HaKezonah – Jewish Girls Should Not Be Hefker

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!]


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Jewish Spectacles-the kind you look through, not the kind you create!
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3 Responses to HaKezonah – Jewish Girls Should Not Be Hefker

  1. Princess Lea says:

    “And the nation couldn’t care less.”

    I am troubled by this statement because that is ignoring the very nes itself. It wasn’t that the nation didn’t care; they were seriously outnumbered. When they came to carry off a girl for prima nocta, it wasn’t just one Syrian Greek knocking on their door. There was probably an armed phalanx, and the girl would not want her father and brothers and fiancee to die.

    As for Yehudis, she didn’t send the men to protect her. Nor did she probably think she would survive. She went an a suicide mission; so much could have gone wrong. He could have stayed awake and robbed her of her virtue; he could have awoken while she raised the sword and skewered her; he could have screamed and the soldiers could have carried her off.

    Al HaNisim focuses on the miracle of the war, that the Jewish men were able to drive their occupiers out. It was inconceivable. It was a NES.

    We have to remember that they were occupied, oppressed, and outnumbered. It wasn’t that they didn’t care. It was a matter of life and death.

    • I hear the objection, and yet, we learn a bit different. And I, thanks to your comment, went back and relearned the saga — and discovered two amazing women — it wasn’t one and the same. Chana, the niece (daughter of Mattisyahu), was the one who pushed the men to go to battle to defend the virtue of the Jewish girls. It was actually her aunt (Mattisyahu’s sister, daughter of Yochanan Kohen Gadol) who went on that mission, which could have ended up a suicide mission. But the reality is that it was a young girl, who didn’t want to be raped and worried about the other girls of Klal Yisroel being raped, that stood up and yelled, “no way”. Until then, the men didn’t think it a matter to warrant war. You are right, they might have felt that way because they were outnumbered…but they did respond to her words and finally do something to try to stop the Greeks. I’ll tell you a story of the mother of the Bunim family (Mrs. Minna Glick’s grandmother). When Boro Park was first establishing a Jewish community, the men built a shul. They were to build a mikva, but then decided other things might have a priority. So, one day during shul, the righteous woman went into the men’s section, right by Kriyas HaTorah, and she banged on the bimah and said, “I’m not moving until you promise here by the Torah to build a Mikva”. You can imagine the tumult caused by the woman standing in the men’s section! By the Bima! By the Torah! Yelling at the men! And yet that is how Boro Park got its first Mikva Tahara. That was a Jewish woman. Gotta kick and scream and fight…and sometimes light the fire under the guys to get them moving…to ensure Kedushas ha’am and its Tahara. And that is what the daughter of a Kohen Gadol did in the times of the Yavanim.

      • Princess Lea says:

        My mother happens to be friends with Mrs. Glick. I shall have to ask her if she ever told her that story.

        B’H our lives are so much secure that maintaining our tahara is a matter of choice, not to be fought for under duress.

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