Thoughts on Judaism

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Rashi invents Incest

Of all the weird or incomprehensible Rashis, this week's Parsha had a doozy. One of the sons of Shimon was Shaul ben HaCanaanit. All of the other sons of the tribes are mentioned only by name, but this particular one is singled out as "ben HaCanaanit". Rashi says "This is Dina who had relations with Shechem (a Cannani). She did not want to leave his house until Shimon promised to marry her." Presumably, he complied, resulting in Shaul. Besides the obvious fact that Shechem was dead, why should she not want to leave his house? So let's say that this discussion took place before Shimon killed Shechem, aside the fact that according to mefarshim, Shimon was 13 at that time. First, why is SHE a Canaanit? She was forced, according to the Chumash? She was the daughter of Yaakov and Leah. Second, if she wanted to stay, making her a Cannaanit, why does the Torah say that she was forced? Third, Canaanit could be explained any number of ways. Why does Rashi (ultimately the Breishit Rabba) choose this way of resolving the extra phrase? Rashi, recall, is explaining away questions that would occur on topical logic, the kind that a small child would be capable of. What is forcing him into this? Fourth, why isn't the sifsei chachamim, the Malbim etc. outraged? they are silent. (If you know a Mizrachi or Chizkuni on this, please add them, I do not have them available at the moment.)

Possible answers are easily refuted:

1) They could marry sisters, as Avraham said.
This is not an answer, since the question is asked by many on Yaakov marrying two sisters, an issur more easily excused to a ben Noach. It says that the avos kept the mitzvos. But even a ben Noach can only marry a half sister from the father, according to the halacha from Avraham. Shimon and Dina were fully brother and sister.

2) Pikuach nefesh
He killed Shechem and everyone in the city, so there was no pikuach nefesh. The rashi says that she didn't want to leave, not that she needed to be saved. Not to mention that incest is yaharog v'al ya'avor.

On top of this, later Rashi will explain one opinion that each of the brothers married twin sisters that were born at the same time. They all died before entering Egypt.

I am just lost on these Rashis.

3)

6 Comments:

  • I have heard that Dina's daughter married Joseph. Is that true?

    If this is so, then did Joseph marry his Niece?

    By Blogger badrabbi, at 4:16 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 9:04 PM  

  • An uncle niece marriage is not forbidden, as Avraham was Sarah's uncle according to Rashi, her half brother according to himself.

    However, I have never seen a justification for a full brother sister marriage, Jewish, non Jewish, before or after matan Torah.

    What is so bothersome about this medrash / Rashi is that it seems to be accepted so matter-of-fact. The mefarshim quibble on much lighter issurim, but this one no one asks on.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 9:06 PM  

  • Rebel;

    I completely agree that the marriage of a brother and sister is a strange explanation that Rashi offers. It complicates an otherwise extraneous Torah word. I could not agree more.

    I was simply curious whether it is also true that Joseph married Dina's daughter. If so, Joseph would have married a product of incest. I am not sure, but does that make Efraim and Menashe Mamzerim?

    It is curious, also, to have Dina marry her brother, have a daughter, and send the daughter to Egypt. Unless, Dina had had a daughter with Schechem prior to marrying her brother. That too would be curious, as I do not understand under what circumstances would Dina send her daughter to Egypt.

    Any idea?

    By Blogger badrabbi, at 2:05 PM  

  • You say true, and it leads me to another point about the mefarshim. Why do they frequently violate the clear pshat in p'sukim. I understand making an off explanation, but your mefaresh that you bring is inventing something. It says Joseph married Asnat bat Potiphar or Potiphera. Please tell me where the pasuk even hints to Dina. Man dachar shma?

    I find this frequently in mefarshim that they violate the very words of the text. Are they not beholden to the same fundamentalist rules that bind us to literal interpretation of Noach and Adam?

    The standard answer to that is that the mefarshim were magical supermen called "tzadikim" who have special superpowers that make them omniscient, omnipresent, and prescient. Therefore, they can violate the text but we have to take it literally, no matter if we turn into Jewish Philosopher in doing so. I am sorry, but as many people said to Don Adams, I find that hard to believe.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 8:44 AM  

  • I liked the Don Adams allusion. But to use another allusion. We are not dealing with mission impossible. We are dealing with mission infallible.

    By Anonymous Yerachmiel Lopin, at 8:55 AM  

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