Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cain And Abel

The string of Jewish Holidays are over. As much as I enjoy them, I am certainly glad to be able to get back to the regular routine and have the Holidays come to an end. The last in this string marks the Jews finishing the book of Deuteronomy, the fifth and final book of the Torah, of the Five Books of Moses. We then go back to the book of Genesis and start all over again. This week we read the first portion. One of my favorite parts of this is the story of Cain and Abel. My take may be a little different and I cannot guarantee that you will not be stricken by lightening, so read at your own risk.

The story starts off with Cain bringing an offering to G-d. G-d has not asked for one but Cain decides to do it and G-d is gracious, although not overly thrilled. Seeing this, Abel decides to bring an offering to G-d as well, an offering that G-d likes and G-d, in effect says to Cain, now this is an offering more to my liking.

Let’s examine this from the point of view of a parent and two siblings. The first one remembers the parent’s birthday and brings a gift. The parent says thank you. Only after seeing the older child bring a gift does the younger child remember the birthday. The younger child goes out and buys a different gift and gives it to the parent. Upon opening it, the parent says, “This is exactly what I wanted,” and then, turning to the older child says, “Why couldn’t your gift be more like your sibling’s. That is really what I want”.

Is it any surprise that Cain resents Abel? In fact, it is G-d who creates the very conflict. Of course Cain needs to take responsibility for his own actions. Of course Abel is still dead. Still, G-d helped to create the tension.

To me, this story serves as a reminder. In effect, G-d is telling us not to play favorites with our children, not to pit one against the other. G-d shows us, when taken to the extreme, what the parents are capable of creating, on the negative side, when it comes to children. Hopefully, we as parents have learned that lesson and appreciate each child, each person, each member of society, for his or her own contributions and individuality.

2 comments:

Jewish Blogmeister said...

Actually favoritism can be seen even more clearly with the story of Yosef.
Nice post.

The Adjunct Professor said...

Yosef, Yitzhack and Ishmael, Yackov and Easav, it is amazing just how much of this you find in Breishet. As we get to those Sedrahs, I will be posting some thoughts (some in line with traditional views and others which are not).