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Comments on Torah


I was reading the comments on the Torah posted on the Ahahvath Sholom Congregation web site.   Rabbi made some interesting observations but, like my original Rabbi Seymour Moskowitz, he presented several different interpretations without saying which one he would prefer.   The passages that I found most interesting was that on Genesis 34, the story of Yaakov’s (my namesake) daughter Dinah, her rape by Schechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite who was a Prince of that country.  Subsequently, the sons of Yaakov killed all the men and took the women and children and cattle as their possessions.  Yaakove was dismayed that they had done this.

Now, here’s the problem.  The question that was raised was not necessarily about the event itself but the “why” this event happened.  Theory One was blaming the victim, Dinah, because she “… went out to see the daughters of the land.”  In other words, she made herself a target.  Some of the Rabbim even suggest that she dressed inappropriately by “showing her arm” or some other such nonsense.  There was even a comment about holding out a bit of meat in front of a bird.

  • “Rabbi Berekiah said in Rabbi Levi’s name: This may be compared to one who was holding a pound of meat in his hand, and as soon as he exposed it a bird swooped down and snatched it away. Similarly, ”Now Dinah… went out” and forthwith ”Shechem son of Hamor… saw her.” Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahman said: her arm became exposed. (Bereisheit Rabbah 80:1)”

Make up your own mind but, to me, this is the same principle as, “Well, see how she was dressed.  She was just asking for it.”  (An argument for rape that has filtered down through the ages.)  I find that a bit hard to believe since Schechem immediately asked to marry her which, to me, indicated guilt and fear that her (many) brothers would be angered.  I am no saying that Dinah was right to “parade around in front of the Goyim” but, even had she done such a thing (which is not actually indicated in the scriptures) she still would not have been a target except to someone who felt that he was above the law and that his father’s position would protect him.

Another interpretation put for was that what happens to some and not to others is  matter of luck, mazel.  (MazelTov, after all, just means that you have “Good Luck”.)  The belief in good or bad luck is faulty in that it takes control of all situations from G-d and puts them into “chance”.  I have never found in the scripture that G-d ever took a chance on anything.  When you find someone casting lots to determine something it was never at G-d’s instructions.  

Here’s my theory (and that of some scholars):  HaShem is in control of the Universe.  Whatever happens always goes back to Him.  When Job was being persecuted by Satan, did not HaShem say to Satan in Job 2:3: “And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”  G-d took responsibility for what was happening to Job even though Satan was doing it.  G-d is either omnipotent or He isn’t.  If He is, then everything that happens is for a reason.

Small parable to illustrate this:  When you are building a home and you have to hit the nail on the head with a hammer, I’m sure that if the nail could think he would wonder WHY was the hammer hitting him on the head?  Neither the nail nor the hammer can know the final intention of the builder.  Do you remember what Job said about his so-called “misfortunate” circumstances?  In Job 2:9,10: “Then his wife said to  him, ‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity?  Curse G-d and die!’ (10) But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.  Shall we indeed accept good from G-d, and shall we not accept adversity?’   In all of this Job did not sin with his lips.”

I know that there are those who will want to argue about the Holocaust, babies dying from horrible circumstances, entire communities wiped out and will want to ask, “Shall we blame G-d for this?”  I will discuss that later but, for now, the answer has to be and is, “Yes.  G-d is in control.”  We cannot “blame” G-d for things – only accept what happens as part of something that we do not understand.  More on that in another blog.  For now, back to Dinah.

My own interpretation:  That which the sons of Yaakov took to be vengence, the Almighty (Blessed be His Name), used to keep the family moving and absolutely keep them from falling in with the Goyim of the countryside.   Some are cursed with the riches of this world.  Some are blessed with poverty and can only depend on HaShem to keep them clothed and fed.  Personally, like Tevye, I prefer the curse of riches – and may I never recover – BUT knowing that it came from G-d.  Again, that’s another discussion.

So, what do you think?  Go read Rabbi’s discussion and then I would appreciate your comments.




December 13, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment