Stopping the 'Nevala' being done to Yisrael

After Yaakov's slightly anticlimactic encounter with his brother Eisav, ending peacefully after decades of fearful anticipation by our final forefather, Yaakov finally returns to Canaan, and settles near Shechem. His daughter Dina appears in her only major cameo in Tanach, unfortunately a tragic and brutal one, as Shechem, the prince of the so-named city, abducts and rapes her.

As soon as Yaakov's sons hear about this outrage, a plan is hatched to recover their sister and avenge this travesty. In case we, the readers, didn't guess that some wheels were turning in the heads of the eleven living tribes, the pesukim are uncharacteristically ingenuous in telling us that Dina's brothers were angry and were putting together a plan. As Hamor, Shechem's father, travels towards Yaakov's encampment to try to come to an agreement that will allow his son to marry Dina, Yaakov's sons were on their way back from "work":

וּבְנֵי יַעֲקֹב בָּאוּ מִן-הַשָּׂדֶה, כְּשָׁמְעָם, וַיִּתְעַצְּבוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים, וַיִּחַר לָהֶם מְאֹד: כִּי-נְבָלָה עָשָׂה בְיִשְׂרָאֵל, לִשְׁכַּב אֶת-בַּת-יַעֲקֹב, וְכֵן, לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה

And Yaakov's sons came from the field when they heard (that Dina was abducted). And the men were grieved and were very angry. For he (Shechem) had done a wicked deed to Yisrael, by raping Yaakov's daughter, which could not be allowed to be done. (בראשית לד:ז)

Describing the evil deed as נבלה, extreme language in ancient Hebrew whose closest modern equivalent is killing an innocent man in cold blood on the side of the road, the pesukim write that Yaakov's sons couldn't have tolerated this, as "וכן לא יעשה."

Rashi elaborates on this ending phrase of "וכן לא יעשה." He writes that "this cannot be done" is not reflective on the relatively high moral compass of Yisrael and his family, but even the much lower standards of the Canaanim. Ever since the flood, which was caused by חמס (which included such moral indecencies), the nations understood that they could not commit these types of heinous crimes against neighboring nations, to save themselves, at the very least. In other words, this type of behavior wasn't normal, even for the Canaanim. By abducting and raping Dina, Shechem did something that quite literally "לא יעשה, not done," and he had to be punished accordingly.

Ramban, in a pattern that is more the norm than the exception, takes offense at Rashi's interpretation. Nachmanides challenges the claim that even the Canaanim wouldn't commit moral crimes like abducting a young girl:

ולא ידעתי זה, כי הכנענים שטופים בעריות ובבהמה ובזכור, דכתיב (ויקרא יח כז) כי את כל התועבות האל עשו אנשי הארץ אשר לפניכם, ולא התחילו בהן באותו הדור. ובימי אברהם ויצחק היו יראים פן יהרגו אותן לקחת נשיהם

And I didn't know this (what Rashi wrote), for the Canaanim were involved in in immortality, and bestiality, and [all sorts of] moral wrongdoings, as it was written: (Vayikra 18:27) "For all of these abominations that the people of the land do before you." And these actions didn't start in Moshe's generation, for we've already seen that in the time of Avraham and Yitzchak's times, they were afraid that [the Canaanim] would kill them to take their wives. (רמב"ן שם)

Several generations later, the Jews are warned against committing the atrocities of the Canaanim, which very much included גילוי עריות. Ramban asks if it's possible that this evil culture had just sprouted that generation. Before giving the reader a chance to answer this rhetorical question, Ramban proves that the Canaanim were already guilty of immorality, as Avraham and Yitzchak's wives were both targeted for abduction by Canaanim. Based on this, Ramban asks; how could Rashi possibly claim that Yaakov's sons were disappointed in Shechem's behavior as a Canaani, if his brethren had been doing much worse crimes for generations already?!

Nachmanides presents his own answer:

אבל "וכן לא יעשה" נמשך עם בישראל, כי נבלה עשה בישראל וכן לא יעשה בהם. על כן אמר בישראל, כי איננה נבלה בין הכנענים

Rather, "and this may not be done" is reflective on Yisrael, for the pesukim say that an evil deed was done to Yisrael, and not done to them. Therefore, it says "to Yisrael," for this wouldn't have been [considered] an evil deed by the [standards of the] Canaanim.

