Thursday, June 9, 2016

Omer 2016 Day 48: Dinah and Tamar

Day 48: Yesod in Malchut, Connection in Leadership

There has been a lot in the news recently about the Stanford sexual assault case, which ended with a unanimous guilty verdict for the rapist and a disappointingly short six-month prison sentence, which will be only three months with good behavior. Since last weekend, the the moving letter written by the survivor has been widely shared on social media. You can and should read it in full here if you haven't already. It ends with this:

"And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you." -Stanford survivor
Today, Vice President Joe Biden published an open letter supporting her and praising her strength and Texas Representative Ted Poe reiterated to the country that "no means no," because, for an unfathomable reason, that concept still eludes some people.

Of course, this got me thinking about Dinah and Tamar (King David's daughter, not the Tamar who was Judah's daughter-in-law), who both survived rape in the Tanakh. They are important female figures with painful stories, who I had been struggling to incorporate into the Omer this year until I read the Stanford survivor's letter.

Dinah was raped by Shechem, the son of the chief of the land (Genesis 34: 1-4). Tamar was raped by her half-brother, Amnon (2 Samuel 13:10-15). After both incidents, neither woman is heard from again. I can't help but wonder what they would have said if given the chance to speak out against their attackers and against the injustices they faced in their societies. I can't help but reflect in horror and anger on the persistence of this evil in the world. But we cannot despair, because as leaders we must be called to action. We must reach out to each other, build connections where there is isolation, and "never stop fighting" for a world free of rape and violence.