In this week’s parsha, Tamar disguises herself and seduces her father in law, Yehuda. Upon hearing that Tamar is pregnant, Yehuda orders her executed for harlotry. When she produces proof, he publicly admits that he is the father:

וַיְהִי כְּמִשְׁלֹשׁ חֳדָשִׁים וַיֻּגַּד לִיהוּדָה לֵאמֹר זָנְתָה תָּמָר כַּלָּתֶךָ וְגַם הִנֵּה הָרָה לִזְנוּנִים וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוּדָה הוֹצִיאוּהָ וְתִשָּׂרֵף׃

“About three months later, the following was told to Yehuda: “Your daughter-in-law has become a harlot, and she is pregnant by harlotry.” Yehuda responded, “Take her out to be burned.”

הִוא מוּצֵאת וְהִיא שָׁלְחָה אֶל־חָמִיהָ לֵאמֹר לְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר־אֵלֶּה לּוֹ אָנֹכִי הָרָה וַתֹּאמֶר הַכֶּר־נָא לְמִי הַחֹתֶמֶת וְהַפְּתִילִים וְהַמַּטֶּה הָאֵלֶּה׃

“As she was being taken out, she sent word to her father-in-law, saying, “It is with the child of the man to whom these things belong that I am pregnant.” And she said, “Examine these: to whom does this seal, cord, and staff belong?”

וַיַּכֵּר יְהוּדָה וַיֹּאמֶר צָדְקָה מִמֶּנִּי כִּי־עַל־כֵּן לֹא־נְתַתִּיהָ לְשֵׁלָה בְנִי

And Yehuda recognized them, and he said, “She is more in the right than me, inasmuch as I did not give her my son, Sheilah.”

In what is perhaps his most famous Torah, the holy Bas Ayin reads these words in a novel way:

“Vayehi k’mishlosh chadashim”: And it was around Chanukah time. (Kislev is the third month of the year.) “Vayugad l’Yehuda”: The satan sent word to Hashem, Whose entire Name is included in the word “Yehuda”, saying, “zansa Tamar kalasecha”: “Your bride, the Jewish nation – who are compared to a “Tamar – date” – has acted immorally, “v’gam hinei harah l’zenunim”: and she has become “impregnated” by the influence of foreign cultures.”

“Vayomer Yehuda hotzi’uha v’tisareif”: Hashem responds by saying, “If it is as you say, then there is no longer any hope for our relationship. Let them feel the pain of my eternal distance.”

“Hee mutzeis, v’hee shalcha el chamiyah leimor”: As the Jewish people are being taken out, they protest with the following claim: “L’ish asher eileh lo anochi harah”: “It is to Hashem alone (who is referred to as “Ish milchama”), to whom the 36 candles of Chanukah belong (the numerical value of the word “lo” equals 36) that I am faithful; “hakeir na, l’mi hachosemes v’hapsilim v’hamateh ha’eileh”: “Look down from heaven and see that we are still celebrating the Chanukah miracle (involving oil bearing the chosem-seal of the Kohen Gadol) in the darkness of this exile, lighting the wicks (“pesillim”) of the menorah, which is a vessel (the word “Hamateh” is numerically equivalent to the word “kli – vessel”).” Despite the appearance of our unfaithfulness, our connection to Chanukah demonstrates our innermost desire for closeness with Hashem.

“Vayaker Yehuda vayomar”: Hashem peers through the windows our Jewish homes around the world and sees loving families gathering around the menorah with such joy and sweetness. He says: “tzadkah mimeni ki al kein lo nisatiha l’sheilah b’ni”: “My beloved nation, you are right. I am at fault for your appearance, for I have still not sent Moshiach (Moshiach is referred to as “Shiloh”) to redeem you.”

Chanukah reveals the truest, innermost allegiance of a Jew: our desperate thirst for a relationship with Hashem. Its unparalleled illumination has the ability to penetrate beyond the cold, dark veneer of our lowly spiritual state to reveal the candle of God which forever burns at the core of our Jewish identity.

Lighting Chanukah candles in the dark winter of our exile demonstrates that, despite all external appearances, our holy nation is yet bound with mighty bonds of love and devotion to the Master of the world.

Rav Avraham Dov of Averitch
Website | + posts

R’ Yaakov Klein is the founder of the Lost Princess Initiative, an author, musician, and lecturer devoted to sharing the inner light of Torah through his books, music, and lectures.

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Yonatan Pesach Friedman
3 years ago

shkoyach Rebbe