Servant of the Secret Fire

Random thoughts on books and life in the reality-based community

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Location: New York, United States

The name I've chosen comes from "Lord of the Rings," when Gandalf faces down the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. My Hebrew name is Esther (which is related to the word for "hidden" or "secret") Serafina (which means "burning"). This seems appropriate because although I don't usually put myself forward, I do care very passionately about a lot of things. Maybe through these blogs I can share some of these passions, as well as less weighty ideas and opinions, with others.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Torah: Vayishlach

I have been attempting since Rosh Hashanah to write a brief d'var torah each week, based on the fifth aliyah of each portion, which we are concentrating on this year in my congregation. A blog doesn't seem to be the place to post them, so they will have to wait until I get a website going, after which I will link to longer pieces of writing.

This last week we studied the story of the "rape" of Dinah, a very difficult and challenging episode in the life of the patriarch Jacob, found in chapter 34 of the book of Genesis. For a feminist treatment of this story, I highly recommend The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, although my criticism of the book is that there doesn't seem to be a decent male character in it, which only works to confirm the prejudices of the right wing that feminists hate men.

The story of the "rape," however, always seemed highly suspect to me, especially since it is told entirely from the viewpoint of men who are attempting to justify a truly horrifying attack and slaughter of the entire male population of a city. It seems far more likely to me that, assuming for the point of argument that such a thing happened, there may have been a consensual relationship that was unacceptable to Dinah's tribe, who then concocted the story of the rape, since obviously, in their eyes, no decent Israelite girl would willingly consort with a man unapproved by them.

L'shalom -


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