The Hidden Daughter
ויקם בלילה הוא ויקח את-שתי נשיו ואת-שתי שפחתיו ואת-אחד עשר ילדיו ויעבר את מעבר יבק
And [Yaakov] got up that night and took his 2 wives, his 2 maidservants and his 11 children, and he passed the river Yabok
As Yaakov and his family were about to confront his wicked brother Eisav, they were frightened for their life. The Torah describes their journey the night before the encounter. Rashi is bothered why the verse specifies that Yaakov only took eleven of his children. At that time, he had eleven sons and one daughter, Dinah. Where was Dinah? Quoting the Midrash, Rashi says we learn from here that Yaakov hid Dinah in a box, so that Eisav wouldn’t notice her and want to marry her. Chazal say that this decision caused Yaakov to be punished, since he prevented his daughter from being a positive influence on his brother. She could have helped him change his ways.
There are numerous questions that can be asked on this Midrash. The Torah only mentions eleven children. Who says it was Dinah that was missing? Maybe it was one of Yaakov’s sons? Another question is why was Yaakov punished for not wanting his daughter to be married to Eisav? Eisav could have just as likely been a negative influence on her as she a positive influence on him! As well, we see Leah was praised for not wanting to marry Eisav; why wasn’t she punished? She could have been a positive influence on him as well. Also, how could Yaakov ever think that Dinah could get Eisav to change his ways? He grew up around Avraham, Sarah, Yitzchak and Rivka, and nothing they did affected him. Why was Yaakov held accountable for this?
To answer the first question, another needs to be asked. Why was the Temple built in the portion of Israel belonging to the tribe of Benjamin? Chazal say the reason is because he was the only one of the twelve tribes to not bow down to Eisav (as they did in this parsha), since he wasn’t born yet. This gave him a merit above his other brothers. If when Yaakov took eleven of his children to confront Eisav, the twelfth was one of his sons, then they also wouldn’t have bowed to him. Why then would the Temple have been built in Benjamin’s portion? It must be that all the sons were present, leaving Dinah the one missing.
There’s a short story related in the gemarra about the great-grandson of Rabbi Elazar. He was known to have a very bad reputation, and was involved in several lewd activities. Rebbe sought him out in order to help him mend his ways. Rebbe offered his daughter to this person in marriage if he promised to return to observance. He changed his ways, and there are two versions of what happened next. One version is they got married, and then got divorced; the other is he never agreed to marry her. Regardless of what happened, the gemarra says it was because he was concerned, lest people think he changed his ways because of her. This is very surprising. How could this person be so ungrateful? He finally got his life in order, and he doesn’t want to give her credit?
The answer must be that it wasn’t this woman who changed him. It was Rebbe’s offer to this man. Giving your daughter to someone shows an incredible amount of trust. The mere offer tells the person that you believe in them. This show of faith had a tremendous impact on the person. They felt like they were somebody, that they could do so much more. They weren’t as bad a person as they thought. This is why he didn’t want people to think she changed him, because it wouldn’t be true. Just the offer alone was enough to trigger him to change his life around.
It could be suggested that the same is true with Dinah. It’s not that she would have been able to affect Eisav. Eisav at this point wouldn’t have thought he could ever change. He was too deep in his bad ways. No one could have been a positive influence. However, if Yaakov showed Eisav that he believed in him, that he knew he was better than this, by offering his daughter in marriage, this would have had a similar effect on him. Because Yaakov didn’t show Eisav this trust, he was punished.
There’s another approach to this Midrash that I want to share. Eisav’s modus operandi was pure din, strict justice. With pure din there’s no such thing as repentance. A person does something wrong, there’s no way to undo it. Eisav felt that since he had separated himself from klal yisroel, the Jewish people, there was no way for him to ever return. This led him to go deeper and deeper into sin. This explains why he could do some of the worst sins all in one day, the day his grandfather died.
The Ramchal explains why Hashem created the universe. Hashem is koolo chesed, the embodiment (so to speak) of loving-kindness. He wanted to bestow good onto others. What’s the best way to bestow good? Not to simply give it. Bread that is given as a gift doesn’t taste as good as that which was earned. He gave us a world and the opportunity to earn our good. We earn it by doing mitzvos and following His will. Chazal say that the world was originally created with middas hadin, the attribute of strict justice. Hashem saw that the world wouldn’t last this way, so he joined together with it middas harachamim, the attribute of compassion. This gives us the ability to repent. Why is strict justice preferable? It would have been the ultimate chesed. Without the ability to repent, life would be much more challenging. The more challenge, the more reward earned. The motivation was purely giving. The problem is it’s not practical. Therefore, compassion was made part of the equation. We see from here that din and chesed are not contradictory. In fact, din in its essence is chesed itself.
