Becoming "Yehudim" | Aleph Beta

Becoming "Yehudim"

The Queen You Thought You Knew: Epilogue


Rabbi David Fohrman

Rabbi David Fohrman

Founder and Lead Scholar

The following podcast is the third installment in a series of lectures Rabbi Fohrman gave a few years ago that were the basis for his book The Queen You Thought You Knew. Rabbi Fohrman intended to write a sequel to The Queen based on this lecture, and references these ideas in his book. While you wait for the sequel, we invite you to listen in as Rabbi Fohrman takes a deep dive into some of the most barbarous and disturbing parts of our history that are the foundations upon which Esther stands at her own darkest and ultimately greatest moment.

To purchase The Queen You Thought You Knew from our shop click here.

To watch the animated course of The Queen You Thought You Knew, click here.


Today is the third in a series and we kind of need to finish up this week our look at the megilla. In the past two weeks, we've looked at the Megilla itself. This week, as I intimated to you last time we were together, we're going to look at a prequel to the Megilla. A story that is an antecedent for the themes we've been talking about in the Megilla itself. The theory I'd like to suggest to you tonight is that the Megilla, which comes at the very close of Tanach, at the very close of Tanach, is in fact the culmination of something that began a long, long time ago. Tonight, I'd like to try to show how that's so. If this weren't a three-part series, we could spend four or five parts on this and so this will necessarily be a condensed look at things. I'll try to talk quickly, but even if we do, we're not going to get through everything. We'll get probably through maybe three out of five narratives that we need to look at. Maybe I'll ask you to look on your own for homework the other two. 

Tonight, the stories that we're going to look at, in comparison to the Megilla, are relatively unfamiliar. They're fascinating stories and I hope you'll agree with me by the time the night is over. Unfortunately, unless you have a Tanach with you, you're going to have to rely on me to read you what's going on. I should have mentioned to you last week that it would pay to bring a Tanach. Generally, if you hear me speak, it's always a good idea to bring a Tanach. If you have a Tanach or if you can get one -- a Chumash will do for only a third of what we're talking about tonight, but Chumashim will help also. The first story I want to look at with you tonight is in Sefer Shmuel and it deals -- it is one of the early stories involving Shaul, the first king of Israel. I'm going to read with you part of the story and I just want to raise a couple of questions about the story and we'll come back to the story a bit later. 

To give you the background, the story takes place in Chapter 11 in Sefer Shmuel Aleph and the story appears immediately after Shaul is crowned king by Shmuel in a ceremony at a place called Mitzpeh. Essentially, what had happened is that G-d had picked Shaul to be king and Shmuel, the prophet at the time, gathers everyone together in Mitzpeh and there is a grand lottery. The purpose of the lottery is to show who the new king is going to be. All the tribes are gathered together and are told to stand before G-d according to their tribes and the lottery begins. The first part of the lottery is that all of the tribes of Israel stand in the lottery and the lottery picks one tribe. And the tribe of Binyamin is capture, so to speak, in the lottery. Then all of the families of bnei Binyamin have a lottery amongst themselves and then a particular family is caught in the lottery and among that family, all the people in the family have a lottery between them and Shaul, the son of Kish is found. However, Shaul's not around so they cannot find Shaul so they think something went wrong with the lottery. 

At that point, they ask the urim v'tumim -- by the way, I'm not just telling you this because it's an interesting story. I want you to pay attention. It is an interesting story, but if you can, I want you to pay attention to everything that I'm telling you tonight because we're going to get to another story and as you get to another story, it's going to remind you of another story. What other story is this going to remind you of? Just kind of pay attention to what's going on. Anyway, they're looking for Shaul and they can't find him so they think something was wrong with the lottery. Maybe this divine lottery thing didn't work out so well. So they ask again of G-d, presumably

using the urim v'tumim this time and they said look, it didn't work, find us another guy because the Shaul guy is not around. But they found him. But the urim v'tumim answered he's here, he's jus hiding behind the suitcases over there. They brought him out of there and they made him stand up among everyone and he was -- as he stood us, he was taller than everybody else in the nation by a head and shoulder. By the way, if you ever wonder where Head and Shoulders comes from, this is where it comes from. The notion to be head and shoulders taller is an expression, I think, that comes from here. Shaul was head and shoulders taller above everyone else. Then Shmuel proclaims do you see the person that G-d has picked out? There's no one like him among all the people and everyone says yechi hamelech. Not quite everybody though. There was some people, nogoodniks, who said amongst themselves what's this guy going to do for us. They made fun of him and they didn't bring him anything by way of coronation present and Shaul was quiet about it. That's the prelude to this story. Then we get to the story. The story begins in Chapter 11. I've been reading you now in Chapter 10. Chapter 11 is the first thing that Shaul does as king. What is the first thing that Shaul does as king? 

It turns out, very strange story. I just want to raise some of the strange issues in this story because it's just really weird if you just read it. It turns out that a war needs to be fought. This king by the name of Nachash, strange name, the king of Amon, encamps against this little outlying town called Yavesh Gilad. What happens is that the king of Amon is the king of a nation and he's encamping against the small little city and basically, the people of Yavesh come out to Nachash and they say we surrender and just tell us your terms and we will be your servants. So Nachash answers them and says here are my terms of surrender. My terms of surrender is that all people in Yavesh Gilad have to submit to me and I'm going to knock out all of their right eyes. Very strange. I am going to make it a badge of shame upon -- now, if you could end the verse yourself, how would you end the verse? I'm going to knock out your right eyes and I'm going to make it a badge of shame upon Yavesh Gilad, upon you guys. Look at you guys. You had to admit to such awful terms of surrender, that's your badge of shame. Strangely, that's not how the verse ends. The verse ends this way. I will make it a badge of shame upon all of the Jewish people which is strange because he's not knocking out their eyes, he's knocking out Yavesh Gilad's eyes so what's going on? Anyway, what's this idea of these crazy terms of surrender? Why doesn't he just say I'm not accepting your terms of surrender or something like that? 

