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Section: Parshas HaShavua   Category: Quick Vort
Parshas Vayeishev: Maskil L'Dovid - Why Did Yehuda Keep Tamar Hanging on a String?

After the tragic death of Yehuda's first two sons that were married to Tamar, Yehuda told Tamar (Vayeishev 38:11) "Shvi Almana Bais Avich Ad Ki Yigdal Sheila; Return to your father's house until Sheila gets older." Rashi explains that Yehuda had no intention of letting Sheila marry Tamar, since as the pasuk says he was scared that any husband of Tamar was doomed. If so why did he keep her waiting for Sheila? Even if he had a good reason, wasn't he lying?

The Maskil L'Dovid answers that Yehuda was the first one to keep the Mitzva of Yibum, as his son Onan married Tamar after Er's death.  After Onan's death Yehuda didn't want Sheila to do Yibum because he was scared, but he did want him to do Chalitza. Since he was still a Katan, he couldn't perform Chalitza so he wanted Tamar to wait. However, Yehuda was afraid that if he asked Tamar to remain unmarried until Sheila is old enough for Chalitza, she would not listen. Therefore, he led her to believe she would marry Sheila eventually.

The Maskil L'Dovid says that Yehuda did not lie to her, but he chose his words very carefully. He told her to return to her father until Sheila got older. She understood this meant that he will marry her when he becomes of age, but he in fact meant old enough to do Chalitza.