© 2022 by Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner



BLOODSHED-2/Sin Crouches at the Door!




The story of Cain and Abel  has a particular importance to Noahides,

since, as we’ll soon learn,  Noah’s wife, Naama, who is our mother,

was a direct descendant of Cain, and his life story affected her life,

as well as Noah’s life.  You can’t understand Noah’s Flood without

understanding  the plight of  Cain and his descendants


Last class we



saw the two brothers bringing their gif-offering

to YHVH. By this, they fulfilled their mother’s wish to connect

Mankind with YHVH, Cain serving as her choice to be the firstborn

priest of  the nascent family and Mankind.



Abel, his modest brother, “he too” brought his gifts to YHV H

following his older brother. The entire family was watching.

After all, this was the first offering to YHVH, ever.


Last class

we also saw Cain pacing proudly on the Altar’s ramp, carrying

on his shoulders a basket full of the best, first fruits from his own garden.


Abel too was pacing after him on his Altar, carrying a bloody sacrifice

from his best, firstborn sheep taken from his own herd.


The emphasis here was on

(1) the best quality

(2) the first fruit or firstborn sheep

(3) on ownership.




After all, this was their first offering,

offered by the firstborn son the priest,

who was also the first human born on Earth,

expressing their new fascination with ownership

that was new to them, something they did not have in Eden.



Last class we also saw

Cain lifting his basket proudly up to YHVH, singing and chanting,

While the modest and shy Abel is praying – please YHVH, accept my humble gift.



We are familiar with the scene, since we reenact it

on every Festival of the Weeks – Shavuot- that falls

on the annual anniversary of the first murder


When the holiday is celebrated in the Land of Israel,

the Torah ordains, that every owner of a field in the Land of Israel

should bring his own best first fruits from his own garden to

the Temple on Mt Moriah, carrying the basket on his shoulders all the way,

then lift the basket up to YHVH with humility and give THANKS to YHVH

for his field and his fruits, while reciting a text of humility.

This way we correct Cain’s attitude.


Moreover, the Festival of Weeks does also fall on the day

when the Torah was given to Mankind, as the






No one in Adam’s family paid much attention to Abel,

since they focused on Cain, yet YHVH turned to Abel and his offering

and did not turn to Cain as it says:


“And YHVH turned to Abel and to his offering,
but to Cain and to his offering He did not turn…” 
(Genesis 4:4-5)


YHVH turned both to “him,” to Abel personally and to his offering, the lamb

Implying that YHVH approved Abel’s humbleness as well as his offering.



How did the family know who YHVH favored?

The Midrash says, that the smoke coming up from Cain’s Altar

hang over the mountain for long time then dissipated,

whereas the smoke coming out of Abel’s Altar ascended

straight up to the sky with no deviation, DESPITE THE WIND.



This miracle of the smoke, was later also observed with

Noah’s Altar after the Flood, and with Israel’s offering

at the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, for hundreds of years

The smoke kept ascending up despite any strong wind



 That was a public humiliation for Cain,  and he reacted badly,

as it says“And Cain was very angry, and his face fell…”



Sensing what was brewing in Cain’s heart, YHVH approached Cain saying

“And YHVH said to Cain,
why are you angry, and why did your face fall?
For if you do ‘good,’ be elevated!
And if you do not do ‘good,’ sin crouches at the door!
And to you shall be its desire!
but you shall rule over it…” (Genesis 4:8)



Let’s pay attention to YHVH’s words here, since

they are the first words ever told by YHVH alone to Mankind.


Remarkably, we notice that YHVH did not warn Cain here against

transgressing the BLOODSHED’S Laws

but rather approached Cain like a loving MOTHER, being concerned

about Cain’s heart


How remarkable it is that YHVH’s first words to Mankind

are about evil feelings in our hearts.   

We emphasize the term evil, since this is by definition

what YHVH hates the most.



Thus, YHVH, as a loving Mother, asked Cain:

My child, why are you angry? Why have your face fallen?

As if she didn’t know (Rashi says.)  She wished to start a dialogue




Back in Eden too, after eating ther forbidden fruit,

It was YHVH ELKM who approached Adam and his wife asking

Adam, where are you? As if he did not know.


In Eden, YHVH ELKM wanted Adam to come forwards and confess,

And here to YHVH wanted Cain to come forwards and pour his heart.



Yet Cain did not respond, so YHVH continued:

 “For if you do ‘good,’ be elevated!” 


YHVH said: Cain, I see what is brewing in your heart,

and I would like to advice you that at that point you

CAN still overcome your feelings, elevate yourself from it

and prevent it from happening.



Seeing that Cain still did not respond, YHVH went on saying:

And if you do not do good,
sin crouches at the door
and to you shall be its desire



What sin? What door?

Sin here may refer to any sin, but particularly the sin of BLOODSHED, murder

that She had noticed brewing in Cain’s heart.

YHVH does not pronounce the sin of murder explicitly,

as if it is an unspeakable evil in Her eyes



YHVH said:

Sin crouches at the door’- what door?

The door to your heart, says Rashi.


Sin does not enter our heart fully mature.

Sin first crouches at the door to our heart,

then infiltrates inside, then fills it and conquer it.


How remarkable it is that YHVH’s first words to Mankind

Is the message that Man CAN interfere with the process

and stop the sin at different levels as it entering our heart.

It is easier, YHVH was saying, to stop sin while it is still at the door.


If we wait too long, when sin has already filled our heart

and has already taken over our heart,

we may end up being enslaved to it, with no recourse!



