Many times we have spoken about the idea that there is no “bad middah”. Instead, we simply have whatever middos we have, but must find a proper place for these middos to be expressed.
It is told that the Chofetz Chaim had a daughter who had a desire to accumulate money. When the Chofetz Chaim realized that she had this inclination, he made her into a gabbai tzedakah. She then used her love for accumulating money for a holy purpose. This insight is helpful for us when examining our own inadequacies – we should try to use them in places which will be beneficial for Klal Yisrael.
Shimon and Levi were upset that their sister Dina was taken captive and violated by Chamor. Rabbi Shimshon R. Hirsch mentions a side point: Chamor held negotiations with the brothers in order to marry Dina. While Chamor wanted to give the appearance that he was a proper gentleman, proper etiquette would have been to release Dina before the negotiations. Instead the negotiations were held while she was still held captive!
Shimon and Levi were indignant and took it upon themselves to destroy Shechem in order to keep the honor of the Bnei Yisrael. When Yaakov Avinu took them to task for doing this, they responded “We cannot allow our sister to be defiled and our dignity to be taken away.” (34:31).
Rav Hirsch comments that when Yaakov gave the brochos to the tribes, he gave Shimon and Levi the job to be scribes and teachers, separating them from each other, and dispersing them amongst Klal Yisrael. At first glance this looks like a safety measure that they should not come together again and endanger Klal Yisrael by raising havoc. However, Rav Hirsch explains this in a rather beautiful way: That emotional surge, which they felt when their sister was held captive, to give glory and to safeguard Klal Yisrael, was the right idea, but was expressed in the wrong way with the sword. By making them the passionate teachers amongst Klal Yisrael, they would instill in the youth the pride that is necessary to live as a Jew, even in the exile, when we are odds with the nations around us.
Events in the recent past force us to reassess ourselves in the face of the nations around us. We should learn from Yaakov’s lesson that our strength is built on an internal appreciation of our existence as the people that follow the ways of the Torah. Trying to look impressive to those around us, whether with might or intelligence, is not our key to ensure our ability to remain safe. At this time, when many are questioning why it is that these things happen, our Rabbis teach us that when a Jew makes Kiddush, the gentiles will not have to make “Havdalah”. Bolstering our isolation, through our being the “Am Segula”, will guarantee our preservation.