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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Vayishlach

For G-d And Country

Rabbi Stewart WeissKislev 15 5776
114
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One of the more tragic and traumatic episodes in he Torah - and one of the least understood – is the story of Dina. Abducted and raped by Shechem, Dina is finally rescued by her family - led by Shimon and Levi - who wipe out the town and free her.

Yakov is troubled by the brothers’ action, though he never actually condemns the attack itself. He rather fears a retaliation by his neighbors, and questions if he could survive that. The brothers’ respond sharply but succinctly: "Shall we treat our sister as a harlot?!"

At the end of his life, when dispensing brachot, Yakov will criticize Shimon and Levi for what they did. Yet Hashem – from whom all blessings ultimately flow – repudiates Yakov’s words when (in parshat Ekev) He says about shevet Levi: "They have no specific portion in the Land, for Hashem is their portion!"

What is the basis for these two opposing views?

If Yakov is merely an individual, concerned solely for the immediate impact upon his present situation, then his reaction to these events is quite understandable. But if he is more than that - if he is the leader of a NATION - then Shechem’s act constitutes no less than an act of war, an affront not only to him, but to the entire Jewish people.

Earlier (32:8), the Torah confirms Yakov’s elevated status. Esav approaches and the pasuk says, "Yakov divided the nation that was with him." And that is also why the brothers say (34:7): "An outrage has happened in Israel; such a thing cannot be done!"

Dina was not just Yakov’s daughter; she was a princess of Israel. Attacking her was attacking all of Am Yisrael, no less than kidnapping and raping Queen Elizabeth would be a crime against all of England.

And that is how we must view terrorism. The killings in Paris were against the entirety of France and its pronounced world-view of "liberty, fraternity and brotherhood" – something that Islam abhors. Islamists are against all individual liberties - such as press, speech or religion; and they detest and reject brotherhood with "infidels." (Quick quiz: How many churches and synagogues are there in Saudi Arabia?!)

And when a Jew is struck, G-d forbid – in Israel or abroad – the attack is on the collective Jewish nation, on everything we stand for, and, in the final analysis, against G-d Himself. It threatens all of us; our way of life and our life itself. And so our reaction - and that of any country that wants to survive Islam's war on humanity - must be swift, merciless, widespread and uncompromising.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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