|BEREISHIS: “And He Called His Son Chanoch”|
Toward the end of this week’s portion we read that Cain had relations with his wife and she gave birth to a son by the name of Chanoch. Then the Torah goes on to say, “and he built a city and he called the name of the city as the name of his son, Chanoch.” (Chap. 4:17)
The question comes to mind. Why did he give his son the name Chanoch and, furthermore, why did he have to build a city and call the city Chanoch – by the name of his son? Why does the Torah take the time to tell us that Cain had this son and the name he gave him? Evidently, there is a message in that name that is very pertinent to the person who reads and studies the Torah throughout the generations.
It seems to me that the message that the Torah wants to convey to us here comes through loud and clear. This incident takes place after Cain killed his brother Abel. What happened here was that Cain pondered and asked himself, how was it possible that I was able to kill my brother? What caused me to perform this inhuman act on my own flesh and blood? He searched and delved and racked his brain to try to find the proper answer. How could he have become such a treacherous murderer and kill his own brother?
After a great deal of searching and thinking, he came to the conclusion that the cause was that he didn’t get the proper education and the proper upbringing. He didn’t have the proper character traits, having never been educated in the train of kindness and mercy. This was the reason why he was able to become like an animal and perform this terrible act.
Therefore, when he had his son, he decided to call him Chanoch, from the word, “chinuch” – education, to teach us that a child should be educated from babyhood on the proper traits and given the proper values – guided and taught in the proper way of life. He must be shown how to live among his fellow man and taught never to perform any wild or inhuman acts. However, he felt that this was not sufficient. This would have been a message only to his immediate family – to those who come in contact with him personally and to those who have any kind of affiliation or association with him on a direct man-to-man basis. He wanted this message to go out to the entire world. He wanted to tell everybody the terrible fate that befell him and the cause that brought it on. He wanted them all to know that in order to have the right kind of children, you have to give them the right kind of upbringing and the right kind of education. Therefore, he built an entire city and gave that city the name of Chanoch, also from the word “education,” so that anyone and everyone who would ever mention the name of the city would automatically be awakened and alerted to the responsibility and the importance of education.
This is what King Solomon tells us – “Educate the child when he is small so that when he will get older he will not deviate from the proper path.”
In this day and age, when we witness the terrible things happening all around us, it all comes back to the same beginning – that unless you give a child the proper education and the proper upbringing, that child will grow up to be as wild as an animal and will perform animalistic acts.
Torah is the best control and thermostat over an individual’s actions and it is therefore imperative that we see to it that our children receive a Torah education from babyhood on. Then we can hope and pray that they will turn out to be the kind of children who will bring light and joy into the world.