Shabbat Vayeshev (Gen 37:1 – 40:23)

Courtesy of Julie Seltzer and

In this portion, Tamar is promised to Judah’s oldest son, who dies before she can conceive. So Judah tries to get his second son, Onan, to hook up with big bro’s widow. As you might imagine, that was less than tempting for Onan. However, Onan’s refusal resulted in a rather permanent reprisal from God. Judah figured this was the ultimate in toxic in-laws, and so he tried to strike a deal – “Go live with your Dad until my youngest son Shelah grows up. Then we’ll come a-calling.” Sure thing, Judah. It’s the old “the sibling is in the mail” routine.

Tamar waited a while, and then decided to take matters into her own…. Hands. She dressed up like a harlot and waited by the entrance to the city. When Judah came passing by (with a grown-up Shelah, no less!), he saw her and decided to add another chapter to “Bible Characters Gone Wild”. Of course, he left his wallet in his other cloak, so left his staff and judges cord and told her “the sheep is in the mail”.

Of course, when he sent the sheep, Tamar had gone back to her widow routine (a girl can only have so much fun, you know) and nobody knew where to find the hooker by the gate. 3 months later Tamar shows up at Judah’s house, looking radiant and just a wee bit pregnant. Judah is all ready to have her burned for being a harlot, when she sweetly produces the staff and cord and says “I’m pregnant by the man who owns these.”


To his (small) credit, Judah admitted that he was in the wrong for not giving Shelah to her as husband and for sleeping with her.

One more note: Tamar gave birth to twins. During delivery, one of the babies’ hands came out, but then was drawn back in. As it was going back, the midwife put a red cord around the wrist. The other child (Perez) then came out first, but the real “first” child, Zerah – the one with the red cord around his wrist – was then born.

Oh, and this portion also talks a little bit about a pretty colored coat.

SO… limited only by your creativity and the category of food assigned, please bring foods which somehow show their “true colors”.

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