִלָּה גַם-הִוא, יָלְדָה אֶת-תּוּבַל קַיִן--לֹטֵשׁ, כָּל-חֹרֵשׁ נְחֹשֶׁת וּבַרְזֶל; וַאֲחוֹת תּוּבַל-קַיִן, נַעֲמָה.  וַיֹּאמֶר לֶמֶךְ לְנָשָׁיו, עָדָה וְצִלָּה שְׁמַעַן קוֹלִי--נְשֵׁי לֶמֶךְ, הַאְזֵנָּה אִמְרָתִי:  כִּי אִישׁ הָרַגְתִּי לְפִצְעִי, וְיֶלֶד לְחַבֻּרָתִי.  כִּי שִׁבְעָתַיִם, יֻקַּם-קָיִן; וְלֶמֶךְ, שִׁבְעִים וְשִׁבְעָה.  וַיֵּדַע אָדָם עוֹד, אֶת-אִשְׁתּוֹ, וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן, וַתִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ שֵׁת:  כִּי שָׁת-לִי אֱלֹהִים, זֶרַע אַחֵר--תַּחַת הֶבֶל, כִּי הֲרָגוֹ קָיִן.  וּלְשֵׁת גַּם-הוּא יֻלַּד-בֵּן, וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ אֱנוֹשׁ; אָז הוּחַל, לִקְרֹא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה.
 
Genesis 4
And the man knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bore Cain, and said: 'I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.' And again she bore his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain: 'Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door; and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it.' And Cain spoke unto 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. And the LORD said unto Cain: 'Where is Abel thy brother?' And he said: 'I know not; am I my brother's keeper?' And He said: 'What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground. And now cursed art thou from the ground, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a wanderer shalt thou be in the earth.' And Cain said unto the LORD: 'My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, Thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the land; and from Thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth; and it will come to pass, that whosoever findeth me will slay me.' And the LORD said unto him: 'Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.' And the LORD set a sign for Cain, lest any finding him should smite him. And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bore Enoch; and he builded a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son Enoch. And unto Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael; and Mehujael begot Methushael; and Methushael begot Lamech. And Lamech took unto him two wives; the name of one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. And Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of such as dwell in tents and have cattle. And his brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all such as handle the harp and pipe. And Zillah, she also bore Tubal-cain, the forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron; and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. And Lamech said unto his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech; for I have slain a man for wounding me, and a young man for bruising me; If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold. And Adam knew his wife again; and she bore a son, and called his name Seth: 'for God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel; for Cain slew him.' And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enosh; then began men to call upon the name of the LORD. 
Questions and Links
  • What are Cain and Abel's respective professions?  Why do you think this is significant?
  • Why does God not accept Cain's sacrifice?  Is there a hint to a reason in the verses?
  • In last week's chapter, God called to Abraham after he and Eve ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  Here, God calls Cain after he kills his brother.  Compare and contrast Abraham's response to God with Cain's.
  • Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt: Violence and Some Aspects of the Judaic Tradition
  • Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks: Taking Responsibility
  • Bereishit Rabbah (Midrash) on Why Cain and Abel argued
 In 1401 an artists' competition was announced to design the doors for the north side of the Florence Baptistery.  Finalists included Brunelleschi and Donatello, but 21-year-old Lorenzo Ghiberti won.  In 1425 Ghiberti was again commissioned by the Baptistery, this time to design the east doors.  For this set, he designed ten gilded bronze panels, each depicting a scene from the Hebrew Bible.  Michelangelo dubbed these east doors "The Gates of Paradise," and they are widely recognized as one of the Italian Renaissance's finest works of art.  In 1990, the doors were replaced by copies of the originals, and the original panels are kept by the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence for preservation.  The panel above depicts, in several scenes, the story of Cain and Abel.  
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