JUSTICE-8/The Justice (Din) of Dinah


© 2016 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner

Torah Class JUSTICE-8/Justice (Din) for Dinah!

1: what happens if the dialogue fails?

The story we are about to read, the abduction and rape of Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, is important for Noahides. It serves as a model for Civil Rights and Justice for all Mankind. Based on it, the late Chabad Rabbi aspired to set up ac “Yeshiva for Bnei Noah” in NY, where Noahides would study a major part of the Talmud that deals with JUSTICE and CIVIL ORDER.

Jacob learned his lesson. Trying to emulate ELKM and seek the absolute TRUTH and JUSTICE had cost him only WAR. He had tried to bring out the truth about his firstborn right, the truth about his right to marry his beloved bride, his right to be fairly compensated for his work, but all he had achieved was running away for his life. Where there is TRUTH and JUSTICE, ELKM’s style, there is no PEACE.

The only way to achieve JUSTICE with PEACE, he had learned, was by giving up his absolute TRUTH and by entering a tough dialogue with his opponent. YHVH stands for PEACE. Her nickname is PEACE. By reaching a settlement with Esau’s angle, Jacob implemented JUSTICE in the style of YHVH ELKM. The dialogue between the Attribute, after all, is the base for our very existence. Only such a settlement is “Very Good” and endurable. JUSTICE obtained in YHVH ELKM’s style is called ISRAEL.

Now the question arose: What if the dialogue fails? What is settlement by direct negotiation can’t be reached?
The naswer is: When ELKM’s ways ail,
When YHVH ELKM ways’ fail,
Than YHVH ways take over.
What does this mean?
On that comes the story of the abduction and rape of Dinah:

2: Jacob settled in Salem

After the peaceful departure of Esau, Jacob and his family crossed the Jordan River into the Holy Land, as it settled right there, as it says:

“And Jacob arrived ‘shalem,’ intact, at the city of Shechem
which is in the land of Canaan, upon his arriving form Padan Aram.
And he encamped at ‘the face’ of the city.
He bought a parcel of land upon which he pitched his tents,
from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for four hundreds keshitah.
He set up an altar there and proclaimed (or ’named’ it) El, the G-d of Israel…”
(Genesis 33: 18)

So much information in just a few words!

“And Jacob came shalem…” ‘Shalem’ can mean: he came wholly, in peace, like ‘Shalom.’As we’ve just said, he learned how to achieve JUSTICE with PEACE. When he had left the Holy Lnd he prayed for PEACE, and he thought that he achieved it.

But the words “Jacob came Shalem” can also be read as ‘he came TO the city name Shalem,’ (Salem.) This Salem was in the district of Hamor, the father of the prince Shehem, and is still located at the middle of the course of the Jordan River from north to south (called today Nablus.)

Hence there were two Salem: The northern one by the middle of the Jordan River course, the second one in the south by Mt. Moriah (Jeru-Salem.) Jacob settled in the Salem of the north, before traveling to the south. He was so thrilled to return that he settled in the first city he encountered. He wanted “Peace Now.”

3: Establishing a good society

Jacob settled in the city. The rabbis said in the Midrash that he did the following to FIND FACE in the eyes of the local citizen:

(1) “He pitched his tents at the face of the city” where everyone could watch him.
(2) Then he bought a parcel of land with good money (still identified as Joseph’s tomb)
(3) Then he donated money for the poor.
(4) Then he built public houses: markets, public baths and a City Hall.
(5) He built Court Houses
(6) He helped to appoint qualified judges.
(7) He taught the citizen the Seven Commandments of Noah
(8) He told them about Abraham’s Eighth Commandment: Circumcision
(9) He even taught them the Sabbath’s Laws
(10) He built an altar for the “El, the G-d of Israel.”
In short, he did all he could to be a good citizen. He was philanthropic, and he brought with him knowledge from the developed Syrian north about market, money, court.

4: Dina’s Abduction and Rape

A lesson for generations: Jacob sought and achieved peace, but this only opened the door for Man’s wickedness. Peace is never the end for itself. The question is how we live when Peace prevails. The human heart may stumble on the most attractive trap: SEX.

So fourteen years of good life had passed, when Jacob’s teenager daughter Dinah “went out” to “see the girls of the land.” Some commentators blame her, the victim. But in truth all she wanted is to do what teenagers in all places and all generations want to do: to associate with her friends. There the Prince Shehem, Hamor’s son, saw her, abducted her, raped her and tortured her as it says:

“Now Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she had born to Jacob,
went out to look at the daughters of the land.
Then saw her Shehem, the son of Hamor the Hivit, the prince of the land,
And he took her,
And he slept with her,
And he tortured her.”

The verse describes in four successive verbs the atrocities that she endured.
Her Civil Right was breached.
Justice needed to be implements.

