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Parshas Vayishlach

Rabbi Pesach Siegel

Parshat Vayishlach

Oct 21, 2009


In Parshas VaYishlach, perek 32, posuk 23, the Torah relates how Yaakov Aveinu crossed the Yabok river with his eleven children. Rashi quotes the Medrash Rabbah to explain why his daughter Dina is not mentioned. Dina was placed in a box in order to avoid being taken by Eisav as a wife. Yaakov was punished as a result. Perhaps she would have set Eisav upon the proper path. She, therefore, was doomed to fall in the hands of Shechem.

My rebbe, HaRav Mordechai Gifter Z”L questioned the connection between Yaakov's act and the retribution exacted from Dina. Wouldn't it have been more appropriate for Yaakov to receive punishment rather than his daughter?

In order to understand this, one must first understand that the trials of the Avos are not those of action, whether they will commit the proper action or not. There is no question that their actions are beyond reproach. Their trials are those of depth. In what spirit their actions are performed. This point is best illustrated by the trial of Lech Lecho. Avrohom Aveinu was commanded to leave his land, his birthplace, and his father’s house, in that order. From the physical vantage point, the order should have been reversed. That was not his test. Rather, he was commanded to inwardly leave his land, birthplace, and father's home, in ascending order of difficulty.

Certainly, one is not obligated to offer his three year old daughter to a Rasha in matrimony, in the hopes that she would influence him. After careful reflection of the matter, this would be the obvious conclusion. My rebbe suggested that something was lacking in the "give and take" which was going on in the internal workings of Yaakov. The decision to withhold Dina from Eisav was too automatic for someone of Yaakov's lofty level. The trait which Yaakov perfected was that of Rachamim. Any deviation from his trait is deemed cruelty on his part. Regardless of the fact that he reached the proper conclusion, the method used to reach that conclusion must be flawless.

There are boundaries that surround a person. Boundaries that govern a person's monetary, moral, and ethical behavior. There are acts and thoughts which must remain behind the barrier, never to be expressed. But, on the contrary, there are acts and thoughts which belong on the other side of the barrier. Take the Mitzva of Tzedaka for example. The trait of cruelty is a confusion of what belongs where. Required benevolence is being withheld. The trait of modesty can be viewed in the same light, although from the opposite point of view. Someone lacking in modesty displays what must be hidden.

Yaakov affected his soul by withholding, in some sense, his daughter from Eisav. The souls of one and his offspring are connected. This resulted in a related flaw in the Neshama of Dina. She was violated by Shechem as a result of a “going out”. She crossed the border, and went out when she should have been in.

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