I have never found a good explanation as to what Hevel did wrong that elicited his being killed at the hands of Kayin. It may be that the whole question is out of place, as a ba’al bechira has free reign to cause harm even without an overt decree against the victim (see here for a diyuk in next week's parsha to that effect and here, here, and here for more). That answer, though, is far from satisfying.
In the sefer “M’Shulchan R’ Eliyahu Baruch,” collected from the shiurim of R’ Eliyahu Baruch Finkel of the Mir, he notes that when Kayin was dejected and deflated by Hashem’s rejection of his korban, Hashem reacted by offering Kayin words of encouragement, demonstrating the midah of being nosei b’ol chaveiro, showing empathy for the plight of others. This is one of the overlooked lessons of the parsha. He then suggests an even bigger chiddush. Hevel knew his brother was suffering, and yet Hevel said nothing and did nothing to alleviate Kayin’s pain. Perhaps it was because of this indifference, this lack of empathy, that Hevel suffered death.
(Of course I don't know where it says that lacking empathy means you are deserving of death. Maybe it just means that Hevel didn't deserve any protection of hashgacha because of his moral failure.)
Monday, October 12, 2015
what did Hevel do wrong?
Posted by Chaim B. at 9:00 PM
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The medrash gives a few reasons, one was fighting over possession of fields of beis hamikdssh, or over which sister should be their wife. This last one to me makes the most sense since its normal to fight over girls, get jealous and kill for them.ReplyDelete
These are reasons why Kayin was so angry at Hevel, but not why God would have been (which I think is the question DC is asking, if I'm not mistaken). Unless you mean to suggest Hevel's crime was machlokes, or something like that.Delete
Rav Aharon Rotter shlit"a brings (in his sefer about the Shoah) that there is a midrash that, IIRC, he looked at the shechina when his korban was accepted (or something like that - I don't have the sefer with me right now).ReplyDelete
The question presented is intriguing to me. I myself would have suggested a third approach. To hold that Hevel's death was ultimately attributable to chet -- true for everyone in some sense -- doesn't necessarily mean that clues to the explanation are available to us in the text. Of course when the Torah explicitly describes someone's death as a punishment from God or an act of God, that is a clear prompt for us to try and understand why, e.g. Nadav and Avihu, Moshe Rabbeinu, many others. But where Tanach tells of an apparently innocent individual being wrongly murdered, and the focus is purely on the evil-doing of the murderer, why assume that the victim's specific, personal sins are revealed to us? Isn't it just one more instance of tzaddik v'ra lo, and human beings can't expect to explain such things? For example, I am thinking of stories like the murder of Navot by Ach'av & Izevel, or of the prophet Zecharya ben Yehoyada (under king Yoash) -- do we struggle with what those victims did to warrant being murdered? (maybe some mefarshim do, I'm not sure, but lich'ora it seems unnecessary.) And doesn't Hevel fit with that group, i.e. the focus of the Torah is on what Kayin did wrong, and there is no need for us to analyze or seek an explanation of why a seemingly innocent victim like Hevel was murdered?ReplyDelete
Nevertheless, the Mesilas Yeshorim explains what Gedaliah ben Achikam did wrong when he was assassinated.Delete
Similarly with Navot: chazal reveal a character defect in his neshama that expressed itself after he died, to the extent that we was excluded from the Mechitza of the Shechina - and as the ba'alei mussar point out, the character traits pre- and post-mortem are the same [at least at first].
Similarly with Zecharya - see Koheles Rabbah 10, on the passuk אם רוח המושל where there is a very explicit explanation of how Zecharya brought his death upon himself.
All this, of course, on the level of חוט השערה that applies to tzadikkim. But inspection and analysis are justified and indicated.
Steven, I agree with you that 1) in the real world, tzadik v'ra lo is a mystery and my question is unanswerable; 2) the answers to why Hevel deserved what he got or any of the other examples you give cannot be found in the text , and I don't expect the text to concern itself with such issues. However, Tanach is not the real world, meaning I think Chazal read Tanach (i.e. not a pure pshat reading) through glasses that impose certain rules of play, among them being that the good guys win and the bad guys lose, and if there are exceptions to the rule, there must be some explanation. If the text won't reveal it to us, the torah sheb'al peh does, as the examples the other commentator gave show. To take a different example, we all know that G-d does not always accept our prayers, yet that does not prevent derash to explain why G-d chose not to listen to Moshe's plea to enter Eretz Yisrael or why Hashem didn't listen to Rivka's prayers for children but did listen to Yitzchak's. The assumption is that events in Tanach conform to an ideal standard of justice, not the messy standard that we see in our everyday lives, and where there is a deviation from that ideal there has to be a reason. I suppose I should have formulated my question a little better and asked why we don't find any literature in Midrash or other Rabbinic sources that tackle the question with respect to Hevel, but do so in other places. Why are the Rabbis not bothered by the injustice here?Delete
ועיין שו"ת מהרלב"ח סימן קכוDelete