Weekly Parsha Review Laced with Humor and Sarcasm from The Oisvorfer Ruv

Vayeshev 2013: Yehuda – Tamar and Yibum


Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes

YehudaTamar and Yibum



Parshas Vayeshev, as you can see from the headlines is mamish full of very interesting events. Sadly, we cannot cover them all. You will zicher not want to miss reading, maybe over and again, this week’s parsha. The headlines are shreklich enough to give one a heart attack: not to worry, the shver swears that his cardiologist – Dr. Bruce Decter – he of Great Neck, New York can fix anyone up as good as new. And taka just this past week, the shver told the Oisvorfer that he was going for a stress test and then later that day, was  taking his grandson and newly minted eishes chayil out to dinner. Later that evening, the Oisvorfer’s son checked in about the meal and reported as follows. “Popop ordered steak, fries and a few other items his doctor wouldn’t want to hear about.”  When questioned about his menu choices, he said azoy: “I didn’t get the results back yet from Dr. Bruce, let’s eat.” Dr. Decter can be reached at 516-327-0001.

Shoin: last week we told you that things in the Yacov Oveenu household were epes not in order, too much nachas from his kinderlach he wasn’t deriving. Ober that was just a teaser as only Reuvain – he of moving and efsher bed mounting fame- was involved. This week, all hell breaks loose. All the boys will be involved in a conspiracy that was to last 22 years. It involved kidnapping, attempted murder, a cover up and much more. And that’s just the beginning. This week’s parsha will also give us two more sexually charged givaldige stories, zicher you won’t want to miss the laining. Maybe it’s a good week to double your pleasure by starting shinayim mikra (reading each verse twice).  Though we previously covered the more than amazing story of Yehuda and Tamar, avada it deserves a shout out and one more look. We previously covered many medroshim (stories that might even be true) about Yehuda, Tamar, Yoisef and Mrs. Potiphar, Yoisef and Mr. Potiphar, chazir minuvil that was, a few stories about semen and much more. Read them  at www.oisvorfer.com. Toirah is the beste schoira.

Here we are one parsha later and what does the heylige Toirah have in store for us this week?  A few mitzvois ah-say (positive commandments) maybe? Seemingly not! Instead the parsha will begin with the story and saga of Yoisef, kimat everyone’s favorite of all Toirah characters. The RBSO loved him as well and his story will run four entire parshas and that’s more coverage than Avrohom and Yitzchok Oveenu got. Specifically, the parsha will tell us why  Eyr and Oinon, Yehuda’s two eldest boys died for spilling seed, if you chap, while  Yehuda was much more careful and didn’t spill any- on the floor that is. Avada we will again learn the more than electrifying, mystifying and stupefying story of Yoisef and Mrs. Potiphar. Did he or didn’t he succumb to her advances and what happened to his seed? Nu the medrish has plenty to say about each of these amazing Toirah stories and zicher you won’t want to miss them. As we’ve said in the past, for whatever reason, ver veyst, sefer Bereishis is chock full of amazing sexual encounters of every variety and seemingly the RBSO wanted us to know them, to learn them, to chazer them, learn from them, understand them and efsher to discuss them as well. Let’s taka do just that.

Every year this time, the Oisvorfer and thousands of others read about Yehuda, his shenanigans with Tamar, his selection as the tribe to produce royalty and wonders aloud about how this could have happened. Why was he, the son that traveled away from the mishpocho, married a Canaanite hot shiksa who by the way remains nameless in the gantze Toirah and he, the same person that solicited roadside sexual favors and he, the same person that wanted to kill the service provider, the one selected by the RBSO for greatnesses? Does the RBSO look favorably on these unusual sexual relationships? If so, why wasn’t Reuvain in the running?  How about Loit who was mounted by both daughters? Is it possible that we need to emulate Yehuda’s ways in order to be in the running to have the Moshiach come from our lineage? What’s taka pshat here?


