The Tragedy of Cain and Abel

Titian; Cain and Abel, c. 1576 

as sung in Vancouver, BC Canada;
November 1976, by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

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copyright 1976, The Humanity Foundation

Give me permission to say a few words
It's half a story, half a prayer....

Everybody knows the first tragedy in the world:

Cain and his brother, Abel.

Now the truth is, Cain never wanted to kill Abel;
He just got angry at him. But he didn't know
There was such a thing as killing somebody.
It's the truth. He didn't even know there was such a thing as dying.

Abel fell to the ground
And Cain regretted already that he hit him.
He fell to the ground next to his brother,
And he began to cry from one corner of the world to the other.

And he said, my dear brother, my most precious brother,
I'm begging you, please open your eyes.
Please forgive me, I'm begging you a million times --
Please come back, and open your eyes.

Then for three days, Cain was lying next to Abel, begging him.
All of nature, the whole world, was crying with him.

On that great day we are waiting for
The most unbelievable thing will happen
All the Cains of the world will lie next to the Abels they killed
And they will begin to cry....

And they will say, my precious brother, forgive me
Forgive me..I am begging you, forgive me
For being angry at you.
I am begging you, come back.

I am begging you, come back.

So on that great day, the miracle will happen:
Abel will open his eyes.
And he and Cain -- what a moment...
The world has not been privileged to feel the love
Between brother and brother
Between one human being and the other
That will be on that day.

Then Cain and Abel will begin to dance
And the whole world will join them.
And all the creatures of the world will begin to dance.
Let it be soon...let it be soon...let it be soon...


Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was a singer, poet and teacher from Jerusalem. He spent much of his life reaching out to young people of all faiths, especially to the sons and daughters of Abraham -- Muslims, Christians and Jews, with a message of universal tolerance. He was respected equally by all.