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That is the following, if you look at the Cain and Abel story itself, the story of the ultimate crime between brothers, fratricide, the killing of one brother by another brother, you find that the actual word brother, or his brother, or my brother, those words appear a lot in the story, more than absolutely necessary. Let's just kind of read through, I will give you a sense of what I'm talking about. Veha'Adam yadah et Chava ishto vatahar vateiled et Cain vatomer kaniti ish et Hashem - so this the birth of Cain. Eve gives birth to Cain, and says; Kaniti ish et Hashem - I've acquired a man with G-d. Vatosef laledet et achiv et Havel - and then she gives birth to his brother, to Abel. Now notice that even here the brother there is kind of superfluous, if she had just said; Vatosef laledet et Hevel - you would have figured out that Hevel is his brother, if it just said; And she gave birth to another child, to Hevel. But it goes out of its way to point out that the child that she's giving birth to is the brother of Cain, Hevel.
As we continue, verse 8 over here; Vayomer Cain el Hevel achiv - this is when Cain is jealous of Abel; So Cain says to Hevel his brother - as if we don't remember that they're brothers. Vayehi biheyosom basadeh vayakam Cain el Hevel achiv vayahargeihu - it's almost like every time Hevel is mentioned the Torah goes out of its way to remind us that it's Hevel his brother, Hevel his brother. Next verse, G-d speaking to Cain after Cain kills Hevel, not just where is Hevel, where is Hevel your brother; Ei Hevel achicha? Then of course Cain's famous words; Hashomer achi onochi - am I my brother's keeper?
If you actually keep track of all the occurrences of brother or my brother or his brother in this text you find an interesting thing. Let's just kind of count them up here. So here are all the occurrences of brothers in the text, count them up, there are seven of them. Seven tends to be a significant number in Biblical text, you'll often find stories when you find seven occurrences of something in the story it tends to indicate that that's a central theme within the story. And that in fact is the central theme of Cain and Abel - what does it mean to be a brother? What does it mean to care about a brother?
Again, as I suggested before as you're reading the Cain and Abel story the fact that Cain kills Abel while upsetting doesn't really condemn Cain as a villain. Cain was upset, he hit him, nobody had ever died before, it actually could have been an accident. As a matter of fact, if you look later on in the story where G-d dispenses punishments to Cain, one of the punishments is actually exile. Nah v'nad tiheye ba'aretz - you're going to be a wanderer in the land, you'll never be able to settle down, you'll always go from place to place. If you think about murder later on in the Torah, in the Book of Deuteronomy, in Sefer Devarim, think about the connection between exile and murder. Is there ever a connection between exile and murder? As it happens, there is. For someone who kills accidentally, sort of manslaughter, the punishment is actually exile.
Then do you remember the mark of Cain? The mark of Cain actually isn't a curse but the mark that G-d gives Cain if you look in the text, is actually there to protect Cain. Cain is worried that everyone who sees him will kill him and the mark is there to protect him from anyone who would kill him. Think about again in Sefer Devarim, think about the inadvertent murderer, the inadvertent murderer also has something to protect him from those who would kill him, from those who would avenge the blood that he spilled - and that is the Arei Miklat, that is the Cities of Refuge that the inadvertent murderer can go to seek refuge from those who would kill him.
So the consequences that befall Cain sort of foreshadowed those of an inadvertent murderer. So if his crime doesn't shine through in the act of murder, where does it really shine through? Where it shines through is in his apathy. As I said before, when G-d says to him; Ei Hevel achicha - where is Hevel your brother? Loh yadati - I don't know; Hashomer achi onochi - am I my brother's keeper? The wrong answer. The story is about - again - is these sort of seven occurrences of brother. He's your brother. Don't you care what happened to him?
So now let's turn from the story of Cain and Abel and take a look at the story of Joseph and his brothers. The truth is the story of Joseph and his brothers can really be divided into two sections. The first section is really when Joseph torments his brothers, it begins when Joseph starts telling his father bad things about his brothers up here and it ends - that section at least of Joseph tormenting his brothers - when Joseph, over here, the beginning of verse 10, does a final act that causes tension, when he tells his father and his brothers about a second dream. Now if you take this section over here from verse 2 over to verse 10 you'll find that again the word brother appears with great frequency. It's almost like any chance that the Torah has it will call Joseph and his brothers, brothers in reference to one another. Count them up, seven occurrences.
Then take a look at the second half of Chapter 37, the part where the brothers torment Joseph, here too his brothers, their brother, his brothers, over and over and over again. If you take a look at this all the way from verse 19 where the brothers first plot what they're going to do with this dream who is coming towards them, till the end after Joseph is in the pit, and he's been sold by the Ishmaelites; brothers, brothers, brothers, how many occurrences? Seven of them.
Seven brothers in the Cain and Abel story, seven brothers when Joseph torments the brothers, seven brothers when the brothers torment him. It's all about what it means to be a brother.
Before we leave the topic of Cain and Abel there's one last set of connections I want to bring to your attention in the story, we'll get back to that with you in our next video.
1. The First of Three Mysteries
2. Where is Reuven?
3. Three Card Monte
4. Keep Your Eye on the Midianites
5. Rashi and Ramban on 'Who Sold Joseph'
6. Where is Reuven - Redux
7. The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men
8. What Does God Think of All This?
9. Is Apathy the Ultimate Evil?
10. Seven Brothers
12. Still Responsible?
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