In a nutshell, Ramban's approach to passuk's usage of the phrase "וכן לא יעשה" is that it is a message for the future. Of course, Shechem, a Canaani, would abduct a pretty girl and violate her- this couldn't have been a surprise to anyone. However, in choosing a reaction to this heinous crime, Yaakov and his family would be setting a precedent, so they had to choose carefully how to act. Their intent, already apparent at this early stage of planning their revenge, is clearly stated: "וכן לא יעשה- it cannot be allowed to be done."

Yaakov's sons decided to punish Shechem and his city for their נבלה, in a very violent and collective way. Even Yaakov, whose own daughter was the victim of this incident, gets on their case after they wipe out the entire city. But, at this point, even as their revenge is at the early planning stages, the pesukim make it very clear that Yaakov's sons were correct in their treatment of the people of Shechem, by showing that this was the only appropriate reaction to such a terrible crime, because "וכן לא יעשה."

How could they justify killing thousands of "innocent" people for the crime of one person? "כי נבלה עשה בישראל… וכן לא יעשה"- because their leaders and their neighbors were committing a נבלה against Israel, and this cannot be allowed to happen. Even Yaakov, initially indignant about the immediacy and comprehensiveness of his son's actions, has no response when they challenge his complaint with a simple question "הכזונה יעשה את אחותינו?" Our third forefather, whose nature was never to start a fight when he could avoid it, agreed in the end with "וכן לא יעשה," that his sons were justified in  removing the evil city that allowed this נבלה to transpire.

Unfortunately, Ramban's interpretation is all-too-relevant to our times. Since Jews began to return to Eretz Yisrael en masse in the late 1890's, our Arab neighbors have been taking advantage of any and every opportunity to undermine our authority and remove us from our divine inheritance. In the late 1920's and early 1930's, this negative but tolerable attitude escalated into violence as sixty nine of our brethren were murdered and fifty eight more injured on one day alone in Hebron, and hundreds more in the following decade of violence. Even before there was a Jewish state, even before the "Zionist entity began illegally occupying Palestine", our neighbors and cousins have been seeking out any opportunity to kill us in the name of Allah or Al-Aqsa. They nearly succeeded in getting rid of us for good in both 1948 and 1967, while the international community refused to get even minimally involved, until it was too late. Even now, after over two months of non-stop violence by our Arab neighbors, the special session of the UN General Assembly could do on Tuesday was express their solidarity with the plight of the Palestinian People, and pass twenty new anti-Israel resolutions (though the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, did not take kindly to this).

Our attempts at peace, such as the unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif eleven years ago, and the Camp David Accords, have led to nothing but violence, through rockets, bombings, shooting and stabbings, from the very people that we're conceding to.

When all's said and done, history has shown that, with Hashem's help and through tremendous miracles, our people have avoided the biggest catastrophies that our enemies have planned. This is true to the point that the easiest way for the media to undermine the tense situation in Israel is just to list the number of casualties in the headlines, as if covering a football game instead of violent, unrequited terror. They don't even need to resort to blaming the victims as they usual do- the Palestinians' suicidal nature, ineffectiveness as terrorists, and our divine protection do the job for them.

However, after three months of non-stop violence, it's very difficult to remain emotionally involved in every stabbing, every attempted murder, especially for those who are geographically distant from the scene of this so-called intifada and have much more important things to worry about (like an election in thirteen months, how many terrorists will be imported from Syria, and the danger of West Point pillow fights).

The daily attacks, especially those which don't leave any casualties except for the perpetrators themselves, often don't even make it into the mainstream media of the world (though AlJazeera will often lament Israeli brutality on Palestinian nationalists). However, there are some times when the attacks are so personal and hit so close to home, that every Jew in the world has no choice but to feel the pain of unnecessary losses. Between the brutal murder of loving couple Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin (Hy"d) over Sukkot, and the more recent losses of American yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz (Hy"d), home-bred Hadar Buchris (Hy"d), and eighteen-year-old hero Corporal Ziv Mizrai (Hy"d) only this past week (to name a few), every denomination and demographic of the Jewish people should feel that they have personally been attacked.

