PM addresses jealousy in second Torah study

In Bible study session marking the commencement of reading Genesis, PM discusses Cain and Abel story.

Torah reading 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem /The Jerusalem Post)
Torah reading 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem /The Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spent two-and-a-half hours Thursday afternoon studying the Cain and Abel story, telling some 17 rabbis and academics gathered at his residence that the jealousy in the tale is a “powerful engine” that he has come across once or twice in his own profession.
The question he asked, but which no one answered directly, was what was the Torah’s recipe for dealing with someone inflamed by jealousy and unable to control himself. Netanyahu made no reference, either directly or indirectly, to anyone currently on the political scene.
Thursday's study session was the second installment of a Bible study circle he initiated in May, just before Shavuot, dedicated to his father-in-law Shmuel Ben- Artzi, a noted Bible teacher and enthusiast who died last November. Two pictures of Ben-Artzi were placed in the corner of the outdoor porch where the study session took place, behind a flickering memorial candle.
Netanyahu opened up the discussion, led by Rabbi Benny Lau, only hinting at the election season by saying – “without reference to current events” – that “we have arrived again with Simchat Torah to Genesis.
There is continuity and a cycle in this lovely tradition, and we see in it the eternal nature of the Jewish people.”
Netanyahu, who arrived directly from a tour he took of the security fence nearing completion in the Negev on the border with Egypt, said he came from the biblical desert landscape back to Jerusalem to “connect to the foundations of our existence, and there is no firmer a foundation than the Bible.”
The Prime Minister’s Office, along with the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, organized the event, a reincarnation of a tradition David Ben-Gurion began when he hosted a regular Bible study circle when he was prime minister. Begin also held regular Bible study sessions.
One of the questions Netanyahu posed was why the punishment God meted out to Cain for the murder of his brother was lenient, and why he was not punished with death himself.
One of the participants responded that lesson to be learned was that repairing the world – Cain went on to build a city and beget offspring that enriched the world in various ways – was more important than vengeance.
Among those who attended were Rabbi Yehuda Ben- Yishai, whose daughter Ruth was killed with her husband and three children in a terrorist attack in Itamar last year; Avshalom Kor, the legendary radio linguist; Dr. Micah Goodman, head of the Ein Prat Academy for Leadership; Prof. Moshe Bar-Asher, head of the Hebrew Language Academy; Nili Wazana, a Hebrew University Judaic studies scholar; Esti Rosenberg, head of the Migdal Oz Beit Midrash for Women; and Prof. Binyamin Ish- Shalom, founder of Jerusalem’s Beit Morasha.