“The Talmudic dictum that ‘the actions of the fathers are a sign to the children’ (Sotah 34a) plays a central role in the Torah and in our own lives. In Vayeishev, Judah’s words and actions pave the way for his descendants to engage in teshuvah, sincere repentance, one of Judaism’s cornerstones.
…Rambam, in his classic Mishneh Torah (in the section entitled Hilchot Teshuvah [The Laws of Repentance 1]) lists three prerequisites for true repentance: confession, remorse, and a commitment not to repeat the same action in the future. Judah undertakes all three steps, and his repentance becomes the model for all Jewish repentance – ‘the actions of the fathers are [indeed] a sign to the children.’
…the root of the word to confess (lehodot) means both to praise and to thank. The name Judah in Hebrew consists of the four letters of God’s name and the additional letter dalet… [and] significantly [the name Yehudah] comes from the root hod, which means confession, praise, thanksgiving, and glory.
Significantly, [the term Jew] in Hebrew comes from the name Judah, for he not only paved the path to teshuvah for himself and his descendants, but was also the progenitor of the Davidic monarchy.
The Mashiach will descend from Judah and David’s royal house. He will teach the whole world the true meaning of teshuvah, showing the world’s entire population how to completely return to God.