This past year, while following along in the Chumash, I came across something astounding. It was the story of Reuven switching his father’s bed from one tent to another. Except that’s not actually what it said. The meforshim argue a bit. Nobody likes the pshat. But um, there is the pshat. It’s amazing I missed it for 29 years. Well, not really amazing. What you learn in school colors how you read the text forever after. I’m constantly astounded to discover that what’s in the text, and the Midrashic, Rashi version I remember, are often very, very different stories.
And then there’s the parts you just never learn. For the longest time, I thought Yehuda and Tamar just sat down for tea on the side of the road and chatted for a bit while the other shepherds went on ahead. I didn’t really get why her producing the staff saved her, later on, but whatever. Things were different back then. You can’t ask too many questions about these stories.
So I was amused, but not astounded by this story from Rachel:
It was a normal weekly Shabbos table and we were discussing the parsha. My father said something about Dina being raped by Shechem.
“What? No way!” my sister exclaims. “That’s not what happened. I learned that he married her because she went out and wasn’t tznius.”
My father showed her the Rashi. She was shocked.
Well, the next day in school, my sister couldn’t wait to spread this perspective-changing information. She passed a note to her friend during class. Obviously, that wasn’t the last note on the subject. There was a flurry of back and forth and of course the teacher caught them, confiscated the note, and read it.
Next thing, my mother is getting a call about it from the teacher! Apparently it was inappropriate for my father to teach his daughter Rashi. Or maybe it was inappropriate for my sister to tell her friends the Rashi. Either way, the teacher wanted my mother to know that she was informing the principal about the dissemination of this Rashi through my sister.
Luckily, the principal was more reasonable than the teacher. She told the teacher to let it go, and did not make a big deal out of it.
Story from Rachel.