Thursday, December 8, 2011

Revenge is Sweet -- Or is It?

by Devora Gila Berkowitz

Parshat Vayishlach

Do you ever dream of taking revenge?

Shimon and Levi do. They take their brothers' plan one step further. The "clever" plan was to dissuade Shechem with the requirement of circumcision in exchange for agreeing to Dina's marriage (Bereshit 34:13-17).

They're probably surprised when Shechem accepts, and the whole city performs circumcision.

The action is a fair "punishment" for the violation of Dina -- causing pain to the organ that was used to assault her (Sifsei Kohen).

But rather than extracting fair punishment, Shimon and Levi end up killing all of the men of Shechem and plundering the entire city. After all, "Should he treat our sister like a harlot?" (Bereshit, 34:31)

Jacob is distraught by his sons' behavior (Bereshit 34:30). Apparently, revenge goes beyond the range of acceptable behavior.

Go back to your own revenge fantasy. Which parts of you does it stimulate? And what happens when you state scaling down revenge to something less grandiose?

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