In this week’s parshah, midrash describes how Yaakov Avinu was punished for hiding his daughter Dinah from Eisav. Why was he punished for protecting her from an older, violent man, with three other wives, to boot? Rashi says, quoting Bereishis Rabbah, that perhaps she would have caused him to repent.
Yet we’re also told that Yosef was rewarded for hiding Rochel Imeinu “from the eyes of that wicked one.” So which one is it: Was it a good thing to protect the women or not?
As with most questions in the Talmud, the answer is “it depends.” Leah would’ve had a positive effect, whereas Rochel would not.
Putting the technicalities aside, there is a very important lesson here. Asking a simple “but is it right or wrong” won’t always get the correct response. The answer could be “it depends.” For one person it’s a mitzvah, and for another it’s the opposite. The next time we see someone acting in a way that looks wrong when seen through our glasses, give him the benefit of the doubt; it may just be right on target when seen through his.
And the next time we want to do something “because they do it,” we should take a moment to think if it’s still right when we do.
Ultimately, the truth of all our deeds will only be revealed once Moshiach has arrived and ushered in the coming redemption.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,