Parashat Ki Teitzei: The Levirate Marriage and Shem
Rabbi David Katz
In the Torah Portion of the week “Ki Teitzei” one of Torah’s most ancient practices becomes engraved into Torah Law: The Levirate Marriage. [Devarim 25:5 - 25:10] Shrouded in unparalleled mystique, the “Yibum” [Hebrew for Levirate Marriage] will become synonymous with uniting Ancient Torah into our present, but yet there is something even far greater in implication that is a direct offspring of the Yibum: The Davidic Dynasty, i.e. Kingship, and more importantly the secret of the Messiah and the correction of the blemished Firstborn.
To understand the significance of the Yibum, and its association with Shem [ben Noah] is to first simply explain with a working definition as to what is the Levirite Marriage. To put the Commandment within an easy to understand framework, the Yibum Marriage is a marriage of a man and woman, of whom the man is the woman’s deceased husband’s brother [or closest kin], while the prerequisite for this marriage is that the original couple went childless for the duration of the deceased man’s life. The goal of the new marriage between her and her deceased husband’s brother, is to have a child, preferably a boy, a Firstborn with hopes of re-establishing the soul of the deceased in a type of reincarnation, manifesting in the new child of the new marriage. The custom is then to name the child after the deceased, and the soul then finds a type of salvation, through the Yibum Marriage. Thus one can clearly see that through the Yibum Marriage many Mystical Truths appear to be an integral part of Kabalah, such as the importance contained within names and the hot debated concept of reincarnations of Torah ideology. Yibum, in its simplest context seems to ratify both concepts in a clear and concise fashion through the adherence to the Commandment.
As mentioned above, Shem is the direct source of Yibum, with a tradition of Ancient proportion, one that that began with Shem and his daughter Tamar, extending all the way through Boaz and Ruth, the forefathers to King David and the Messianic Lineage.
Shem came onto the New World with a mission of Kindness and Righteousness, and sought to implement a foundation of Torah that would flourish to the extent of fostering a Complete Redemption and be the basis of the World to Come. Shem had one fundamental limitation to his elected service of God: Shem lacked the Merit to produce the sacred Firstborn. Due to this predicament, Shem then gave over to his Righteous daughter Tamar the keys of Yibum and the entirety of the Ancient Torah, while choosing her as a successor over his five sons. Tamar would then go on to be the Matriarch of the Davidic Kingdom that would produce the Messiah; Tamar was a success due in part to her knowledge of Ancient Torah, more specifically, the art of Yibum – the same Yibum that would be commanded in the Torah of Moses in this week’s Parsha.
The Torah in Genesis gives details of Judah’s sons, their death’s, Judah’s falling from grace, and his rejuvenation – all of which involved either directly or indirectly with Tamar the daughter of Shem son of Noah. Tamar would be the unsung hero of the entire family of Judah, and her influence was imitated [on a spiritual level ordained by Hashem] with the episode of Ruth and Boaz [Boaz being the Patriarch to David and onwards to Messiah] as Ruth’s husband died childless, and Ruth suddenly found herself with the Jewish People [much like Tamar found herself with Judah after not having been with the Jewish People, despite her Bloodlines going back to Shem] where upon she encountered Boaz, and he saw her as a woman of tremendous Grace. Boaz ended up becoming intimate with Ruth, and her deceased husband [Machlon] would live on in memory and soul through Ruth’s son, that Naomi would raise named Oved, the ancestral father of David, going back to Peretz, the son of Tamar, daughter of Shem. Thus the Yibum Marriage of the Davidic Kingdom went full circle, as it began with Shem and his election of Tamar; this being proof that Shem’s Holy Inspiration yielded him Truthful results, as he had prepared for this by knowing the power of Yibum in conjunction to his lack of a Firstborn. Ironically, through Yibum, Shem still provided the Firstborn; as the procedure that Tamar and Judah took [of being unique even according to Torah due to the fact that Tamar had not been with the Jewish People], Shem became the “Father” of Peretz the Firstborn, as seen that the child was not named after the deceased directly [the Firstborn was named Peretz and not Er, Tamar’s first husband that died. It should be noted that the new children were twins and this reflects that Tamar had married not one, but two of Judah’s sons, thus making Judah the third and final partner for Tamar], similarly to as we saw that Oved [Ruth’s new son] was not called Machlon [after Ruth’s first husband], but rather Oved after Naomi, Machlon’s mother, of whom raised the child. Again, with peculiar circumstances between Ruth and Boaz, Naomi became a type of parent to the child Oved, as seen by the choice of name, and as the Torah says that he was named after Naomi [for this reason]. Thus Shem and Naomi became a type of spiritual parent to the children that they inspired from Tamar and Judah and Ruth and Boaz.
Now that the basis of the Yibum has been established between Tamar and Ruth and Judah and Boaz, the Torah’s Midrashim [books of exegesis] tell the reader just how similar Tamar and Ruth really were! It comes out that as Shem inspired Tamar in this endeavor, it actually spawned the Messianic seed to sprout in Judah [as Judah was promised to produce the King, which it did in David] and was reiterated to finish the effort through Ruth and Boaz. The Torah proclaims that Ruth’s actions merited her to fulfill the entire Torah through her sacred deeds, and this should not be of surprise, as the concept dates back to Shem and his Ancient Torah, as we see directly with Tamar and Judah.
The famed rabbi the “Ramchal” states that this Yibum is of particular importance in that the evil of the World that seeks to halt the advent of the Redemption, simply can’t follow the path of Holiness when it acts within sacred schemes that are aligned with God’s Will on High. Shem, who was a Priest to God Above, knew of the bloodlines and seed on High and how to implement change and to manifest Divine Favor on Earth – as Peretz the Firstborn of Tamar was a first in the World: he was a Firstborn not only to Judah and Tamar, but to Hashem Himself! Shem had now achieved the redemption of the Firstborn [a repair of the sin of Adam, who caused the Firstborn to become tainted, as Kain was born before Hevel in error] through a Holy Scheme and his knowledge on High, implemented through Tamar.
In the end, Shem has given us a fantastic Commandment in this week’s Parsha of Yibum. But let us not stop there, Shem has given us Messiah, King David, Firstborn Rights, Reincarnation Proof, Kabalah, Name [spiritual] Technology [after all Shem means Name!], a path to redemption, Torah, etc – all from Yibum! Shem founded the World not just on kindness, but he established also on the promise of Righteousness. It should come as no surprise that Shem is one of the Four Craftsmen of the Redemption as he is depicted as the Righteous Priest that will join with the Messiah in the End of Days along with Elijah the Prophet. As we know it was Shem that delivered the Torah to the World and is included in the Torah of Moses. Now we can thank Shem for yet another gift of Pilpul [spice] that he embedded into the Torah on Sinai: Mysticism – that we can easily identify in the Torah, and in this parsha in particular, where we are delivered the rites of Shem: in the command of the Yibum. Being a product of Shem, should it be a surprise that the World endures in the merit of Yibum? As it is the Messiah that is a product of Yibum, and the Yibum was indoctrinated by none other than Shem ben Noah.
|Welcome the Shabbos Queen!|
Bride of Israel