There is a young woman who has strength beyond words. I am amazed by the girl who brought Nechemya Weberman to justice, that she was courageous enough to step forward, that she was strong enough to withstand pressure and that she cared enough about other kids to put herself through the torture of that trial to ensure a wicked, evil person is stopped from ruining more lives.
And because some have quoted a long-ago declaration of our ancestors very wrong, I feel it important to comment on this trial. The quote was from the brothers Shimon and Levi who killed out an entire city because of abuse done to their sister. The quote was [Vayishlach 34:31] “HaKezonah Ya’aseh as Achosaynoo? – Like a harlot should he make our sister?!” Rashi comments that the word Kezonah indicates “hefker” ownerless. Someone in our generation who obviously twists Torah for his power retention struggle used this verse to call the brave girl who said the truth about Nechamia Weberman nothing less than a harlot. But, if anyone reads Chumash and Rashi, it is clear that the blame here is on the abuser, not the victim, and that the two holy brothers Shimon and Levi quite clearly explained that if abusers are not prosecuted and persecuted, it means open season against victims. In fact, we are taught that Shimon and Levi argued to their father that it was not just Dina they were protecting and avenging by killing out Shechem, but it was also future generations of Jewish girls. Unless abusers knew there would be force and harm against them for rape, Shimon and Levi said, then abuse would happen in every generation. To set a tone, to tell the world that no Jewish girl was “hefker”, they had to act. Anyone calling Weberman’s victim a Zonah must be on the side of Shechem. For that is not what Shimon and Levi said. They were defenders of their sister, intent on making sure she had backers, that she was not alone in her pain.
This ties in to our Chanukah story and, therefore, it is quite fitting that Hashem, Master Planner, ensured the Weberman verdict was delivered on Chanukah. For in that story, too, a great woman stood up and said no to the violation of Jewish girls, just as did Weberman’s victim. You see, the Greeks would rape the Jewish girls. It was one more way they tried to devalue our nation. They let no Jewish girl get married intact. And the nation couldn’t care less. Kinda like the supporters of Weberman. What’s another rape or two? However, one brave girl said, no way. She turned to her brothers and father, the holy Chasmonim, and told them, “are you serious – you’re going to let that happen to me?!” They took note, they woke up from their inertia, and they realized they had to fight. Off to war they marched. (The girl’s aunt was also a great woman of the Chanukah story: Yehudis, who ended beheading the Greek General who tried to violate her.)
Rape is nothing new. Abuse is nothing new. Even ignoring it is nothing new. But that doesn’t make it right. And those who fight it, those who curtail it, those giants who risk their own security to set things straight, and among them Weberman’s accuser, can count themselves a true Maccabi.
I know I would never have the courage to pull off what that young girl did last week in her testimony in court. Kol Hakavod, to you, brave girl. May G-d bless you for making sure that Jewish girls, even those who live in Williamsburg, are not considered Hefker.
[Thank you, Princess Lea, for having me go back and reread and relearn. And discover I was off on the story a wee bit. I always connected the start of the war and the beheading of the general with the same woman. And yet, it was actually an aunt (Yehudis, a widow who was beautiful) who did the beheading. And a young niece (Chana) who made her brothers and father go to war to fight the rapes of Jewish girls. Interesting to note, Chana used Shimon and Levi as the example her male relatives should be following!]