The people of Yavesh came out to answer this demand and they said the following. Give us seven days. We're going to see if we can find some allies to defeat you and if we can't, then we'll accept your terms of surrender. Anything strange about that? When's the last time -- in other words, that's not very good strategy, wouldn't you think. It's like if you were planning on 

surreptitiously fighting some allies, you say we need seven days to see if we can beat you. What are you saying? Are they nuts? Now, the craziest thing is that Nachash, the king of Amon accepts this. This is what he says. He says fine and they get seven days. This is wild. The king of Amon is giving them seven days to see if they can find allies. It's the craziest thing in the world. Meanwhile, word comes. Shaul meanwhile is tending the cattle in the field and he hears people crying in the field. What's strange about this? Hello, didn't he just get coroneted. He's king. What's he doing tending the cattle in the fields. He hears cringe and he asks why is

everybody cringe and they say what happened. They say what happened to Yavesh. That's as far as we're going to get right now. We'll come back to this, but this is a weird story. It's very strange. What is going on with this war with Yavesh Gilad. What is going on with these crazy terms of surrender. Knocking out your right eye, a badge of shame upon all of Israel, give us seven days. Telling the enemy see if we can find people to defeat you. What's Shaul doing after hanging out with the cattle when he's supposed to be king? What's happening in this story? We're going to come back to this story. I just want to keep these ideas in mind and then we're going to play one of my favorite games, where have we heard these words before? Which is that this story actually bears the echoes of other stories and to really understand them, you need to understand the story in context. You have to look broadly in context. I'm going to argue to you tonight that to really understand the Megilla, you have to look at Jewish history before the megillah. To really understand this story, you have to look at Jewish history before this story too. This is one of the stories you need to understand to understand the Megillah, but there are other stories that you need to understand before you can understand this one. Let's go back in time to those earlier stories. One of our arguments that I made to you last week was that the story of Esther is tied in with the story of Yosef. It's tied in with the rift between the Bnei Rochel and the Bnei Leah. At the end of our talk last week, we talked about Esther's final words, where in her greatest moment in danger, in her most desperate hour, she quotes words that were used centuries before by Yehuda. When she says eichacha uchal v'ra'iti b'avdan moladti v'eichacha uchal v'ra'iti v'eichacha uchal v'ra'iti b'ra'a asher yimtza et ami, she's quoting Yehuda. Yehuda said eich ere b'ra'a asher yimtza et avi. Esther says eic er'e b'ra'a asher yimtza et ami. Yehuda had said how can I see the evil that would befall my father. Esther says with just changing one phonetic sound, the bet into the mem, says how can I see the evil that will befall my nation. We argued last week that she was repaying -- that this was an act that, spanning centuries, was Binyamin's way of repaying Yehuda. Yehuda who had been safe had exposed himself and had allowed himself to be a slave, had allowed his life to end virtually, by saying I will be slave but let Binyamin go home. That was a great moment of rectification, I suppose, in the struggle of Yehuda and the brothers in general of Leah, the children of Leah against the children of Rachel, there had been a time before when children of Leah had allowed a child of Rachel to languish as a slave, but Yehuda says I'm not going to make that mistake again. I saw what it did to my father the last time and I'm not going to allow it again. This time, take me. Even though it's painful, even though I know the father loved the other woman more, because I know the father loved the other woman more, father needs to have Binyamin and not me and therefore let him take Binyamin. It's a great act on the part of Yehuda. It is repaid centuries later when a child of Binyamin uses those same words when Esther and Mordechai are an ish yemini, when she uses those words to expose herself and she expresses her solidarity with the children of Yehuda, with the yehudim and does not allow herself to hide in the palace, as it were, once she is safe. 

But I argued to you last week that when Mordechai was telling her that she cannot keep silent, lest she and her father's house be destroyed, that in fact, Yehuda was quoting from somewhere. She says you cannot keep silent this time. You must not keep silent at the danger that is befalling the people of Yehuda this time. Was there another time? There was another time.

There was another time that there was silence that threatened the children of Leah. It all started with silence. If you take that word hacharesh and trace it all the way back in Tanach, you'll find the very first time the word lehacharish is used. It's in exactly that form. You'll find it is in a story which is about the children of Leah and the children of Rachel. I think that's where it all begins. That's where the whole mess begins. MOrdechai says you cannot keep silent this time. Look what happened the last time someone kept silent. 

Let's look at that story because I think that story is the pivot point, the touchstone for the megillah in Tanach. It goes all the way back to the book of Genesis, all the way back to Breishis. Let's look at that story. You had a week to figure out what the story is. What story am I referring to? Anyone know? The first time we have silence in Sefer Breishis. It's the story of Dina and Shchem. Where is it? It's in Vayishlach Chapter 34. Rashi says a fascinating thing about the story of Dina. Rashi, commenting on a different story, commenting on the story of the sale of Yosef, notes the one might think unremarkable fact that the sale of Yosef or that Yosef was dispatched to Shchem in the sale of Yosef. Rashi, commenting on the sale of Yosef being associated specifically with the city of Shchem says the following. Rashi makes an interesting historical connection about Shchem. He says these things. He says Shchem is a bad place, bad things happened in Shchem. What happened in Shchem. This is where Dina was raped. This is where the tribes made their fatal mistake in selling Yosef and there in Shchem, in the Book of Kings, is where the kingdom was divided between Yeravam and Rechavam. 

Now, oftentimes times, when the Midrash or the Gemara will talk about a place or talk about three things, the three different things happening, in those kinds of situations it's sometimes more interesting to look at not just the three different things that happened in that place, but what was similar about those three things? Was there anything similar about those three things? 

Was it just happened to be that three bad things happened in Shchem or was there something similar about the three bad things that happened in Shchem? It's easiest to see the similarity between the last two. What's the similarity between the sale of Yosef and the division of the kingdom which both happened in Shchem. Along what lines does the kingdom divide? It divides along Rachel and Leah lines. There is the kingdom of Yehuda in the south from Leah and there's Efrayim, child of Rachel, in the north, leading the kingdom. It's not to say that there weren't elements of both tribes in different places, but the leadership of the northern kingdom is the children of Rachel, the leadership of the southern kingdom is a child of Leah. Rashi also says this is where Dina was raped. Very strange. What does the rape of Dina have to do with all of this? Is that connected to? Is that a Rachel and Leah story? You go back to the story of the rape of Dina, it doesn't look at face value like a Rachel and Leah story, but if you look carefully, I think you'll see that it's a Rachel and Leah story. But I think we'll see -- what I want to argue to you is that the very first cracks in the unity of the family -- family comes from two wives. Yaakov has two wives, Rachel and Leah. The very first cracks in the unity of that family happen not in the story of Yosef and his brothers. They happen earlier. They happen in the story of the rape of Dina before Binyamin is even born, actually, it happens. That cracks explodes at the family level in the sale of Yosef where there's this crisis in the family, where the children of one mother sell the child of another mother and then that same crisis explodes at the national level when the

kingdom is divided between the children of these two mothers. What Rashi seems to be saying is that they very beginning of the fissure between these families, between the family, begins with the rape of Dina. If you want to understand where it all began, you had to look at the rape of Dina. Let's look at the rape of Dina. Chapter 34. 

The stories we're looking at tonight, by the way, I just need to tell you, one of the reasons why they're unfamiliar is because they're not such nice stories. I'm just telling you this now. This is not the kind of things you learn with kids on Shabbos afternoon and stuff. I venture to say that probably when we were kids and we went to school, these are the stories they skipped. Did you ever notice how you never learned all of Breishis? They're like two or three chapters, what happened in Sedom with those guys at the house. You never learned about that. The rape of Dina is one of those stories. It's just not such a nice story. It's a less familiar story and the stories we'll see later tonight are even more horrific than that. I have to tell you this is not a pretty night. It's not pretty out there and it's not pretty in here either. Let's look at the story of the rape of Dina. 

