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Bereishit-Behar: Zohar HaKodesh: Mitzvah 338 – Concept 501

“God said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ And he said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) Rashi, quoting the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 19:11) remarks that Cain became as one who tried to “steal the thoughts of the Highest Awareness.”

We may not insult or harm anyone with words. (Leviticus 25:17, Rambam, Hilchot Mechirah – The Laws of Sales, Chapter 18) “Just as there is wronging in buying and selling, so there is wronging with words.” (Bava Metziah 58b) Misleading someone with words is included in this prohibition.

The Zohar teaches that this is included in the Ten Statements: “‘You shall not steal.’” If not for the musical notes of the Torah this law would be so absolute that it would be forbidden for a student to challenge his master in learning, or a master to test a student. It would be prohibited for a Bet Din to trick someone before them when they suspect he is lying.” (Zohar, Volume II, 93a) The Zohar wants us to understand that, even with the best of intentions, when we mislead someone we are bordering on violating one of the Ten Statements.

The Sages warn us that we must believe what we recite when praying for otherwise we may stumble in the same mistake as Cain; attempting to mislead God. We must believe that “God is our Lord,” and that, “God is a Unity,” when reciting the Shema.

Stealing was already an issue by the time Cain tried to fool God; Adam and Eve ate stolen food when the ate of the Tree of Knowledge. The Sages warn us that eating without reciting a blessing is considered stealing!

The mirror image of these warnings is that when we are careful to recite a blessing before eating, we are taking a step toward repairing the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. When we stop and consider our declarations of belief in our prayers, and are careful to say only that which we believe, our actions reverberate all the way back to this conversation between God and Cain.

We can further the Tikkun with awareness of the seriousness of speaking only the truth, and that we must have Halachic reasons and permission before we say anything that may mislead someone else.

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