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In Judaism we believe that someone who is murdered is being killed as punishment for his sins. What sin did Hevel commit to deserve to be put to death?

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It's brought from the Arizal (shaar gilgulim) and Tikunei Zohar (Midrash says qoutes it), that Hevel was obligated to death, because when Hashem accepted his offering, he looked into the shechina. Looking into the shechina is a chiyuv misa, as it brought in midrashim..

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  • If you can bring an exact source it seems this should be the accepted answer.
    – James Read
    Oct 22 at 19:22
  • @JamesRead i saw it in a english shaar gilgulim as well.
    – Shlomy
    Oct 22 at 23:55
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The premise of your question is seemingly based off the mishna in Avos 2:6

אַף הוּא רָאָה גֻלְגֹּלֶת אַחַת שֶׁצָּפָה עַל פְּנֵי הַמַּיִם. אָמַר לָהּ, עַל דַּאֲטֵפְתְּ, אַטְפוּךְ. וְסוֹף מְטִיפַיִךְ יְטוּפוּן

Translation from Sefaria: Moreover he saw a skull floating on the face of the water. He said to it: because you drowned others, they drowned you. And in the end, they that drowned you will be drowned.

Seemingly, any victim of murder can be assumed to have once murdered. Tosafos Yom Tov there (link below) thinks this is impossible and cites the case of Hevel as a proof, along with many other victims of murder. He goes on to list suggestions from Chazzal as to what Hevel's sin might have been. He also mentioned Rashi's explanation that the skull was recognized as being from a well known murderer. He also mentions and rejects the Medrash Shmuel's approach dealing with reincarnation, arguing it is too esoteric to have been the intention. Tosafos Yom Tov's understanding is this is not a certain truth, but rather a basic assumed approach to understanding the world, which ultimately is run by Hashem who's logic is not our logic.

https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.2.6?with=Tosafot%20Yom%20Tov&lang=bi

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I saw this is this weeks Tidbits https://klalgovoah.org

We know everything that accurs is just. That being the case, why did Hevel deserve to be killed by his own brother? Rav Nachum Partzovitz zt"l, quoted by Rav Elya Baruch Finkel zt"l explains that from the pasuk it is clear that Kayin looked obviously distressed when Hashem did not accept his korban. It is reasonable to assume that Hevel saw Kayin's disappointment, yet it does not seem that Hevel attempted to comfort his brother in any way. This lack of empathy for his brother's distress made Hevel deserving of death at his brother's hand!
Chazal say, "Yesh koneh olamo besha'ah achas," literally translated as "Some acquire their portion in the World [to Come] in one moment." However, the Ba'alei Mussar explain that an alternate translation of "sha'ah" is "attentive". Thus, explaining the phrase, "Some acquire their world through one instance of paying attention": by being mindful of a fellow's needs at just one occasion. If Hevel had considered his brother's pain, he may have "acquired his world", and could have been spared his brother's rage.

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Just because we believe in hashgacha (providence) does not mean we believe that everyone who is murdered did something to deserve it! G-d forbid.

Rather, we believe that everything happens for a reason. That reason may or may not be revealed to us at that time or later. Absent a direct source from the written Torah or Chazal on the "purpose" of the killing of Hevel, this question is left to later generations, and to us, to explore.

One possible answer is to evoke the principle of Ma'aseh Avot Siman leBanim --the deeds of the fathers are signs for the children. Though this Chazal is mostly applied to the actual patriarchs of our people (Avraham, Yitzhak, Yaakov), rather than the earlier fathers of humanity, it could be helpful here. The dynamic between Kayin and Hevel is a perennial one between brothers and confreres. One is favored, there is jealousy, and either physical or metaphysical violence ensues. Joseph and his brothers are a replay. The principle of Maaseh Avot suggests that one of the reasons these things happened and are told to us in the Torah is so that we can learn from them, about ourselves, and avoid the negative patterns they suggest (or invite the blessings they imply).

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As others have stated, I'm not sure your premise is correct that there was a (good) reason - but here is a very nice writeup about that murder (and a big overview of not only the Havel-Kain maaseh but a whole lot more). Would be nice if he made the citations but this is just a newspaper article and it's all in the Zohar and Kitvei Ari (Shaar haGilgulim).

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/gilgulim-reincarnations-return-to-the-land-of-your-soul-part-1-of-2/

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קין – Kayin

Kayin was born of a mixture good and evil. He was also born with a twin sister. Whereas, his brother Hevel הבל was born with two twin sisters. In the end, the two brothers had a fight over who inherits the Land of Israel and who gets to marry a second wife. Kayin argued as the eldest male בכור, he is entitled to marry Hevel’s second twin and inherit Eretz Yisrael. Hevel argued that this girl was his second twin and thus it’s his inherent right to marry her. Kayin killed Hevel over this disagreement.

Eisav and Yaakov were gilgulim (reincarnations) of Kayin and Hevel. Actually, all of mankind until today, has in them aspects of either Kayin or Hevel.

