And now for a "Dvar Torah," a little Torah Lesson from "Parshat Shavua," Torah Portion of the Week.
Parshat Vayishev, Bereishit, Genesis,
There's lots in it, especially about how Joseph was sold by his brothers, but I'm interested in his brother Yehuda and Yehuda's children. Much is said about how Yehuda's two eldest sons died when married to Tamar. First "Er," and then "Onan." Onan was ordered to marry her to have children by her to replace his brother. He sabotaged it by "spilling his seed." The reason given
Now, this is a mitzvah and it was common practice to obey it in those days. So why did Onan make such a big deal. Weren't they brothers? Well, there's something interesting in the verses describing their births:
3 And she conceived, andGenesis Chapter 38
bore a son; and he called his name Er.
4 And she conceived again,
and bore a son; and she called his name Onan.
5 And she yet
again bore a son, and called his name Shelah
Yehuda named Er, but his wife named Onan and Shelah. Could it be that the boys didn't consider themselves all brothers? And that's why Onan refused to have a child "for Er?"
And could all this and Yehuda's nameless wife, Bat Shua, daughter of Shua, have been a problem? Yehuda was supposed to be the "line" for the kings, and Tamar wanted to be part of it, just like Leah and Naomi/Ruth and Batsheva. When she didn't conceive from Yehuda's sons, she found a way to have a child, actually twins, from him.
13 And it was told Tamar, saying: 'Behold, thy father-in-law goeth up to
Timnah to shear his sheep.'
14 And she put off from her the
garments of her widowhood, and covered herself with her veil, and wrapped
herself, and sat in the entrance of Enaim, which is by the way to Timnah; for
she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she was not given unto him to wife.
15 When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot; for she had
covered her face.
16 And he turned unto her by the way, and
said: 'Come, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee'; for he knew not that she
was his daughter-in-law. And she said: 'What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest
come in unto me?'
17 And he said: 'I will send thee a kid of
the goats from the flock.' And she said: 'Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou
18 And he said: 'What pledge shall I give thee?' And
she said: 'Thy signet and thy cord, and thy staff that is in thy hand.' And he
gave them to her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.
19 And she arose, and went away, and put off her veil from her, and
put on the garments of her widowhood.
20 And Judah sent the
kid of the goats by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge
from the woman's hand; but he found her not.
21 Then he asked
the men of her place, saying: 'Where is the harlot, that was at Enaim by the
wayside?' And they said: 'There hath been no harlot here.'
And he returned to Judah, and said: 'I have not found her; and also the men of
the place said: There hath been no harlot here.'
23 And Judah
said: 'Let her take it, lest we be put to shame; behold, I sent this kid, and
thou hast not found her.'
24 And it came to pass about three
months after, that it was told Judah, saying: 'Tamar thy daughter-in-law hath
played the harlot; and moreover, behold, she is with child by harlotry.' And
Judah said: 'Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.'
she was brought forth, she sent to her father-in-law, saying: 'By the man, whose
these are, am I with child'; and she said: 'Discern, I pray thee, whose are
these, the signet, and the cords, and the staff.'
26 And Judah
acknowledged them, and said: 'She is more righteous than I; forasmuch as I gave
her not to Shelah my son.' And he knew her again no more.
And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her
Behind every great man, there's an even greater woman!