Monday, 20 July 2009

The "Marc" of Cain

Okay - so just fixed the other half of the amud. And yes Kayin killed Hevel. Kayin gets scared that people will take revenge (not sure who these people are as the populations of the world is quite limited to his relatives at that point).

וישׂם יהוה לקין אות לבלתי הכות־אתו כל־מצאו
"And the LORD set a sign for Cain, lest any finding him should smite him." says the verse but what was this mark?

The word in Gen. 4:15 is 'ot' which could mean a sign, an omen, a warning, or a remembrance or taking a scribal stance on it - a letter - heyI can't help it I think about letters a lot. The text describes how the mark was to function as a sign or warning, not what form the mark took.

The Zohar says that the mark of Cain was the letter vav! Was an echo here picked up by the Christians with the vav, vav, vav (666) Number of the Beast famous in the Omen films? Vav is actually a letter denoting completeness and means a hook. Puts me in mind of that scary horror film with the bloke who had lots of hooks in his face. However the Zohar explains that "God inscribed the Hebrew Letter Vav onto the forehead of Cain. The letter Vav connects to the 'Sfirot of Yesod, which signifies the Covenant between God and the Israelites. When Cain sincerely repented for the murder of his brother Abel, the letter Vav protected him from the murderous hands of people which were aroused against him by the spiritual law of cause and effect. Provided we fully repent, meditating upon the letter Vav offers us protection from any decrees of judgment." So Kayin benefitted from a complete (vav) repentance meriting protection,

Rashi says "He inscribed a letter from His Divine Name on his forehead" and that fits with the vav theory too.

In that famous Rabbinical work :) Thoroughly Modern Moses (available through Kulmus Publishing
the author writes of the mark of Cain, 'for in large red English letters, rather similar to those you find stenciled onto a packing crate at a port was the single word ... REJECT'.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Kulmus Publishing Catalogue

Kulmus Publishing specialises in producing works of Jewish interest, particularly to do with sofrut but also art and stories with a Jewish theme. This page gives details of publications to date and links to on demand print or e-book downloads through ...

So after a couple of weeks of moving into a new house ...

I finally got to fix some torah.

Just did about half an amud concerning the birth of Cain and Abel (Kayin and Hevel) and their sacrifices. Boy is Kayin mad and when Hashem down't like his sacrifice - apparently it was because he just gave Hashem some rotten old veggies - whereas Hevel (which means puff/breath cos he wasn't around for very long) gave the choicest of his flock. Hmm. Still seems a little unfair.
ואל־קין ואל־מנחתו לא שׁעה - so apparently "unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect". Shâ‛âh in the BDB Definition:
1) to look at or to, regard, gaze at or about
1a) (Qal) to gaze at, regard, behold, look about
1b) (Hiphil) to look away, cause gaze to turn away
1c) (Hithpael) to look in dismay, gaze about (in anxiety).
Hashem clearly didn't like what He saw. Was it the offering or perhaps it wasn't because it says "unto Cain and..." i.e. He didn't have respect for Kayin not just his offering - He could see what Kayin was capable off and what kind of person he was - so not sure why the midrashim try to justify this by talking about the quality of the offering when a p'shat reading of the text could easily apply to the quality of the person. The bit that I finished on says ויאמר קין אל־הבל אחיו "And Cain spoke unto Abel his brother..." but it doesn't say what he said. Is there a missing bit of text - was it left out by a careless copyist once upon a time or was it deliberately removed. Was it never there? Did Hashem leave it out? We will never know. But it is rather abrupt and odd.
Rashi explains that 'He engaged him in argument and dispute in order to find a pretext to kill him. Concerning this there are Aggadaic expositions, but this is the plain explanation of the verse.' Did he need to do this? Couldn't he have just come up behind him and hit him with something? The Samaritan text, Vulgate and Septuagint says that he said 'Let's go out to the field'. Make sense but kind of dull. Better to imagine what might have been said. Whatever it was Hevel was fairly dumb to listen.
Anyway, we all know what happens next!