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Judah: A Perplexing Character?
Video 17 of 22
And by the way, Yosef - if you think about Yosef, Yosef gets lost again, so to speak, in the story of Potiphar's wife he gets put in prison, ironically because he resists - it's actually again the mirror image, the stories always seems to be the mirror image of the previous ones - because he resists doing Ra'ah. Take a look at this. Eineni gadol babayit hazeh - when he's resisting the seduction of Potiphar's wife, he tells her, look there's no one greater in this house than I am, I'm the one who is in charge in everything, my master trusts me implicitly; V'loh chasach mimeni me'umah - he didn't leave anything away from me, he doesn't withhold anything from me, my master. Ki im otach - except for you, because; B'asher at ishto - in so far as you are his wife; V'eich e'eseh hara'ah hagedolah hazot - how could I do this terrible Ra'ah thing? He resists doing the Ra'ah and because he does she is furious at him and she gets him put in the pit, in jail, by framing him for violating her.
So there's this train of Ra'ah in all of these stories, people getting lost or becoming undone because of Ra'ah, because of Ra'ah, and over here, ironically, because he stood on his principles and he will not give in to Ra'ah.
So the bottom line is that there are these connections between all three stories; 37, 38 and 39 as well, the doing of Ra'ah, the loss of someone through the doing of Ra'ah or the resisting of the doing Ra'ah, as it were, in the last story.
Okay so now let's go to this, the later chapters, what else about Chapter 38 reminds you of stuff that goes on in the later chapters of Yosef meeting up with his brothers in Egypt? What did you come up with?
So one thing that comes to mind for me at least is the theme of disguise. Over here in the story of Tamar, Tamar our protagonist is disguised, she's dressed up and because she's disguised Yehuda cannot recognize her. Well where in our story of Yosef do we have someone who is disguised and because they're disguised other family members can't recognize them? Well of course, that's this, who is the one in disguise? It's Yosef. Because he's in disguise, who can't recognize him? Well these guys, the brothers in Egypt can't recognize him. Yosef disguises himself or Yosef is disguised, the brothers don't know who he really is. So in both cases we have a person's identity who is disguised and in both cases that disguise is used to deceive. Tamar uses her disguise to deceive Yehuda about who she really is, and Yosef realizing the brothers don't recognize him continues willfully this deception and pretense that he's just some Egyptian official who has no connection to them. In fact though, that's not the case. So in both cases the person's identity is disguised, disguise is used to deceive.
What else though? It's not just that. Think about collateral. Even more than that, think of collateral involving Yehuda. In our story Chapter 38, Yehuda does not have his goat so instead gives collateral to Tamar, he ends up having to redeem that collateral, does that remind you of anything later on in the story? Any other collateral later on in the story? It turns out there is.
Later on in the story if you remember, Yaakov will not send Benjamin down to Egypt, he's worried about Benjamin's safety. Reuven tries to convince Yaakov to send him - unsuccessfully. He says, I'll kill my two children if I don't bring back Benjamin successfully to you. Yaakov doesn't listen. But then Yehuda steps forward and Yehuda says; Onochi e'ervenu miyadi tevakshenu - I will be the Orev for him. I will be his collateral.
Interesting, the same Yehuda who redeems collateral over here in the story of Tamar, redeems collateral once more in this story, promising himself this time as the collateral, not just a coat. Little does he realize how hard it's going to be to redeem, just like in this story. Yehuda thinks it's going to be easy, he'll just send a goat and then [they'll find her 5:26] but he never finds her. Then at the end what does he have to do to get his coat back? He has to admit to a terrible truth. He has to admit he was the one. Same kind of thing interestingly happening in this story. Yehuda thinks it's going to be easy to get this collateral back. Of course, I'll just promise myself as - what's going to happen to Benjamin anyway? Little does he realize that the masked man in Egypt has other plans. The masked man in Egypt is going to imprison Benjamin, little does [Yaakov/Yehuda 5:48] know how difficult it is going to be to redeem this collateral, what will he have to do?
He'll actually have to do the same thing he did in Chapter 38. In Chapter 38 he made a terrible admission, he's going to have to do that one more time. He bares his soul to Yosef in a stirring speech, where he says, look you don't understand, our family, this is what happened. There was a child who was lost, a child that father loves, father loves these other children more than he does me and let me stay instead of [you 6:14]. He bares his soul to Yosef not knowing that it's Yosef. He admits to redeem collateral in this story. He admits to redeem collateral in this story too.
So these stories are looking intimately connected. I mean, in all these ways, in these ways, in these ways and these ways. Are you - do you still think that over here Chapter 38 that this is really a digression? It's not even open to discussion. But what does it all mean? What do all these connections mean? They're not just pretty things that are there so that we can see that these things are connected. These things are actually clues to the deeper meaning of the story of Yehuda and Tamar, to why this story is here. Not just that the story is not a digression, but what this apparent digression really means for our deeper understanding of the Yosef saga.
The clue to that, I think, to the meaning of it all, comes from one last connection that bridges all of these stories, and that is, the loss of children by father. Think carefully about the loss of children by father, in all of these stories: 37, 38, later chapters, who gets lost? How many children get lost? Why do those children get lost? I think the answers to those questions are going to give us a key to finally understanding what the story of Yehuda and Tamar is really about and to a deeper understanding of Rashi; Vayeired Yehuda mei'et echov - Yehuda went down from amongst his brothers, why did Yehuda go down? How can he climb back?
1. Introduction to Yehudah and Tamar
2. Kinds of Questions
3. A Question of Placement
4. A Tale of Two Digressions
5. Does Rashi Answer The Question?
6. Are We Explaining One Sentence or a Whole Story?
7. A Triangle of Descent
8. The Unexpected Element
9. Perpetual Mourning
10. Failure to Persuade
11. Patchwork Quilt
13. Lest it Come to Scandal
14. Recognize, Please..
15. Tales of Goats and Coats
16. Keepsake or Evidence?
18. How Many--and Why?
19. What's At Stake?
20. Yehudah's Name
22. Superfluous Details
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