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He (Shechem) became deeply attached to Dinah, the daughter of Yaakov; he loved the maiden and spoke to the maiden’s heart. (Bereishis 34:3)
In this week’s parsha we learn how Dinah, the daughter of Yaakov was violated by Shechem the son of Chamor and the ensuing revenge taken by Shimon and Levi.
The Midrash Rabbah in the name of Reish Lakish notes that the Torah uses three expression to describe Shechem’s love for Dinah, divikah, chasikah and chafitzah. These three expressions may be loosely translated as attachment, longing and wanting. The three posukim are:
“He became deeply attached to Dinah” (Bereishis: 3)
“The soul of Shechem my son longs for your daughter” (Ibid: 8)
“The youth did not delay to do anything for he wanted the daughter of Yaakov” (Ibid: 19)
The Midrash understands that when these three expressions are taken together they encompass the totality of love. Reish Lakish continues to note that we similarly find Hashem expressing his love for the Jewish people with these three expressions.
“And you who are attached to Hashem your G-d” (Devarim 4:4).
“Not because you are more numerous than the nations of the world did Hashem long for you” (Devarim 7:7).
" Hashem will make you happy and then all the nations shall praise you for you shall be a desirable land, says Hashem Tz’vakos" (Malachi 3:12).
It is difficult to understand how Chazal derive Hashem’s show of love for the Jewish people from one of the most horrible incidents in the Torah. The Torah says concerning this incident “for he (Shechem) had committed an outrage in Yisrael by lying with the daughter of Yaakov and such a thing is not done. (Bereishis 34:7)
The Arizal explains that from the union of Shechem and Dinah came the holy soul of Rebbi Chanina be Teradyon. Rav Moshe Wolfson in his sefer Emunas Eitecha notes that this is hinted to in the parsha where Shechem and Chamor attempt to convince the people of the land to agree to the conditions of the children of Yaakov. They said: “And the land, behold it is broad of hands before them” (Ibid 21). The Hebrew word for “broad” is ra’cha’va’s whose four letters are an acronym for Rebbi Chanina ben Teradyon.
Rebbi Chanina ben Teradyon was one of the ten holy martyrs. He was wrapped in a Sefer Torah and burned alive by the Romans. His martyrdom is one of the holiest moments in Jewish history which we reflect upon on both Yom Kippur and Tishah B’av. The commentators explain that the uncontrollable desire Shechem had for Dinah was due to the yearning of his subconscious spiritual self to bring into this world the holy soul of Rebbi Chanina ben Teradyon.
The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (17b-18a) describes the prosecution and death of Rebbi Chanina ben Teradyon. The Romans brought R’ Chanina ben Teradyon to trial. They said to him why did you engage in Torah study which we have banned with pain of death? He answered them by reciting a posuk “As Hashem my G-d has commanded me” (Devarim 4:5). They immediately sentenced him to death by burning. They then also sentenced his wife to death and decreed that his daughter dwell in a brothel.
The Gemara relates that when the three of them left the courthouse they accepted the righteousness of the Judgment upon themselves. They attributed their punishments to a subtle sin that they had committed. Rebbi Chanina said “the Rock – His work is perfect for all his ways are justice” (Devarim 32:4). His wife said the remainder of the posuk “A G-d of faithfulness and without iniquity, righteous and fair is He” (ibid). His daughter said, “Great in counsel and mighty in deed your eyes are open upon all the way of mankind to give each man according to his ways and the fruit of his deeds” (Jerimiah 32:19).
Commenting on the above Rebbi said “How great are these righteous individuals for three verses of acknowledgment of righteous judgment occurred to them precisely at the time for acknowledgment of the righteousness of their judgment.”
The awesome greatness of Rebbi Chanina Ben Tardyon, his wife and daughter lay not only in how they accepted their martyrdom and the harsh decree of Hashem but also in how they expressed their faith in Hashem at this moment. Their expression of faith and the manner in which they did so at such a time was a true expression of love for Hashem.
Perhaps we may suggest that the reason the expressions of love that Hashem uses in regard to the Jewish people is derived from Shechem and Dinah is because they were the ones who produced these three holy souls; Rebbi Chanina ben Teradyon, his wife and daughter who expressed perfect love for Hashem in accepting upon themselves the righteousness of Judgment.
A careful study of the posukim and commentary reveal that the three posukim they recited refer to three different types of faith. Rebbi Chanina’s posuk expresses faith in events that are currently unfolding. His wife’s posuk expresses faith in the future; Hashem will punish the wicked and reward the righteous. His daughter’s posuk expresses faith in reward and punishment even for what occurs as an indirect outcome of one’s actions.
Perhaps these three expressions of faith correspond to the three expression of love. The first expression of love reflects love at the present moment. The second expression reflects one’s feeling of love that will extend into the future. The third expression reflects one’s love for the product that will develop out of the current situation or relationship.
© Efraim Levine 5760/2000 - 5765/2004