Interfaith Bereisheet

Discussion in 'Interfaith Parsha Project' started by dauer, Oct 23, 2005.

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  1. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    So let's leave the garden now. We're not going to get through the whole parsha and that's okay. Some parshiot I'd like to just go really deep on one thing. There are so many places we could go just in what we've covered now. That would be sweet. So let's look at the story of cain and abel.

    Kayin (first born) is a farmer, right? Hevel (second born) is a shephard. They both make offerings. God accepts Hevel's offering of meat, rejects Kayin's offering of fruit. God's also accepting the second born over the first.

    First born, Kayin, gets upset. God reminds Kayin that man lusts toward sin, but we can rule over it.

    Kayin, the one who picks fruit, slaughters the one who slaughters animals, Hevel.

    "...am I my brother's keeper?... "

    "Your brother's blood cries from the soil!" Now Kayin is a wanderer with a sign so he won't be struck down. Kayin goes and settles in a place called Wandering.

    That's a synopsis.

    Dauer
     
  2. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    This is very interesting, and a great idea as well! I'm sorry I didn't happen by a little sooner, but I'm glad we're still close to the beginning.

    There are many interesting things about the Cain and Able story, but I think one of the most interesting is that God doesn't execute the first murderer, but banishes him, and then when Cain complains about his punishment God helps him out and lightens the load a little.

    It's also interesting how Cain going out and founding a city, and becoming the father of craftsmen sets up the difference between the sedentary lifestyle of the Philistines and the pastoral one of the Hebrews that plays out later in the conquest of Canaan.

    I'm sorry I don't have time right now to sit down and review the text. I could come up with something a lot more interesting than this. The Torah is full of fascinating things!

    Chris
     
  3. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Chris,

    Welcome to the discussion. What do you make of Cain not being executed, but instead being banished, and then getting a less severe punishment? Do you see this mirroring anything? Do you think this reflects a morality that existed at the time? Why do you think it's written, by man or God depending on your beliefs, in this manner?

    Dauer
     
  4. Bandit

    Bandit New Member

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    i always thought Cain gave less than his best & was jealous & wroth with Abel when he saw that his offering was more acceptable.
    i mean i would want the lamb over the corn, but i dont think it was about what each brothers job was. it was about offering the best of what you have & giving it cheerfully & in thanks. this abel did, where his brother had a different approach & there was a different agenda.

    in some ways the punishment/reward Cain received was worse than if he would have been murdered because now he had to live as a vagabond, everyone would know him as that & he had his brothers blood upon him.
    though some would seek to kill him, the mark would make them think twice about what happens when you take the innocent blood of your brother.
    the moral & consequence of the story has whole different impact when you see it as a reality.
    i believe the two brothers AND Seth, are true historical figures & will go to my grave believing so, even if i should be the last man on earth to believe it.:)

    we are our brothers keeper, even if we dont always like it.
    my 4 cents for the pot.

    i would also be interested in hearing the orthodox view & oral tradition on this if possible.
     
  5. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Thank you for the kind welcome!

    I think that Cain kinda sticks it back in God's face. After all, God, depending on how you look at it, either deliberately set things up to allow the evil urge, or is himself the creator of it, yet he is wagging his big white finger at Cain for not resisting the "sin crouching at his door."

    Now, this is the same God who strikes people down for minor, yet well intentioned infractions of his iron rules: just ask Uzza, yet he is malleable to Cain's accusation against him and agreeable to Cain's plea for a lighter sentence. And, if you read verses 17-22 of Genesis 4, Cain and his descendents don't come out too bad for the ordeal.

    This is part of the larger collection of foundational myths. I'm not looking to debate this point because to me it doesn't matter how literally one wants to take it, but I'll just pose this question: If these are real, literal characters, who is Cain building a city for in the land of Nod, and where does his wife come from? I think we should, at least on a non literal level, consider the characters of Cain and Abel to be metaphors for something larger. I don't have any really solid thoughts on what the metaphor might be, but maybe someone else does?

    Chris
     
  6. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Listen, I know we're not supposed to cut and paste too much, but I thought this was really interesting and I wanted to see what others thought:

    My Jewish Learning.com

    Now, isn't that interesting! When Cain asks, "am *I* my brothers keeper", he's not refering to the personal pronoun "I", but to "I AM" (God).

    Also interesting is that God says "your brothers *bloods* cry out to me from the ground. Bloods, plural. This is a reference to the concept that murdering a man makes the killer responsible not only for the victims death, but also all the deaths the progeny he will never have. By the same token, saving a man's life saves all the future lives of his offspring all throughout time in the future.

    Chris
     
  7. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Chris,

    it's okay to copy midrash because it's really a unique sacred text. I'm not a stickler for most of the rules anyway, but midrash is not a problem regardless. If it became an issue that people were copying and pasting and killing dialogue, then I would say something about it.

    I was thinking that Cain and Abel could be a symbol of the two groups who lived separately in Israel prior to the Babylonian Exile, one the local farmers and one the wandering shephards, perhaps a polemic to say at the very least that the religion of the shepharding folk is now more valid.

