The Rape of Dina: A Surprising Perspective from Rebbetzin Malki Friedman

The Rape of Dina: A Surprising Perspective from Rebbetzin Malki Friedman

This Shabbat, we read the horrible story of the rape of Dina. Why did this have to happen to Dina? Why didn’t Hashem protect her?
The Torah doesn’t provide us with the “why”s. But every story in the Torah does provide us with pillars of faith to integrate into our own lives.
And the pillar of faith contained in the terrible story of Dina’s rape is found within the words “Dina bat Leah.” After the rape, Dina is referred to as “Dina the daughter of Leah.”
Throughout the millennia of exile, Jewish women have been victims of the most unthinkable kinds of suffering–rape, torture, murder. But the story of Dina teaches us that no matter what happens to a Jewish woman, no matter how horrifically she is degraded, she, like Dina, maintains the honor fitting a daughter of the Matriarchs. Nobody and nothing can take that away from us–ever, ever, ever! As a continuation of the Matriarchs, like they were holy, so are we. Like they were pure, so are we.
No matter what depraved situation a woman finds herself in, that situation is not who she is. She is “bat Leah,” connected by an unbroken spiritual chain to the Matriarchs themselves.
The Matriarchs’ powers, their vision, is there for us, always; we just have to reach out and grab it
But still, why did Dina have to go through such a traumatic experience? Why did the 12 brothers and Yaakov and Leah have to experience so much heartbreak?
In the short-term, Dina’s rape appears to be a tragedy. But if we look at the story with long-term vision?
The daughter of Dina and Chamor was Osnat, who eventually married Yosef. Osnat was the mother of 2 of the tribes, Ephraim and Menashe. This means that Osnat ultimately ascended to the level of a Matriarch.
And that means that another descendant of Dina and Chamor was Yehoshua, who brought the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel. There is no greater blessing than that.
Short-term tragedies can lead to long-term yeshuot, redemptions. A Jew’s suffering always has a purpose, if we know how to respond to it and look at it with long-term vision.

Rebbetzin Malki (Twersky) Friedman is the rebbetzin of the Hornosteipler Kehila of Beitar Illit.

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