9.26.2006

Refreshing dvar Torah for Rosh Hashana (and other times)

Nuqotw posted an amazing Rosh Hashana dvar Torah, also suitable for other occasions. I can't post a laudatory comment about it on her blog because I'm a loser without a LiveJournal ID (I jumped on the blog bandwagon after it was old news to my more geeky friends--and I use "geeky" in the best sense of the word), so I'll post them here.

It's just one idea, but I like it so much that I can't stop turning it over in my head. Go read it in her original inimitable style, but the basic thought is: Yehuda (Genesis 38) is the first person in the Torah who does what we now call teshuva, but taking responsibility for his wrong actions and admitting, in public, that they are wrong. This happens when he says, "צָדְקָה מִמֶּנִּי," "She was more righteous than I." The Yehuda and Tamar story, which interrupts the flow of narrative in the latter part of Genesis, is irksome on so many levels, but this new insight may be enough to redeem it in my eyes.

I shall have to think about it some more.

4 comments:

HDS said...

I have always wondered which aspect(s) of the story Yehuda regretted - was it his obligation of yiboom - marrying her himself, or marrying her to his youngest son? Or was it how he treated her as a person? Or was it his indescretion on the roadside? Or some combination?

Slightly seperate from what he's regretting, but more addressed to this dvar torah - Is his teshuva bein adam lamakom, or bein adam lechavero?

The words immediately after "Tzadkah Mimeni" in 38:26 are: "Ki Al Ken Lo Nesatiha leShelah Beni".

Simple pshat would seem to say that he regretted not allowing his youngest son to fulfill yiboom. Of course, why he says "ki al ken" instead of just "ki" might mean there is more nuance here. (Anyone see anything on this wording?)

Open question: Is yiboom a mitzva bein adam lechavero(providing "children" for the deceased) or is it bein adam lamakom (like pru urevu, facilitating the population of the world in the proper way)?

A nice in-depth look at the incident which raises many interesting questions can be found here:

http://members.tripod.com/~ohave/chumash/tamar.htm

--HDS

miriam said...

on that note, it's interesting to think of the yehudah/tamar encounter as one root of david hamelekh. both kings saul and david sin, but i have often heard it argued that the difference is in their responses when they are chastised by prophets. sauls says (re: amalek) "it was the people's fault," david says (re: batsheva and uriyah) "i sinned."

Lab Rab said...

To which I can add (first heard from my Rebbe R. Charlop):

Yaakov had two sons of distinction - Yehuda and Yosef. Both were tempted with a similar sin. Yehuda succumbed, but realized his error, and admitted it. Yosef remained pure and earned the title Yosef Hatzaddik. Yet in the end, it was Yehuda who merited to become the leader of the Jewish people.

Or, as Chazal would later say, bemakom shebaalei teshuvah om'din tzadikkim gemurim einam yecholim la'amod.

hds said...

Somewhere in the charged, visceral poingancy of contrasting the Tamar/Yehuda episode with that of Potifera/Yosef and that of Rus/Boaz lies the essential kernal of kingship, and of both Moshiach Ben David and Ben Yosef.

miriam - Perhaps Shaul's excuse undoes the protecting virtue of his great-grandfather Yosef, opening the door for Dovid, who's great-gradfather Yehuda made a mistake but admitted it, as did he.

lab rab - The fact that Shaul gets a chance first, before Dovid, seems to say that bemakom shebaalei teshuvah om'din tzadikkim gemurim einam yecholim la'amod doesn't apply to the chronology, but to the outcome in this case. (Similarly, Hashem answers Yitzchak's prayer and allows Rivkah (bas Lavan) to conceive, but Rivkah ultimately sees what needs to be done to safe-guard Yaakov and the Brachos.)

I am sure that I am oversimplifying to say that perhaps yiboom and kingship must share an enduring, permeating, even joyous selflessness to succeed, but maybe that's part of it. (Dovid dancing before the Aron, and Michal not understanding.)