Noch a sheylo (yet another question) always on the Oisvorfer’s mind: we will read that Yehuda paid Tamar for sexual favors though he seemingly did not know it was her. Ober as soon as she was identified he condemned her to death. What’s pshat here? What exactly did Tamar do wrong here? Was she so poor a performer that she deserved the death penalty? Did she overcharge, bang the credit card more than once? Was prostitution illegal at the time? Didn’t this incident take place way before matan Toirah? Wasn’t kimat everything permitted back then? Weren’t people back then marrying their own aunts, sisters; wasn’t it all permitted before the heylige Toirah came down? Indeed it was and later in the midbar (desert) when the Yiddin asked for fish, doesn’t the heylige medrish suggest that what they really wanted was to go back to those relationships that were suddenly outlawed? Didn’t Loit’s two daughters get a pass even though they shikkered up the father and had him impregnate them? Why did Yehuda condemn Tamar to death by fire?


Nu, the Oisvorfer as public service to his hundreds of thousands of readers did some research into this gantze meyseh- went undercover so to speak- as did Yehuda, if you chap,  to find out what went down, besides Yehuda of course. Nu, lommer lernin but first, let’s meet the cast (Bereishis, chapter 38) which includes Yehuda and his unnamed wife, their three sons, and his daughter-in-law Tamar. Their boys were Eyr, Oinon and Sheyla. Eyr, the eldest son, married a seemingly hot shiksa named Tamar and died childless. The heylige Toirah tells us that he was evil in the eyes of the RBSO. Interestingly enough,Tamar remains one of the most popular Jewish names for girls. Why, ver veyst? Seemingly the RBSO didn’t like Eyr. Why, we are not told and it’s none of your business or is it? Though the heylige Toirah is silent mamish on why the RBSO didn’t like him, Rashi was curious and thought you might be as well. He has a tale to tell and tells us that the RBSO didn’t like Eyr just like He didn’t like Oinon. Shoin and now you know! Ober why didn’t He like Oinon? Nu, it’s taka good you asked; let’s learn Rashi inavaynig (the text)


7. Now Eyr, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the eyes of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death.

ז. וַיְהִי עֵר בְּכוֹר יְהוּדָה רַע בְּעֵינֵי יְ־הֹוָ־ה וַיְמִתֵהוּ יְ־הֹוָ־ה:

Was evil in the eyes of the Lord: [His evil was] like the evil of Oinon, viz. that he wasted his semen, as it is written in connection with Oinan: “and He put him to death also,” meaning that, as Eyr’s death, so was Oinan’s death. Now, why should Eyr waste his semen? So that she (Tamar) would not become pregnant and her beauty be impaired. [Yevomois. 34b]

רע בעיני ה’: כרעתו של אונן משחית זרעו, שנאמר באונן (פסוק י) וימת גם אותו, כמיתתו של ער מיתתו של אונן, ולמה היה ער משחית זרעו, כדי שלא תתעבר ויכחיש יפיה:


He did what? He wasted semen? What chutzpah, mamish!  And for that he died? Nu, it’s taka a miracle that any of you are still alive, if you chap.  Ober, let’s stay focused on the real storyline.  Anyway, he was dead and soon thereafter, Yehuda instructed the second son, Oinan, to marry his widowed sister-in-law (Tamar). Halt kup (pay attention) it gets more complicated. Though we had no Toirah yet and though the mitzvah of yibum,  (levirate marriage) is far off  in the future (Devorim 25:5-10), seemingly Yehuda  must have either practiced an early version of it or was the first to introduce this practice. More on this below. What is levirate marriage? This mitzvah obligates one to marry his deceased brother’s wife if the deceased died childless. Oh, it also forbids the widow from marrying anyone else unless she gets a waiver through a ceremony called chalitza. What’s that? Whatever it is, it absolves both the brother and the widow from this obligation. In any event, Oinan married Tamar, but he, too, died without children. Seemingly he too was a seed spiller (see Rashi above).


