Yakov’s Kiruv Dilemma

By Arieh Bauer

There is a Rashi in Vayishlach that fascinates me so much. Yakov hid his daughter Dina in a box to protect her from Eisav – and he got punished for it. Why? Because she could have approached Esav from “within”, getting married to him and to pull him over to the “good side of the force”.

As BTs we have a very similar dilemma regarding our kids. As we have a special role and the abilities to approach not frum people from within, by speaking their language, understanding their mindset and way of life, we might ask us the same question, that Yakov asked himself: Is it worth “risking” your children to bring back somebody else to Judaism?

And it is especially a question regarding our kids. We think about this question, when we have to decide in which school to send them. With which neighbors they are allowed to interfere. And what kind of guests we invite for Shabbos.

We know that the kids have a monumental power to do Kiruv, because of their untouched souls and their innocent natures. The kid’s strong believe in G-d, can touch an adult from “within”. Somehow BT-Kids are born into Kiruv and one of the toughest warriors to spread Hashems light. Still, even the BT understands that there are indeed risks that he has to avoid regarding his kids. But its not like he hides his kids in a box!

Interestingly, Yakov – the FFB – took a very “Charedi” approach: He closed his daughter off, hid her from the “not frum side”. But he ended up being punished for it! Didn’t Yakov know any better? A man, who spoke to G-d frequently and the biggest Talmid Chacham on earth in his time?

Seen from the perspective of a BT’s daily life and the small and big dilemmas he faces every day regarding this question, it is hard so understand his decision. Dina could have been a superb “Kiruv-Rebezin” and turn Eisav over into a Tora-true BT! And this would be the best thing that could happen! Because Torah is the best thing that could happen to anybody, even to Eisav. And nobody knows that better than a BT.

But from Yakovs FFB-perspective, it is highly understandable why he had to act like that. He didn’t see Eisav as a potential BT. He saw him as an enemy, as someone who goes against his core values and touches the inner nerve of his spiritual being. His daughter was his “capital”. He invested in her Chinuch, in her Yiras Shomayim and her Torah education. Why spilling out this treasure and risk her for a plain “Rasha”? Sending out a girl for “Kiruv”? Unthinkable!

Now, it wouldn’t be fair to make the point “you see, he got punished for it… the BTs are right…”. Because its not our calculation why Hashem does something to someone – even when Rashi explains it explicitly, its just not our “Cheshbon”. And if you want, you could argue, that it was a certain “Mesirus Nefesh” of Yakov to protect his daughter, even though that he knew that he will get punished for it.

But what really seems to be the case here is, that the scene with “Dina in the Box” has something to do with our times, the times of “Chevlei Mashiach”.

As the Parsha develops there are several hints in the scripture and in the commentaries, that the two brothers – Yakov and Eisav – will meet once again in the future. They will meet again, when Mashiach comes and “Yakov will conquer the mountain of Eisav”.

So maybe this whole issue with Dina is Mashiach-related as well. One could even argue that when Dina will “jump out of her box”, it will finally lead us to the Ge’ula.

For sure, one always has to weigh the risk and the profits of exposing his children to not frum people. But closing us off seems not to be the right, Torah-oriented approach, in a way. We have to get “out of the box”!

Arieh Bauer, born 1978 in Vienna, Austria (Europe), is an almuni of Yeshivat HaKotel in Jerusalem and author of the book “Der Leiner” about the Parshas HaShavua published in February 2014 in German. It is the first book in German of its kind. Bauer also publishes a weekly Parsha-Sheet “Der Leiner” in German in its fourth year. It is availabe at the israeli portal www.ladaat.info. He also mainains a website in German (www.derleiner.com) with a Parsha-Blog and Parsha-Archives. A rabbinic endorsement of his book is available at his homepage under Endorsement Der Leiner.

2 comments on “Yakov’s Kiruv Dilemma

  1. Didn’t Esav already have several unsuitable wives when Dina was put in the box? Exactly how would she have overcome their influence?

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