The snake נחש in Gan Eden actually impregnated Chava and imparted spiritual impurity זוהמא into her – Kayin and Hevel were born after this union with the snake. Therefore, Kayin and Hevel had within them aspects of good and evil. Kayin, unlike Hevel, had more evil then good. Zuhama impurity can only be removed through death or resurrection via a gilgul. Advertisement

Hevel’s Neshama (level #3) was good, whereas his Nefesh (level #1) needed to be fixed with a Tikun תיקון. He was therefore reincarnated as a gilgul גילגול into Sheis שת the son of Adam. Later on, this aspect of evil entered the soul of the evil Bilaam.

The good aspects of Kayin went to Keinan and Mehalel. Sefer Bereishis lists the family tree. Keinan was a son of Enosh and a grandson of Shes. He was born when Enosh was ninety years old. Keinan fathered Mahalalel when he was seventy. Other sons and daughters were born to Keinan before he died at the age of 910 years old. Keinan’s mother was Noam, wife and sister of Enosh. Keinan’s wife, Mualeleth, was his sister.

בראשית ה: ט-יד וַיְחִ֥י אֱנ֖וֹשׁ תִּשְׁעִ֣ים שָׁנָ֑ה וַיּ֖וֹלֶד אֶת קֵינָֽן: וַיְחִ֣י אֱנ֗וֹשׁ אַֽחֲרֵי֙ הֽוֹלִיד֣וֹ אֶת קֵינָ֔ן חֲמֵ֤שׁ עֶשְׂרֵה֙ שָׁנָ֔ה וּשְׁמֹנֶ֥ה מֵא֖וֹת שָׁנָ֑ה וַיּ֥וֹלֶד בָּנִ֖ים וּבָנֽוֹת: וַיִּֽהְיוּ֙ כָּל יְמֵ֣י אֱנ֔וֹשׁ חָמֵ֣שׁ שָׁנִ֔ים וּתְשַׁ֥ע מֵא֖וֹת שָׁנָ֑ה וַיָּמֹֽת: וַיְחִ֥י קֵינָ֖ן שִׁבְעִ֣ים שָׁנָ֑ה וַיּ֖וֹלֶד אֶת מַֽהֲלַלְאֵֽל: וַיְחִ֣י קֵינָ֗ן אַֽחֲרֵי֙ הֽוֹלִיד֣וֹ אֶת מַֽהֲלַלְאֵ֔ל אַרְבָּעִ֣ים שָׁנָ֔ה וּשְׁמֹנֶ֥ה מֵא֖וֹת שָׁנָ֑ה וַיּ֥וֹלֶד בָּנִ֖ים וּבָנֽוֹת: וַיִּֽהְיוּ֙ כָּל יְמֵ֣י קֵינָ֔ן עֶ֣שֶׂר שָׁנִ֔ים וּתְשַׁ֥ע מֵא֖וֹת שָׁנָ֑ה וַיָּמֹֽת:

And Enosh lived ninety years, and he begot Kenan. And Enosh lived after he had begotten Kenan eight hundred and fifteen years, and he begot sons and daughters. And Enosh lived after he had begotten Kenan eight hundred and fifteen years, and he begot sons and daughters. And all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years, and he died. And Kenan lived seventy years, and he begot Mahalalel. And Kenan lived after he had begotten Mahalalel eight hundred and forty years, and he begot sons and daughters. And all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years, and he died. (Bereishis 5: 9-14)

Hevel – הבל

The good Nefesh (#1) of Hevel was given to Shais שת. This Nefesh was partially rectified through Shais.

The evil Nefesh (#1) of Hevel went into Bilaam and later on to Naval husband of Avigayil. Naval נבל has in the letters of his name, the letters “בל” for the names Bilaam and Hevel בלעם \ הבל .

Once the Nefesh (#1) is rectified it then becomes Ruach (#2). The Ruach of Hevel was reincarnated into Noach HaTzadik. This Ruach was then reincarnated into Yefes, Cham and Shem.

Cham was a combination of good and evil which remained un-rectified. It was therefore reincarnated into Tevi, the servant of Rabban Gamliel (who lived during the second Beis Hamikdash). The name “Tevi” means a mixture of good with evil, טבי = טוב ברע

Generally the Nefesh and Ruach have a mixture of good and evil. However, when Hevel’s Neshama was reincarnated into Moshe Rabbeinu, it was only good without any aspect of evil. This was noted at the time of Moshe’s birth “she saw.. he was good”.

שמות ב:ב וַתַּ֥הַר הָֽאִשָּׁ֖ה וַתֵּ֣לֶד בֵּ֑ן וַתֵּ֤רֶא אֹתוֹ֙ כִּי ט֣וֹב ה֔וּא וַתִּצְפְּנֵ֖הוּ שְׁלשָׁ֥ה יְרָחִֽים:

The woman [Yocheved] conceived and bore a son [Moshe], and [when] she saw him that he was good, she hid him for three months (Shmos 2:2).

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