Interesting how the story begins, isn't it? Very first verse. Dina, the daughter of Leah, who gave birth to Yaakov, went out to see things, to see what was going on with the children of the land. What's remarkable about this first verse? Well, if you've been paying attention to Breishis, this is not the first time we heard about Dina. We remember the birth of Dina and if you were paying attention, you would realize that Dina was in fact the daughter of Leah. There wasn't another Dina that we're talking about. Why is it the Torah has to go out of its way to tell you that Dina is the daughter of Leah? You know this already. It must be not because you don't know it, but because it's relevant to the story. If you want to understand the story, you have to understand that Dina was the daughter of Leah. How so? Let's keep on reading. Why mention that Yaakov was the father. Also a good point. Let's talk about both of those things. Why do I need to know that Leah was the mother and why do I need to know that Yaakov was the father? Those things, I think, will become clear as we begin to read through the story. As we read through the story, what are the questions that come to mind? It's a strange story, but it's not just strange because of the reasons why we think that it's strange which is that this outrageous massacre happens at the end of this story. It's strange also because of the things that lead up to that. So let's read. 

What happens? Shchem, the son of Chamor -- strange name, isn't it? Shchem, shoulder, the son of donkey. Strange thing. But anyway, we'll buy that. He was president of that region of that land. So he sees this girl, he takes her, he basically forcibly sleeps with her. But afterwards, he falls in love with her and he begins to court her, essentially, after the fact. He wants to marry her. Shchem says to Chamor, his father, do me a favor, let's make this official. I want to marry this girl. Take this girl for me as a wife. Make it happen. Now, what's interesting here also is that if you look at the way this is phrased and how the Torah phrases it, if you would have stopped right here and you wouldn't have read further, if you just closed your books right now, you'd say okay, how is this story going to end. If you look later on in Sefer Devarim, you'll get some clues as to how this story could have ended, perhaps. Which is the Torah talks about such cases,

talks about if a girl is raped. What happens, according to the Torah, in a case of rape? What does the Torah say about rape? In the case of rape, the man is penalized. Whatever monetary penalties he has to pay the girl for pain, suffering and damages and all of that, something else also. There's a penalty and the penalty is that he has to marry her if the father wants is and the girl ants it. Either the father or the girl can object. If the father objects, there's no marriage. If the girl objects and the father wants, there's no marriage. But if the girl and the father want, he gets no say. He has to marry her and he can't divorce her. That's the penalty in addition to everything else. In addition to all the monetary consequences, that's the penalty for rape. If we were just left to our own devices, at this point we might say well, look, he wants to marry her, she seems to want to marry him. He's talking nicely to her. They're going to talk to Yaakov. If it works out, who knows? But strangely, the Torah doesn't cast it in that light. If you read further, the Torah seems to see this in the harshest possible light. You see that in the next verse. Yaakov heard ki timei Dina bito. Those are very harsh words, those are fighting words, those are strong words. Yaakov heard that this man had defiled his daughter. 

Now, men in the room, when you even hear those words and you think about your daughter, what are the emotions that are raised? Someone defiles your daughter? How do you feel? Those are the most emotionally charged words that a man can hear. And his children were back with the cattle and Yaakov was silent until they returned. Meanwhile, Chamor is going to try to come out to see if he can make this marriage happen. Chamor comes to talk to Yaakov to speak with him and the children of Yaakov came from the field when they heard and they became very sad and then they became very angry because a terrible thing -- what's the word for nevala in English? An abomination has been committed among the Jews to forcibly rape a daughter of Yaakov. These things are not done. 

Chamor starts speaking with them and says Shchem, my son, has fallen in love with your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. Now, there's something very strange happening in this verse. See if you can identify what just happened in this verse which is really odd. It's a little shell game going on. Have you ever been on the streets of Manhattan and played Three Card Monty (ph)? What's the shell game that just happened here? Where's Yaakov? Now, where was Yaakov? Let's just keep your eye on the ball. When Chamor went out to speak, who did he go to speak to? Look earlier. Yaakov. Yaakov and the brothers or only Yaakov? Yaakov. Does it make sense that he would speak with only Yaakov? Yes. Why? Because this is a father to father talk. He's trying to arrange marriage with this girl. He's the father. He's going to negotiate with this father. It makes a lot of sense. However, what just happens? When he starts talking, he's not talking to just Yaakov. He starts talking to someone else. Who's he talking to? He's speaking with them. Who's them? Them is everybody. Them is Yaakov plus sons. Look at what he says. My son, your, plural, daughters. What does you mean your, plural, daughters? It's only a daughter of one man here. Not your sister. What is going on? Please give her, plural, to me as a wife. He's talking toe everybody. Very strange. Keep on reading. Skip to Verse 13. And the children of Yaakov answered Shchem and Chamor, their father, deceitfully. They spoke to the man who had defiled Dina, their sister.

You see what happened over here? In the beginning, who is Chamor going to meet? Chamor is going to meet Yaakov. Then he starts speaking to who? Everybody. Yaakov and his son. Then, once he makes the proposal, who answers? His sons. Yaakov is completely silent. Yaakov has been completely silent this whole time. He began by being silent until the brothers come home. Even once the brothers come home, he's absolutely silent. The brothers take charge of the negotiations. He's just not saying anything. The brothers come up with this plan, a plan that Yaakov eventually decides he doesn't like. The brothers say look, we'd love to do what you ask, but we just can't because we can't give our daughter to an uncircumcised person because it's a disgrace to us. You have to be like us. Again, one of the problems we have in reading Tanach oftentimes that you know the story so you know the ending already. But again, you have to read the story without knowing the ending. If you stop right here, how do you assume the story would end? If you had to guess, you didn't know anything else and you stopped right here. The brothers are acting deceitfully and the brothers come along and they say well, we can't give our daughter to uncircumcised people. If your whole town decides to circumcise themselves, we'll be happy to give you her, but otherwise we'll take her and leave. 

Now, if you stop right there, what would you think would probably happen? They wouldn't circumcise themselves. A whole town is going to circumcise themselves? Ludicrous. One thing G-d comes out of the clouds and tell Avraham you have to do this operation, no antibiotics, risk of infection, the whole thing and the whole town is going to do this? When it says that the children of Yaakov spoke deceitfully, it doesn't necessarily mean that the deceit was that they were planning a massacre when these guys are in pain because what are they thinking? They're thinking they're never going to agree. That wasn't the deceit. The deceit was that they were coming up with a politically acceptable way to get their sister back. They felt that they couldn't just say sorry, we don't like you, we're taking her, when this guy is proposing relatively reasonable terms of marriage. They're not going to get their daughter back that way. A somewhat politically more palatable way of doing this is look, we'd really love to help, but we have this crazy custom that we do over here, but it's very painful and it's very dangerous, but if you're interested, certainly be our guests, but otherwise, we really just have to take our sister back. Never in their wildest dreams did they believe the whole city is going to do this. The whole city is going to do this, they go now what? Really, they don't have an answer. Except for Shimon and Levi who had an answer. Everybody comes up with this plan, but only Shimon and Levi come up with the next step. We can't allow this to stand. Shimon and Levi come and this whole thing has gone very badly so they organize this massacre, essentially, and take Dina. 

