Thought of the Week: Vayishlach - 5772


At the end of the portion that describes the awful incident of the defilement of Dinah and the subsequent actions taken by Levi and Shimon, we find the following conversation taking place between Yaakov and his zealous sons.  "Yaakov said to Shimon and Levi: ‘You have troubled me to sink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.’"

The section concludes with the response of the brothers; "Should he deal with our sister as with a harlot?"

It would seem that Yaakov was taking the more pragmatic approach to the situation, namely that despite the fact that Shechem did a terrible thing, they should have held back from acting due to the circumstance.  Shimon and Levi, on the other hand, were driven as young people often are, by idealism and zealotry.

On Chanukah we commemorate The Maccabees of Modiin’s successful revolt against the Seleucid Empire.  It is obvious that the heroes of the story, who have inspired us for many generations, were driven by their ideals.  Yet two hundred years later the idealistic zealots who fought the Romans in the 1st century are blamed, according to the Talmud, for having contributed to the demise of Yerushalaim and the destruction of the second Beit Hamikdash.

Everything Has Its Time.  To everything there is a season.  We must be wise and pray for insight to figure out the appropriate balance between idealism and pragmatism.

Shabbat Shalom.