It is important to look at the entire first portion of the Torah, understanding that many of the people whose lives are mentioned however concisely, had unique relationships with G‑d. I always remind myself of this when I read in Rashi's commentary that not only were Adam and Eve created on the 6th day of Creation, but Cain and Abel were also born then, before anyone ate from any forbidden trees.

Moreover, the portion of Genesis spans a period of over 1000 years. Even though we are given some details, it is obvious that we are getting only the events that are most crucial to the future of mankind. But if it is so concise, why do many verses towards the end seem superfluous in listing people's names and ages. It must be that even these words have inner meanings for our benefit. The following is how the Lubavitcher Rebbe demonstrates the great significance in two sets of these Torah verses. Building a city and naming it after his son was, for Cain, the completion of repentance…

We find towards the end of the portion that there are two individuals named Enoch. The first was the son of Cain. The Torah tells us that after he was born, his father "built a city and named it Enoch after his son". (Gen. 4:17) The second is a descendant of Seth, who was born 400 years later. The Torah says about him, "Enoch walked with G‑d, and he was no more, because G‑d had taken him." (Gen. 5:24)

Here we are, the first portion of G‑d's Will and Wisdom to His people and the world (the Torah). Why do we need this information? This question becomes more interesting because we find that both Enoch's behavior went against the grain of their forefathers. Enoch's father Cain killed his brother Abel, weakening the fabric of the world, yet he built a city in his son's name, strengthening and developing the world. On the other hand, it is the second Enoch who, because of his righteousness, decided to "walk with G‑d", separating himself from the settlement. It was for this reason that G‑d took him before his time.

Building a city and naming it after his son was, for Cain, the completion of repentance. This is the Torah reminding us at the very beginning of our new year that complete repentance involves not only admission and regret but also requires an action that reverses the negative consequences of the sin. Not only did Cain bring a child into the world to replace the soul he took, he built a city also to fill the gap he created. Cain is showing all of mankind the way for all generations. The child's name, "Enoch", meaning "dedication" or "education", hints that he wanted to share his rectification with the world. An individual is not allowed to disconnect from the world…

The story about the second Enoch gives us the opposite teaching. Even if it will help a person in attaining his own spiritual perfection, an individual is not allowed to disconnect from the world. A person is created to change the world for the better, not to sit in some ivory tower. We see the result: the Almighty took him. It is easy to conclude that the best thing to do is to severely limit our involvement with the world and then we can be holy. The Torah is teaching that this is not the way.

Genesis brings both Enochs to teach us balance between two extremes. On one hand, we must be attached to G‑d and aloof from the world, placing our spiritual needs as our main motivation. On the other, we are required to build the world and settle it without hindering its development. The life of a Jew has to have both directions intertwined, not leaning to only one extreme. It is this combination between elevating ourselves spiritually and at the same time digging in for the sake of the world that we learn from these two individuals called Enoch, which the Torah is teaching all generations to come.

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova, Shaul

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