Let's talk about this story. Let's talk about the emotions of this story. Yaakov hears something which are fighting words. This man has defiled his daughter. The very next thing is that he's silent. He's silent until they come home. Then, what's the reaction of the brothers? What is their emotional reaction when they find out? The first thing that happens is, the text tells us, which means they were sad. The second thing that happens is they were angry. Sadness followed by anger. What were they sad about? What were they angry about? Yaakov was silent until they came home. That's the first time in the Torah you have that word. That's the word that Esther uses. That's the word that Mordechai talks about. That's the word that we talked about

last week, Mordechai is quoting from Sefer Bamidbar in the annulations of vows. We know about that word. What does lehacharish really mean? The root means what? What does cheresh mean? Deaf. To keep silent is to make yourself deaf. Now, what does making yourself deaf do? The Torah in Bamidbar tells us about the consequences of making yourself dead. In the case of a woman who accepts upon herself an unacceptable excruciating vow, which puts herself at risk in a very devastating position and her husband hears this, her husband has the right to annul or he has the right if he wants to accept the vow. But what happens if he tries to avoid responsibility? What happens if he says I didn't hear? If he puts his hands in his ears and says I'm not getting involved, it's her business, how do we treat that? What is that silence really? What does the Torah say that silence is? That silence is affirmation. So then he has affirmed her vow. He can no longer annul it and if he tries to annul it later, it doesn't work. If she can't keep it, he's responsible because he could have done something and he didn't. that silence is assent. The word to make yourself deaf, that kind of silent, is equivalent to assent or consent. That's why Mordechai tells Esther you cannot be silent, you are the spouse, you cannot abstain because if you are silent to this decree that your spouse has made, this decree of Haman that your spouse has consented to, if you are silent to it, you have a chance to annul. If you are silent, whose side does that put you on? That puts you on Haman's side. You have affirmed that decree. Therefore, you are going to go down because Haman is going to go down and you are aligning yourself with Haman by your consent. You can't do that. No matter how dangerous it is, no matter how bad a strategy you think you have, you've got to find a way to speak up because you cannot remain silent. That a sense of outrage should fill you with this decree. Your husband has made this decree. Where is your outrage? You have to speak up. That's what Mordechai told her. The very first time we have this silence that Mordechai says that cannot be abided is right here in another story with the children of Leah and the children of Rachel. Why are they sad? Why are those children sad? The story began, Dina, the daughter of Leah went out and Yaakov was silent until who came home? Until all the children of Leah came home. And then they were terribly sad. Why were they sad and then why were they angry? How did they interpret that silence? At the moment when father -- listen to what they say. Why are they angry? Because a terrible thing has happened in the Jews, something that should not be. To rape the daughter of Yaakov. She's the daughter of Leah that was born to Yaakov. He is her father. What are they saying to themselves? He's affirming this by his silence. His silence is like -- he can't be silent. That's like saying it's okay. At the moment, he should be stricken with outrage. It's not a time to think public relations. You should be stricken with outrage. You don't have a a good plan, fine. There's outrage. They defiled your sister. They're sad. If she was a child of Rachel, would he have been silent then? You're only silent because it's a daughter of Leah? 

Ax: Yeah, but can't you also say it that he was silent until they came and they spoke so he was affirming what they were doing? 

M1: No, he wasn't affirming what they were doing. He was silent until they came home. Now, you could say he's waiting for them to come home. But I think their view of it is you can't wait. Remember what Mordechai says. Remember what the chapter of annulling vows says. Look at

the laws of annulling vows. You have the ability to annul, but only when? That's time bound. How does that annulling work when you annul your wife's vow? What's the idea behind that? It's that she can't do this without you and if you hear that she's accepted something excruciating upon yourself, how are you supposed to react? You can't do that. When you say you can't do that as your immeidate response to what you heard, that annuls it. But that's time limited. That emotional gut level response what are you doing, you can't do that, is not something that is so thought out. It's not something that you ponder for a while. There has to be an immediate when you hear it. If the sun goes down and you don't say that, your chance is over. Lehacharish is the type of silence where you would expect the gut level outrage reaction and it's not there. The brother's immediate reaction is that they are sad, but that's then followed by anger. Anger that this has happened to the daughter of Yaakov. They destroy ultimately two of these people. They had a plan, plan didn't work and ultimately, that anger boils over and destroys an entire city of Shchem. 

You have to wonder who their anger was really at. Were they really angry at Shchem or were they angry at their father? Then what happens? The negotiations begin. Why are the sons responding to Chamor? Because dad is silent. What are they doing? How are they dealing with Chamor? Chamor gets the idea. How is he treating them? How are they treating themselves? As father. Why? It's almost as if they're saying if he's not going to be the father, then we're going to stand up and be the father. Is this how Yaakov viewed it? Not necessarily. Yaakov used it differently. Yaakov has a different way of seeing the whole thing. At the very end of the story, Yaakov gets angry at them and says you can't do this. Yaakov thought that politically, there was no way that he could resist this. All the cards were against him. That's his way of viewing his silence. But it's not the brothers' way of viewing the silence. Brothers' way of viewing that silence seems to be, you know, who cares about politics. Where's the outrage? I don't care if there's no way to make it work. What happens is it's almost as if they adopt Dina as their daughter, dealing with her as a daughter and that's the last thing. We don't care about the PR. Are you going to let our sister be dealt with like a Hurlock? 

There are three stories where Shchem was really bad. There was the story of the destruction of the kingdom, the division of the kingdom. There was the story of Yosef in the pit and there was the story of the rape of Dina. What do those three stories have in common? This seems to be what they have in common. This is where it begins. It's the sound of silence. Silence speaking louder than words. That's the first time. By the way, this is the last major even that happens before the sale of Yosef. This is right before the sale of Yosef. The sale of Yosef happens with this in the not too distant memory when Yosef goes to Shchem and he gets sold there. This is Act 1, this is Story Number 1. 

