Friday, December 4, 2009

Of Brothers and Mothers

The reunion of Yaakov and Eisav was sure to be the most dramatic and climactic episode of that time. The enmity and rivalry of these brothers was perhaps matched only by the first brothers in history, Kayin and Hevel, whose rivalry was short-lived, as was Hevel.
The world was anxiously waiting to see what would take place at this meeting. Over 30 years earlier, Eisav had vowed that murder would be the first thing awaiting his brother. After all these years, Yaakov was unsure now of his brother's intentions. Yaakov, for one, was ready to put the past behind them, and concentrate on their future.
Chassidus explains that Yaakov had prepared himself and his necessary portion of the world, for the arrival of Moshiach. If only Eisav had done the same, this reunion would herald in the era of Redemption.
Hence the anticipation for the reunion. What would it be? Yaakov and his family get murdered by Eisav and his small army- the end of Am Yisroel? Or the beginning of the times of Moshiach?

What happened was neither. The anticlimactic meeting did not end the Golus, or Yaakov's family. Instead, Yaakov was saved from severe neck trauma, and the two clans parted ways.
The next time Yaakov's descendants will reunite with Eisav's, will be when Moshiach finally comes (before this Shabbos, obviously).

The meeting would have had a completely different outcome, had Yaakov realized how special his daughter was.

Yaakov didn't want his daughter Dinah to be seen and taken by Eisav, so Yaakov very gently and delicately stuffed her into a box, to hide her.
He was punished for doing this, as commentators tell us that she had the ability to bring Eisav back to the right path, and do Tshuva. Yaakov's punishment for hiding his daughter was to have her captured and violated by Shchem.
(What!? Yaakov's punishment was meted out through his daughter having to go through hell? How is that even fair for Dinah?- a question for a different time, sorry. I'm on a time/budget/creativity/wifi restraint (pick one))

What was Dinah doing so close to the city of Shchem in the first place?
She went out to watch the non-Jewish girls of the city.

Rashi says that the reason the possuk says that she was the daughter of Leah who was born to Yaakov (why mention her mother?), was because her mother had the same nature, to go out and leave the home, like we see how Leah approached Yaakov in the field, and told him she had "purchased" the right to be with him, in exchange for her son's flowers...
"Like mother, like daughter", Rashi says.

Most people take this to insinuate their immodest tendencies to leave the confines and modesty of their home.

To make a long story short, the Rebbe explains in a sicha on the Parsha in Chelek Lamed Hey, that we shouldn't chas v'shalom think Leah or her daughter Dinah had any negative, immodest qualities.

There are two general types of Avoda: a tzadik, and a Ba'al Tshuva.
Rochel represented the tzadik, someone complete in his Torah and Mitzvos. This was physically expressed in her beauty. The Torah says how she had a perfect form.
Leah represented the Ba'al Tshuva. She was always crying, and was depressed how she felt despised and hated. Almost like someone who sins and feels far from G-dliness.
(Yaakov was the Ish Tam, Yoshev Ohel. He was the level of Tzadik, which is why he loved Rochel more...)

So it was within Leah's capacity and capability to help refine the world, which is the job of a Ba'al Tshuva-to elevate the darkness and negativity to Kedusha.
But she didn't like her job description. She defiantly did not want to marry Eisav.

Dinah, however, inherited from her mother ("Like mother, like daughter", from Rashi...remember?) this form of Avodah, and she actually cherished her purpose. She recognized the talents which she was born with, and tried to influence the world around her.

She would have been able to get Eisav to do Tshuva, had she been allowed to marry him.
She would have been able to get the people of Shchem to join the household and philosophy of Yaakov's, if not for Hashem punishing Yaakov, and starting a series of events which led to the whole city's male population being massacred. (Why were they all deserving death? Yaakov's sons were bloodthirsty murderers! Is this what Judaism is all about!!??- That's in a different sicha. Don't worry, the Rebbe has everything under control, and can answer any question.)

The Rebbe points out that part of Dinah's efforts were brought to fruition. The men of the city did circumcise themselves....before they were killed. But also, what do you think happened with all the women? They were taken as maidservants, and did end up in Yaakov's household!

The Rebbe says that a clear lesson we must take from the story is: If a woman has certain talents that can help bring Jewish women back to Yiddishkeit, they must do everything they can to accomplish this. Obviously, the Rebbe says, this must be done in the most Tznius way, as such that even outside the home, it is apparent that "Kol Kevuda Bas Melech Pnima"- the glory of a princess is on the inside.

And since women naturally are kinder, softer, gentler, and more caring than men, and this approach often works to bring someone back to their heritage more than through arguments and fighting (the way of men. "Ish Darkoi Lichboish"), then women should utilize these gifts that Hashem gave them, to go on mivtzoim and to help bring the light of Judaism to the world.

Good Shabbos!