Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The vandalization of the mosque in Shechem, and the dispute in Vayishlach between the shevatim and Yaakov

So I read in the news that some hotheads vandalized a mosque in Shechem, and various rabbis intended to visit the mosque and smooth things over. And that Rabbi Metzger condemned the mosque attack:
Joining many national leaders, Rav Metzger stated “this is not our way”, feeling the need to condemn the action and even apologize publically, on the air, to an Islamic official hosted by the radio’s host, Razi Barkai.
Now, a good argument can be made that Islam is not avodah zarah for non-Jews, but is simply monotheism. Though I am not certain what motivated the perps. But there seems a likelihood that such an attack, on a mosque, could stir up acheinu bnei yishmael in a bad way; and that a strong motivator of the apology is concern for potential loss of life. This calls to mind the dispute between Yaakov and his sons in destroying Shechem, and a parallel dispute between two (or more) commentators.

In Vayishlach,

ל  וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב אֶל-שִׁמְעוֹן וְאֶל-לֵוִי, עֲכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי, לְהַבְאִישֵׁנִי בְּיֹשֵׁב הָאָרֶץ, בַּכְּנַעֲנִי וּבַפְּרִזִּי; וַאֲנִי, מְתֵי מִסְפָּר, וְנֶאֶסְפוּ עָלַי וְהִכּוּנִי, וְנִשְׁמַדְתִּי אֲנִי וּבֵיתִי.30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi: 'Ye have troubled me, to make me odious unto the inhabitants of the land, even unto the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and, I being few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and smite me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.'
לא  וַיֹּאמְרוּ:  הַכְזוֹנָה, יַעֲשֶׂה אֶת-אֲחוֹתֵנוּ.  {פ}31 And they said: 'Should one deal with our sister as with a harlot?' {P}

Ibn Caspi sides with Dinah's brothers on this one:

ויאמרו הכזונה יעשה את אחותינו, התורה לא תכתיב

דברי טפשות רק דברי חכמה, וכן היתה זאת התשובה לאביהם כי אמרו
לו אל תירא אבינו שיקומו אנשים לנקום נקמתו אבל כל שומע יאשר
אותנו ויאשם הוא:

In contrast, Shadal looks unfavorably upon their actions, and interprets their justifications unfavorably::

את אחותנו : כלומר ראוי היה לנו להינקם ממנו על כבודנו אשר חילל, ואמנם תשובה זו לא השיבו אלא שמעון ולוי באפם ובחמתם, והיו דבריהם נגד השכל, כי אחר שהיה לוקח אותה לאשה לא היה כבודם מזולזל אלא מתרבה, ובפרט אחר שהסכים עמהם להמול. גם לא היה לחוש שמא יקרה להם רע כזה או רע מזה לעתיד, כי משעה שהיו מתחתנים עם נשיא הארץ, מי יזיד לגעת בהם? א"כ לא היה זה אלא שטף אף ונקמה, ועל כן אביהם שמר את הדבר עד יום מותו וקילל אפם.


yaak said...

I once heard that R' Meir Kahane used the fact that Yaakov did not respond as proof that Shimon and Levi were correct.

I'm not sure if he addressed the fact that the curse in Parshat Vayehi could be denoted as his response.

joshwaxman said...

very nice points. indeed, shadal regards the entire Dinah story as only mentioned in order to make sense of the curse.

and as a matter of his non-response, i like it as a matter of peshat (though of course there are answers, such as that each stood firm at that point), though not at all necessarily instructive of how we are to conduct *ourselves*. See Yoshiyahu as a counterexample.



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