Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Rabbi Professor Jonathan Sacks announced that he has cancer and that he will be devoting his time, for now, to treating the disease. The following words from his book on the weekly Torah portion are dedicated to him, Rabbi Yaakov Zvi ben Liba, as we pray for his speedy recovery:
“The first two stories in the book of Genesis are not just stories. These stories which the Torah places at the beginning of human history are a documentary of failure to take responsibility. Adam and Eve sinned, but claimed it was not their fault. Adam implicated Eve, and Eve implicated the serpent. Both of them refused to take personal responsibility for their actions and in essence said, ‘It’s not me.’ The second story is about the first murder. Cain killed Abel and admitted what he did but did not take moral responsibility when he asked, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ In other words, why should I care about the well-being of anyone else?
These two sins remind us that Judaism is God’s call to us to take personal responsibility. He gave us freedom but with it comes responsibility. He calls upon us to be partners with him in creation. He teaches us what we should do, but he will not do it for us. He does not act instead of us but through us.
The big question before us concerns which voice we should heed. The voice of desire heard by Adam and Eve, the voice of anger heard by Cain, or the voice of God that calls upon us to make this world more just and beautiful? The life we choose to live is the answer to this question.”