We see an example of this with Dinah. What’s the significance of the name Dinah? The verses describe what went into each of the names of Yaakov’s children, but by Dinah the Torah doesn’t give an explanation. Rashi explains the background to Dinah’s name. At that time Leah already had six sons, Bilhah and Zilpah each had two, giving Yaakov ten sons in total. Rachel still had no children. Leah knew through prophecy that Yaakov was destined to have twelve sons from his four wives. Rashi says that she was דנה דין בעצמה, made a judgment for herself. Leah was pregnant, and if she gave birth to another son that would mean Rachel could have only one son. This would make her have fewer sons than any of Yaakov’s other wives. After realizing this, Leah prayed that her child be a daughter. She wanted to prevent her sister from this humiliation. This is why her daughter was named Dinah, from the word din, judge.
The question could be asked: why was this consideration called din. It was really a simple math calculation, or cheshbon. She should have been called Cheshbonah. Rav Beryl Whitman explains that the prayer of Leah was pure din, the attribute of strict justice. From the aspect of din, each of the four wives should have had four sons, to make twelve. The fact that Leah got more was because she felt rejected by Yaakov, so Hashem showed her compassion and gave her more than the rest. Leah prayed that Hashem not give her compassion, rather treat her according to strict justice. This was all so her sister Rachel wouldn’t be embarrassed.
Now we can understand what Dinah could have done for Eisav. Dinah was the manifestation of din expressing חסד, loving-kindness. Her mother’s concern for her sister was the reason for Dina’s existence. This would have showed Eisav that he could return to good, he could be part of klal yisroel, and still keep with his mode of din. Repentance for the past and changing for the better are not a contradiction to that. It’s never too late to return.
 Based on a devar torah told to me by my chashuve roommate Chezky Freund from Cleveland, quoting Rav Beryl Whitman
 Genesis 32:23
 Ad. loc.
 Bereishis Rabbah 76:9 and Tanchuma Yashan Vayishlach § 19
 This is asked by the Vilna Gaon in Kol Eliyahu ad. loc. and Torah Temimah Chapter 32 § 9.
 This and the previous question are asked by Sifsei Chachamim ad. loc., see their answers, as well as Torah Temimah’s shocking answer, loc. cit.
 See Rashi to 29:17
 The Torah Temimah loc. cit. quotes this from the “Aggados” found in parshas Vezos HaBeracha, but it’s unclear what he was referring to. Kol Eliyahu loc. cit. quotes this idea from the gemarra, but this doesn’t seem to be in our versions of the Bavli or Yerushalmi. The Chida in Chomas Anach to Mikeitz § 16 quotes this in the name of רז”ל, again unclear as to who he is referring to. Yalkut Me’am Loez to Deuteronomy 33:12 brings this idea, and the editor sources it from “מפרשים”. The rishon Akeidas Yitzchak parshas Vayishlach Sha’ar 26 states this as an unsourced fact. The earliest sources I could find for this idea were the commentaries of the Baalei Toasafos to Deuteronomy 33:8 as well as Hadar Zekeinim (also from the Baalei Tosafos) to Deuteronomy 33:12, both citing יש מפרשים. This is probably the מפרשים that Me’am Loez was quoting. Presumably this refers to Rabbi Yehudah ben Eliezer (a.k.a. Riva, one of the Baalei Tosafos), since in his commentary to Deuteronomy loc. cit., he quotes this idea in the name of Rabbeinu Tam from Orleans (not to be confused with Rashi’s grandson). This seems to be the earliest source for this idea. However, I later discovered the Penimim MiShulchan HaGra agree that what we have in Kol Eliyahu is mistaken, and this idea is not found in the gemarra. They say the source is from Targum Sheni to Esther 3:3. See there with Pas’shegen HaKesav
 Genesis 33:3
 This is the Kol Eliyahu and Torah Temimah’s answer, loc. cit.
 Bava Metzia 85a
 The son of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, both he and his father were very righteous scholars
 Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi, also known as Rabbeinu HaKadosh
 I heard a similar idea in the name of Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, that Yaakov should have at least offered her to Eisav. In truth though, this doesn’t completely work with what Rashi loc. cit. wrote, שמא תחזירנו למוטב, lest she return him to good, or Tanchuma Yashan loc. cit. which he is quoting
 Zohar Bereishis p. 137b
 See Bava Basra 16b
 Deresh Hashem 1:2, Da’as Tevunos § 18, and Klalei Pischei Chochmah VeDaas § 1 Cf. Maharal’s Be’er HaGoleh 4:6 (Machon Yerushalayim ed., see fn. 555), who gives a different explanation
 This concept is known as נהמא דכיסופא, the bread of shame
 See Rashi to Genesis 1:1 s.v. ברא אלקים, quoting Bereishis Rabbah 12:15
 Avos 5:23
 For example: see Genesis 29:32
 To ibid 30:21, quoting Berachos 60a and Midrash Tanchuma Vayeitzei § 8
 Cf. Bereishis Rabbah 72:6, which says it was Rachel’s prayers which made Leah have a girl
 See ibid 29:31