Monday, December 04, 2017

a place in the beis medrash

I came across an interesting Avos d"R' Nosson by way of this shiur from Dr/Reb Michal Tukachinsky. 

חופר גומץ בו יפול וגו' – זו דינה בת לאה
שהיו אחיה ובית אביה יושבים ושונים בבית המדרש,
ויצאה לראות בבנות הארץ שנאמר: ותצא דינה בת לאה (בראשית ל"ד א')
מי הוא נחש שנשכה? זה שכם בן חמור (אבות דר' נתן נוסחא ב פ"ג)

Chazal describe how Ya'akov and his sons were learning in the beis medrash, but Dinah went out and was poreitz geder, which is why she was taken by Shechem.  It is possible that Chazal here are suggesting that Ya'akov and sons are at least partially to blame here for ignoring their sister while she wandered off.  They were in their own world oblivious to her until it was too late.

That alone is an interesting idea, but I think there is another message especially relevant to our time in this Chazal.   How is a Dinah situation to be avoided?  One approach is that if the problem is "poreitz geder," then the solution must be to build a better, bigger, stronger geder.  And this is exactly what most girls' education boils down to (trust me -- I have 3 girls.)

But there is another way.  Ya'akov and his sons were not in danger from Shechem because they were busy in the beis medrash.  There is no temptation for them to go out.  It's only Dinah who is not part of that world who lands in trouble.  The solution would therefore seem to be to help her find a place within it. 

Does that mean Beis Ya'akov should start teaching R' Chaim's and Ketzos?  Lav davka.  You don't need that to have a place in the walls of the beis medrash.  For you men out there, you don't know what you are missing if you have never read/heard a sichah from Yemima Mizrachi.  Here is a woman (and there are others like her) teaching torah on the parsha that inspires hundreds of women who come to hear her every week.  It's musar, chassidus, hashkafa, pshat -- all of that is part of torah too.

So why don't we have more Yemina Mizrachi's, more Michal Tukachinsky's?  Because we have become so afraid of the dreaded threat of "feminism" in the form of JOFA and the like that we've overcompensated and gone to the opposite extreme.  We've kicked women out of the figurative beis medrash and become obsessed with walls.  Walls don't inspire.  Walls don't feed the intellect or the heart.  Perhaps a different strategy is needed.


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  2. Like so much positive that used to exist in yiddishkeit, external forces have infiltrated and expunged this. Rebbetzin Ausband in Telshe Cleveland used to give weekly shiurim to a select group of older talmidim from the upper echelons of the Yeshiva.

    And woe to the Roshei Yeshiva who attempted to contest with my Mother, נ"ע, in hashkafa, tanach, or even, occassionaly halacha. Of course, I am not talking about true Gedolim: they knew better than to contest; they discussed.

    Not so incidentally, that was a major motivation for founding the Yavneh Seminar for girls, and the entire Bais Yaakov movement - to offer an alternative to haskalah for the Dinahs of Europe. But like so much else, Bais Yaakov fell prey to the Jewish version of O'Sullivan's Law. As did most of the Litvishe Yeshivas. As Rav Ruderman said, there is no Slobodker Derech left in world.

    But cheer up. At least we're heading in the right direction: דור שכולו חייב

    1. The Marshal's grand mother used to give shuir to his talmidim (including the massas binyomin and the Sem"a)

  3. I salute your pshat in the Medrash. It puts me in mind of The Flying Wellendas. Where were the women in Dinah's family? Was she the only one that didn't find the feminine life satisfying?
    Maybe you're right. Or maybe the Chassidishe model is better - barefoot, pregnant, and content. It certainly would make life easier for certain long suffering husbands.