Let's move on to Act 2. Story Number 2 happened centuries later. If the rape of Dina is a very sorry tale, it's not the proudest moment in Jewish history, the story which I'm about to read with you is probably the sorriest tale. It's probably the most ignominious moment in Jewish history and Tanach. I'd like to see hands how many of you have studied the story of pilegesh b'Giva in high school. Less than one percent of you have studied. But it's right there. How many

of you learned the Book of Judges in high school? Nine out of 10 people who learned the Book of Judges did not study this story in the Book of Judges. It's the most outrageous story in the Book of Judges. What I'm about to tell you is rated R. This is a nightmare story. This is not something to share with your kids when you get home. When people ask you what did you learn about tonight, you don't have to tell them that you learned about pilegesh b'Giva. It is literally a nightmare of a story because I think it has something to teach us. Everything in Tanach has something to teach us. What are you supposed to learn from a nightmare? 

Let's read it and as we read it, see if there's any other stories that this story reminds you of. If you happen to have a Tanach in front of you, we're reading from Book of Judges, Chapter 19. I'm not going to read the whole thing. We don't have that kind of time. I'm going to read excerpts from this and fill you in on what else happens. Once upon a time, there was no king in Israel and there was a guy who was a Levite. We don't know his name. he married a woman, but he didn't quite marry her. She was a concubine and she came from Yehuda. Then the next verse tells us something strange. Now, what does the word vatizne mean? Normally, you're used to thinking as the word vatizne from the word zenus as a word for illicit relationship, as sort of an adulterous kind of relationship. It almost sounds like she was sexually deviant. She allowed herself to have an illicit relationship with someone. But if you read the next part of the verse, you find something shocking. Read the next words. Vatizne alav pilagsho vatelech me'ito el beit aviha. Vatizne literally does not mean having illicit relationship. The word literally means to stray. Here the Torah seems to be using it in its very literal sense. She strayed from him and went to her father's house. Nothing wrong with going to your father's house. But there's a strange sort of slippery word here which is like -- how does he view it? 

My mom is in the audience. I don't know if you know my mom. She's the head of Shalom Task Force or one of the people involved with Shalom Task Force, Domestic Violence hotline. If you think of this in terms of domestic violence and you'll see why I'm seeing that later. How does this man view her going back to her father's house? As if that's an illicit relationship. What are you doing going to your father's house? You've strayed from me. The word stray has different connotations. Yes, technically, she has strayed from him, but the word he's using, the word that's used is much more charged than simply going to your father's house. What are you doing going to your father's house? It's almost a breach of faith, leaving and going to your father's house. Anyway, she's at her father's house. What happens is she's there for a long time. She stays with her father for four months. Her husband finally gets up and goes to get her back, to speak to her heart. We've heard those words before, haven't we? Where do we have speaking to her heart in the story we just heard of? Shchem. 

By the way, if you actually think about it, the parallel is much broader, isn't it? Think of this situation here. There's a girl in whose house? In her father's house. And there's a guy with whom she really belongs who is sort of seducing her, trying to get her out of the house and staying with her. What does that remind you of? It's sort of a mirror image of what happened in the last story in Shchem. There, there was a girl in someone's house. There was a father, Chamor, who was trying to keep her in this house. There was someone in the house that was

speaking to her heart, trying to keep her there where she doesn't really belong. And there was other family who were trying to extract her and get her back. It's like sort of a crazy house mirror of the other story. 

This husband is trying to seduce her back to him. He's got himself a yoke of donkeys. Who was the father in the last story? Donkey wasn't him. Well, the Torah just has to go out of its way to tell us the guy's got two donkeys with him. They bring him into the house and dad sees this guy and he's totally overjoyed to see him. He's thrilled to see this guy. He grabs him as we'll see later in the story. Keep in mind the word vayechezak, to grab, later in the story. He grabs him, he hugs him and he makes him stay there for three days. It's almost like a bear hug that doesn't let go. Father's not letting her go. Why do you think dad is not so -- what's dad's response? Do you understand dad's response? He's so happy to see him, but he's keeping him there. She's been there for four months. For three days, dad keeps him there. How does he keep him there? He makes these feasts and he eats and they drink together and he sleeps there, this guy, the Levite. Finally, it's the fourth day and finally, the guy decides I've got to go. It's four days already, I came and I'm ready to go. They wake up in the morning to go and the father comes down the stairs and he says no, come on, let's have another meal, you haven't eaten, take something before you and afterwards you'll leave. He said fine and he ate and they both ate together and they drank. Finally, later in the day, the father says to this guy, you know, it's getting late already, I think you should sleep here tonight. We'll drink and we'll have some more wine and everything will be fine. The guy stayed there a fourth night. Finally, on the fifth day, the guy thinks this is crazy, he's just got to get out of there already. By the way, what do you think the father is doing? Why is he not letting her go? It makes you wonder, doesn't it? You're the father, what are you doing here? By the way, think about the brothers in the last story. It's almost as if the brothers' couldn't politically rest Dina out of the situation she was in so what were they doing? They were sort of dealing smartly, strategically, in a way that was more politically acceptable. What's the father doing? Isn't he doing exactly the same thing? Does this guy want to let his girl go with this man? No, not at all. He kept her there for four months. Remember what the fellow's response to that girl coming was. She's straying, she's going to her father. What's going to happen to this girl when she leaves after straying and going back with this guy to her father? How's this guy going to feel? How's he going to treat her? Father doesn't want to find out. Father's staying stay, stay, stay. He can't do anything else. She's married to him. He ultimately has to let her go, but he can't let her go so he's trying to devise a politically acceptable way of keeping him and keeping him and keeping him so that maybe something will change. 

Finally, the fourth night, the fifth morning, the father starts demanding no, you can't leave. He stays there one last day. Finally, on the fourth day, he wakes up and the father tries again and said eat more food, wait until the end of the day and they eat. Finally, it's sunset time. The father says stay. The guy says I cannot stay. Now, leaving at this time is not smart. It's not like there's a train to Washington or something. This is 400 BC. You're off on the road, it's close to sunset, you've got nowhere to go, you've got a long trip ahead of you, but the guy just can't stay anymore so I don't care what time it is, so he leaves. It's close to sunset. He goes with his

concubine. The father says look, it's getting late, please stay here. But he doesn't listen and he starts to go. They start going and before you know it, it's sunset time. The fellow with him says look, you've got to find somewhere to stay, where are we going to stay. They pass a Yevusi town, which by the way, is Yerushalayim. But it's Yerushalayim before it's conquered and they say we can't stay in Yerushalayim, it's too dangerous. Let's stay in a Jewish city. They find a Jewish city, it's called Giva. It's the city of Binyamin and they come to Giva and when they come to Giva, what happens? They come to Giva and it's nighttime and they start sleeping on the street because no one invites them in. 

