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Maharsha: Vayeitzei: Yehuda and Hodaah

The Fifth of Kislev is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Shmuel Eliezer HaLevi Eidels, the Maharsha (1631 or 1636); born in Krakow in 1555.  His father, Rav Yehuda, was an eminent talmid chacham who descended from Rav Yehuda Hachassid, as well as from Rav Akiva Hakohen Katz, the father-in-law of the Shela Hakadosh. His mother was the granddaughter of Rav Yehuda Loewe, the Maharal of Prague. Rebbetzin Eidel Lifschitz of Pozna, the wealthy widow of Rav Moshe Lifschitz, the rav of Brisk, made a match between her daughter and the Maharsha. She also supported her other son-in-law, Rav Moshe Ashkenazi, author of Zichron Moshe, with whom the Maharsha studied. In appreciation of his mother-in-law’s efforts, the Maharsha added the name Eidels to his own name, and from then on called himself Shmuel Eliezer Eidels. Rebbetzin Eidel passed away in 5368 at the age of 100. During his years as rosh yeshiva in Austroha, the Maharsha compiled his monumental Chiddushei Halachot and Chiddushei Aggadot on Shas.

“She conceived again, and bore a son and declared,  ‘This time let me gracefully praise God,’ therefore she called his name Yehudah.” (Genesis 29:35)

Leah’s word’s were “ Ha,pa’am Odeh”, and, in fact, she actually called him, Odeh, not Yehudah. However, God placed the name Yehudah in her mouth so that His entire name would be included in Judah’s.

The extra “daled” transform the name into Hoda’ah, which also means to admit; Yehudah publically admitted that he was the father of Tamar’s twins.

This is what the Sages mean when they teach that “Leah took hold of Hoda’ah, and her son Yehudah became a person who would readily admit his sins. (Maharsha, Sotah 10b)

We can use our admissions of responsibility in our prayers as expressions of gratitude.

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