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Archive for the ‘Parasha Bereshit’ Category

Parasha Bereshit – What’s bothering Kayin?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on October 3, 2007


Parasha: Genesis 1:1 – 6:8 Haftarah:Isaiah 42:5 – 43:10 – Sefardim reads: Isaiah 42:5 – 42:21

Focal Point: Bereshit 4:1-5, 10-16 – What’s Bothering Kayin

“And the man knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bore Cain, and said: ‘I have gotten a man with the help of HaShem.’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 HaShem. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And HaShem 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 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. Then 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 L-RD: ‘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 L-RD said unto him: ‘Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the L-RD set a sign for Cain, lest any finding him should smite him. And Cain went out from the presence of the L-RD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. “

It’s pretty understandable, Kayin’s anger and depression. Who wouldn’t be angry and depressed if one’s best effort at showing appreciation and gratitude, was spurned? Kayin’s problem isn’t with G-d or with Hevel. Kayin’s problem is that instead of taking responsible for his own feelings and turn to G-s with a simple question: “Why, what’s wrong?” he looks down and inward, at his own anger, depression, feelings of rejection and fear of inadequacy, away from G-d. Because he feels rejected and inadequate, he feels lonely – to alleviate that loneliness he seeks out his brother. But instead of alleviating his pain, the sight of Hevel flips Kayin’s mind, and Hevel becomes the reason why he feels rejected by G-d. It’s more than he can bear and in his anger and fear, he murders his brother. Was Kayin’s anger and fear wrong? Or his offering? No. But the way he dealt with the situation was. Kayin went first – offering to G-d the best he had from his crop. Then Hevel did the same – only with a twist – to me the ‘he also’ implies that Hevel offered grain, fruit and such, just as Kayin, but then Hevel added to the offering of grain and fruit some of the “firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof”. Seeing Hevel’s offering, so much more abundant than his own, Kayin is suddenly struck by fear that G-d won’t accept his offering – this is the “but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect” – it’s all in Kayin’s mind!

To G-d Kayin’s offering was fine, just as fine as his brother’s, which to me is implied in the events that follow the murder. When Kayin realizes what he has done, he exiles himself from G-d “Behold, Thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the land; and from Thy face shall I be hid”. There was never any need for that, G-d never said that – He said that Kayin would be exiled from farming the earth, not from G-d’s presence. On the contrary, when Kayin adds to his punishment that he will be outlawed and that every man will be against him, G-d says ‘Not so, I will make sure that no one kills you for this!’ So in the eyes of G-d Kayin’s offering was ok, Kayin was OK. But to Kayin it wasn’t good enough. What he had to offer wasn’t good enough compared to Hevel’s offering, and the price Kayin paid for his low self-esteem was even more fear, the loss of his brother and the self-inflicted loss of his G-d.

Poor Kayin! Fearful and shame-ridden, he turns away from the only source that could have saved him and his brother – G-d – Had he turned towards G-d with his feelings of shame, fear, inadequacy, envy, anger and rejection, he would have found a G-d ready to say: ‘Not so, you are my child just as much as Hevel’.

The other side of the Story is that of Hevel – and the lesson of not shaming a fellow in public. By adding to his offering what was not inherently his to offer (the fruit of the earth) he shows off, and creates the implication that what he offers G-d is better than that of Kayin. The price he pays is steep, but on the other hand they say that shame is the killer of the soul – something that becomes quite clear through the re-actions of Kayin.

Did Hevel draw death upon himself? No, but he wasn’t an innocent victim either – his need to show-off, to be better, to best his brother, became his own downfall.

So where does this leave us?

From Kayin we learn that it’s better to look outward and upward when we feel downcast and doubtful, than inward and downward, we risk missing the loving and caring words and help from our Father and those friends around us. We are never so bad off that G-d doesn’t want us, that is just our stinking thinking that speaks. We are so much better of sharing with others what is on our minds than holding it in.

From Hevel we learn that showing off and besting others at their expense is just another expression of pride that goes before downfall. We also learn that using others to shine causes them shame, and shame is the #1 soul killer, and we might just end up in deep shit as a result. If we share our good fortune, try and make others part of our success, we will in the end be richer than before.


This article, including artworks and photos in this Blog is Copyright © Henric C. Jensen aka Shadow Bear/Silly Old Bear and are NOT public domain – unless otherwise specified.


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Parasha Bereshit – The Setting Up of Chava

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on October 2, 2007


Parasha: Genesis 1:1 – 6:8 Haftarah:Isaiah 42:5 – 43:10 – Sefardim reads: Isaiah 42:5 – 42:21

Focal Point Bereshit 2:15-17; 3:1-3

And the L-RD G-d took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the L-RD G-d commanded the man, saying: ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’ […]Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman: ‘Yea, hath God said: Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden?’ And the woman said unto the serpent: ‘Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said: Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.’

I have always found the traditional (Xian) interpretation of this story fishy to say the least. It seems that Chava was set up here. First of all – she wasn’t present when the command not to eat of the Tree was given – in fact she didn’t even exist yet! Secondly G-d didn’t command her – He commanded Adam, who creates the first “gereizah” and adds “…neither shall you touch it…” when he passes the command on.