Finally, some old guy comes along and the fellow comes and says look, where are you from, please stay in my house. He invites them in and he makes them a meal. All of a sudden, in the middle of that meal, a crowd starts gathering around the house and demands that the old guy surrender the guests so that the mob can sodomize him. Reminds you a lot of Sedom. The language is copied from Sedom. There are people knocking at the doors saying give him up to us so that we can sodomize him. The guy, just like Lot, stands by the door and says almost exactly what Lot says. He says whatever you do, do not take him, do not sodomize him. Instead, I have some daughters, take them. The mob, taking their cues from Sedom says nothing doing, we don't want the daughters, we want him. But then the story changes from Sedom. Look what happens next. The man says take these stories and oppress them, do what you want with them. Do what's good in your eyes. Whatever you do to this man, don't do this abomination. What does that remind you of? The rape of Dina was an abomination also. They didn't want to listen and the man grabbed his concubine. When's the last time we have a man grabbing? Remember, the father had grabbed the man. Now the man grabs his concubine. Look what happens next. He grabs her and he throws her outside to the mob and they rape her all night long until the morning. They sent her away in the morning. This is the part where if you want to not listen or close your eyes from the theater screens, this is the part where you do it. In the morning, the girl comes and she collapses by the front door where her master was, where her husband was until the morning. 

Meanwhile, the Levite gets up in the morning and he opens the doors of the house and he's off going on his way. That is a very damning incrimination right there. What's he doing opening those doors? He's going on his way. It's almost as if what happened to her wasn't even on his mind. He's ready to go. Time to leave. He's off and what does he find. There's his concubine. Here's this girl, she's collapsed by the doorway and her hand was on the threshold of the door. She was trying to get in. he speaks to her and he says get up and go, let's leave. She doesn't respond. He takes her and picks her up and puts her on the donkey. He goes back to his place, back home. He gets back home and he takes a knife and he grabbed his concubine. He cuts her body up into 12 different portions and sends them out to the 12 tribes of Israel, one portion for each tribe and says look out this outrage. Can you allow this outrage to stand? Nothing this outrageous has ever happened since the Jews have come out of Egypt. 

Did you notice as I read this that you're never quite sure if she was alive or dead? Did you notice how it never said that she was dead? It said she collapsed. It says her hand was by

the door. It said she didn't answer, but that does not mean she was dead. He picks her up, takes her home and starts cutting up her body, but it never said that she was dead. Why is the Torah so ambiguous about whether she was alive or dead? And what's that word for knife? Ma'achelet. There's only one other time that ma'achelet is used for a knife. The only other time is in the akeida. When the word ma'achelet is used there, was the person who was going to be the victim alive or dead? Alive. What would the knife have done? Kill him. The oly other time you use ma'achelet, which by the way means that which causes to consume, the knife which consumes the life of, why is the Torah using that word? It's almost like a backhanded way of saying was she alive or was she dead? It's intentionally ambiguous almost becasuse we're not supposed to know because he didn't know. Why didn't he know? He could have known. He didn't care. What did he care about? Look at this outrage. Do you believe him? There's something wrong here. What's wrong with this story? 

This guy comes and gathers 400,000 troops with that stunt of body parts sent out all over the people. 400,000 people come from all over the Jewish people to Binyamin and 400,000 people storm Binyamin. They say what happened over here. Give us the people who did this outrage and we will kill them. Then the Levite gets us and addresses all 400,000 people and gives a speech. This is what he says in the speech. By the way, they come to a place called Mitzpeh and they stand altogether and the man addresses them. He says I came to Giva of Binyamin and they came to me and they gathered against me at night. They tried to kill me and my concubine, they took and they did terrible things to her and she died. Do you notice any discrepancy between the story we know and the story he tells? What did he leave out? That he threw her out. Not only that, they were trying to kill me. Is that true? They never tried to kill him. They tried to sodomize him, not nice, but they never tried to kill him. He exaggerates slightly and he leaves out the most important part, the part about throwing her out. Look at what these people did. He has no culpability. The only culpability in the story, according to him, lies right with the children of Binyamin. The people react with outrage. The people hear and are outraged. The man reacts with outrage, but notice something about that outrage. It's very delayed. Look what he does. All through the night, seems to have slept very well, woke up in the morning, all he's thinking about is going home, certainly not the concubine's plate on his mind, happens to see her, says look, we got to go. What's still on his mind? Going. The only thing that matters is he wants to get home already. She's dead. All right. So inconvenient. Instead of her being able to walk, he has to schlep her on this donkey. Nebach, the poor guy. This is what he's thinking. He's coming home and going, all this and then finally, when does the outrage set in? when he gets home, cuts up the body. He reacts with outrage, but it's delayed outrage. What do you know about outrage? Can't be delayed. The Torah tells you something outrageous happens, you respond immediately. He's silent. The tribes come and disaster ensues. They ask Binyamin give up the people and we will kill them. It almost could have worked out well. The people of Binyamin say no. why do they say no? Is it because they condone the acts of the city? Not necessarily. Why might they say no? the tribes come and they say give us the man so that we will kill them. If you were in Binyamin, why might you say no. Even if you don't condone what the people of Giva did. There's no extradition treaty here. We have a justice system, we'll take care of it. But the people aren't doing it. They're invading that boundary. Binyamin says you can't

invade our boundary. We have to take care of this. Bad decisions all around lead to civil war. The tribes get together, they make a goral. They ask G-d who should go to war. The one thing they never ask G-d is should they go to war. G-d only answers the question asked. Yehuda should go first. Yehuda does go first and they're butchered by the children of Binyamin. Binyamin has 26,000 troops against the Jews' 400,000. The first day of way, Binyamin wins hands down. The people come back to G-d and they say it didn't work out, something was wrong. They asked the urim v'tumim again who's going to go first, what should we do? Should we go back to war, should we go back to our brother, Binyamin? The urim v'tumim answers and says go to your brother. They interpreted that to mean go to war against your brother. And they do. But they didn't necessarily mean that. Go to your brother is ambiguous too. They go in, again they're wiped out, but on the third day, they wipe out Binyamin so completely, that 25,000 out of the 26,000 men of Binyamin are killed in one day. In the aftermath, only 600 men of Binyamin are left alive. 

Look what happens then. What happens then? It so happened that the people, when they have gone out to war against Binyamin have sworn among themselves that Binyamin had created such an outrage that none of them could give their daughter to anyone from Binyamin to marry. The people come to Bet El -- by the way, look at the stories in more of a global sense. A rape in the story of Giva, a rape in the story of Pilegesh b'Giva. Who was raped in the story of Dina? A daughter of Leah. Who was raped in this story? She was Bet Lechem Yeuda. She's from Yehuda. It's another daughter of Leah who was raped. Where was she raped? In Binyamin. All the tribes of Yehuda come against Binyamin and say what are you doing. All the children of Leah came and said to Yaakov are you favoring a child of Rachel. All of the tribes, centuries later, come to Binyamin and say basically the same thing. What, you won't give up the children of Rachel? Look at this outrage. You won't give it up. 

