Want to keep in the loop on the latest happenings at . Subscribe to our mailing list below. We'll send you information that is fresh, relevant, and important to you and our local community.
Printed from ChabadGreenwich.org

A Memo to Cain - בראשית

Friday, 5 October, 2018 - 9:00 am

h.jpgA Memo to Cain

If you had Cain’s ear moments before he killed his brother Abel, what would you tell him? If you had to condense everything you know about justice, morality, and decency into a few short phrases what would you say?

G-d had a chance to do just that. Cain was terribly angry at his brother, so angry that just a little while later he murdered his brother in cold blood. G-d sensed Cain’s anger and He addressed him with just two short verses. Understood correctly, these verses capture all Cain needed to know in order to help him overcome his anger, and, understood correctly, these verses are all we need to know in order for us to make the correct choice in the face of raging negative emotions in our heart.  

Here are the cryptic words that G-d spoke to Cain:

And the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you annoyed, and why has your countenance fallen?

Is it not so that if you improve, it will be forgiven you? If you do not improve, however, at the entrance, sin is lying, and to you is its longing, but you can rule over it." (Genesis 4:6-7).

Cain, unfortunately, did not take this message to heart and chose to act on his emotional impulses. But these words were written in the Torah so that we can learn their critical, life changing, message.

Cain felt terrible anger toward Abel. Cain innovated the idea of offering a gift to G-d. “Cain brought of the fruit of the soil an offering to the Lord.”. Cain watched as Abel copied his idea and received the credit and recognition for it: “And Abel he too brought of the firstborn of his flocks and of their fattest, and the Lord turned to Abel and to his offering. But to Cain and to his offering He did not turn, and it annoyed Cain exceedingly, and his countenance fell.”

When the rage against his brother was threatening to take control of him, the most important thing Cain needed to hear was this: the rage is not you. The anger is not you. The evil inclination is something you have inside of you but it does not define you and it is not you. G-d told Cain that although there is a powerful force inside you, you must understand that “to you is its longing”. “It” the evil inclination, the negative passion, “longs” “to you”, but, understand, it is not you.

That leads to the next point: “you can rule over it.” The negative passion is not your true self. You can take control over the passion. The common translation of the verse is “if you improve, it will be forgiven you”. Yet the literal translation is “if you improve, lift up”. G-d explained to Cain that the negative passion in his heart could not only be controlled, but it could and should be elevated. When channeled to positivity the awesome strength of the passion will direct the person to greater heights.

This is an essential lesson for each of us. This one verse contains all we need to know about the inner turmoil of our emotions:

1) The negative passion is not who we are. (“its longing is to you”)

2) it can be controlled (“you can rule over it”).

3) its awesome might is, in fact, a great blessing for us (“if you improve, uplift”). Channeled correctly it can propel us to achieve unimaginable greatness.       


Comments on: A Memo to Cain - בראשית
There are no comments.