    Bandit, if you want traditional answers (with narratives there are usually a number of them) you just got some from Chris. If you're looking for a collection with more traditional Jewish answers, I would suggest purchasing the stone chumash. Some of the online resources I gave you are also good, like the Torah with Rashi.

    From the stone chumash I found an alternative interpretation of blood, being that he bled from many wounds, because he was stabbed many times, since Cain did not know which organs were vital to life he just stabbed him everywhere.

    Something else from stone, that Abel chose, like the patriarchs, to be a shephard, so he could spend his time in solitude and contemplation on spiritual matters. Cain chose an occupation that leads people to worship nature and enslave others to do the hard work of the fields. The first part of that was by hak'sav v'hakabbalah. The second by R' Hirsch. So there's some traditional.

    Dauer
     
  8. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    I really enjoy reading everyone's thoughts and welcome Chris ....


    I don't believe that Cain and Abel were real, but are metaphors (but that should not be a surprise to anyone by now) I associate them with the same concept as the "twins" representing the two opposing poles of energy, the constant struggle and battles with each other and the need to find the balance point ....
    'what has always been of great interest to me is the "mark of cain" and its many implications .... which is a mark of protection, and not the stigma that is normally associated with it .... "Cain said to the Lord, 'My punishment is too great to bear. Now that You have driven me this day from the soil and I must hide from Your presence, I shall be a restless wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me.' And the Lord said to him, 'Therefore whoever kills Cain shall suffer sevenfold vengeance." And the Lord set a mark upon Cain so that whoever found him would not slay him."
    note the references to "sevenfold" and a "restless wanderer on the earth" .... when I follow my thoughts about genesis and its relationship to energy within the human body .... the restless wanderer on the earth would represent the energy that has been suspended from the "heavens" or is left to wander in the lower half of the body until the "way" is found to return to the heavens .... "sevenfold" is related, in my view, to the seven energy centers which I have spoken of before .... and the "mark of Cain" is a symbol of the same mark on the forehead that is used in Hawaii (the old days) to reflect the "slave" (which was not really its meaning, but that is how it was later interpreted) .... the twin energies are always battling each other because they spiral around each other and move up and down the spinal column ....

    I know this is very esoteric and doesn't seem to fit with the dialogue at times, but I can only share what I see and sense .... it is really difficult for me to read literally these days because the symbols are so prominent ....

    On a day-to-day living level, the story of Cain and Abel seems to speak of God prompting Cain to talk about his anger and hurt (at the seeming rejection of his gift) .... but Cain refuses and let's his anger take over and is relegated to "wandering lost" .... in the process to move the spiralling energy into the brain stem, it is necessary to get past the human baggage that we carry of our emotions and ego, we must let go to be able to enter the garden .... if we can't do this or won't do this, we are left "wandering" as though lost, but we are always protected because all we have to do is change our thoughts and our minds, and we can try again .... that is my 2 cents .... aloha nui, poh

    p.s. we can change our world by simply changing our minds
     
  9. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Are you referring to the three energy columns: Ida, Pingali, and Shushumna (I think)? There is a correlation in Kabbalah with the three pillars. The two outer energies can be seen to be both oppositional and cooperative, if you look at it that way, in the same way that justice and mercy are. That would relate to the Tao symbol as well, come to think of it. But, as you say, there is a spiral effect in that the energies are both ascending and descending.

    This idea of battling twins seems to be universal. It shows up again in the story of Jacob and Essau, and can be seen by extension in the tale of Issiac (sp?) and Ishmael.

    Chris
     
  10. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Could you explain a little more about this mark of the slave? Sounds fascinating!

    Chris
     
  11. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    I'm going to leave this thread open at least until Poh has a chance to respond, but I am un-stickying it.
     
  12. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    chris - yes that is part of the symbolism that I spoke of and the three pillars, there are also two pillars and the spinal column .... thank you so much for your response and I hope you will join us in the parsha project ....


    you asked about the mark of the slave .... in hawaii the "slave caste" and were feared as well as treated poorly (in my view) .... the term used was "kauwa" and it was a term of degradation and the "kauwa" were marked on the forehead with a tattoo .... they were also called "kauwa lae-puni" (slaves with bound foreheads) or "kauwa kikoni" (pricked slave) or "kauwa makewela" (red-eyed slave) .... although they were called and treated as slaves their names reflect something else .... for example a "red-eye seer" is one who has the third eye open and is able to cross over into the world of spirit (actually a very spiritual person) and the mark on the forehead has always intrigued me because of its relationship to the third eye (such as David and Goliath and the stone that hits Goliath in the middle of the forehead) .... also the word "kauwa" was used by those who were "kauwa" by birth as well as those who were "alii" by birth and the "alii" were the kings and queens .... and there is a term "kauwa kahiko" which means "ancient servent" and is also from the basis of the word "aumakua" which means our ancestors .... so that is why I feel there is a great misunderstanding of this mark on the forehead and the association with the term "slave" .... long explanation, but hope it is helpful .... aloha nui, poh
     
  13. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Hey thanks, that's really interesting!

    I hadn't thought of David's stone hitting Goliath in the pineal gland.

    Chris
     
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