imaginary family values presents

yesh omrim

a blog that reclines to the left


Cain’s best friend

21 October 2009

The author of the “Everyone Needs Therapy” blog informs us that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and highlights a program, co-sponsored by the American Humane Association, to help abused women take their pets with them into shelters.

And just a few days ago, in synagogues all over the world, we read Bereshit, which describes the first recorded instance of domestic violence. That story, according to the midrash, also involves a pet. Nachmanides (s.v. Genesis 4:13) cites Bereshit Rabbah 22:27 as explaining that the “sign” that God set for Cain’s protection was actually a dog; Cain would know that wherever the dog went, he could follow safely.

OK, it’s not a perfect parallel: Cain was a perpetrator of violence, not a victim. But unlike many other perpetrators since Genesis, he repented and, as far as we know from the text, didn’t do it again…