5: The failed dialogue

You know the rest of story. In short:

  • Shehem, the rapist, falls in love with his victim, Dinah. It is a common complication.
  • Jacob hears what has happened yet remains silent. Why?
  • Jacob waits forhis sons to return home from the fields.
  • Shehem, the rapist, asks his father Hamor to mediate.
  • Hamor opens a door to settle. He offers his son to marry Dinah, a nice gesture that would restore her honor.
  • Jacob’s sons rare enraged, “because he has done an abomination in Israel…which thing aught not be done” even among the gentiles.
  • But Hamor also threatened: if you do not comply, you‘d be expelled.
  • Jacob’s sons answer him cunningly, “for Shehem had defiled their sister Dinah”
  • They seem to accept Hamor’s offer, if he and the entire male citizen would circumcise
  • Hamor convinces his fellow citizen to comply and circumcise. This way “their wealth and herds and cattle and daughters will be ours…”
  • The citizen circumcise themselves, while Dinah is still in Shehem’s captivity.
  • On the third day, while they are all aching, Shimon and Levi, “Dinah’s Brothers” attack the city and kill all the males, They take their sister Dinah and escape. The other brothers come an loot.
  • Jacob is enraged. He fears that the entire neighborhood would gather and avenge.
  • The two brothers, Simon and Levi respond:
    “Should anyone deal with our sister as with a harlot?”
    6: why were they killed?

    Here the dialogue failed. The rapist’s father, Hamor, tried to negotiate a peaceful solution but (1) he never apologized for the abduction and rape (2) he promised the citizen that Jacob’s wealth and daughters would be theirs. Hence their circumcision was insincere and invalid. Besides, Dinah was still in their captivity. How can anyone blame the brothers for not believing in the deal?

    So we understand why the brothers cheated back. They behaved kike Jacob in the past. They applied measure for measure, seeking JUSTICE ELKM way.
    But what justification did they have to kill all the male inhabitants?

    There are several answers:
    1. Some say that the brothers killed those who stood in their way (Or Hachayim).But this is not supported by the text.
    2. The people of Shehem knew the Seven Commandments of Noah, were aware of Justice. Sinnce they did not protest their leader they deserved punishment (Maimonides.)
    3. The brothers simply acted in vengeance (RaMBaN.)
    On a deeper level we may say that seeing that JUSTICE would not be fulfilled by a dialogue, in YHVH ELKM way, the zealot brothers Simeon and Levi resorted to vengeance YHVH’s ways.
    YHVH would respond to evil in two ways; (1) complete forgiving in Mercy (2) In vengeance. For instance it was YHVH, rather than ELKM< who overturned Sodom.

    Once a zealot, always a zealot
    Whenever a zealot acts in vengeance in YHVH name, his action it tolerated, AS LONG AS HE OR SHE REMAINS ZEALOT. Once the former zealot has reverted s and has acted immorally, the Heavenly Court would charge him/her for the vengeance that has been unlawfully done.
    As we’ll see, this point would soon play a major role in the following story of selling Joseph by his own brothers.

    7: Should Noahides learn from Israel?

    The RaMBaN discusses here the source of CIVIL LAWS, Dinim, for Noahides:

    “The Commandment (Justice) entails more than just setting courts and filling them with qualified judges (as Maimonides says)
    The Commandment entails learning from Israel the Torah’s laws about Justice, Stealing, Cheating, the laws of workers, of repaying a lost, of lending and borrowing money, of damage and restoration, commerce, trade, give and take and all aspects of civil life. The nations are expected to just in these matter no different than Israel! …..The sons of Jacob did not act because of any written law. They acted in vengeance to restore their dignity and her sister’s dignity.”

    According to the RaMBaN, all Mankind (Noahides) should learn JUSTICE from Israel; meaning from the Talmud.

    Following these words of the revered RaMBaN, the late Chabad Rebbe planned to set up a Yeshiva for the Children of Noah in Brooklyn NY . Unfortunately he passed away before he implemented his wish.

    Our late Rev. Vendyl Jones, blessed his memory, also based on that RaMBaN, studied Talmud in a Jerusalem Yeshiva for two years. Other Noahides did the same.
    I hope that we’ll ménage to follow that notion and open a yeshiva in the near future.

    The brothers Simeon and Levi were condemned by Jacob for their zealousness (Genesis 49: 5) They were dispersed in Israel. The tribe f Simeon however joined Judah, and the tribe of Levi became the source of priests and levites. These three zealot tribes comprise the Jewish people of today.

    8: The fate of Dinah

    The main victim, Dinah, seems to be forgotten. Tradition says that she never recovered from the rape and suffered from deep depression for the rest of her life. .
    Moreover, her own brothers despised her. She finally left home for Egypt, where she married a powerful Pharaoh’s officer, Potifar.
    A sif to close the cycle of justice, her daughter Osnat married Joseph after he has ascended on the throne of Egypt.
    Osnat therefore is the mother of two tribes: Efraim and Menashe.

    Thus JUSTICE follows the story of CREATION (Genesis)
    There is

    ELKM’s JUSTICE which is finding the absolute truth regardless the cost. It may be needed to defend by the sword!

    YHVH ELKM JUSTICE brought about by dialogue, ending with settlement and PEACE

    YHVH JUSTICE, which is either forgiving or, when needed, Vengeance!