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		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

10/12/2023 05:00:15 PM


Cantor Regina Lambert-Hayut and Rabbi Chelsea Feuchs

This week, we return to Parshat B’reishit, our creation story.

One of the many important lessons that we learn from this portion is that all humanity descends from one set of parents, Adam and Eve. We are all related and interrelated, we are all part of one human family.

Sadly, that family has suffered from tension, competition, and violence since its earliest days. Cain and Abel are the first brothers, and Cain kills Abel. The dialogue that unfolded between them before this terrible act is cryptically hidden from us, so we are left to wonder why? Why would one brother attack the other? Our best guess from the text is jealousy - both brothers brought offerings to God. God accepted Abel’s offering but not Cain’s which made him deeply distressed:

(6) And God said to Cain,

“Why are you distressed,

And why is your face fallen?

(7) Surely, if you do right,

There is uplift.

But if you do not do right

Sin couches at the door;

Its urge is toward you,

Yet you can be its master.” (Genesis 4:6-7)

God is warning Cain that it is really tempting to choose the sinful, ‘wrong’ path - it’s our inclination and it is something that we need to be wary of. Choosing the right path can be so much harder and take so much more energy and effort. Yet, it can lead to uplift. Cain didn’t choose uplift.

As we watch the difficult situation in Israel unfolding each hour of each day, we see that tension and violence between people is not a thing of the past. We see the horror that can be unleashed by those who choose the wrong path, who refuse to see others as human, let alone as their siblings. We wonder how such violence can be carried out. We also wonder how we can ever get to uplift, especially when vengeance can feel like a tempting solution for our anger and despair.

As we navigate all of the chatter, all of the statements, all of the outrage, how can we respond in a way that creates moments of uplift?

We can hold each other close, send messages of care to those we love both here and in Israel, and continue to stay connected as a congregation and community. We can remember that innocent victims are being harmed on all sides of this conflict, human beings who are all our brothers and sisters descended from Adam and Eve. And as a human family, we can pray for understanding, for tolerance, for peace.

Tue, December 5 2023 22 Kislev 5784