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Hashem’s Writing on Tamar’s Courage

The story of Tamar sheds light on a few very important and deep concepts

that help us navigate our lives. As we are all acquainted, Tamar could aptly be

called the “matriarch” of the Davidic lineage. In her desire to marry into the

Jewish people, she pretended to be a harlot in order for Yehuda to, forced by the

angel Gavriel, consort with her.

At first glance this seems like a very twisted way to bring about the lineage

that would be the progenitor of king Mashiach. Why, and how could Hashem

choose to bring the final rectification of the world through such a suspicious

union? What does this story teach us?

The depths of wisdom

Part of the difficulty of understanding this conundrum is that Hashem’s

wisdom is infinite and unknowable. As we know, there are many degrees of

understanding which shed more and more light over any given question.

Most of us find it difficult to make sense of even 1% of the events in our

lives. Some even think that Hashem has forgotten about us, and that’s a perfectly

reasonable feeling. Very few have their lives so well-off they feel they don’t even

need to pray for themselves.

Yet, our free will is maintained in a very delicate spiritual balance which

must constantly be maintained. At one end of the scale we find Hashem, at the

other, we find the accusing angel, often called the “inciter” (Ha-Satan). If too

much goodness comes into the world or if people are not deserving, the accusing

angel steps in to halt it. If there’s too much evil, Hashem must push the scale back

so that we can always make a choice.

Tamar was an incredible Tzadeket, and knew through Ruach HaKodesh

(divine spirit) that she had a spark of the Davidic dynasty. As written in Maggid

Meisharim by R’ Yosef Karo (author of the Shulchan Aruch), she was barren and

could not conceive. Moreover, she desperately wanted to marry into the Jewish

People to bring this very special soul through holiness.

However, given that this soul was very precious, the accusing angel would

do everything to prevent it from coming to the world. That’s why one of the

reasons why she had to “fool” Yehuda was so that the accusing angel would not

prosecute Peretz’s soul (King David’s great grandfather). Amazingly, this

happened even though it wasn’t halachically permissible! And no one would

suspect the ruse, since Hashem brought it through such contorted ways.

The Incredible Goodness

Sometimes, we can’t understand Hashem’s plans even in hindsight. The

right result often comes through twisted ways, and that’s totally fine, provided

we are genuinely connecting to Hashem. In fact, the greatest acts of kindness

from Hashem happen without our knowledge or without our consent. Women

who went through childbirth know how painful it is. Yet, it is precisely because we

aren’t in control of it (and only afterward), that we realize what a tremendous

kindness a baby is from Hashem.

Tamar, the unlikely heroine, teaches us the power of women to bypass the

rules in order to bring about the greater good. Her foresight enabled her to see

thousands of years ahead, and risk her life. Obviously, we should realize she was

acting entirely in Hashem’s interest and guided by her holiness. The same

happened to the wife of On son of Pelet in Parshat Korach we just read. As the

fires of rebellion raged from Korach’s mutiny against Moshe, On’s wife realized

her husband was in danger. She questioned him “what different does it make if

Moshe or Korach lead? You will anyway be a follower!”. Therefore, she made him

drunk and kept him in his tent sleeping until everything was over. When Korach’s

followers came to get him, she uncovered her hair and sat at the entrance of the

tent. As they spotted this breach of modesty, they shuddered and ran away.

Sometimes we need to take destiny by its reigns and do drastic things. Like

On who owed his life to his wife, Tamar is credited for her bravery, even risking

being burned alive, for what she perceived was her mission. We learn from these

women that bravery is not necessarily going to war, but sacrificing oneself for

something greater. Sometimes, rules need to be broken (at least temporarily) in

order to bring a greater good. And that’s something women are empowered to do

thanks to their innate perception, nurturing nature, and foresight.

May we derive inspiration from Tamar, her memory be for a blessing, and

merit to see her final descendent, King Mashiach speedily in our days!

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