Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why did Dinah recommend cursing Hashem?

Summary: Or, dybbyk min ha-Torah minayin?

Post: Since dybbuks, and dybbuk hoaxes, are in the news, this short and to the point devar Torah on last week's parasha, Vayishlach, is appropriate.

Dinah was a good, frum, Jewish girl. She grew up in Yaakov's household, and so learned to be meticulous not just in dinnim deOraysa but in derabbanans and minhagim as well. While the Avos learned in yeshiva Shem veEiver, Dinah learned in the very first Beis Yaakov. Yet, as we learn in Bava Basra, she later married Iyov.

Thus, it was Dinah who said to Iyov {2:9}:
ט  וַתֹּאמֶר לוֹ אִשְׁתּוֹ, עֹדְךָ מַחֲזִיק בְּתֻמָּתֶךָ; בָּרֵךְ אֱלֹהִים, וָמֻת.9 Then said his wife unto him: 'Dost thou still hold fast thine integrity? blaspheme God, and die.'

This is mystifying. It boggles the mind that someone with such an upbringing -- who would have even reformed Esav had she married him -- could say such a thing. It is near impossible!

But then, during laining yesterday, I noticed the following pasuk, regarding Shechem ben Chamor:

ג  וַתִּדְבַּק נַפְשׁוֹ, בְּדִינָה בַּת-יַעֲקֹב; וַיֶּאֱהַב, אֶת-הַנַּעֲרָ, וַיְדַבֵּר, עַל-לֵב הַנַּעֲרָ.3 And his soul did cleave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spoke comfortingly unto the damsel.

As we know, his soul was dispatched towards the afterlife shortly thereafter, courtesy of Shimon and Levi. But this pasuk tells us that  וַתִּדְבַּק נַפְשׁוֹ בְּדִינָה. This is the Biblical source, in nigleh, for dybbuk. While Dinah was more or less a good girl, she was possessed by the dybbuk of this rasha, Shechem. When she spoke to Iyov, telling him to curse God and die, she presumably spoke from her stomach, rather than her lips.


Moriah said...

I may be mistaken but wasn't Iyov also a Gentile?

joshwaxman said...

it's actually a machlokes. See Bava Basra 15b, and Rabbenu Chananel there. Many Tannaim and Amoraim make him an Israelite.

But even if he was a gentile, perhaps there was not much choice. After all, who was 'Jewish' besides her own brothers? Regardless, he was a righteous gentile.

kol tuv,

Anonymous said...


Is this vort tongue in cheeck or do you now believe in the "possibility" of dybbukim?

I found something interesting on

According to one opinion in the Gemara Bava Basra (15b) Iyov lived in the time of Yaakov Avinu and he married Dina. How does the Gemara know this? When Shchem took Dina the pasuk says, "Ki Nevala Asa BiYisrael; A vile act was committed against Yisrael." (Vayishlach 34:7) The same word Nevala is used when catastrophe strikes Iyov, and he does not complain against Hashem. His wife berates him and says he is too naive. Iyov answers, "Kidaber Achas HaNivalos Tidabeiri;" You speak like the vile ones." What is the connection? Rav Shimon Schwab explains that the Kochos of Tumah receive their power from Kedusha. Therefore, tuma always chases after kedusha. Shchem ben Chamor, the disgusting pervert, not only did an act that was vile in the eyes of the entire world but he purposely chased after a pure innocent girl who was younger than 7 years old and the daughter of Yaakov no less. It was her kedusha that he lusted after and wanted to contaminate. The traces of this contamination showed up many years later when Dina's tzaddik husband, Iyov, held steadfast to his belief in Hashem despite agonizing punishment, and Dina spoke negatively. Iyov's answer to her was that her words have their basis in the Nevala, in the tumah of Shchem that he put into her.

joshwaxman said...

look at the tags on this post and let me know what you think.

in terms of the revach vort, it certainly is an obvious extrapolation based on the gemara (which I was playing on), especially when one superimposes a kabbalistic model on top of the gemara. (before turning to kabbalah, one can simply say that this event had an impact upon her, as well see from midrashim that she clung to Shechem and didn't want to leave him, and had to be taken away by force by her brothers.)

yet i am not so sure that in terms of authorial intent of the midrashic author, any more was intended than a simple gzeira shava.

kol tuv,

Anonymous said...

I should have known from the picture you used I didnt have to go to the tags...
Hes a true embarrassment.

Hillel said...

R' Waxman,
You left out the natural extension! Since Dinah is called "bas Leah" when she is a yatzanis, there is great significance to the fact that she is called "bas Yaakov" re this dybbuk. Clearly, Yaakov, too, was at some time possessed of a Dybbuk. This explains the coarse language he used when talking to Lavan about his upcoming marriage. Surely a holy and righteous tazddik would never use such nibbul peh - it was the demon speaking (and of course demons can possess even the greatest tzaddikim - did not Ashmodai possess Shlomoh hamelech!)

So nu, how was this Dybbuk exorcised? Clearly it was due to his marriage to Leah - after which Yaakov reverts to respectful appropriate language. Thus Leah was a "yatzanis" - not, chas v'sholom, to suggest she was not the perfect paradigm of modesty - kol k'vudoh bas melech p'nimoh - but rather she was an expert in exorcising demons, in driving them out! That is why she agreed to take the signs from her holy sister - because she would never, chas v'sholom come into physical contact with any man who wasn't her husband - so she married Yaakov in order to drive out the dybbuk - a true yatzanis l'sheim shomayim!


Anonymous said...


Save your Purim Torah for Purim.

Anonymous said...

The donmeh won't be pleased with you, Moriah.


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