Three sons and two dead; who’s left? One son still alive and poor Tamar is still childless. She has already buried two husbands, nebech. Yehuda, efsher afraid that his youngest son might also be a seed withholder (speculation by the Oisvorfer and others), feared that his third son, Sheyla, would suffer the same fate as his two older brothers, and therefore refused to allow Tamar to marry him, despite the levirate obligation or practice.


Seemingly Tamar was driven to have children and concocted a plan. She posed as a zoina (prostitute), stood along the road as Yehuda traveled, and shoin the trap was laid as was Yehuda a few minutes later.  Of course they needed to and did work out the financial arrangements up front. Unlike Oinon who refused to give up his seed, Yehuda was more than obliging and as we will soon learn, he gave her enough for two. Shoin, she was taka pregnant with twins.  Seemingly Yehuda did the gantze myseh (act) without knowing that the zoina he was seeding was actually his daughter-in-law Tamar: yikes!! How is this possible, ver veyst! Oh- we left out one part: because he didn’t have the payment she wanted (a kid goat), he was good enough to leave her with  his ring, his staff and other identifying items, as collateral to be returned when he delivered the goat. Raboyseyee, one cannot make this stuff up; this myseh (story) is in the Toirah mamish. Honorable person that he was and also a satisfied customer following a happy ending, he asked his buddy, Chira, to find her and settle up the account.  Chira was also to retrieve the collateral ober Chira could not find her. Seemingly, Tamar had returned home.  So far so good and it taka sounds no different than any other person soliciting and paying for roadside services. Ober listen to this bombshell.


When word reached Yehuda that Tamar was pregnant, he reacted by immediately sentencing her to death by fire for infidelity. Read that again because as you can imagine we will have questions about that in a moment.  Prior to her scheduled execution, Tamar produced Yehuda’s items (the collateral she was holding) which proved that the pregnancy came about through Yehuda’s other staff, if you chap.  Though Maury Povich was not there with the DNA test, Yehuda fessed up; he was indeed the expectant father of what was growing in Tamar’s womb. He issued a reprieve, issued an apology and stated the she (Tamar) was more correct than he.  Let’s remember these words. Tamar delivered twin boys, Peretz and Chetzron. Peretz  went on to become the progenitor of the royal dynasty of  Dovid Hamelech (King David see Rus, 4:18-22).


And now for the questions we have been holding in since a few paragraphs back. Ershtens: what sin did Tamar commit? Her husbands were dead and she a more than eligible beautiful widow. Was she taka beautiful? Seemingly she was and says Rashi (see above) and who knew her better, that both Eyr and Oinon refused to give her seed, lest they impair her beauty with a pregnancy. Moreover, Yehuda, now spooked by the death of two sons, refused to give her his third and who could blame him? Moreover, says Rashi azoy: though Yehuda told Tamar to wait until Sheyla grew up, he had no intentions of ever letting that husband killer near his only surviving son. In other words: Yehuda was deceiving her. She was single and very much available to service anyone she pleased.


Next: was prostitution illegal at the time? And while we’ve zicher heard of zoinas being busted and having to spend the night, wasn’t a death sentence by fire a bit harsh? Moreover, how could Yehuda, the son of Yacov Oveenu, one of the future holy shevotim (tribes) engage a prostitute for sexual favors? It’s taka emes he was away, as the Toirah tells us, on business, if you chap, ober es-pas- nisht (it was unbecoming). It’s one thing for this fine gentleman to suggest that his brothers not kill Yoisef but instead sell him into slavery for $20 worth of shmattis ober to solicit roadside favors? Oy vey! Moreover, if Tamar was taka guilty of some crime, what was it and why did Yehuda choose to exonerate her just because she was now pregnant with his child?


Nu some say that she was betrothed which back then meant engaged to Yehuda’s youngest son and in that state, she was forbidden to any other man. Seemingly that would include Yehuda and by having roadside assistance, if you chap, she violated the laws of Yibum (which avada didn’t yet exist). Ober if that’s the case, how and why did Yehuda forgive her once it was discovered that it was he that had delivered the goods? Ver veyst? And finally, what is this story doing in-mittin-derinin- in the middle of the amazing Yoisef and his brider tale which continues immediately thereafter? Nu so many questions, let’s see if we can proffer a few answers.

