Friday, September 7, 2012

Dinah went out: Meaning of Yatz'anit in Rashi's commentary

This is a continuation of a previous post regarding our Sage's  attitude towards Leah. It is clear that there are two opposing and conflicting views whether Leah was a model of modesty or whether she was too assertive and free in her behavior. This attitude is clearly reflected in their attitude towards her daughter Dinah and how they discuss her rape and the context which is presented in detail in the Torah - and the two are linked.

This is the Medrash that Rashi utilized in his commentary
רש"י בראשית (לד:א) בת לאה - ולא בת יעקב, אלא על שם יציאתה נקראת בת לאה, שאף היא יצאנית היתה, שנאמר (ל טז) ותצא לאה לקראתו (ועליה משלו המשל (יחזקאל טז מד) כאמה כבתה

    Bereishis Rabbah (80:1):    1. AND DINAH THE DAUGHTER OF LEAH WENT OUT (XXXIV, 1). Behold,everyone that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying: As the mother, so her daughter (Ezek. XVI, 44). Jose of Maon1 expounded in the synagogue of Maon: Hear this, O ye priests, and attend, ye house of Israel, and give ear, O house of the king, for unto you pertaineth the judgment  (Hosea V, 1). Said he: In the future the Holy One, blessed he He, will make the priests stand in judgment, saying to them, ‘Why did ye not toil in the Torah: did ye not enjoy from My children the twenty-four priestly dues?2 To which they will reply, ' They gave us nothing.’ Then ' " Attend, ye house of Israel ": why did ye not give them the twenty-four priestly dues, as I prescribed for you in the Torah? ' To which they will answer: ‘Because the members of the house of the Nasi3 took away everything.’ Thereupon, Give ear, O house of the king,’ for unto you pertaineth the judgment: [were those privileges] yours, [which I intimated in the verse], And this shall be the priests’ due [lit. ‘judgment’] from the people (Deut. XVIII, 3)? Therefore against you will judgment be turned. When Rabbi heard of this, he became enraged.5 Toward evening Resh Lakish went up to pay his respects to him and to pacify him. Said he: ‘Rabbi, we ought to be thankful to the heathens who bring clowns into their theatres and circuses and amuse themselves with them, so that they should not converse with each other; yet Jose of Maon spoke words of Torah, and you become angry with him!’ ‘Does he then know [anything of the Torah]?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ was the reply. ' Has his instruction been transmitted to him [by proper teachers]? ' ' Yes.’ ' And if I question him, will he be able to answer? ' ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘If so, let him come here.’ So he went up to him, and he asked him: ' What is meant by the verse."Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying: As the mother, so the daughter "? ’ Said he: ‘Like the daughter so is the mother, like the generation so is its leader (nasi), like the altar so are its priests.’ Kahana saysl: According to the garden so is its gardener. ‘You have not yet completely appeased him for the first,’ Resh Lakish exclaimed, ‘and you are already bringing him another! What is really the meaning of this verse? ' ' A cow does not gore unless her calf kicks; a woman is not immoral until her daughter is immoral,’ he replied.2 ‘If so,’ said he, ‘then our mother Leah was a harlot! ‘3 ' Even so,’ he replied; ‘because it says, And Leah went out to meet him  (Gen. XXX,16), which means that she went out to meet him adorned like a harlot’; therefore AND DINAH THE DAUGHTER OF LEAH WENT OUT. 

In contrast to this Rashi & Medrash, Abarbanel and Malbim insist that Leah & Dinah were both the epitome of modesty.  

This is an article written by R' GILAD J. GEVARYAHU which appeared in JEWISH BIBLE QUARTERLY


  1. I thought Leah was rewarded for "going out" to greet Yaakov. Yissacher was conceived that evening. Till today, wives are told that to conceive future talmidei chachomim, they should indicate their desires for and to their husbands.

    1. I am simply showing that there are multiple views in Chazal. Sometimes they indicate disputes and other times just different perspectives. There are clearly views that praise Leah while the ones I just cited criticize her. The following praise her

      Meiri (Eiruvin 100b): Even though the attribute of modesty (tznius) is praiseworthy for everyone – nevertheless it is more praiseworthy for women. In spite of this whoever makes themselves beloved to their husbands and entice them to the mitzva of sexual relations – this is not considered pritzus (immodesty) but rather zariz (alacrity) to do the mitzva and it is a desirable characteristic. She is rewarded for her concern with this mitzva by having proper children. That is because her intent is only for children. The Torah has already given an example of the appropriateness of this concerning Leah, And Leah went out to meet Yaakov and told him that he was to sleep with her that night instead of Rachel (Bereishis 30:16).

      Torah Temima (Bereishis 9:16.4): In other words from this preganancy Yissachar was born as is states explicitly in the Torah. The gemora (Eiruvin 100b) asserts that she didn’t ask Yaakov directly for sexual intercourse because to do so is a disgusting behavior and her children would have been called the children of brazeness [ instead of praising her]. In fact she seduced him by showing her strong feelings of love. But the language of the Torah apparently contradicts this explanation since she is quoted as saying, “You shall come to me [i.e., have sexual relations]”. However this phrase is to be understood that she meant that he should come to her tent but not that she was saying she wanted sexual intercourse....

  2. I never understood the purpose of generalizations quoted from Gemora ("a woman is not immoral until her daughter is immoral"). Are we meant to take them literally? Are they considered emes? Or are they just meant to be a kickboard for discussion?

    1. not sure I understand your question. While this is only a medrash and not a gemora - in general we try to understand the generalizations of Chazal. Sometimes their absolute statements are only meant to mean sometimes. For example, "The word sicha always means prayer" - simply means that sometimes it means prayer.

      ברכות כו:

      תניא כוותיה דרבי יוסי ברבי חנינא: אברהם תקן תפלת שחרית - שנאמר +בראשית י"ט+ וישכם אברהם בבקר אל המקום אשר עמד שם, ואין עמידה אלא תפלה, שנאמר +תהלים ק"ו+ ויעמד פינחס ויפלל; יצחק תקן תפלת מנחה - שנאמר +בראשית כ"ד+ ויצא יצחק לשוח בשדה לפנות ערב, ואין שיחה אלא תפלה, שנאמר +תהלים ק"ב+ תפלה לעני כי - יעטף ולפני ה' ישפך שיחו, יעקב תקן תפלת ערבית - שנאמר +בראשית כ"ח+ ויפגע במקום וילן שם, ואין פגיעה אלא תפלה, שנאמר +ירמיהו ז'+ ואתה אל תתפלל בעד העם הזה ואל תשא בעדם רנה ותפלה ואל תפגע בי.


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