Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dina was a gadabout because she was really a boy

Alschich(Bereishis 34:1): And Dina went out.It is incredible that the holy offspring such as Dina would be a gadabout – something which is not acceptable for woman and especially not young virgins. Our Sages (Bereishis Rabba 80:1) say that the reason that the verse says that she was the daughter of Leah was to explain that just as her mother was a gadabout as it says that Leah went out to meet her husband... However the fact is that the behavior of Leah was not comparable to that of Dina because Leah went out to meet her husband. Furthermore our Sages say that it was because she was withheld from Esav that she was captured. But all of this doesn’t explain  the fact that Dina was a gadabout. I think that when the Torah says that she was Leah’s daughter it to explain why she was a gadabout.... It says in Berachos (60a) ...that after Leah became pregnant with a boy she prayed that it be a female so as to not further disgrace her sister Rachel to have less male children then the maidservants and have only one boy to complete the expected number of 12 male children. We see from this gemora that Dina when she was conceived was a boy but she was changed into a girl before being born. Therefore someone who is in essence a male – it is not surprising that she should be a gadabout because that is a male characteristic and everything follows from the essence....

14 comments :

  1. How does he square this with the Torah saying that she went out to meet with other girls, not mixed company?

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    1. He is saying that Dinah was a girl but her origin was as a boy and therefore she retained male characteristics even though she apparently looked like a girl.

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  2. Reminds me of Sherlock Holmes aphorism: When you've exhausted all the alternatives whatever is left must be the truth no matter how unlikely.

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  3. Time to play the "why on earth did R' Eidensohn post this?" game again :)

    What's interesting about this Alschich to me is that he's acknowledging that, in some cases (let's ignore the viability of the exact mechanism discussed Berachos 60a for the moment), people don't neatly fit into their assigned gender roles because of a basic, underlying factor in the makeup of their personality.

    It's also interesting that he specifically refrains from blaming Dina for being raped. Instead, he places the blame on Jacob by offering the Midrash that Dina was raped to punish Jacob for not offering Dina's hand in marriage to Esav.

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    1. actually this issue is has moved from the esoteric and bizarre to main stream. It is cited concerning the question of defining parentage when there is a surrogate mother and the question of gender

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    2. The surrogate mother connection comes from the Maharsha quoting the Targum Yonasan that Dina was conceived a girl by Rachel and Yosef was conceived a boy by Leah and the miracle was that the fetuses were switched, see Who was the mother of דינה? for more details.

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  4. In all babies, the sex is determined during a process that occurs between the 6th and 10th weeks. Therefore, Leah could have davened about her baby during this time period, and the baby became a girl actually naturally. Because the term "gadabout" was used in connection with her, does not mean she was really a boy. There are scientific explanations of this. However I do not know what the Torah says about this.

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    1. You are correct that the Alschich is not saying that she was really a boy but that since she started out as a boy she retained the masculine characteristics even though she was turned into a girl.

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  5. Recipients and PublicityDecember 25, 2012 at 10:19 PM

    "Dina was a gadabout because she was really a boy" -- um, you should have translated correctly as "tomboy" which is what a "boyish" girl is. Even though the word "tomboy" is of old origin it is still widely used if not embraced and sometime held up as some sort of "ideal" for a type of girl or woman who revels in her "boyish" or "masculine" side. Tomboy usually refers to a young girl or a fairly young female.

    (Wikipedia: A tomboy is a girl who exhibits characteristics or behaviors considered typical of the gender role of a boy,[1] including the wearing of typically masculine-oriented clothes and engaging in games and activities that are often physical in nature, and which are considered in many cultures to be the domain of boys. Tomboy, since its print inception in 1592, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "has been connected with connotations of rudeness and impropriety.")

    However, the word "gadabout" is archaic meaning it has fallen out of common and literary usage, perhaps because of its pejorative connotation. It's not used today, and hasn't been for a while. A better word for today is probably "outgoing" or "adventurous" or perhaps even "curious"!

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    1. Dinah was not a tomboy since developed as a boy before being turned into a girl and thus retained male characteristics. Thus she was not a girl who demonstrated male characteristics she was in essence a boy who whose appearance was transformed into a girl.

      I don't know why you are saying gadabout is archaic - looked up the word in several dictionaries and it is currently in use. In fact I don't know a clear alternative. Your suggestions do not reflect the Hebrew term since they lack the negative connotation.

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    2. gadabout is the word used by the Soncino tranlsation of the medrash

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    3. I have never, ever, heard this word used in spoken speech or seen it in contemporary writing. Soncino's language is far from contemporary.

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  6. I remember learning that Leah was to have Yosef, and Rochel to have Dina. Due to Leah's davening, the fetuses were switched. However you want to hold, it seems to me that if Dina had some male essence, then Yosef had some female essence (putting on makeup, beautifying himself). Possible?

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  7. [I accidentally posted this anonymously... take two...]

    "It is incredible that the holy offspring such as Dina would be a gadabout – something which is not acceptable for woman and especially not young virgins"

    Other holy offspring of Yaakov almost killed their brother and sold him into slavery, slept with what he thought was a prostitute, and killed all men and boys over 13 for the rape of Dinah. Compared to that, gadabouting doesn't seem like such a bad thing.

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