Rabbi Dr. Dan Ornstein has just written an easy to read Jewish courtroom drama “Cain v. Abel” that is interesting, thoughtful, eye-opening, and thought-provoking based on the rather short close to two dozen biblical sentences in Genesis 4 that report the fraternal murder of Abel by his brother Cain. He includes the rather exiting imaginative additions to the biblical episode by the individual or group that wrote an Aramaic translation of the biblical Hebrew known as Pseudo Jonathan, which added events to the Five Books of Moses that the original Hebrew does not even hint. The Aramaic translation adds to Eve’s statement “I have gotten a man with the help of [an angel] of the Lord.” It is saying that an angel impregnated Eve. Rabbi Ornstein suggests in his version of the drama that Adam is angry at her infidelity and that he and Eve have been banished from Eden and that he must henceforth be a farmer of land that produces little and only after extremely difficult work. He blames his wife for both events and decides to separate from her. The couple does not reunite until they are 130 years old when they have a third son. Ornstein suggests that the infidelity produced a toxic family situation during the 130 years that affected them and their two sons. During the period Eve showered Cain with more love than Abel and Adam did not disguise his angry feelings toward the illegitimate boy Cain.
Truth was the prosecutor at the trial and Lovingkindness was Cain’s defense attorney. The prosecutor condemns humanity as being dishonest and violent. He reminds God during the Lord’s testimony that he and other angels advised God not to create such beings. The defense attorney defends humanity as having the potential to be just and kind. But we in the jury wonder if they ever behaved in this way. The witnesses were Adam, Eve, God, Abel’s blood, and Sin. Their testimonies are fascinating and make us, the jury to the trial, consider many important issues such as are humans expected to be their brother’s keeper, should Cain be found guilty despite confessing when he was raised by a dysfunctional family, should he be punished when he was never told that it is wrong to kill another person? Is God to blame? Rabbi Ornstein comments on each of the testimonies and this also makes us think.
Nice review. What were your thoughts on the trail of Cain?
I think that Psuedo-Jonathans view of Eve having Cain from an angel is nonsense. I liked it as a drama and because it prompted me to think. I also liked its conclusion that the message of the story is to teach us that we are our brother’s keeper.