Weekly Parsha Review Laced with Humor and Sarcasm from The Oisvorfer Ruv

Vayishlach 2011 – All About Dina

Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:

Something about Dina:

As has become our minhag of late, we begin Parshas Vayishlach with a shtikel chazoro (review) on last week’s Parsha highlights. Yankif met his bashert, one of them, at the well. He kissed her, cried, fell in love, worked for seven years to get her, married her sister by accident, married her one week later, married the handmaidens of both sisters for a total of four wives, sired 11 boys and one girl, was a successful shepherd, was ripped off by his shvindler (con artist) of a his father-in-law, and left town with his entire family.  Nu, let’s see what Vayishlach has to offer and it’s quite a bit.

Vayishlach features: war games, kidnapping, rape, murder and efsher a shtikel incest, oy vey. What it doesn’t feature is nachas from the kinder, nebech. This week the Oisvorfer will take a closer look at Dina, Yankif’s only daughter. Maybe, space permitting,  we’ll peak in on Reuven who had a shtikel bed incident with his mother, rachmono litzlon. Also, Rochel will die this week as will Yitzchok, may they all rest in peace. Devora dies as well and some say that Rivka too passed away. Rochel will be buried along the way; exactly where that place is- ver veyst (who knows) and is zicher subject to a machloikes (argument) that’s raging till today.  Yitzchok will of course be buried in Chevron without controversy by both Yankif and Eisav. Don’t know that we’ll get to cover every topic but hey, the Oisvorfer  will be back next year.

As Vayishlach opens, Yankif is now 97 years old, and it’s time to make peace with his eltere brider (older brother) Eisav. The actual encounter, 34 years later, is far less dramatic than the buildup, isn’t it always, if you chap and after preparations which included a 3 pronged strategy, including a military option, it’s all over with one big hug and kiss. Shoin: they make up, split up and live happily ever after.

In mitten direnen (in the middle of this entire reunion) between the brothers, we are taught that Yankif gets entangled in some mysterious wrestling match with an unnamed foe, an “ish” who suddenly appears out of nowhere. From this text, it’s clear that the ish is not a human being, but an angel, Eisav’s.. What that means I never really chapped but le’acher hamayseh (when the story is over), Yankif’s name is changed to Yisroel, making him the second of our four forefathers to undergo a name change. And since Yankif was the father of the holy shvotim (the 12 tribes), we are forever known as the B’nai Yisroel. Veyter. Now just before the grand reunion, we read (B’reishis 32:23) as follows: “And [Yankif] arose during that night, and he took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven children, and he crossed the ford of the Yabbok.” The heylige Toirah mentions his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons (Binyomin not born yet) – but there is no mention at all, of his daughter Dina! What happened to her? Was she left behind, or was she so unimportant that she was ignored in the Toirah. We’re about to find out.


The action picks up and fast as we get to Chamishi where we read and re-read the story of Dina, Yankif’’s only daughter. So who is this Dina? Where did she come from and whose daughter is she really? Is there even a question? Didn’t we learn just last week that Leah gave birth to Dina? Is there chas v’sholom (heaven forbid) epes a shtikel controversy regarding her Yichus? Nu, believe it or not, the medrish couldn’t leave well enough alone and though the heylige Toirah tells us who she is and that Leah was her mother, there is avada room for other interpretations. There is? Is should seem logical enough and require no further discussion. Yes? Seemingly not!

Says the Targum Yoinoson ben Uziel and others quoting the medrish that originally Dina was conceived in Rochel’s  womb, but that the RBSO  transferred her (fetus) after conception to Leah’s, so that Rochel could give birth to Yoisef instead. And how do you like that? Way before modern day scientists came up with various fertilization methods including in-vitro, surrogates and other gishmake methodologies, the RBSO was, as one would expect, trailblazing innovative paths to child bearing. Ober chap nisht (not so fast)…because  another Chazal tells us a different story regarding Dina. Nu, let’s hear this. Leah was impregnated by Yankif who seems to be the only male in the picture, with a male fetus. A nais (miracle) occurred inside the fetus and the male fetus inside of Leah turned into the female Dina. A Houdini act mamish. Avada you heard of males acting like females and even farkert and avada we’ve heard or even see males surgically becoming females and farkert but only the RBSO could accomplish this in utero. Gevaldig mamish! There is also an opinion, whose source I can’t find now, that Rochel and Leah were pregnant at the same time with, respectively, Yoisef and Dinah, and that due to Leah’s davening (Berachos 60a), the fetuses were miraculously switched. Nu, you can’t make this up.

