Fathers and Sons

Oct 11th, 2010 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Spiritual Growth
Freud would have had a field day! “Whoever meets me will kill me!”(Genesis 4:14) The Sages teach that Cain was worried about Abel’s blood relatives – Go’eil Hadam – avenging his death. Abel’s avenger would have been Adam! That statement alone would have kept Cain on Dr. Freud’s coach for years.

The Sages also describe Adam and Cain’s first meeting after Abel’s murder: Adam was surprised to see that God allowed Cain to live. “I simply ate from a tree and lost my immortality. You actually murdered and He allowed you to live!” Adam was shocked. Cain explained that he had done Teshuva – he had repented, and God limited the punishment. The son became the teacher. We can add another few years on the coach.

Eve named her first son; “I have acquired – Kaniti – a man with God.” (Genesis 4:1) The Sages actually question whether Adam was Cain’s biological father. (Zohar, Targum Yonatan, Rabbeinu Bachya) We better extend the sessions to two hours.

Cain became a farmer just like his father despite the fact that God cursed the land after Adam’s sin. He moved to Kidmat Eden – East of Eden (verse 16) just like his father. (3:23) Only Freud could handle this case. Cain should take precedence over Oedipus!

Now let’s discuss someone else: He traveled. He insisted that his child marry a relative. He was circumcised. He was willing to sacrifice his son for his god. Who was he?

Terach, Abraham’s father. Yes, the above list also applies to Abraham. Father and son were very similar, and yet, world apart. Abraham did everything his father did, but in his individual way. He could do everything his father had done and still be the great individual we venerate.

This is why Abraham could produce a child, Isaac, and a grandchild, Jacob, who would follow his path, and yet each was able to add his own individual path to the family that would grow into a great nation.

These are our roots. We do not search for new paths. From the beginning of our history we have been able to walk the same paths as our ancestors and enrich and beautify the path with our own insights.

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