As Yaakov is approaching Eisav and his 400 hoodlums, he realizes that he must hide his daughter Dinah. She is such a stunning beauty that he is afraid that the moment Eisav sees her he will want to marry her. He therefore put her into a box so that his wicked brother Eisav wouldn’t even get a peek at her. One would certainly agree that Yaakov did the right thing. After all, he had to do everything possible to protect his daughter from falling into the clutches of his wicked brother Eisav!
Yet our Chazal tell us differently. Yaakov made a terrible mistake for which he was punished by having Dinah abducted and defiled by Shechem. Perhaps if Eisav would have married her, then she could possibly have influenced him to do teshuvah.
Certainly Yaakov knew this as well, yet he wasn’t ready to take any chances. After all, Eisav certainly would have had a negative influence on her. Why take risks? How could he be certain that Eisav would not corrupt Dinah? Which father would risk having his daughter marry a rosho like Eisav?
Yet, despite all the arguments in Yaakov’s favor, our Chazal tells us that he was wrong. Even though there was only a remote possibility that she could have been a positive influence on Eisav and perhaps – yes, only perhaps – she may have been able to bring him back, Yaakov should not have hidden her from Eisav.
It’s absolutely astounding! Yaakov is required to risk losing Dinah on the very remote chance that she may be able to bring Eisav back to his senses. Our Chazal seem to be making a very important point. We can’t always only worry about ourselves. We must sometimes be willing to take risks in order to help another person, even if the other person is a rosho like Eisav.
Even though this rule runs against our very logic, we see, in fact, that Yaakov himself felt it was unwise for him to allow Eisav to even get a glimpse of his daughter Dinah. Yet, our Chazal tell us that he was taken to task for this. So even if our own logic runs against Chazal, we must put our logic aside, and listen and abide by what Chazal tell us, even though it may not seem to make sense and we don’t understand it. After all, do we think that we are wiser than Chazal?
The Gemorah tells us a most interesting story. The great Reish Lakish was once part of a gang of ordinary thieves. One day, Rabbi Yochanan went out swimming and met Reish Lakish swimming about in the water. Rabbi Yochanan must have seen great talent and hidden abilities in this common thief, and he made him a great offer. If he would promise to give up his bad ways and do teshuvah, then he would give him his sister in marriage. The Gemorah tells us that Rabbi Yochanan was the most handsome person around; certainly his sister was even more beautiful. Reish Lokish took him up on the deal.
People must certainly have thought that Rabbi Yochanan was completely crazy to be willing to give his sister’s hand in marriage to an ordinary thief. There must have been plenty of raised eyebrows at the wedding. Many people probably criticized Rabbi Yochanan for his poor judgment. After all, there are always people who think that they are smarter than our Chachomim. Little did they realize who this Reish Lokish would turn out to be!
The Gemorah in Sanhedrin tells us that R’ Zeiroh would always go out of his way in trying to befriend the sinners, and thereby influence them to do teshuvah. He was greatly criticized for what he did. Yet, the Gemorah tells us that after his death they didteshuvah.
Certainly one must be extremely careful when trying to influence others that the others will not influence you instead. This is certainly a difficult task. After all, you are endangering yourself, and therefore you must be very careful.
Yet, in our days there are so many opportunities to help others without even the slightest risk or danger to oneself. There are thousands of Russian and Iranian families that need our help desperately. Communism has erased their entire knowledge of Yiddishkeit. Many of them are starving for some knowledge of their heritage. They want to know what it means to be a Jew. They want someone to teach them what a Shabbos is all about. Yet, we don’t seem to find room for them. Everybody is too full and overcrowded to take in a Russian or Iranian boy. Or maybe we’re afraid that they will have a bad influence on us, and we’re not willing to take any risks.
Well, it’s time for us to open up our homes to these people. Let’s take these children into our schools and teach them our beautiful Torah.
Let’s invite them over and show them the beauty of a Shabbos. Let’s explain to them the teachings of our Torah. Let’s show them the beauty of being a Jew. Certainly in a world so full of darkness they will easily recognize the light of Torah.
Let’s not stand at the sidelines. Find out if a Russian or Iranian boy lives next to you. Invite him into your home. Show him what it means to be a true Jew. You’ll be the happiest person for it. And, of course, you’ll be koneh Olam Haba. For we are told “someone who rescues but one Jew is considered as if he supported the entire world.”