Amidst the story of the brothers selling Yosef as a slave, his ending up in Mitzrayim in the home of Pontiphar, his subsequent imprisonment and eventual meteoric rise to the position of Viceroy — 2nd only to Pharoah, is the story, conveyed in thumbnail below, of Yehudah and Tamar.
We learn of Yehudah’s two sons who, unbeknownst to Yehudah, were evil and died after marrying Tamar after which Yehuda promised the 3rd son to Tamar but never delivered. We learn about the veiled Tamar who waited “many days” (Breish’t Perek 38, posuk 12) before hearing that Yehudah, who had been in mourning for the passing of his wife, had shed his mourning clothes and began going to watch the sheepshearers.
We learn that after a long wait for the unfulfilled promise of Yehudah’s 3rd son, Shelah, who had since grown up, Tamar posed as a harlot in order that the promise be kept, if not by Shelah, then by Yehudah himself. She is said to have stationed herself while veiled, at a crossroads of Yehudah’s now-regular journeys to watch the sheepshearers.
After having enticed Yehudah (who had never seen her face in the years that she lived in his home and therefore, didn’t know that she was his daughter-in-law) and having been intimate, Yehudah’s staff, his signet ring and sash remained in Tamar’s hands.
Once having returned to Yehudah’s home and having been found pregnant some 3 months later, Tamar was sentenced by Yehudah to be burned for having been a harlot and having been impregnated.
On the day that her sentence was to have been carried out, she sent the simanim to Yehudah noting that the owner of the simanim was the one who was intimate with her.
Yehudah, faced with evidence implicating him, could have let the simanim pass as if they belonged to someone else. No one else would have known. But Yehudah, heir to the future Malchut of B’nai Yisrael, exhibited a mido of justice which serves as a prototype for Just Kingship, Just Jewish Leadership for all time. Yehudah publically owned up to his liaison with Tamar who was saved from her death sentence. The twin sons she bore to Yehudah were named Perez and Zerah.
Okay, having relayed the story in short-form, one might ask; Why the title? What does the story of Yehudah and Tamir have to do with Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman and his publicly proclaimed hope for Halachic, Torah law to be the law of modern-day Medinat Israel?
The answer is — Everything. Yehudah, in making his public admission, set a standard for leadership and justice in B’nai Yisrael — “‘Tzedek, Tzedek Teirdof — Justice, Justice you will pursue'” for all time.
With Ne’eman’s hope for Halachic, Torah law to be the law of modern-day Medinat Israel comes the specter of a lot planning for the hoped for moment when the hope is fulfilled.
When the day arrives of fufillment of Halachic, Torah law becoming the law of the land, Halacha and the administrators of Halacha — on a government level, on Court system level, on a bureaucratic level, on a daily level of inter-actions amongst the people — must hit the ground running. There will be no time for more of the “same sefer, different day” regarding; child abuse, marital domestic abuse, governmental corruption and graft, deception by merchant of customer, playing favorites, “old-boy networks”, Hamulas and the possibly less than just Beit Din and Rabbinic board bureaucracies and decisions. The by-word and spirit must be V’Ahavtah L’rei’echa Kamocha — Want for your brother as you would want for yourself.
It seems to this author that, prior to implementation of Halacha and Torah law as the law of the land, that Gedolim, Rabbanim, Talmudei Chachamim and intellects of all sectors of the Observant Jewish World, both within Eretz Yisrael and throughout Chutz L’Aretz will have to come together and thrash out every issue as they build further Rabbinic fences, safeguards and transparencies to insure justice. In short, what is envisioned is an august gathering on a level of Constitutional convention, where the greatest national leaders and intellectuals sat together and thrashed out a document which provided a sense of justice for the citizens on all levels, from big state/small state through citizens rights and fairness, at all levels prior to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution.
As students of history are well aware, the U.S. Constitution by-and-large worked for about the first 160 years until the politicians and justice system found the means and methodology to get around and subvert constitutional law — the ultimate manifestation being the possibility that the individual currently serving as president may be constitutionally illegitimate.
Chavel Chomer, it must be hoped that the new Sanhedrin that we often hear about is the beginning of such a process.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem and that we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.