You Don’t Have to be Stuck by Dr. Joel Berman


In Parshat Bereishit (ד:י), Hashem tells Kayin, after he kills his brother Hevel, that Hevel’s "bloods”, “Demei Achicha”, are screaming to Hashem from the ground. Rashi explains that the Torah says bloods and not blood to demonstrate that not only did Kayin kill his brother but all of Hevel’s descendants as well. Rabbi Solnica שליט"א and I recently learned another explanation in Gemara Sanhedrin (לז:). According to this Gemara, Kayin was not sure how to kill. He beat his brother until he found “the place where the Nefesh goes out,” i.e. the neck. There was blood everywhere. This, according to the Gemara, is what the Torah means by the “bloods of your brother.” The Gemara continues that the ground opened and swallowed up the Hevel’s blood.

The earth opened one other time, for Korach and his congregation (קרח-טז:לב). Immediately before being swallowed by the ground, Korach’s sons did Teshuva in their hearts. In merit of having repented on some level, the Torah tells us that a special place high in Gehenom was saved for them.  The Gemara in Babba Batra (עד.) records how one thousand five hundred years later an Arab merchant brought Rabba bar bar Chanah to a small smoking hole in the ground in the desert. From this hole, Rabba bar bar Chanah could hear Korach’s sons screaming continually, “Moshe is truth and his Torah is truth and we are liars.”

A question immediately arises. How long will they have to repeat “Moshe is truth and his Torah is truth and we are liars?” Why can they not get past this? Why can they not stop? Rabbi Yochanan Wosner שליט"א told me that Heaven accepts no checks, only receipts. After 120 years of working on ourselves, we arrive in Heaven as finished products -- we cannot further improve. We are stuck, like Korach’s sons.

Rav Hirsch זצ"ל, provides a way out. If, for example, you influence someone to become a Baal Teshuva. It requires little imagination to see how widespread your influence really is. This new Baal Teshuva will begin keeping Torah and doing Mitzvot. His children and their children will be keeping Torah and doing Mitzvot because of you. This, according to Rav Hirsch זצ"ל, is what is meant by “bloods of your brother.” These very Mitzvot will be continually screaming heavenwards (like Hevel’s bloods) but this time in your defense.

In this week’s Parsha it says, ואלה תולדות... (כ"ה:י"ט)" And these are the generations..."(25:19)

An alternate translation of תולדות is accomplishments. There can be no greater accomplishment than being a good influence on those around you, just as יצחק, the son of אברהם, was a good influence on his surroundings. 

Avraham Jr. by Willie Roth

Eliezer's Daughter by Akiva Weiss