Shabbat Vayishlah 5777

What makes you feel outrage? How much does it take? How closely touched must you be by the events before your emotional reaction rises to the level of outrage?
When Ya’akov’s daughter Dinah is the victim of sexual assault, dad remains quiet, but the news can’t be kept from her brothers for long. “Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons, having heard the news, came in from the field. The men were distressed and very angry, because [Shechem] had committed an outrage by lying with Jacob’s daughter–a thing not to be done” (Genesis 34:7).
What exactly is the “thing not to be done” that sparks their outrage? Is it the fact that their sister was the victim? Or is the Torah saying that sexual assault is the “thing not to be done” to anyone? In other words, is outrage a function of the nature of the crime or our relationship to the victim?
This question is particularly relevant this week, as we’ve seen and heard desperate messages coming from Aleppo, and the Syrian civil war has pushed its way into our consciousness and our consciences. On Shabbat morning, we’ll look at two classical Torah commentators, whose respective takes on the verse above is likely reflected in the way we react, emotionally and otherwise, to today’s bloody news.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise