Food for Thought by Ezra Frazer


   Following the massacre of שכם by Shimon and Levi, Yaakov blasts his two sons for embarrassing him and putting him in danger of revenge attacks.  They respond, הכזונה יעשה את אחותנו, "Will he (Shechem) make our sister into a prostitute?"  (בראשית לד:לא). The Torah then ends the dialogue without stating whether Yaakov or his sons was correct.  It is clear from בראשית מט:ה-ז that Yaakov never forgave Shimon and Levi for their actions.  However, the Rambam (הל' מלכים ט:יד) rules that Shimon and Levi acted acceptably, because the entire city of שכם violated the Noachide law requiring a judicial system.  Their failure to prosecute Shechem made them liable to be executed.  If Shimon and Levi acted properly, why was Yaakov unable to forgive them?  If they acted improperly, why did the Rambam find it necessary to justify their actions in his legal code, which is generally designed to teach laws, not to give us לימודי זכות?  Why does the Torah simply present us with the dialogue between Yaakov and his sons, without telling us which side was correct?

   In בראשית לה:כז Yaakov returns home to Yitzchak in Kiryat Arba. This comes long after Yaakov's purchase of land in שכם and his attempt to settle there.  Why does Yaakov delay returning to his father until he is forced to leave שכם?  How is it that Yaakov returns to his father in Kiryat Arba, if he left his father in באר שבע? 

   בראשית לו:יא lists all the Kings that ruled over the land of Edom לפני מלך מלך לבני ישראל, "before a King ruled for Bnei Yisrael."  Is the King of Bnei Yisrael to which the pasuk refers Moshe or Shaul?  What is the point of the Torah telling us about Edom's Kings at all, and why specifically about those Edomite Kings who ruled before Bnei Yisrael had their own King?

The Downfall of Schechem by Eli Gurock

Counting Sheep by Rabbi Zvi Grumet