Leah’s blog- Parshat Vayishlach 2017
There’s an expression in Hebrew which I’ll translate- “What you don’t see from here – you see from there.” When Yaakov Avinu blesses his son Yosef, his grandchildren Efrayim and Menashe, the sons of Yosef and Asnat appear and Yaakov takes a deep look and says, “Who are these?’ Is this a midda keneged middah for when Yitzchak tried to discern if he is blessing Esau or Yaakov? Is this a prophecy Yaakov is having seeing something difficult like bad idolatrous times coming out of the tribes of Efrayim and Menashe?
Looking out the window now, I have to tell you- I had an idea.
UNESCO which stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, put out a pamphlet about Mount Gerizzim and the whole area of the Land of Schechem. In describing the place I face right now, the two mountains of the Blessing and the Curse, the valley of Shechem, the primordial first stop of Abraham and Yaakov later to become to nachalah of Yosef Hatzaddik in a double blessing for his sons Efrayim and Menashe – it says in their pamphlet-: “The excavations reveal that this place was inhabited intermittently during the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods. The archeological remnants on the main summit consist of a large Acropolis with paved roads and immense fortifications including walls and gates which were surrounded by a residential neighborhood.”
No mention of what went on behind those immense fortified ancient walls that affect every Jewish person’s DNA. The place of the rape of DiNA. Dina goes out to look at what the daughters of this place are doing. She looks — but she is being seen. Shechem takes her in a violent rape. Her baby is sent down to Potiphera and she is raised in Egypt. Before sending the little baby girl there Yaakov prepared a golden amulet that she wore that said “Bat Yaakov”. She is raised in Pharoh’s house like Moses did.
Like Yosef did too.
Yosef is known to be so beautiful in mind and body- yet he is the antithesis of Shechem. He never falls for seduction. He is shomer HaBrit. That’s why we call him Yosef HaTzaddik.
Asnat and Yosef marry and Efrayim and Menashe are born.
Sometimes your greatest nightmare can be your greatest blessing.
They later return to receive the double portion of the land of their grandfather in the very place of the rape. Remember, the city has been circumcised.
In the book of Joshua :Perek 15- clearly it is spelled out that when Menashe has children he names his son Shechem. Shechem is also not listed as a city captured during that settlement of Eretz Yisrael when Joshua and Israel come in. Our sages tell us that is because the original capture took place after the raping of DINA and the complete cleaning and dedicating of that city to Am Yisrael.
Shechem is interesting because it sits snugly between the two mountains of Efrayim and Menashe. One is called the Blessing. The other, the Curse. There is always a flipside here. Always a choice.
Shimon and Levi evolved into two distinct tribes, very different from each other. One- the Levites who were able to channel the energy of purifying into holiness and self –restraint, their job was to bless. While the other, Shimon, failed the test in the scene with Kozbi and Pinchas has to step in- in all zealousness to stop this curse.
It’s troubling to see the new phenomenon of Harvey Weinsteins and the dark side of Shechem ben Chamor. Instead of being a lighthouse- they choose to be a whorehouse. But even then- we can only pray there will be always for each and every one of us a chance to choose between the two. It is never too late. ” Who are these” Yaakov asks as he sees maybe even a resemblance of that horrific thing that happened. But then he is so uplifted when he sees what beautiful good children they are!