Says the Alshich on that same Gemora that Leah was pregnant with what was supposed to be a male. Yet since that baby was to be the eleventh born to Yankif Oveenu, even if Rochel were to be blessed with finally having a child (to be number twelve), both Bilah and Zilpa, the Shfachos (Yankif’s two additional wives) would have more of the Shevatim (tribes) than Rochel. Leah therefore davened to the RBSO for her sister Rochel. The RBSO responded and turned Leah’s unborn male child into Dina. It is therefore no wonder, concludes the Alshich, that Dina was an outgoing person, a personality trait which seemingly will get her into some trouble as we will learn mamish in a minute or two.  What’s pshat? Is outgoing so girferlch? Since her roots were of male origin, she possessed this male characteristic to be one who “goes out”; going out too often it seems, leads to also someone going in, if you chap. Can’t make this up but want more? Says the Ibn Ezra (Breishis 30:21) that Dina was Zevulins twin sister. Are you confused? Nu, you’re not alone. Says the Chida that targum Yoinoson got it right: the babies switched wombs but clarifies his point on Leah’s tendency to be more outgoing by stating that Dina’s personality in her original womb were more girlish; shy and introverted ober once she entered the womb of Lea who had Yoisef’s fetus cooking inside, she obtained male tendencies and as a result, ended up with the outgoing personality traits which led to the next part of this week’s Toirah.  Well, blow me down! Only one thing is certain: Yankif was the Tata. As to the mama, ver veyst? Another thing we know with certainty: this Dina was a shtikel tzatzkela and got herself into one heap of a mess. What happened to Dina? Nu,  let’s learn some more.

Ok- lommer unfangin noch a mul (let’s start one more time). Says Rashi, (32:23) quoting the Medrish, that one of the precautionary measures that Yankif  took in advance of meeting up with Eisav, was to hide his tuchter (daughter) Dina in a box. What’s pshat? Seemingly, he was afraid that were Eisav to lay his eyes on her, he would also want to lay his hands and more, perhaps even get into the box, if you chap; perhaps even desire to marry her. What to do? Yankif put her into a box where she remained hidden from her uncle. And says the Medrish that Yankif, as a result of not allowing Eisav to see her and possibly also marry Dina, was punished and Dina was taken, from every direction, if you chap, which seemingly Sh’chem did.  Again this is not the Oisvorfer’s own pshat, rather I quote Rashi (verbatim, as you will soon see) and others who had a better and clearer imagination.

What’s pshat? Was Yankif not doing the right thing? Was he being a shlechte tata  (bad father) in not allowing his daughter to be taken by his arch enemy of a brother who wanted to kill him? Ober says the medrish that Yankif went too far. What’s pshat? Efsher you’re wondering why a loving father would be chastised and  punished for protecting his daughter from an evil villain? Says the Medrish: “shemah tachzireno le’mutav – maybe she (Dina) could have turned his (Eisav’s) life around, making him a better person.”

The Medrish says that not only did Yankif hide her in the box, but he also locked it. In other words: Yankif was lacking in sensitivity. It’s one thing to put your daughter in a box; seemingly according to this pshat, that would have been cool, ober putting on a lock, that was over the top. Though he was a good father and it was efsher taka his obligation to prevent Dina from marrying Eisav and any parent might have done the same for their child, he is still being called out. The locked box showed that he didn’t feel bad that he couldn’t help Eisav do teshuva by marrying Dina. In other words: Yankif is being called out because efsher he should have given Dina to Eisav and she would have made a mentch out of him.  Nu, efsher parents need to look at the vilde (wild) boys coming to get their daughters and think that efsher the girl will make a mentch out of them; fat chance of this happening. Moreover, this pshat is but a recurring  theme throughout Tanach, the Mishna and the heylige Gemora: the power of the Jewish woman to affect her surroundings.  Seemingly, they have the goodies and the goodies come with power.