The question that always begs to be asked, especially now, is how should Israel react to the onslaught of terror by our murderous partners for peace? Could we possibly justify a military response against innocent civilians, even in the face of a wave of terror specifically perpetrated by young Palestinians?

I believe that the answer to this question lies in our parsha. No one, not even the most liberally brainwashed Western assimilated person of American-Jewish descent, would deny that a נבלה is being done in Israel right now (well, except for maybe the very worst, who can't even condemn Palestinian terror when announcing the news of an attack). Besides for Monday's gas station attacks perfectly satisfying the textbook definition of a נבלה (an innocent person being killed in cold blood on the side of the road), it is clear that the so-called Palestinian people have truly outdone themselves in this latest wave of terror. Despite Secretary of State John Kerry's implication that, with the right provocation, terror can be justified, it's clear that we, the Jewish People of Israel, have done nothing to deserve the mistreatment that we are being dealt. History has also shown that making concessions will only embolden this brainwashed population, showing them and their sheltered leaders that this twisted strategy is working.

It is clear to me, as it should be to all of my readers, that the only way to stop this violence and enable a lasting peace in the Middle East, is to follow Ramban's implied instructions in response to Dina's rape, and show these bastards that "וכן לא יעשה," that we will not allow them to get away with perpetrating a נבלה in Israel! If the Palestinian Arabs will refuse to move to state legally designated to them in 1936 under the Peel Partition Plan (that is, Jordan), and they will react violently to every one of Israel's attempts to placate their undeserved self-entitlement for another state in the Middle East, then it is clear from the Torah that we have no choice but to enact the Two State Solution- to establish a Palestinian State for them… on the lowest level of Hell.

As long as our Arab neighbors refuse to accept Israel's legitimate rule, and they continue to undermine the Jewish People by sending their brothers and children to kill us in our own country and abroad, we will have no choice but to follow the example of Shimon and Levi, and destroy our modern-day Canaanim.

Many of my readers may believe me to be a little bit extreme for suggesting this. They may accuse me of supporting to murder of innocents, saying that any other solution would be better than committing an effective holocaust in our own country (they wouldn't be the first to call me a neo-Nazi, and probably won't be the last). What they fail to understand, having grown up in an overly-accepting, Western country, is that Muslim culture doesn't work that way. When a religion calls for the destruction of all other nations, labeling our people infidels and calling on shaheeds to do Allah's holy work, then there is no room for error. This is not a time for incorrect Western values and this is no place for misplaced mercy.

The vile נבלה of Israel's Muslim neighbors has forced us to revert to nature's most prime rule of "eat or be eaten." Our hesitation to protect ourselves by counterattack has led to the brutal murder of over two hundred of our brethren in the past two months, and 1292 people since September 2000. Make no mistake; it is our, and only our, fault that Ziv Mizrahi, Hadar Buchris, Shadi Arafa, Ezra Schwartz, Netanel and Yaakov Litman, Nehemia Lavi, and Eitam and Naama Henkin (Hy"d) are dead. Our shilly-shally in properly dealing with our enemies has given them the leeway to kill more of our brethren.

It is our fault, because we've taken too long to internalize that each of them are dead, not because they were settlers, not because they were Israeli, and not because they are Zionists, but because they were Jewish. Each and every one of us could be the next victim, unless we finally internalize that we are dealing with a people intent on our destruction, and a world secretly hoping they succeed. If the brutal, untimely murders of our innocent brethren are not enough to motivate us to do what needs to be done, then at least the selfish reality that any of us could be victim number 1293 to Arab terror (since September, 2000) should be enough to open our eyes to the truth, and give us the strength to do what needs to be done.

"כִּי-נְבָלָה עָשָׂה בְיִשְׂרָאֵל… וְכֵן, לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה." With Hashem's help, may we have the strength to do what needs to be done, to show the world and assure ourselves that evil deeds of this magnitude cannot be done to the Jewish People and will not be tolerated. May we merit only besorot tovot, yeshu'ot and nechamot.

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