I've heard the idea that Kayin was the one who inspired his brother Hevel to bring an offering to Hashem (Genesis Chapter 4). One possible place I saw this was from Rabbi David Fohrman, although I don't remember if I heard it elsewhere. Either way, the verses aren't explicit, just that Kayin brought something, and then Hevel.

I'm wondering if there are any classical sources which discuss the fact that Hevel was inspired by Kayin's idea to bring an offering. Bonus points if the source discusses why this wasn't a merit or zechus for Kayin. We find that Yehudah had a zechus because he inspired Reuven to repent (see Rashi to Deuteronomy 33:7), and I'm wondering why Kayin was different. Or if there was a zechus, how did it manifest?

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    According to Radak, Kayin wasn't necessarily first: והבל הביא גם הוא. לפני קין או לאחריו ואם היה לפני לשון גם הוא על הספור לא על המעשה – Alex Oct 5 '18 at 4:31
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    "Yehudah had a zechus because he inspired Reuven... and I'm wondering why Kayin was different": Maybe he wasn't. Maybe he also had a merit from that – msh210 Oct 5 '18 at 6:08
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    Conjecture aside, see Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer (21) [cited in Yalkut Shimoni (Breishis 35)], that it was Adam, who inspired both his sons, that they should each bring a sacrifice. – IsraelReader Oct 5 '18 at 11:29
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    Where did Hevel get the idea to offer an animal? See discussion here: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/30002/… – IsraelReader Oct 5 '18 at 12:18

The Maharal in Drush L'Shabbos Hagadol writes that Kayin initiated the idea of bringing a sacrifice so as to try to gain favor in Hashem's eyes despite his unworthy behavior, and that Hevel learned this idea and decided to imitate it.

  • And since Hevel was bringing korbanos when he didn't even have to, because he was a "good boy", this was exceptional behavior in comparison to Kayin offering korbanos because he wasn't worthy. – ezra Oct 5 '18 at 19:36

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