Tuesday, November 27, 2007


We just read about Shimon and Levi slaying an entire town for tolerating a tremendous injustice done in their midst. But there was something else at play too – maybe even deeper and more fundamental than the simple reason attributed to the retribution.

Yaakov chastises his sons, saying that by their action, they have placed him in peril. Their reply seems totally detached and unrelated to the rebuke: “? הַכְזוֹנָה, יַעֲשֶׂה אֶת-אֲחוֹתֵנוּ - Shall our sister be dealt with as a prostitute?” Communication breakdown? How does this possibly answer their father’s claim that their actions caused them to face extermination? No answer, no give and take. The chapter ends here.

So what was so convincing about this short snippet that left Yaakov Ovinu speechless? What can possibly make you agree that putting your life in danger was justified?

Had Yaakov’s sons taken their father’s reasoning into consideration, what would have been the outcome? Would the Hittites and surrounding nations have respected and honored Bnai Yisroel for being able to restrain themselves? Would they see the Daughters of Israel as dignified women with self-respect? Would they be safer that way?
In all probability that’s not exactly the message the Hittites would have gotten. And perhaps, they would not have been better off being constantly victimized by the neighboring bullies.
And maybe even if it wouldn’t have turned out exactly like that, what kind of life is it knowing you can be bought?

Well, certain things are worth fighting for. Dying for. Suffering for.

Certain things just cannot be prostituted, bastardized and sold out. The Torah is one of them. One’s integrity is another. Yes, there is a tremendous amount of flexibility. But there are red lines. And it really doesn’t matter whether you start by prostituting your integrity or the Torah. They’re bound together. If you start cutting corners “for the Torah”, first a little white lie, a little dishonesty here, a bissaleh fraud there… If you start cutting corners of the Torah… you’ll end up in the same place as well… you’ll eventually cut the fundamental corners, the cornerstones. You’ll willfully distort the Torah, as distortion will become part of you.

Maybe Shimon and Levi’s mistake was taking booty. They didn’t make it clear enough that their sole objective was doing justice. They declared to the entire world: “Don’t mess with us!” But then and there they also erred buy touching the material belonging. And perhaps that was Yaakov Ovinu’s claim against them: if you can’t carry out your duty in the purest possible form, you may as well not do it at all. But they still answer him There’s no prostituting the Torah!

'אין חכמה ואין תבונה ואין עצה נגד ה

© Joseph Izrael 2007

1 comment:

Yehu said...

To avoid any and all confusion:

I trust my readers to understand that which is not explicitly written, but unfortunately in the world we live in there are people with IQs below 21, so...

This post is dedicated to all phonies, frauds, ganovim, child-abuser cover-uppers etc.

In fact, after "...Would they be safer that way?" I was tempted to continue: "I know some of you honestly believe so. I know some of you are convinced that I am smearing the poor innocent Hittites just to cover up for Shimon and Levi. Just as you mourned for Arafat who was unfairly defiled by “Dishonest Reprorting” and that Saddam Hussein who was killed only to satisfy the stupid WASPs’ desire for vengeance.

But maybe you’re wrong. Maybe you’re full of dogsmear from head to toe. Maybe inaction would send the wrong message. Maybe without Shimon and Levi all a nice Jebusite fellow wouldn’t even need to go through and EJF/Marc Angel giyurs. He’d just have to rape a Jewish girl in order to get her and her daddy’s money.

I know some of you subscribe to the DovBear doctrine, who'd rather have you blown up on a bus by a terrorist than chas vesholem violate his privacy..."