Surprising Commentary From the Torah Temimah on Yaakov’s Relationship With Eisav
In Parshas Vayishlach, Yaakov gears up for a showdown with his brother Eisav. The verse says that Yaakov and his eleven children prepared for the encounter. Rashi quotes the famous Midrash that asks “where was Dina?” Seeing as Yaakov officially had twelve children at this point, the text requires explanation.
The answer given by the Midrash is that Yaakov hid Dina away from sight. He did not want Eisav to see Dina because he did not want Eisav to take Dina as a wife. The Midrash continues and says that Yaakov was punished for doing this. He should have given Eisav the opportunity to join his family by marrying Dina. Instead she ended up falling to Shechem.
The Torah Temimah is really bothered by this. He asks: Where do we find anything like this? One should be obligated to marry off a daughter to an evil person just so that an evil person might repent? Plus, who knows? Maybe the evil person will influence the righteous daughter to break bad?
The Torah Temimah answers (translation my own, parentheticals are my additions):
It’s possible to say that Yaakov had no doubt whether Eisav would have repented, it was specifically because of this that Yaakov did not want to marry Dina to Eisav in order that Eisav should not repent. That is to say that Yaakov’s hate for Eisav (was so great) that he did not want Eisav to repent.
I think this is a little bit mind-blowing.
Some interpreters try to idolize and idealize our Bible Heroes. For example, the Daf recently learned the famous Talmudic reinterpretation of Reuven’s sin in this week’s parsha as a minor infraction and not adultery. This is a very common form of rabbinic interpretation. It’s almost jarring to see an interpretation that so humanizes a Patriarch. I also thought it was interested to see Yaakov hating Eisav instead of the usual Eisav hating Yaakov. For some reason, it resonated with me. How about you?
Read the Torah Temimah here: PDF