Ober says the RambaM (Mishneh Toirah Hilchois Ishus 1:4) azoy:  Yehuda’s hands were clean: he was a standup guy. Zicher he was, if you chap, which he did.  And maybe he washed them when he got home, ver veyst. Efsher you’re still wondering how Yehuda could be viewed as innocent? Ober says the RambaM so gishmak azoy: Before Matan Toirah on Har Sinai, and zicher before AAA and On-Star, should a person be in need of roadside assistance, if you chap, such a person would meet a woman in the public square. If both parties consented, he would give her payment and engage in relations with her along the road and then leave. Hence the term roadside assistance!  Gishmak! Side comment: seemingly not much has changed!  In any event, let’s also recall that Yehuda was efsher lonely; his eishes chayil (wife), the daughter of Shua, had died and he Yehuda was nebech tzibrochen (broken hearted). How does one mend a broken heart? Nu,  In order to recover from his grieving, Yehuda  arranged a business trip, if you chap, to  Timna for some well deserved “R and R” with his old buddy, Chira, the Adulamite and shoin when the boys are away on business………….Efsher we can kler that the one hump camel broke down and roadside assistance was desperately needed.

And listen to this.  Says the RambaM: prostitution – and for that matter, any sexual relations conducted outside the framework of marriage – is outright forbidden by the heylige Toirah! It is? Ober seemingly and maybe even definitively, it was mamish mutir (permissible) before Matan Toirah. Seemingly, the status of prostitution changed with Matan Toirah. Lommer chazerim (review): before the Toirah was given, any relationship conducted with the mutual consent of both parties was permitted ober immediately thereafter; one was limited to chapping at home or elsewhere but not with a zoina. Nu, efsher you’re klerring azoy: given that zoinas were outlawed is chapping a freebie outside the marriage ok? Nu, avada one shouldn’t do this and zicher one shouldn’t get caught.  Accordingly, Yehuda, in need of service did nothing wrong by engaging a prostitute. Shoin, case closed and all parties innocent.


Nu, as we just read and as will read further below, the RambaM and others went out of their way to exonerate Yehuda, mamish, and have several theories as to why he was a good guy. Ober what about poor Tamar? If Yehuda was accusing her of having relations because she was, according to the practice of Yibum to marry his son…..but since  he had no intentions of giving her that son…was Yehuda epes not guilty of ‘chaining’ Tamar, Aguna style? Though the Oisvorfer has researched this topic, he cannot find logical explanations as to Tamar’s guilt. If anyone can help, feel free to answer.


Back to an even more gishmak RambaM: He states that the term kedeisha as used in the heylige Toirah, refers to a woman engaging in this type of relationship (prostitution), which became forbidden only with the giving of the Toirah. Tamar is referred to as a Kedeisha-  she was after all disguised as a prostitute (38:21-22).  And based on this RambaM it would appear that since Yehuda paid for and performed this act way before Matan Torah, all was kosher.  Ober once the heylige Toirah was given, a kedeisha was forbidden, as it says (Devorim 23:18), “There shall not be a kedeisha from among the daughters of Israel. Nu, timing is everything!

Nu, since we’re discussing the RambaM’s whitewashing of Yehuda’s actions, let’s go a shtikel further into the topic of Yibum, it won’t kill you. Says the RambaN (Nachmanides Bereishis 38:8) azoy: this mitzvah embodies “one of the great mysteries of the Toirah,” and that even before the heylige Toirah was given, people knew of the spiritual benefits of a levirate marriage. And says  Rabaynu Bechayei (Devorim 25): the child born of the union between the brother of the dead man and his former wife—both of whom are intimately connected with the deceased man—is considered the spiritual son of the deceased. And says the  Zoihar (2:104b) azoy: the firstborn child of the levirate marriage is a reincarnation of the soul of its mother’s first husband, bringing the deceased man, as it were, back to life.  Gishmak! Ober not to worry because during the past 1,500 years, since Talmudic times, the universal custom of Ashkenazic communities is to prefer chalitzah to levirate marriage. Seemingly, most people want kids that are not reincarnations, who can blame them.

