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Monday, November 29, 2004

Dina in the box

In last week's Parsha, we learn that Jacob is punished because he kept his daughter Dina locked away in a box when he met up with his brother Esau. While this would be considered a prudent and rational thing to do, the Sages teach us that he was punished because he didn't care enough about Esau's wellbeing. Sure, the marriage would have been terrible for Dina, but she might have exerted a positive influence on Esau, possibly reforming him.

It strikes me that this philosophy might also be applicable when describing the difference between the Modern Orthodox and Charedi worlds. The MOs are "out there," mixing it up with the non-Jewish world, hopefully impacting it in a positive way and creating a Kiddush Hashem.

The Charedim want nothing to do with the outside world. They hold that the "oylam is a goylam" and can only damage the Jews that are exposed to it.

The Sages conclude that Jacob was right to keep Dina away from Esau. His effect on her would not have been overcome by her effect on him. But Jacob was still punished for not caring. The "oylam" may very well be a "goylam." But it is still G-d's creation and we still need to care about it.


Anshel's Wife said...

Lubavitchers are "out there"

Jack's Shack said...

It is very dangerous to stay insulated. If you don't mix with the outside world you allow others too much power including the ability to dictate how you live your life.

A Simple Jew said...

I enjoyed your thoughts on this. I have always been troubled why Yaakov was punished for hiding Dina in the box.

PsychoToddler said...


Good point. Lubavitchers are definitely the exception amongst Chassidim, who are the definition of insular.

jrose said...

You know, for someone who claims to be so "open and tolerant" to different forms of religion, you sure do have a hard time giving any type of credence to Charedim. Do you feel that threatened that you constantly need to put down people whose life goals may differ with your own?

I for one think that the whole idea of "modern Orthodoxy" is hypocrisy in its finest form. That is not to say that I am the world's best Jew, however at least Charedim (for the most part) remain consistent with their views of society and their role within it.

I read your blog sometimes and am always amazed at how you try and pigeonhole everyone as either "MO" or "Charedi." Do you think that just because you happen to play in some 3rd rate rock band that you understand the world better than someone who went to Yeshiva all his life?

I really don't understand why you harbor all this agression towards the Yeshivish community. And I realize that you are a witty fellow and I'm setting myself up for some sort of snippy reply, but please do yourself a favor and stop judging the book by its cover.

Shira Salamone said...

"In last week's Parsha, we learn that Jacob is punished because he kept his daughter Dina locked away in a box when he met up with his brother Esau." !#$%^&*!!! No, we don't! One of my pet peeves is that people confuse the midrash with the parsha. You can check your Tanach inside out, upside down, and backwords--that story ain't in there!!!

And no, *Jacob* wasn't punished, *Dinah* was! Get real, folks: Who was raped? Why is *Dinah* punished for her *father's* mistake? And why was it a mistake? Our primary obligation is to care for our *children,* not our siblings. And why would have it have been such a great idea for her to have been the family martyr who save Esav from himself? Does anybody give a darn about how *Dinah* felt?!

As to the main point of this topic, if the *only* thing we worry about is microscopic insects in tap water, of what use are we to the rest of G-d's world?

PsychoToddler said...

Interesting that Jrose and Shira have read this post and come up with completely opposite impressions of me.

Jrose thinks I'm a left-wing charedi-hating apikores with little or no musical talent.

Shira thinks I'm a right-wing ultra-orthodox mysogenist.

I must be doing something wrong.

Shira Salamone said...

Hardly! :) But I do think it's more than a little inconsistent that a Modern Orthodox Jew and the father of daughters could consider locking a daughter in a box for *any* reason " . . . a prudent and rational thing to do . . . "

PsychoToddler said...

I really like to look at this episode beyond the literal sense of "box." The thrust of my post is whether it's good to keep our children sheltered from the outside world. Jrose's criticism of me aside, the right wing charedi world very much feels it's important to keep our kids from being exposed to the outside world. How do I know this? Because I'm subjected to nonstop campaign of anti-secularism every shabbos.

As a father, I realize that there are definitely things that I don't want my daughters to see or do, and that there are alot of forces out there that want nothing more than to take advantage of their innocence and beauty for their own twisted purposes.

The question is, is it right or even possible to try and shield them from everything? We see from Jacobs example that even he could not save Dinah from Shcem. Does the medrash (ok shira) imply that Dinah would have been safe from Shcem if she had been taken by Esav? Maybe. So maybe it's my job to prepare my children for exposure to the outside world, not act like they'll never come in contact with it.

Did I finish confusing everybody?

Shira Salamone said...

Maybe, but as a former rabbi used to say, at least we're confused on a higher level. :)

This is a role reversal--I, who claim to take Judaism "seriously, but not necessarily literally," took your statement regarding a box literally. 'Scuse me while I wash the egg off my face. :)

Concerning the topic at hand, I think the secular world is like junk food—if you try to keep your kids away from it altogether, they’ll just consider it forbidden fruit and seek it all the more. If, on the other hand, you teach them to partake and enjoy within limits, your odds are better that they won’t forego a healthy meal—or trample on tradition—just to get to dessert.

Shira Salamone said...

Perhaps the term "junk food" wasn't the best choice of words. Yes, there's plenty of junk in the secular world, but there are also the professions, the fine, applied, and performing arts, and the liberal arts and sciences. For every Britney, there's a Brahms. According to tradition, our responsibility as parents is not to keep our children away from water, but to ensure that they learn to swim.

PsychoToddler said...

We have a TV, but my kids really don't watch it much. But when our relatives who don't have a TV come in from out of town, they spend the whole trip glued to the tube.