Back to Dina. She saunters out to check out the scene in town; what this means exactly is avada not clear and soon we‘ll hear more. Perhaps a singles event or girls night out?  Remember that we learned just above, that Dina was outgoing. Sh’chem laid his eyes (and himself) on her and when done, also abducted her, such a mentch. Veyter. Following the rape, Sh’chem falls in love with Dina and wants her permanently, as a wife. His father, Chamor, proposes an alliance with Yankif’s mishpocho (family), mistama for the purpose of intermarriage and fusing of their cultures. Veyter! Yankif heard what took place, the brothers heard and in one of the most famous Toirah stories ever told, Shimon and Levi concocted a plan, executed it to perfection, took out their swords and slaughtered all the males in the city. Oh and before they killed all the males, including of course Sh’chem and his dad, three days earlier, the entire male population was tipped off, literally in a mass bris. Yankif is not overly pleased with their behavior though at least one medrish tells us that the reason he was upset was because he wasn’t consulted in advance. The brothers remain indignant and claim they did the right thing. According to Chazal, Shimon and Levi were 13 years old; efsher they got swords as bar mitzvah presents.

Now read carefully to the last three words of possuk beis just below (that’s possik 2 you idiots). The text states “Vayishkav” …..’and he took her, lay with her….’ We will zicher come back to that word shortly.  Rashi (in the shaded box) understands that the minuvil Sh’chem took Dina and had his way with her. First kidarko (in a natural way), then epes he flipped her over and Vayi-ah-neh-huh (he violated her in an unnatural way). Nu: what can I say but shreklich (horrific). Why I need this visual I don’t know and why you oisvorfs need it, is  zicher (avada) beyond me but efsher Rashi thought that you behaimois might want to know and would get excited to learn more Rashi. It appears to have worked. What’s pshat? Nu, I’m glad you asked because Rashi (shaded box you idiots) understands what took  place azoy:


2. And Shechem the son of Hamor, the Hivvite, the prince of the land, saw her, and he took her, lay with her, and violated her. ב. וַיַּרְא אֹתָהּ שְׁכֶם בֶּן חֲמוֹר הַחִוִּי נְשִׂיא הָאָרֶץ וַיִּקַּח אֹתָהּ וַיִּשְׁכַּב אֹתָהּ וַיְעַנֶּהָ:
lay with her: in a natural way. — [from Gen. Rabbah 80:5] וישכב אתה: כדרכה:
and violated her: Heb. וַיְעַנֶהָ, lit., and afflicted her. [I.e. he was intimate with her] in an unnatural way. — [from Gen. Rabbah 80: 5] ויענה: שלא כדרכה:
3. And his soul cleaved to Dinah the daughter of Jacob; he loved the girl and spoke to the girl’s heart. ג. וַתִּדְבַּק נַפְשׁוֹ בְּדִינָה בַּת יַעֲקֹב וַיֶּאֱהַב אֶת הַנַּעֲרָ וַיְדַבֵּר עַל לֵב הַנַּעֲרָ:
and spoke to the girl’s heart: [I.e. he spoke] seductive words,“Look how much money your father squandered for a small parcel of land. I will marry you, and you will acquire the city and all its fields.” – [from Gen. Rabbah 80:7] על לב הנערה: דברים המתיישבין על הלב, ראי אביך בחלקת שדה קטנה כמה ממון בזבז, אני אשיאך ותקנה העיר וכל שדותיה:

The only surprising part to me here is that as the text continues, we are taught that Sh’chem, following his horrific behavior, wanted to keep her; he fell in love and mamish wanted to marry her. Typically rape is followed by “going away”, not marriage.  Ober, does everyone agree that Dina was raped?  Ibn Ezra and Radak assume the root “e-n-h” (in the sexual context) means to deflower a virgin but not rape. The RambaN holds ‘enah’ means rape. How and where they became such experts on rape, dos veys ich nisht (I have no clue).

