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Posted on October 13, 2023 (5784) By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein | Series: | Level:

At the end of some time, Kayin brought an offering to Hashem of the fruit of the ground.[1]

Chazal tell us that Kayin poorly managed a good idea. Offering a korban to Hashem in gratitude for what the earth brought forth was a good idea; using inferior grade produce took the wind out of his sails. (His brother then coopted the idea, and greatly improved upon it by presenting the best he had as his offering.)

The story is full of lessons. The problem is: where in the text is there any hint of this?

Here is a possibility. The pasuk tells us the he brought “the fruit of the ground.” This may not mean “things that grow from the ground,” but specifically fruit of the ground (i.e. things for which we make a berachah of borei pri ha-adamah) in contradistinction to fruit growing on trees. Presumably, Kayin the agriculturalist cultivated both.

If this is true, we have to ask ourselves why he preferred broccoli as his korban, rather than mangos – especially since the latter are far more attractive and valuable in our minds. One answer might be that he sought to perform his mitzvah at the earliest available opportunity, and his veggies sprouted from the ground well before the fruit ripened on their trees. He should be applauded for his zerizus, and for precluding the possibility of something preventing him from performing the mitzvah at a later time.

But that was not the case, as proven by the opening phrase of our pasuk, “At the end of some time.” What do these words add to the story? Of course, it took time for the produce to develop! Rather, the pasuk must be telling us that Kayin had not acted with particular alacrity. He waited. And waited. It was at the end of some time that he got around to sending his thank-you up to Hashem. By that time, there were other options for a korban – like mangos, and other tree-fruit. Kayin, however, stuck with his veggie salad. Meaning, that his offering was not of the best grade of produce that he had grown.

Having come this far, we can clear up another mystery. “I move quickly, without delay, to observe your mitzvos.”[2] Now, if Dovid Ha-Melech moved quickly, he obviously was not delaying! Why the verbosity?

Perhaps the pasuk means to convey a similar point to the one above. Dovid always sought to perform a mitzvah with energy and zeal. At times, this created a dilemma for him. He could perform the mitzvah at the first opportunity, or he could defer its performance to a later time, when he would be able to perform it in a much better form. Dovid says that he opted for the latter. He moved quickly. Even when that meant that he denied himself a chance at performing the mitzvah in a more attractive way later on. Still, he acted without that delay, in order to be certain that circumstances arising later would not cause him to miss the mitzvah altogether.

  1. Bereishis 4:3
  2. Tehillim 119:60