Kayin killed Hevel out of jealousy that Hashem accepted Hevel’s sacrificial offering over Kayin. The common explanation is Kayin’s offering was inferior to Hevel’s offering because it was only average fruit. Hevel’s offering was from the fattest, the best, of the sheep he attended to. In human terms being offered the best is always the greatest honor.
However, this is not true in the eyes of Hashem. Since Hashem owns everything the only offering we can give him is our heart felt dedication. It is not what we give, but how we give.
Kayin had a good reason to give average fruit. He thought, “The world was created in order for mankind to use in service of the Almighty. For example; air, water and food are meant to nourish my body so that I will have strength to praise Hashem.Hashem doesn’t need a physical offering, he’s interesting in the act of offering something of value as a sign of devotion. Therefore, He doesn’t need the best of my fruit. On the other hand, it is not honorable to offer the lowest quality fruit. I will offer the average fruit as a sign of my devotion.” Though it was the average kind, Kayin considered it an offering since he gave up something that he needed. By placing his needs second to the offering he demonstrated trust and devotion.
Furthermore, Kayin looked at Hevel’s offering and thought that such an offering is not from the heart because the sheep is forbidden to eat. As for the wool, Hevel doesn’t need it either since he has clothes already. “It’s easy to give the meat and wool away since they have no value,” Kayin thought. “Therefore, my offering is greater because I am giving up food which has value to me.”
However, much more went into Hevel’s offering than Kayin’s offering than the one time act of giving. We must remember the backstory. After Kayin and Hevel divided the world, Hevel looked at his portion. He saw that every creature, big and small, was able to fend for itself. Each animal had the ability to search for food and defend itself or hide in some way. The exception was sheep. Without a shepherd sheep would not be able to find green pastures. They certainly cannot defend themselves or hide from their enemies.
“It must be that I am created to take care of sheep, otherwise they will become extinct!” Hevel said to himself. So when it came time for an offering he chose the fattest of his flock. “Please accept my offering, Hashem,” Hevel prayed. “Every bit of the energy that I used in order to raise this sheep. I received no benefit at all from my actions. The care that went into raising this sheep was exclusively for Your honor, Hashem.” This represented his highest level of dedication.
Hashem accepted Hevel’s offering over Kayin’s not because it was the biggest and fattest. Rather, it was an offering that was totally l’shaim shamayim.
As the coronavirus drags on, we focus more and more on what’s important. Hashem, in His master plan, is asking us during this pandemic to step back from the gashmius world and focus on the tikunim that we can do spiritually. The world is waking up to the fact that the investments made in developing close family ties, good friends and a relationship with Hashem lead to our most cherished and eternal assets. Heroes are emerging who inspire us to help people even if we never met them before. But, such depth of character and results do not happen all at once. Our spiritual assets grow over time and are strengthened by each act that is l’shaim shamayim. B’ezrat Hashem, when the coronavirus is conquered, we will find that this long battle has produced a significant shift towards greater spirituality.