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Silenced No More

Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter, never speaks.

The Torah is also silent about the meaning of her name. When a son is born, we read for example the words of Leah, “God has given me a choice gift; this time my husband will exalt me for I have borne him six sons. So she named him Zebulun.” Regarding Dinah, the Torah is succinct. “Last, Leah bore Jacob a daughter, and named her Dinah.” (Genesis 30)

Our Bible silences Dinah.

This week we read a harrowing tale. We confront the story of how Dinah is raped.

“And Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw Dinah; he took her and lay with her: he forced her.” (Genesis 34)

Her father, and brothers, turn away from Dinah. They are filled with rage. They suggest that Shechem can marry Dinah if he and his fellow townsmen become circumcised. Shechem agrees. The townsmen follow their prince’s lead. Then when they are recovering from their circumcisions, the brothers kill Shechem and slaughter the townsmen.

And how does Jacob respond? He says to his sons, “You have stirred up disaster for me, making me reek among the people of the land. For I am few in number; they will band together against me and strike me, and I will be wiped out, I and my household!”

Jacob does not speak with Dinah. The brothers do not try to console their sister after she is raped. Our forefathers worry more about themselves and their own reputations.

Recently I watched the movie, “She Said,” about The New York Times investigation of Harvey Weinstein. The reporters, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, spend considerable time and energy convincing women to speak out and share their stories of rape and sexual harassment. These women are weary and trepidatious. They are silenced.

Few want to listen. The culture urges them to keep silent. Often, they feel they are somehow to blame for what was done to them. The enablers are many and varied.

The name Dinah means judgment.

I am left wondering.

Is judgment too often silenced?

Are we complicit in this silencing?

I resolve.

We must raise our voices and ask, "How can Dinah be heard?”