The best response to evil
It was the first murder in humanity. Cain killed his brother, Abel. Adam and Eve had to come to terms with a double tragedy. At that time, they confronted losing a loved one and the stark reality of evil. Their response to this profound evil offers us a timeless lesson.
The Midrash states that Adam and Eve wept by the body of their son, unsure of what to do. It was their first encounter with death, and they were uncertain how to react to this ultimate evil. The Midrash intriguingly recounts that they observed a bird (araiv) burying a dead bird in the earth. Adam and Eve decided to do the same, and buried Abel in the ground.
At first glance, the Midrash might appear to address a technical matter: the proper disposal of a corpse. On a deeper level, the Midrash teaches us how to respond in the face of evil. This is a tragically appropriate lesson for us this week after witnessing the barbaric cruelty of Hamas terrorists brutally slaughtering our brothers and sisters in Israel.
Adam and Eve were crying. They were unsure. How does one respond to evil? To the depravity of which humanity is unfortunately all too capable of?
While our brave Israel Defense Forces soldiers are on the frontline confronting evil head-on, what role do we play from afar?
G‑d sent the bird to teach us how to respond to absolute evil. The sages explain that the araiv is cruel toward its young, abandoning its offspring at birth. Yet, Adam and Eve witnessed this same bird engaging in the truest form of kindness. When doing kindness to a living person, one might expect a favour in return. But when we’re kind to the dead, we don’t expect anything in return. It’s the ultimate kindness.
This was the message G-d was sending to Adam and Eve. The response to absolute evil is kindness. Though it’s essential to halt and contain evil, a task entrusted to our courageous soldiers, the Torah instructs us that the antidote to brutality is boundless love and compassion. The same human heart capable of infinite hate is equally capable of boundless love.
In witnessing human cruelty, we must rise above, offering the best of humanity – kindness and unity.
We can visit the sick. End a faribel (grievance). Give charity – especially to those in need in Israel. Gather with friends and family to recite tehillim or study Torah together. Reach out, and see how we can help another. Do acts of goodness and kindness.
This week’s Torah portion speaks about the creation of the world. But why did G-d create the world? For what purpose?
The answer is that G-d yearned for us to be His partners in creation. Our actions can transform our world, one mitzvah, one good deed at a time. Through acts of goodness and kindness, we channel our divine purpose as partners in creation, while creating a shield of spiritual protection for Israel.
In the face of horror and cruelty, the darkest expressions of humanity, we must rise and share the best part of humanity, illuminating the world with goodness and kindness, and bringing us one step closer to an era of complete peace with the coming of Moshiach.