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כי ראתה כי גדל שלה והיא לא נתנה לו לאשה

For she saw that Sheilah had grown, and she had not been given to him as a wife. (38:14)

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Tamar waited – and waited. Tamar was determined to have children from Yehudah. When she noticed that Sheilah had not been given to her, she decided to take undignified steps to realize her dream. If her children could not emanate from Yehudah’s sons, they would emanate from Yehudah himself. She was going to be the progenitress of the Davidic /Messianic dynasty. The Baal HaTurim adds to the above (Rashi’s) p’shat, explanation. When Tamar saw that she was not being given to Sheilah, she became anxious, filled with pain at the thought that she would not play a role in carrying the seed of Moshiach Tzidkeinu. This troubled her greatly. In the merit of her angst over not being able to marry into Yehudah’s family, she warranted that Malchus Bais David, the Davidic monarchy, would descend from her.

Horav Shraga Grossbard, zl, suggests that the Baal HaTurim is teaching us a profound chiddush, original thought. We are accustomed to think that the reason Tamar was selected to be the mother of Davidic Royalty was her mesiras nefesh, self-sacrifice, in being prepared to die rather than humiliate Yehudah by telling the people that he was the father of her unborn twins. Her willingness to die a fiery death – in order not to embarrass Yehudah – earned her this special accolade.

From Baal HaTurim (and Rashi), we derive that the reason for Tamar’s worthiness was the pain she experienced from the knowledge that she would not bear a child from the Shevet, tribe, of Yehudah. This was the most eminent tribe from which would descend David Hamelech and eventually Moshiach Tzidkeinu. When she saw that it was not going to happen, she was miserable. This misery was her merit.

The Mashgiach suggests that in these words lie the secret to raising children successfully. When a parent or a rebbe/morah experiences pain because his/her student/child is not succeeding, is floundering and possibly swaying towards leaving the path of observance, this parent or mentor manifests the correct and, quite possibly, most important ingredient in child rearing. Rav Grossbard adds that this does not refer to pain of embarrassment: i.e. “My child swings left, so I am ashamed. I am perceived as a failure.” It is embarrassing to have a child who has left the derech, path of observance. This is not the pain that makes the difference. This is personal pain, egotistical pain: “What are the neighbors going to say? How can I walk into shul? How can I hold my head up in public?” While it is not to be ignored, this pain does not engender merit.

We are talking about pain that one sustains over the loss of a child from Judaism; the pain that one experiences when a boy or girl goes off the derech, when he/she could have been saved, but no one seemed to care: maybe there was not enough money to save him; there was no “honor” in working in the trenches; it is not as if I am saying a shiur, teaching Torah on a high level. People toil when they get attention, receive accolades. Sadly, in this field, all one receives is an occasional “thank you,” often accompanied by abuse.

Rebbetzin Karelitz, wife of Horav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, was the granddaughter of Rav Hirsch Kupshitz, an individual who exemplified greatness in Torah, as well as chesed and yiraas Shomayim. He merited that all of his sons became respected Roshei Yeshivos or dayanim. Rebbetzin Karelitz was often asked what special ingredient in their home catalyzed such an incredible nachas, Torah satisfaction, from their children? She attributed it to her father’s attitude when one of her brothers, for whatever reason, missed a day of cheder/school. He fasted the entire day! Imagine, fasting because your son missed school! This indicates the pain he experienced when his son did not learn Torah. How many can say that?

Furthermore, love of Torah resonated in their home; the unique feeling of ahavas, love, of Torah, was palpable, evident throughout the household. Following their marriage, the Karelitzes lived in Bnei Brak. One of the Rebbetzin’s relatives passed away, and her mother (Rebbetzin Karelitz’s mother) was sitting shivah. Rav Nissim remained home to supervise the young children while the Rebbetzin traveled to Yerushalayim to comfort her mother.

When the Rebbetzin arrived at her parent’s home, her father asked her where her husband was. She replied that he was taking care of the children. Her father’s response characterized his approach to, and love for, Torah: “Your husband is a talmid chacham, Torah scholar, to whom every minute of Torah study is valuable. He should be in the bais hamedrash learning – not babysitting. Do not do this again. Your husband’s learning takes priority!” When a child grows up in such a home that grants Torah the primacy that it deserves, it is no wonder that he ultimately will carry those values through his educational process and achieve remarkable success in Torah.