Parashat B’resheet (In the beginning) Genesis 1:1-6:8
Haftarah: Isaiah 42:5-43:10
Although HaShem created Adam and Chavah (Eve), the second generation came about in the natural way. We all know the name of Adam’s and Chavah’s two boys were Kain and Hevel. What you may not know is that there is a message contained for the reader within these two names. The language of the text is most informative and therefore I want to translate it in the most accurate and literal manner.
“And Adam knew Chavah his wife and she conceived and bore Kain and she said, ‘I have acquired a man with HaShem. And she again gave birth (to) his brother, Hevel…” Genesis 4:1-2
The first point that must be made is that the name Kain is derived from the same Hebrew word that appears in verse one which I translated as “acquired”. The word means “acquire” usually in the sense of “to buy” or “to purchase”. It also conveys the idea of possessing something. Notice that Chavah did not state that she and her husband were given a child which would be more of an accurate description of what had taken place. The fact that the verb קנה is in the first person emphasizes what she thought she had done in order to acquire the son. The phrase concludes with the words “with HaShem’. Rashi states that Chavah was implying that she and her husband were partners with G-d.
In one sense it is indeed our privilege to participate in the work of the L-rd, but in this context it is placing Chavah in a parallel position to HaShem. From where does one know that this is the proper interpretation? The name of the second child is Hevel. This Hebrew word means “futility” or “vanity”. It can also be used in the sense of a vapor, which exists but for a moment.
“For you do not know what will be tomorrow. For what is your life? It is as a vapor; it appears for a short time and then vanishes away.” James 4:14
In other words, the text from Genesis is teaching that when humanity places himself on a level with HaShem, he errs. It is wrong for one to take notice of what he has done and place a value on his life’s achievements as something that is similar to the work of G-d. When one does this, he fails to understand that in reality each person’s life is futile compared to the L-rd, and anything that one may achieve is extremely temporal, like a vapor. It is only when one acknowledges with amazement that the Living G-d would invite us to be His vessel for the purpose of manifesting His glory that we move closer to the perspective of King David who said,
“What is man that You remember him and a human being that You visit him.”
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