And who was the first human being to introduce this practice of levirate marriage?  Says the medrish (Bereishis Rabbah 85:5, quoted in the Ramban) azoy: it was Yehuda who suggested that son #2 marry his brother’s widow Tamar. Mistama the idea being to perpetuate the legacy of the deceased brother. Shoin!

And listen to this. Says the RambaN (end of Rus) azoy: before matan Toirah, when it came to Yibum, other relatives in addition to brothers, used to carry out this obligation of levirate marriages.  OMG! Tamar of course knew this and when Yehuda refused to give her his third son, she took matters into her own hands, dressed up, took up her position on the road and chapped Yehuda. Seemingly, her hands were also clean; she was merely following the custom of the times. With great ingenuity and boldness, Tamar broke the bind her shver put her into. In the end, Yehuda and Tamar got married and lived happily ever after and also fulfilled the mitzvah or pre mitzvah, or, whatever it was at the time, of levirate marriage. Gishmak mamish!

Nu, with all that said efsher you’re still scratching your head and wondering why Yehuda was elected as the elter zedya of the Moshiach. And why will Moshiach, the greatest leader of history, who will inspire the world to embrace a life of goodness and holiness and usher in the messianic age, emerge from epes an irregular roadside quickie that led maybe to a levirate marriage? And one last question we asked earlier: why does the heylige Toirah recount this Yehuda Tamar drama by interrupting the story of Yoisef and his sale into slavery by his own brothers?

Says the medrish (Bereishis Rabbah 85:1) mamish so Gishmak azoy: “The sons of Yaacov were engaged in selling Yoisef; Yoisef was busy with his sackcloth and fasting; Yaacov was taken up with his sackcloth and fasting; Reuvain was engaged in his sackcloth and fasting; Yehuda was busy taking a wife. And what does that mean? Seemingly, while other family members mourned, Yehuda was involved in productive pursuits, getting married and establishing a family.

“And the RBSO? What was the RBSO doing at that time? “The Holy One, blessed be He, was engaged in creating the light of Moshiach.” (Peretz, born from Yehuda and Tamar, is the ancestor of King David and the Moshicah, as stated above.)

In other words, amidst the turmoil and politics pervading the fledgling Jewish tribe at the time—in the middle of Yoisef being sold into slavery by his wonderful and holy brothers, the event which ultimately brought about the first exile of the Yiddin from under Paroy the minuvil in Mitzrayim, the RBSO was planting within history the seeds for the ultimate messianic redemption, by orchestrating a relationship which brought forth to the world the seed of Moshiach.  Yehuda followed suit and also did his own planting. Seemingly, we must conclude that all this was bashert, isn’t everything, and, we must accept that the strange roadside encounter between father –in-law and daughter-in law, was all part of the RBSO’s paving the road for redemption and Moshiach. Shoin: at times, one must hit the road.

And why do the Rabbis like Yehuda? Ershtens, when confronted, he took responsibility for his actions.  Said Yehuda (38:26): “She has been more righteous that I”. Yehuda could have simply put Tamar to death, and no one would have known of the embarrassing incestuous relationship he had with his daughter in law. Nonetheless, once again, he rose to the occasion, if you chap, and pronounced two of the most heroic words in human history, (Genesis 38:26) “Tzodkah me’meni!” “She, Tamar, is more righteous than I.” It is my fault not hers that this happened, since I did not allow my son, Shayla, to marry Tamar.

And secondly, we can kler that with these two words, Yehuda became history’s first Ba’al Teshuvah (lit: master of return” i.e., one who has “returned” to God), yet another business that is Toirah inspired and has become a multibillion dollar gisheft. And as the Oisvorfer always tells you: there’s no business like Toirah inspired business.


A gittin shabbis

Yitz Grossman

The Oisvorfer Ruv

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