Now, if anyone doubts what YHVH is all about,

here is a proof that

YHVH, the Attribute of MERCY and COMPASSION

is concerned about the evilness of our heart

rather than the dry violation of the Law



Another interpretation of Her words is:

Sin crouches as the Door – of Eden


Let’s recall that the brothers erected their altars “In the field” (Genesis 4:8)

Which is a nickname for Mt. Moriah.

The Gate of Eden, we’ve learned, opens to the Mountain

where Adam and Eve first appeared   on Earth.


Since Eve charged Cain to “connect Man with YHVH,”

The brothers aspired by their gift- offering

to bring YHVH into our world, so to speak

through that Gate of Eden located on the Mountain

where the Holy Ark would alter stand


YHVH warned Cain:  Your sin would not only close the door for me

to enter your heart, to dwell in it


but would also close the door – the Gate of Eden – for me

to enter the world! To sit in the space on Mt Moriah

where the two Cherubs would alter stand!



Another interpretation:

Your sin Cain, would block YOUR SOUL to ascent into Heaven

when your time comes



Another interpretation answers the question

Why does the Drive of BLOODSHED sit at the door of our heart?





Let’s notice that

BLOODSHED and KILLING prevails in Nature. Animals kill each other.

Yet as a rule, animals refrain from killing their own species


Certain Social Animals, like Ants and Bees, do wage bloody wars

between different colonies, fighting for territories or for self – identification.

They hate strangers, even of their own kind


When ELKM consulted Nature and made Adam,

He planted that natural drive of  Bloodshed,  into Man’s heart.


Hence, the Drive for BLOODSHED and WAR sits, naturally,

at the door of our hearts, waiting to get in, aspiring to grow inside

and fill our heart with vicious hatred.


Hence YHVH first words to Mankind are:

Unlike animals, you, Man, possesses a Free Choice.

Unlike the animals, you CAN stop that BLOODSHED Drive

while it is sitting at the door of your heart.


Do not let it in.  Close your heart for it and chase it away.

To help you overcome it, I shall give you in due course

a Torah that would open the door of your heart for me to enter it

for me to fill it

for me to chase out any evildoing   from your heart





  Planning a Murder



The first murder itself is described in just a few words:

“And it came to pass, and Cain said to Abel his brother.
And it came to pass, when they were in the field
That Cain rose up against his brother Abel and he slew him,” (Genesis 4:)



Cain said to Abel his brother” – the verse does not elaborate

what Cain said about his brother, avoiding ‘bad mouth’.

But tradition fills the gap and offers several options:

(1) He said something bad TO Abel himself

(2) He said something bad ABOUT Abel to his siblings

He spoke, to justify the future murder, even in his own eyes.




What could he say about Abel?

The commentaries offer several options.  Since the first murder is a prototype

of all murders, let’s review what Cain could have said:


He said

(1) That Abel was Hevel, a passing breath, sub human, unworthy of living –dehumanizing Abel
(2) That Abel was an evil man. He demonized Abel
(3) That he, Cain was a victim of Abel. He reversed the order of the plot

(4) That Abel used sorcery to gain YHVH’s favor.  He attributed evil power to his victim
(5) That Abel was a liar. He empowered his victim
(6) That it was morally imperative to kill Abel, doing favor to God.
(7) That he was ready to suffer as a price for eliminating evil   Altruistic evil



  That self-justification has been a pattern used by many  murderers

even in our time


So how did Cain kill his brother?




The Scene of the First Murder


And it came to pass, when they were in the field
That Cain rose up against his brother Abel
and he slew him,” (Genesis 4:8)





And they were in the field…” (Genesis 4:8)

which is a classical nickname for Mt. Moriah.

Cain’s decision to murder his brother had already been made,

and all what was needed was a spark of rage

to push him forwards to execute his plan.


The rabbis offered several options for that final spark.


Some say they argued about a woman.  (The first generation married their sisters.)

Others say they argued about the ownership of “the field,” of Mt Moriah


Indeed, how many people in the future would be killed

for the same fight over the ownership of Mt Moriah and Jerusalem?


What an irony! Each brother could have for himself half of the world,

yet they clashed about the ownership of a small strip of land: Mt. Moriah.


What a paradox: Jeru-Salem, the ‘City of Peace,’ is where the first murder took place.

But tradition says that Jerusalem is also where BLOODSHED would end




What happened?  




And it came to pass when they were in the field,
And Cain rose up against his brother Abel

and he slew him.” (Genesis 4:8)


The rabbis filled the gap: One day, the brothers were alone “in the field,” on Mt. Moriah. They wrestled for a while, as brothers often do, and Abel, whose physique was stronger, prevailed and pushed Cain to the ground. He then released Cain, laughing. But the humiliated Cain couldn’t stand it anymore. He arose up and attacked his surprised brother. Now he pushed Abel to the ground

ow he, and tried to kill him in different ways:

that present the four types of execution:


He first tried to chalk Abel with his bare hands, but this did not work.
He tried to choke him with a rope but this failed too.
He hit Abel with a stick which also did not work.
Then he smashed Abel’s head with a stone, and this did kill him.


Hence, he tried to kill his brother by the four classical methods of executions by the court

But the real reason was jealousy for the favor of YHVH.

What a paradox! To do the ultimate evil, murder, in jealousy for the favor of the MERCIFUL YHVHY!
How many people would be murdered in history, for the sake of loving MERCY?