After the rape of Dina, do you know the very next place that Yaakov and his sons go? They go to Bet El. If you look in this story, after the massacre of Binyamin, the very next place they go is Bet El. When they're in Bet El, they come and they cry before G-d. They cry and this is what they say. G-d, how could you do this? How could you do such a thing, to virtually wipe out a tribe in Israel? What's a little strange about this? G-d didn't do it, they did it. G-d, how could you allow such a terrible thing to happen that a whole tribe of Israel has been destroyed. The next day, they got up and in their religious fervor, they built an altar and they offered offerings and other offerings. Then they said to themselves -- they felt so awful about what happened and how could G-d have allowed that to happen. This is what they said. They were worried about the tribe of Binyamin. They only had 600 men, there were no women that they could borrow. They had a problem. These 600 men are not going to be able to marry anybody. We said that they can't marry our children. They have no children of their own to marry. They're going to die out they said you know what, I remember, we took another oath. Not only did we swear that none of our children could marry Binyamin, we also swore that all of us had to go to war against Binyamin. Who didn't go with us? Who didn't go up to war with us against Binyamin? By the way, that's the last thing they did? They offered offerings. What kind of offerings? Olot. What's the very next word. Who didn't go up? Ala. It's like they're thinking now

that we're up in the go up mood, we're offering offerings, all of that, they're thinking who didn't go up with us. It leads them and they're thinking and they say gee, Yavesh Gilad. Yavesh Gilad, this little city from Yehuda, from the children of Leah, they didn't go up from us. They sort of abstained from this way against Binyamin. Well, we swore that anybody who didn't go up with us against war, that's a capital crime. They could die for that. The next thing they do is they wage war, all of the people of Israel, against this little town of Yavesh Gilad, killing out all the men and giving the women to Binyamin. Now they have wives and that's the end of the story. 

That's a pretty nightmarish story. That's about as bad as it gets. But luckily, it's not the end. I want to end tonight very briefly, by looking again at Act 3. If Act 1 is the rape of Dina, if Act 2 is the rape of Dina on a macrocosmic scale, what is Act 3? Act 3 is the next time we meet Yavesh Gilad. It's the story I began with so let's make it the story I end with. Let's look at that story. It's in the next book, in Samuel I Chapter 11. Let's look at that and read that story again. Somehow, all the strange things that we have been thinking about are not so strange anymore. They make perfect sense. The coronation story. The coronation story happens you know where? It happens in Mitzpe. Mitzpe is the place they went to battle against Binyamin. The coronation story happens in Mitzpe. Mitzpe is where there was a goral. Mitzpe is where there was a lottery to find out which is the tribe that would go to war first. Now Mitzpe's the place for another lottery, a lottery in which Saul would be chosen king. In the last lottery, they got together to find out who would go to war against Binyamin, this child of Rachel, and who was picked, child of Leah, Yehuda. What happens in this lottery? Who gets picked to lead all the tries of Israel? Children of Leah. Fifty years after Pilegesh b'Giva and what tribe does he come from? Binyamin. 

Think about how difficult that's going to be for Shaul. Can you imagine that? 50 years after the civil war, where is the king of everybody going to come from? It's going to come from the confederacy. That's exactly what it is. It's like (inaudible) and South Carolina. What's happening? Fifty years, reconstruction is barely over. Reconstruction isn't over and the king is coming from Binyamin. There's a goral, but this time the goral picks him to lead everybody. Guess what? He was shoulder above everybody else. Shichmo vama'ala? Anybody? Shchem. Oh my goodness, isn't that interesting. He's head and shoulders above. Shchem is where it all began and his Shchem is above everyone else's. He stands up among the people when he's coronate. The Jews stood up in Mitzpe to be counted in that war against Binyamin. In the very next story, after that coronation, everyone leaves the coronation ceremony and everyone goes home and the Torah makes a point of telling us where home was for Shaul. Guess where it was. Home was in Giva. He goes home to Giva. There's that town among Binyamin. That's where he lives. He's the king. Then, all of a sudden, the Bnei Bliyaal come and they say we're not (inaudible). Bnei Bliyaal, yes, those were the people back in the story of pilegesh b'Giva who gathered. Remember the crowd. The crowd is back. Those same guys in Giva, they're now chanting epithets (inaudible). What are you going to do for us this time? Haven't learned that crowd.

He was silent. There's that word again. Silence has a long and storied history in the conflicts between the children of Rachel and the children of Leah. The first conflict began with silence. There was an awful silence in the second conflict too, in pilegesh b'Giva and now there's silence too, but this silence is very different than the rest. What is Saul silent about? Insults directed at who? Insults directed at him. That's a very different kind of silence. That's the right kind of silence. Instead of being silent, Saul is not silent at an outrage directed against the other side of the family. Saul is silent at outrages directed to him. That's a different kind of silence. Saul is silent in the right kind of way. Then Nachash, the king of Amon, gets up and what does he decide to do? He encamps against a city. Why does he pick Yavesh Gilad of all places? Why would he do that? I don't know if you guys remember. You guys aren't from Baltimore, but I was living in Baltimore at the time. Do you remember Kal Ricken (ph) short stop for the Baltimore oreals. Towards the end of his career he was not fast enough to play short stop anymore so he played third base. I remember the very first game when Kal Ricken played third base. What do you think the opposing hitters did for the three outs of the first inning? They bunted up the third base line. Testing the new third base man. Can you really play third base? What is Nachash doing over here? Why is Nachash waging war against Yavesh Gilad when there's a new king for the Jews? A king from Binyamin. What's he really saying? Let's see you defend Yavesh Gilad. Let's see what you're made of. Yavesh Gilad, that's the hardest thing in the world. Can you imagine the politics ramifications of Shaul, this king from Little Binyamin, right after the civil war, who's he going to defend? The guy that no one liked. The people that everyone gained up at. Every last people gained up and decimated Yavesh Gilad because they didn't ally themselves to Binyamin. Now that Binyamin guy is going to come and fight and is supposed to rally everybody to the fence of Yavesh Gilad. This isn't happening. Nachash knows it isn't happening. That's the whole point it isn't happening. Nachash doesn't want Yavesh Gilad. What does Nachash want? Nachash wants Saul. Nachash wants to show the kingship for the farce it really is. You think you can elect a king from Binyamin to unify all your people. Let's see how unified you guys really are. What happens when I pick on Yavesh Gilad. Let's see what happens now. We all know the history here. So the people of Yavesh surrender immediately. Why? Because they know what's coming. Fifty years ago they got decimated. They know what it's like to be decimated. They're not going to allow it to happen again. Just tell us the terms. Perfectly fine. You tell us the terms. The people of Yavesh come and they tell the terms. Nachash comes back with the terms, no problem. Here are the terms. With this I will cut a deal with you, literally, when you cut up Binyamin your new king. Ein yamin, ein yamin, ein yamin. Say it really fast. Doesn't it sound a lot like Binyamin to you? I'll cut a covenant with you when you cut out Binyamin, your new king. Cut out your right eye and it will be a cherpah on all of us. 

