Thinking outside the box about Dina

The upcoming parsha has one of my least favorite episodes in TaNaCh (ranking pretty close to pilegesh bagiva) I have a particularly negative feeling about it because of the spin that BY teachers tend to put on Dina's abduction, saying she should have stayed home. Her curiosity about what was going on in the town is what put her in danger. That's just one step behind the "she was asking for it" argument that some use to justify rape.

However, the Torah does not present Dina's experience as what was coming to her at all. The man who took her and abused her (see Rashi on that) is held fully culpable. In fact, the whole town is held culpable for allowing her abduction to happen. Dina brothers who plotted to kill out every single man justify their extreme measures to their father, and he has no answer to them.

If you bear in mind Dina's age and the Torah's timeline, not to mention the fact that her rapist calls her "yalda," a young girl, you may remember that she was only around seven. That's the age that Sarah is given for beauty in the breakdown of her years, and the reason for the child's age to be singled out is precisely because it is a beauty without suggestions of sensuality. Sarah, of course, was taken, as well, but she was a mature woman with full feminine attractions at that point. And in her case, no one has dared suggest that she brought the attention upon herself.

A notable common experience for both Dina and Sarah, according to Midrashm is being hidden in a box. In both cases, it didin't work. Avraham tried keeping his wife's beauty hidden, and Yaakov kept her out of sight of his brother, lest he want to take her as a wife. Avraham's ruse didn't work, as Sarah was discovered. In the case of Yaakov, the ruse seemed to work, as Esav didn't see Dina; however, Chazal are critical of what he attempted to do, and said there was an aspect of punishment for that in Dina's experience.

Now to take another view on this, perhaps we really should be thinking outside the box. The solution to protecting one's virtue is not staying hidden away altogether. Going to that extreme tends to backfire.  And as for the danger of going out there, yes it exists, but it is ludicrous to say that a seven-year-old girl was asking to be attackeded. In fact, no female or any age or state of dress ever asks to be attack.

After I posted this, my husband sent me a link to another post that puts a positive spin in Dina's going out: יצאנית למעליותא
על הפסוק "ותצא דינה בת לאה גו׳ לראות בבנות הארץ" (לד, א) פירש רש"י "על שם יציאתה נקראת בת לאה שאף היא יצאנית היתה שנאמר ותצא לאה לקראתו".
ולכאורה תמוה, הרי אמרו חז"ל (ב"ב קכג, א) שאפי' בגנות בהמה טמאה לא דיבר הכתוב, וא"כ מדוע נכתב כאן "גנותה" של לאה, ש"יצאנית היתה"?
וביותר יוקשה, הרי בנוגע ל"ותצא לאה לקראתו", פירש רש"י (ויצא ל, יז) "שהיתה מתאוה ומחזרת להרבות שבטים", וא"כ, יציאתה כדבר טוב תחשב, ומדוע כאן חשבינן לה כ"יצאנית"?
וי"ל, שקושיא אחת מתורצת בחבירתה, שבא הכתוב כאן לבאר שבחה של דינה, שהיתה "יצאנית" כאימה לאה. דכמו שלאה יציאתה היתה לדבר טוב, כן הוא בדינה ש"יצאנית" הייתה, למעליותא.
דהנה כתב רש"י לעיל, על הפסוק "ויקח גו' ואת אחד עשר ילדיו" (פרשתנו לב, כג)"ודינה היכן היתה, נתנה בתיבה ונעל בפני' שלא יתן בה עשו עיניו, ולכן נענש יעקב שמנעה מאחיו שמא תחזירנו למוטב, ונפלה ביד שכם".
ונמצא, שדינה הי' כוחה רב בהחזרת רשעים למוטב, שאפי' עשו הי' ביכלתה להחזירו למוטב.
וזהו שבחה של דינה ש"יצאנית היתה", כי יצאה "לראות בבנות הארץ" כדי להחזירן למוטב, ולהכניסן תחת כנפי השכינה.
[וזה שלפועל נפלה ביד שכם עי"ז, לא הי' עונש לה, כ"א עונש ליעקב על שמנעה מעשו, כפי שהובא ].
(ע"פ לקוטי שיחות חל"ה עמ' 150 ואילך)
Essentially, what it's saying is that as Chazal learn that Dina was a yatzanit [one who goes out] like her mother, Leah was, the parallel should be extended fully. Just as Leah went out for good, so too, did Dina. She went out to have a good influence on the girls of the land of Shchem [perhaps another parallel to Sarah here, for she was the one to be mekarev  the women, while Avraham did so for the men]. In other words, Dina is not to blame for what befell her. It is her father who is faulted here for having put her in a box and so having kept her from doing what good she could have done for his brother.


Mrs. S. said…
That's a beautiful explanation! Thanks for sharing it.
Ariella Brown said…
Thank you for commenting, Mrs. S.

Popular Posts