What’s the bottom line, does anyone know with certainty? Were the meforshim there b’shas mayseh (during the act)? In any event, seemingly most medroshim assume rape rather than seduction. The Baal HaTurim cites a position that it was seduction, but it rather seems that it is distinct from the position of Rashi and Ramban.  Moreover, many blame Dina with causing this incident because she revealed her arm, only to be seized by Sh’chem. If her arm was enticing, you can only imagine what the rest had to offer.

And how old was Dina when this incident took place? A simple calculation suggests she was a ripe seven year old; nu, at least she wasn’t three. Halt kup. Would Sh’chem really have gone for a seven-year old? Was he a minuvil and a pedophile, ver veyst? A great guy, seemingly he wasn’tl! Would anyone really consider this to be a good marriage, such that they would propose this to Yankif and Yankif would seriously accept? On the other hand, why not? Didn’t we just learn that Rivka was three and Rochel either three of five; seven seems almost elderly and lucky for her, someone wanted her.

The Rabbis of the Midrash were apparently left terribly unsettled by the story of the rape of Dina by Sh’chem and wrote plenty. Following her rape, at the hands of Sh’chem, Dina disappears from the narrative, forever gone.  But what about Dina and what became of her?

Her fate is the subject of much rabbinical speculation, let’s examine a few.  Many say that Dina became pregnant and had a child through Sh’chem, pig that he was. But what about the heylige Gemora  that tells us that a seven year old cannot become pregnant? What about it? Ober,( but) that does not necessarily mean that this didn’t happen; hey it’s the medrish, anything goes. Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer states that  Dina had a baby girl, Osnas, about whom you’ll be hearing next week, who  was the daughter of this union. Yankif’s sons wanted to kill the baby, so it would not be said that there was harlotry in his tents. The RBSO sent a malach (angel) to bring her to the house of Potiphar in Mitzrayim. The Mechilta (not to be confused with the gifilte)  de-Rebbe Yishmoel says that  the brothers were forced to drag Dina out, because she was too ashamed to leave Sh’chem’s house. The Yalkut says that once she had tasted intercourse with this uncircumcised goy, she was happy (not the typical reaction), and didn’t want to leave. I quote him verbatim as well. Finally, Shimon vowed that he would marry her. They wed, and a son was born from this union. His name:  “Saul the son of a Canaanite woman.” The rescue was carried out by Shimon and Levi together; why Shimon got the sister and not Levi, this I don’t know but Shimon is the presumed choson (groom).Efsher because he was older? Or maybe, this is a way to save Shimon from the perceived error of marrying a  shiksa Canaanite. Later in  Shmois( 6:15),  we’re introduced to Shaul, the son of Shimon and “a Caanantie woman.” Yankif’s kids couldn’t find a nice Jewish girl to marry? Was there a shidduch crisis brewing way back then? Nu, where was I? The medrish says this woman is actually Dina, and Shaul is the son she had with Sh’chem. Which was it? A boy or a girl? Or was it the girl Osnas with Sh’chem and the boy Shaul with her brother? Both? Shoin, settled!

A different  medrish relates that Dinah married  Iyov (Job), another goy. According to one opinion in the heylige Gemora (Buba  Basra 15b), Iyov lived in the time of Yankif Oveenu and he married Dina.


The good news: Though Yankif’s family was somewhat dysfunctional and though one son may or may not have married his own sister and though many others had issues as we will learn in the coming weeks, they are still referred to as the Shivtay Ko, the holy tribes. There’s still hope for some of you.

A gitten shabbis-

The Oisvorfer

Yitz Grossman

Lawrence, NY

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