Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Vayishlach #3:
Q: Where did the general keep his armies?

A: In his sleevies!

Not necessarily the case for Dina. A midrash in midrash rabba claims that she went out with her arm uncovered, and Shechem saw her and then grabbed her.

Where does it get this from?

Bereishit 34:1-2 reads:
א וַתֵּצֵא דִינָה בַּת-לֵאָה, אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְיַעֲקֹב, לִרְאוֹת, בִּבְנוֹת הָאָרֶץ. 1 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.
ב וַיַּרְא אֹתָהּ שְׁכֶם בֶּן-חֲמוֹר, הַחִוִּי--נְשִׂיא הָאָרֶץ; וַיִּקַּח אֹתָהּ וַיִּשְׁכַּב אֹתָהּ, וַיְעַנֶּהָ. 2 And Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her; and he took her, and lay with her, and humbled her.
Which may be translated: And he saw her shoulder (shechem), did the son of Chamor. (As one perush explains, the prompting for such an interpretation is the word order - it might have placed שְׁכֶם בֶּן-חֲמוֹר before the word אֹתָהּ. That these are forced together prompts an additional reading of the pasuk bearing this meaning.)

If so, it would appear that she had her entire arm exposed, not just her elbows.

On a related note, a few weeks ago, in Pastoral Psychology, the professor told us about an Israeli Assessment test for children that had been translated into Yiddish for chareidi children. Some of their answers differed from the one that was expected. For example, they were asked what the following things had in common: knees and elbows. They were expected to say that they are both joints, but the answer the chareidi kids all gave was that they are both something that must be covered. :)

Update: This has turned into a fairly popular post. Hooray! :) To all visitors coming from Velveteen Rabbi, I'd like to clarify that I wouldn't categorize my post as advocacy - more along the lines of observation and analysis of the textual basis for the specific midrash in midrash rabba. Also, while you are here, why not take a look around?

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