Chava really didn’t stand a chance. She probably has already tried touching before the snake creeps up and talks to her, and nothing happened, which is as it should be, since G-d never said “…neither shall you touch it…”, so how can she trust that the “eat and die” part is true – her only source of this is Adam – if the “no touching” just proved to be a lie? It turns out that it isn’t bollocks – but who is responsible and in what way?

Chava has traditionally been made to bear the guilt alone – both Jewish and Xian Traditions have in some way or other based a misogynist world view in this singular idea, that it was all Chava’s fault.

Tradition has made Adam an innocent victim of Chava’s “female viles”, and that according to the Story is simply not an accurate image. It turns out he played a very crucial role in this domestic drama. He sets himself up as the authority of the Law, and causes his wife to have reason to distrust what G-d has actually said, adding to G-d’s command in a manner that makes clarity of Torah difficult to reach.

Chava on the other hand does try the limits of what she perceives to be the Law – that it wasn’t the Law doesn’t change the fact that she tested it. She feeds her own doubt by not turning to G-d and ask for a clarification when part of what she thinks is the Law turns out to be untrue, instead she assumes that all she has heard is untrue, and throws out the baby with the bathwater.

Both are equally culpable according to the recorded events, and in the eyes of G-d they certainly are.

What’s in this Story for us?

Don’t mess up Torah – if it’s clear and understandable – don’t try and make it “clearer”, chances are you’ll just make a mess that causes someone else to stumble. Don’t make additions to Torah, It works fine as It is.

Check the facts for yourself, don’t trust Authorities blindly, just because you love them or they seem sensible. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater – yes, some things you hear may be nothing but bullocks, but that doesn’t mean everything similar is bullocks too.


This article, including artworks and photos in this Blog is Copyright © Henric C. Jensen aka Shadow Bear/Silly Old Bear and are NOT public domain – unless otherwise specified.

Posted in Parasha Bereshit, Torah, Weekly Parasha | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Parasha Bereshit – In The Beginning – Bereshit 1:1-6:8

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on October 1, 2007


Parasha: Genesis 1:1 – 6:8 Haftarah:Isaiah 42:5 – 43:10 – Sefardim reads: Isaiah 42:5 – 42:21

Focal Points: 1:1-5 – Creation that continues

1 When God began to create heaven and earth —

Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’arets.

2 the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water —

Veha’arets hayetah tohu vavohu vechoshech al-peney tehom veruach Elohim merachefet al-peney hamayim.

3 God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

Vayomer Elohim yehi-or vayehi-or.

4 God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.

Vayar Elohim et-ha’or ki-tov vayavdel Elohim beyn ha’or uveyn hachoshech.

5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, a first day.

Vayikra Elohim la-or yom velachoshech kara laylah vayehi-erev vayehi-voker yom echad.


“In the beginning of G-d’s creating…” that’s what the very first line of Torah says. Literally. This to us indicate two things:

Creation is an ongoing process and G-d didn’t create out of nothing.

G-d creates out of that which is already in existence. This is good news to us – this means that G-d can use whatever chaos and deformity we are at the moment to make something great out of, and that we don’t have to despair at being slow to learn or taking our time to “get it” – G-d’s creative work is an on-going process, so we don’t have to worry about a timetable.

“…with darkness over the surface…”

G-d starts out His creating in darkness and then He decides to make a counterpart to Darkness – Light.

This is important for us – because for most of us life up till now has been much on the Dark Side, we too started out in darkness. We need Light to counterpoint the Darkness of our unmanageable lives. So G-d creates Light, makes distinct lines between Light and Darkness to separate them from each other.

Notice that He doesn’t remove Darkness, He makes a special room for it – “Night”. Now, if He is G-d, then why on earth didn’t He just get rid of Darkness and go completely with Light? Perhaps because without each other Light and Darkness would be meaningless. Creation needs both to function, and so do we.

Darkness in our lives works much like Night in nature – it provides dew, moisture that feeds/waters nature, inspires it to grow. If nature never experienced Night/Darkness, it would very quickly be scourged to dry dust by the Light/Day. That same way we need to soak up “moisture” from Darkness in our lives in order to grow during the times of light. We too would be scourged to dry dust if all we ever experienced was light.

And G-d saw that it was good…

On the other hand – the Light that explodes onto the scenery in v.3 is a Light that leaves no shadows. To that Light we are totally transparent. That is good, because it means that G-d knows exactly what He has to work with, so that in the end we become exactly what we are supposed to be – not what we might have been if the Light had been just any other light.

So the to-and-fro between Light and Darkness has another function – every now and then we need to be completely transparent in order to find the areas in ourselves that needs working on. At those times, Darkness is the Sweet Shadow in which we can rest between turns at digging in ourselves.

Whether we are in Light or Darkness – we are exactly where we are supposed to be, in the middle of G-d’s Continued Creating

Shabbat Shalom!

This article, including artworks and photos in this Blog is Copyright © Henric C. Jensen aka Shadow Bear/Silly Old Bear and are NOT public domain – unless otherwise specified.


Posted in Parasha Bereshit, Torah, Weekly Parasha | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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