The Fatal Words
It certainly feels this way if you understand Hebrew. For instance, at the end of the story, when Tamar brings out Judah’s personal items, she says, “Discern, I pray thee” (הַכֶּר־נָ֔א). This expression, הַכֶּר־נָ֔א – discern, recognize, appears only twice in the entire Torah, and can you guess where it is first used? Right in the previous chapter, when the brothers bring Joseph’s coat to Jacob and say, “Discern please whether it be thy son’s coat”.
The deceiver was deceived! Judah’s heart was pierced by these words and by the realization of his own sin that came back to him in these words. The eyes of his heart were opened, he confessed and repented – and amazingly, all this can be seen in the Hebrew text. When Tamar dressed up as a prostitute to trap Judah, she was waiting “at the entrance to Eynaim”, a name that doesn’t mean anything in English. In Hebrew, however,Petach Eynaim means the Opening of the Eyes.
See the hidden messages of the Scriptures
Thus, the message of the story of Judah and Tamar can only be fully understood in Hebrew – or at least, with Hebrew. This is the story of Judah’s change of heart, of the opening of the eyes of his heart. Torah wants us to know that the Judah that comes to Egypt is a very different person from the Judah who sold his brother.