You Should Really Get Out a Bit

December 10, 2019 at 3:08 AM , , ,
“….And Dinah the daughter of Leah whom she had borne to Yaakov, went out to see the daughters of the land….” – Bereishit 34:1

״…ותצא דינה בת לאה אשר ילדה ליעקב לראות בבנות הארץ…״ – בראשית לד, א

She is identified as “the daughter of Leah” because she ventured out. For Leah, too, was an “out-goer,” as it is written, “And Leah went out to greet him (Beraishis 30:16).” Regarding her it has been said, “Like mother, like daughter.” —Rashi

Parashat Vayishlach

Dinah’s socialness was inherited from her mother, explains Rashi. The Torah’s association of these two women who “went out” suggests that their presence in the public arena was considered excessive by the Torah’s standards of modest conduct.

Despite the value of a lesson in feminine dignity, this interpretation seems contrary to the Torah’s trademark sensitivity. Would the Torah make a point of disparagingly identifying Leah and Dinah as “out-goers”, when, as the Gemara (Bava Basra 123a) exclaims, “the Torah avoids even the shaming a non-kosher animal”?

However, in light of an earlier episode involving Dinah, it can be explained that the Torah does not note Dinah’s outgoingness in disapproval, but in her praise. Rashi (32:23) relates that when Yaakov’s family headed to meet Eisav, Yaakov hid Dinah in a crate so that Eisav would not see her and desire her. Yaakov was punished for doing this, continues Rashi, because had they married, Dinah might have affected positive change in Eisav.

Now, if Dinah’s chances of positively influencing Eisav were slim, Yaakov would surely not have been punished for not allowing his daughter to marry the wicked Eisav! Evidently, Dinah’s remarkable character and piety made for a strong case that she was more than likely to succeed in transforming him.

Dinah’s ability to affect those outside her family’s pure environment made her an “out-goer”.  Like her mother, Leah, who went out to greet Yaakov for purely righteous reasons – “she desired and was seeking means to increase the number of tribes (Rashi to 30:17)” – Dinah too had honorable motivations in her excursions “to see the daughters of the land.” Her goal was not to familiarize herself with their ways, but to acquaint and attract them to hers – the righteous path of Yaakov’s family.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 35, pp. 150-151


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