web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Accomplice To Evil

The-Shmuz

The sons of Yaakov came upon the corpses of the city that had defiled their sister.” – Bereishis 34:27

Shechem, the son of Chamor, set his sights on Dina. He carefully laid a trap to entice her out of her tent, and then kidnapped and defiled her. When Yaakov and his sons heard what had been done, “they were extremely distressed . . . [and said] ‘So shall not be done!’ ”

Shechem became infatuated with Dina, and came to ask for her hand in marriage. “Name your price and I will pay it,” he said to Yaakov. The brothers of Dina answered Shechem, “To marry into our family, a person must have a bris milah.” Shechem and Chamor agreed, and they convinced the people of their town to be circumcised as well. On the third day of their milah, Reuven and Shimon took up their swords and killed out every male in the city.

After they were finished, the pasuk says “the sons of Yaakov came upon the corpses of the city that had defiled their sister.” The Sforno is bothered by the expression “the city that defiled their sister.” After all, it was Shechem alone who committed the act, not the city.

The Sforno answers by explaining that in that society, forcibly taking a woman was not considered abhorrent. If it had not been socially acceptable, Shechem never would have done it. Therefore, it is considered as if they were all participants.

The problem is that the Sforno doesn’t seem to have answered his question. Granted, the entire town may have been responsible for creating the social atmosphere that accepted such conduct, but all they did was to give Shechem the opportunity to act as he wished. They didn’t join him in the act. They didn’t aid him. They didn’t tempt him to do it. The most we can blame them for is giving the opportunity to Shechem to do as he chose. If so, how can the pasuk say the city defiled Dina?

A Cog in the Wheel of a Killing Machine

On April 14, 1944, the deportation of Hungarian Jewry began. Within 56 days, almost 500,000 men, women and children were transported to Auschwitz.

Imagine you were a German train switch operator at a station near Auschwitz. You came of age at a time when Hitler had been long accepted as the Fuehrer. From your youth you were indoctrinated with the belief that the fatherland was the glory of all true Germans, and that Hitler alone was the savior of the new Germany.

It would be hard for you to deny your knowledge of where this human cargo was headed, as the air was heavy with the smell of burning flesh. But you never killed anyone. In fact, you may not even have completely bought into the racial theory thing. Your job was just to keep those trains rolling. So you aren’t guilty of murder. Are you?

At the Nuremberg Trials, the Nazis defended themselves with the mantra, “We were only following orders.” Each participant denied his guilt by claiming he was just a cog in the wheel: not a murderer himself, not a decision-maker – just a lackey. Yet, even the secular world didn’t accept this because being a cog in the wheel of a killing machine makes you a part of a machine that kills. As such, you are a killer.

The Sforno is teaching us that even if a person is not an active participant in an act, he can be considered responsible for its happening. In a normal society, basic human rights are a given. If the society has failed to keep safeguards in place, then that society has failed in its most basic responsibilities. Every member of that group is therefore held accountable for that failure.

In the case of Dina, the townspeople made it possible for Shechem to do what he did. Without their easing the standards, it never would have happened. Once they lowered the accepted behavior, they paved the way for him, so they are held responsible for what he did.

Accessories to Terror

This concept is especially relevant in our times when the murder of innocent people has become an accepted manner of protesting for one’s political rights. Inflicting terror on men, women, and children is almost part of the political process – because it advances my cause.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Accomplice To Evil”

  1. At first I thought this was about obama….same difference!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets with US President Barack Obama at the White House, Oct. 1, 2014.
Netanyahu, Obama Meeting at White House
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

The-Shmuz

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

A replica reminds a person of the original. Granted it is in miniature, and granted no one would mistake it for the original, but it carries, almost in caricature form, some semblance of the original.

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

If a man sins and follows his inclinations, he will find comfort in this world – but when he dies, he will go to a place that is all thorns.

While it’s clear to you and to me that a 14,000-pound creature can easily break away from the light ropes holding it, the reality is that it cannot.

One of the manifestations of the immature person is a sense of entitlement.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/accomplice-to-evil-2/2013/11/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: