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The Crown of Halacha

Bereishis 5777 – Anatomy of a Murder – First Post of the New Parsha Cycle!

This entry is part 1 of 12 in the series Bereishis 5777

What’s In It For Who?

 

And Cain spoke to 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. (Bereishis 4:8).

 

Anatomy of a Murder

 

Cain killed Abel, his anger was ignited because Hashem accepted Abel’s sacrifice over his. Chazal tells us that originally it was Cain’s idea to bring sacrifices to Hashem and Abel “improved” upon the idea.

Since it was his idea, it angered Cain even more so. Thus his anger brewed until he could contain it no more. There was only one solution in his eyes.

 

Effort vs Better

 

Even though Able brought the “better” sacrifice, it is interesting to note is the amount of “effort” that went into Cain’s sacrifice. He was a tiller.

This meant that he had to plow the earth, plant the seeds, tend to crops, and ultimately harvest them. His sacrifice was labor intensive.

Abel, on the other hand, chose a profession that allowed him plenty of spare time. Based on the amount of work that went into the sacrifice, it is clear that Cain’s was greater than Abel’s since Cain “gave” more than Abel.

In Hashem’s eyes isn’t “effort” greater than “better”?

 

What’s Your World View

 

The difference between the two sacrifices isn’t about which was better or not. R’ Chaim  Zimmerman,zt”l, said that the main difference between the two sacrifices was based on their different world view.

 

The World is Created for Man

 

Cain understood immediately that it is important to show Hashem hakarasha tov by “giving” something back.

He rationalized that since the world was created to support mankind and that Hashem needs nothing that the best of the world should go to man and after that, the rest could be “given” to Hashem. (Obviously giving the worst to Hashem was not an option.)

 

Why Are You Here?

 

Abel saw things differently. His portion of the world was the chattel. This obviously included the animals.

When it came time to choose his profession, Abel looked for a way to serve Hashem. He observed that each of the animals has a way of either fleeing (such as the doe, or the zebra) or a way of hunting (such as the lion, or the wolf).

Some animals used to camouflage and others had built in defenses.

However, he saw sheep as something unique.

They had no camouflage and could not defend themselves. They were slow runners and did not wander far in search of food. He realized that if he did not care for the sheep that it would not take long for them to become extinct.

They were slow runners and did not wander far in search of food. He realized that if he did not care for the sheep that it would not take long for them to become extinct.

“It must be that Hashem wants me to be a shepherd!” Abel decided. And so began Abel’s relationship with sheep, not for the wool or for the milk, but as a complete expression of Hashem’s will.

And so began Abel’s relationship with sheep, not for the wool or for the milk, but as a complete expression of Hashem’s will.

 

It’s All About Hashem

 

The difference between the two sacrifices is clear: Although Cain’s sacrifice was given with more effort, he still had his own needs mixed in with it.

Abel’s sacrifice was totally l’shaim sha’mayim. His only intention as a shepherd was to assure that Hashem’s creation would be nurtured. Everything done towards raising the sheep was also part of the sacrifice.

His sacrifice was totally for Hashem.

 

Leading our Families and Communities

 

So too, we can reach the highest levels of kedusha through raising our families and building our communities.

Often times we find ourselves in difficult positions, laborious tasks, missing sleep, and caretaking.

When these acts are done selflessly, for the sake of building a Torah home and nation, then they are raised to the level of the sacrifice brought by Abel and cherished by Hashem.

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