What do many (if not most) people do after they sin?

They sin again.

Why do they sin again?

Sin breeds depression. Depression breeds sin. And the vicious cycle goes on and on, plunging the person to unimaginable depths.

We all sin. King Solomon declared that "there is no righteous person who never sins."1 Obviously, sin is relative and the sin of a holy man is not the sin of Sin City; but the fact remains that sin is always there.

The question is what to do after the sin?

He killed his own brother, and then played dumb with G‑d: "Am I my brother's keeper?!"Ladies and gentlemen, let's meet one of the first high profile sinners in history—the infamous Cain.

Cain messed up badly, and that would be putting it mildly. He killed his own brother, and then played dumb with G‑d: "Am I my brother's keeper?!"2

Once he admitted his guilt and set out to repent,3 what did he do next?

Did he buy out an alcohol store, lock the bedroom, shut the lights, and knock himself out for days on end? Did he act out his guilt by killing someone else? Did he drown his guilt in depression?

None of the above. Cain got married, had a child, and built a city, naming it after his son Enoch.4

He could never undo his mistake, and he would actively repent for the rest of his life; but that didn't stop him from doing the right thing. He went out and made a difference.

By killing Abel he had taken away from the universe, and by marrying and building a city he gave something back.

He could never undo his mistake; but that didn't stop him from doing the right thingThe reaction to destruction must be construction. Even if one is the cause of the destruction. No matter the mistakes one had made and the resulting consequences, as long as the soul still resides in the body, one must make a positive difference in this world.

Yes, we must repent. Yes, sometimes the mistake is so severe that the consequence cannot be avoided. (Cain ended up being killed by his own descendant.5) But the message of Cain is that despite what happened last night – or rather, because of what happened – we must surge forward: adding more light, more love and more peace to our fixing-needing world.

What must we do after we sin?

Repent, and go built a city. 6