By the way, what does it remind you of, cutting and shame? Any other story we've been talking about? Oh, it's the rape of Dina, isn't it? What did people do in the rape of Dina, do you remember that? What did the brothers say? The brothers said you guys have to cut yourself, don't you? Because it's a terrible shame for us to marry into a family that don't do circumcision. What does Nachash say? It brings us all the way back to the rape of Dina. It's two stories in the background here. To understand this story, you've got to understand the rape of Dina, you've got to understand that story. I'll only make a cutting with you, I'll only make a covenant when you cut

out your right eye. A right eye, what a strange thing? Why do you bother having two eyes? One eye is good enough. Why two? You can see everything with one eye that you can see with two. What does two give you that one doesn't? depth perception. Two eyes are meant to work together as a team? What does Nachash do by cutting out one of them from every man in Yavesh Gilad? What's he really saying? You think there's unity here? You think you guys have things working together? You have nothing working together. I'll take all of your right eyes out and there's no teamwork here. There's nothing. Then the people say give us seven days. That's all we want, seven days to see if we can find any allies. Why are they saying see if we can find any allies? The whole point is that you can't find any allies. The whole point is that of course no one's going to save you. You're Yavesh Gilad. The whole point of waging war is to prove that no one will save you. So the people know the score, they know, so give us seven days to see what happens. 

The people come to Saul and they raise their voice and cry. There was another story when people raised their voice and cried. It was a story of pilegesh b'Giva. In the story of pilegesh b'Giva, everybody raised their voice and cried. They said oh, poor Binyamin, we feel so terrible for them. It's true we just massacred them, but we feel really awful because they have nobody that they can marry anymore. What are we going to do for poor Binyamin. We can't do anything. Whenever people raise their voice and cry, it's always anguish. It's always something slipping through your fingers that you can't get back. There's no way out. The people say what can we possibly do. Saul is coming home from the field. He's with the cattle. What does that remind you of? A guy with the cattle when you hear an outrage? It's just like the rape of Dina when the brothers come and they hear the outrage. What's Saul's response? First he responds to sadness. What was the brothers' response back in the story of Dina? Sadness. First response, how come you guys are all crying. They tell him what happened to Yavesh. What's his next response? He gets good and angry, really angry. And it's the right kind of anger. What is he angry about? Who is he angry about? Is he angry at Nachash? No, you can expect this from Nachash. Of course Nachash is going to do this. Just like the brothers, are they angry at Shchem? No. Who are they angry about? They're angry about what's going on inside the family. That's exactly what Saul is angry about. 

He takes a yolk of oxen and he cuts it up into the pieces of body parts and he sends it to all the tribes of Israel with messengers. Reminds you of what? It's pilegesh b'Giva. But this is the right kind of body parts. These are not human body parts. These are oxen. What does he say? Back in the story of pilegesh b'Giva, everybody unified themselves. But it was a unity that was a farce. It was a unity that destroyed unity. It was a unity that tore the Jewish people apart. Now, what does Saul say? Saul sends out these body parts of oxen and says you know what's going to happen to your oxen? What's going to happen to you guys if you don't come out to war against me? If we can't unify ourselves together in defense of Yavesh Gilad, what do we really have? We have nothing. This is going to be you guys. This is going to be us. A body part of an ox can't do anything. One whole ox can't do anything unless it's yoked together. He takes a yoke together, splits the yoke, cuts up the oxen and says this is the kind of unity we have, guys. Everybody comes to war with him. Everybody gathers. The people from Yehuda gather. Yehuda

has more than anyone. There's a Binyaminite king leading the people of Yehuda together and they all band together, same language as pilegesh b'Giva when everyone banded together. Then he counts them. There are 300,000 people, 30,000 from Yehuda. They go to war and he divides them into three camps in the war. In the war, they manage to be so successful that they defeat their enemies such that no two enemies stood together. The enemies that tried to inflict disunity among the Jews, what happens? They're the ones who scatter. Then what happens is the people come back and the people come back and they say (inaudible) so thrilled with Saul's success. They say who made fun of Saul before? Give us those people and we'll kill them. Who said give us the people and we'll kill them before? It's in pilegesh b'Giva wasn't it. Remember what happened? Give us the people and we will kill them. That's what the tribes of Israel said to Binyamin. Now they're saying it to Binyamin again. But this time they're saying give us the people that made fun of you, Binyamin and we'll kill them. What's Shaul's response? No man is going to die today because G-d saved us today. No one dies. 

If you look at the numbers here, 300,000 people. 30,000 from Yehuda. Three different camps. Two different people that couldn't be together and not one person dies. 300,000, 30,000, three, two, one. What's happening to the numbers? They're unifying. That's what the story is about. It's Saul's ability to ring real unity to this people and how? Because he wasn't silent. He was silent the right way. He was silent at insults hurled to him, but when something happened on the other side of the family, when Yehuda was threatened and he had a task which was impossible for him, how would he politically defend Yavesh Gilad? He was able to show that unless we're united, we are nothing. Unless we can unite in the defenses of people that we don't really like so much, we are nothing. With that, he succeeded. He had the right kind of silence and the right kind of anger. 

Early in the story there was sadness and anger, but a very troubling kind of sadness and anger. A sadness and anger that came from something that the brothers felt was not right within the family. It's true, what did they do with that sadness and anger? They projected it outside the family and they killed a whole city, somewhat illegitimately. Sadness and anger that comes within a family, it doesn't always stay outside the family. The next time sadness and anger manifests itself in pilegesh b'Giva, it doesn't kill everybody else. It kills the family. It's civil war in the family. When does that get fixed? These two stories get fixed when they both replay themselves in one story right here with Saul. Saul, the newly minted king of Binyamin, has the right kind of silence. And insult directed themselves again. A right kind of anger, an outrage that people could threaten people in our family, even if we don't like them so much and gathers everyone together in the right kind of way and shows the right kind of unity. It was a mission that Saul almost succeeded in fulfilling, but didn't. because at the end of Saul's life, what happens? He falls victim to a corrosive jealousy between him and Yehuda. 

Saul has one last chance to redeem himself because, according to Chazal, his great great granddaughter was a girl by the name of Esther and Esther has a chance to redeem her father's house. That's what Mordechai tells her. If you keep silent this time, we'll be fine. This is about you and will you from Binyamin stand up from Yehuda? If you don't do it, the people from

Yehuda will be fine, but you and your father's house will go down in flames. Who's her father's house? It's Saul. This is your chance to redeem Saul and she does. It's the last act. That's Act 4 in the megillah. It has a happy ending, but I think this is the history. We read the megillah almost as a fairy tale. We dress up. It seems like a fairy tale, but it's not. It's serious history. It's the story of reconciliation. We talked about it last week. Old family wounds don't die. You can cover them up and it looks fine. But divisions in the family stick around and they stick around for centuries. The only way to make them die is to do the whole thing over again and to do it right. That's what happens in the Megilla. Thank you. Have a good Purim.

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