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Judah: A Perplexing Character?
Video 5 of 22
So here's Rashi answer. You ready? Rashi is going to answer this question and as you listen to this answer I want you to ask, do you find this answer convincing? Does this solve the problem of why Chapter 38 is here? So here's what I want to suggest to you is going to happen, Rashi is going to make a number of assumptions, we're going to talk about what those assumptions are, and eventually we're going to examine those assumptions, to see what we think of them, but for the meantime let's just accept all of these assumptions, it's all true, let's just accept everything that Rashi says. But I still want you to ask if we accept everything he says, has he answered the questions which he himself is asking, which is; Lamah nismecha parsha zu l'kan v'hifsik b'parshato shel Yosef? What is this Parsha doing here? The story of Yehuda going down from amongst his brothers, this larger story of Yehuda and Tamar, what's it doing interrupting the even larger story of Yosef and his brothers?
So Rashi says here's why. It teaches us; Shehoriduhu echov migedulato - that the brothers caused Yehuda to descend from his position of leadership over them; Keshera'u betzarat avihem - when they saw the terrible pain and grief that their father experienced over the loss of Yosef. Amru - they said to Yehuda; Atah amarta lemochro - you in effect were our leader, you were the one who when we had said let's kill Yosef, you had said no, let's sell him instead. But you didn't go far enough. Ilu amarta lehashivo - had you told us to return him to his father; Hayinu shomim lecha - we would have listened to you, we would have gone all the way with you. You failed us. Therefore you can no longer be our leader and they demoted him from his position of leader over them.
In effect by the way, what Rashi is doing here is he is engaging in what we might call an elaborate play on words. You see this word here in Rashi, Shehoriduhu - horiduhu echov migedulato? It literally means caused to descend. The brothers demoted or caused Yehuda to descend from his position of leadership. Yarad, of course the word for descent, is the same word which appears up here; Vayeired Yehuda mei'eis echov. So Rashi is really playing off of that word, he's saying, you want to know what it means; Vayeired Yehuda mei'eis echov - that Yehuda went down from amongst his brothers? This is what it means. It doesn't just mean that he went physically down from amongst his brothers, but there's also a political connotation. Not just a physical connotation, but a political connotation. Politically Yehuda went down from amongst his brothers, he was caused to descend, he was demoted by them for what they saw as a failure of leadership. When they saw their father's grief over the sale of Yosef, they said, you didn't go far enough, you should have told us to return him, we would have listened to you had you done so.
Now let's buy all of this. Let's accept every assumption that Rashi is making, that the brothers in fact regretted having sold Yosef - virtually immediately after having done so when they saw the grief of their father. Furthermore, that they held Yehuda responsible for that, because they really would have listened had Yehuda said return him and therefore they felt Yehuda was culpable. If we accept all of this, my question to you is, has Rashi answered his question? Rashi's question; Lamah nismecha parsha zu l'kan - what is this story doing here? Has he now successfully explained to you what Chapter 38 is doing here? You want to know why Chapter 38 is here, why the story of Yehuda going down from amongst his brothers, why the story of Yehuda and Tamar is here? Easy. Because interpret this word Vayeired politically, not just physically, Yehuda went down politically from amongst his brothers and now you know why this story is here. Does that solve it for you? Or do you think it doesn't solve it?
Think about that, I have some thoughts about it, I'm going to share it with you in our next video.
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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