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Jewish Texts

Asnas, Shimon and Dinah

Question: In the last part of Genesis we find that Asnas married Yosef HaTzadik and our Rabbai told us that she was a jewish and Dinah’s daughter. How did Asnas come to Egypt? Wasn’t Dinah married to Shechem? We find inVayigash that Shimon had a son named Saul a Caananite, from Shimon and Dinah. How do we understand this?

Answer: The opinion that Asnat was Dinah’s daughter is brought by the Targum Yonatan. It is possible that her father was Shechem or perhaps Shimon who married Dinah after the whole incident. It’s not explained how she might have gotten to Egypt but one can imagine it happening. Perhaps she was kidnapped and sold to the Egyptians. It is certainly possible that G-d engineered this to teach a lesson to the children of Leah as to what they did to Yosef now happening to one of theirs (a daughter of Shimon and Dina, both children of Leah).

As to how it was permitted for Shimon to marry Dinah. It is clear that before the giving of the Torah at Sinai, the 613 mitzvot were known but not codified. So that is why you see that Yaakov married two sisters and Shimon married Dinah. The Jews knew the spiritual impact of each mitzvah and did them based on that knowledge, but sometimes they understood through their deep spiritual connection that a particular mitzvah may not apply to them at a particular time (See Nefesh Hachaim about this).

This only held true until Sinai. Once the Torah was formally given and we entered a covenant and marriage with G-d, every Jew must observe the mitzvos even if s/he thinks that it may not apply to them or whatever reason they may think.

—Rabbi Meir Goldberg,

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