“Dinah, the daughter of Leah… went out to look about among the daughters of the land”. The Psukim continue to describe how Dina was taken by Shechem to his house and the unfortunate events that followed.
Chazal offer a puzzling explanation to as why this happened. Before meeting Esav, Yakov hid Dina in a chest “He put her into a chest and locked her in, so that Esav should not set eyes on her. Therefore, Yakov was punished for withholding her from his brother- [because had he married her,] perhaps she would cause him to improve his ways-and she fell into the hands of Shechem” (Rashi).
What is the connection between Yakov’s natural instinct, to protect his daughter from harmful influences and the fact that later on she is taken by Shechem?
Chazal put into the Midrash a very instructive lesson in Chinuch. Yakov hoped that by hiding Dina from the world – she would be protected. But that proved to be only a temporary solution because eventually, Dina did encounter the outside world with all of its influences and was unprepared for it.
No matter how high we build our walls, eventually, our children will make it to the other side and it is our obligation to make sure they are prepared for that challenge; that they understand what to adopt and what to reject and that they have the tools to do so.
In today’s world of mass media and information, with our children exposed – more than we realize – to violence, vulgarity, immodesty and commercialism on a daily basis we must try to protect them as best as we can through filters and monitoring but at the same time we should not fool ourselves that this is sufficient. We need to help them develop the motivation and ability to decide for themselves what is positive and consistent with Torah ideals and what is not. This should be done through personal example, through ongoing conversations and continuing to supply them with a Chinuch which focuses on moulding not just behaviour but also character.
Wall building without character building is doomed to crumble, leaving us unprotected. Character building without wall building will place us in continuous loosing battle against the massive forces of the outside world.
Wall building gives us the space and time to focus on the most important part of education – character building. May we succeed at both.