The Sister of Lotan was Timna
הרב אריה שטרן
Parshat Vayishlach concludes with a long chapter that delineates all of the descendents of Esav. Amongst the rest, the Torah tells of Timna: "Timna was a concubine to Eliphaz, the son of Esav, and she bore Amalek for Eliphaz." (Bereishit 36:12) Later on, the Torah adds yet another fact about Timna, "The sister of Lotan was Timna." (36:22)
When reading this we stand astonished – is this our holy Torah? Is the genealogy of Timna so important to eternalize it in the Torah of truth? Is it necessary to read in the Torah publicly on the holy Shabbat about things to trivial and unimportant such as these?
We need to be very careful when raising such questions, as the Gemara in Masechet Sanhedrin (99b) states:
The Rabbis taught: "The person who acts with rebellion" – this is Menashe, son of Chizkiya, who would sit and expound sermons of folly. Did Moshe have nothing to write other than, "the sister of Lotan was Timna. Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz." A heavenly voice rang out and said to him: "You sit and talk against your brother; to your mother's son you attribute folly. You have done this and think, 'I will be like you.' I will rebuke and show to your eyes." About him it says in the Prophets: "Woe to those who pull sin with ropes of falsehood."
The Rambam writes about this in his introduction to Chapter Chelek about the thirteen principles of faith. The eighth principle is to believe that the entire Torah is what was given to Moshe Rabbeinu, and that it all came to him from Hashem. Therefore, there is no difference between the verse, "Shema Yisrael," or "I am Hashem," and the verse, "The sons of Cham were Cush," or "His wife's name was Mehetavel." All of it is G-d's Torah – perfect, pure, holy and truthful. Menashe was not considered by them as a heretic and sinner more than any other heretic, only because of his thought that the Torah has a heart and a skin, and that these things are stories that have no purpose. In truth, every word in the Torah has wisdom and wonders to one that G-d gave understanding. A person has only to go in the footsteps of David, G-d's Messiah, who prayed, "Reveal My eyes and I will see wonders of your Torah."
Indeed, the Gemara explains what lesson flows from these verses:
Timna was a princess, as it says, "The aluph of Lotan, the aluph of Timan." Every mention of aluph is a king without a crown. She wanted to convert. She came to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov and they did not accept her. She went and was a concubine to Eliphaz the son of Esav. She said: It is better to be a maidservant to this nation than to be a noblewoman to another nation. Amalek descended from her, who caused Israel suffering. What was the reason? Because they should not have pushed her away.
In the sefer, Moadei Hareiyah, it is told of Purim festivities in the house of Rav Kook zt"l during the period that he was Rabbi of Yafo. Between each melody and each dance, Rav Kook spoke before the audience about issues of Purim, would stop to drink l'chayim, and continue. One of the community leaders, R. Moshe Betzalel, entered, and since he would partly drunk, he turned to Rav Kook that he should say divrei Torah on a pasuk that seemingly has nothing to say about it, the pasuk of "The sister of Lotan was Timna." Rav Kook lifted his eyes and said with a broad smile: This pasuk is entirely relevant to Purim, since Amalek, the anscestor of Haman was born from this! Amalek was born because his mother was distanced when they should have converted her, and the correction for this ancient sin was during the days of Mordechai and Esther, as it says, "Many of the people of the land became Jewish," that many converted.
From this Rav Kook began to speak at length about kiruv and distancing, about Avraham Avinu and Sara, about whom it says, "the souls that they made in Charan," that they converted the men and the women. On the other hand R. Yochanan says in Masechet Nedarim (32a) that Avraham Avinu sinned in that he forewent the people of the King of Sodom.
We further find in the Midrash Rabbah (Bereishit Rabba 8:14):
R. Yuda says: There was anger against Avraham when he Lot, his nephew, separated from him. G-d said: Everyone he draws close to, and to Lot his brother he does not draw close? R. Nechemia said: G-d was angry when Lot was going with Avraham Avinu. G-d said, I said: To your descendents I will give this land, and he draws close Lot his nephew! This is what it says, "Chase away the fool, and strife will go away." Chase away the fool – this is Lot.
The question of kiruv is not simple. Sometimes, the same person and the same issue has aspects this way and that, and things have to be done with great carefulness, and with deep consideration. Our prayer is that that we should be of those who draw close and not of those who distance, and that all should be for His Name with love.
קוד השיעור: 3614
(Translated by Rav Meir Orlian)