The Torah opens with Man close to God, Who is openly revealed in the Garden of Eden. With progressive sins of unredeemed power and passion, he/she gets further and further away from God, drifting toward Idolatry; man doesn't develop his Divine Image potential and begins to look more and more like a monkey. One looking at him might even posit a common origin. But God sets angels with flaming swords to guard the way back to the tree of life in Eden. Rav J. Soloveichik explains that they watch and preserve the way for man's eventual return, not prevent him from returning; indeed the Torah itself is called “a tree of life for those who cleave to it”. One deeply steeped in Torah can experience eternity and infinity within our finite existence. His Majesty King Yeshua, our Messiah, is The Tree of Life, He is The Living Torah. Those who cleave to Him can experience eternity. One deeply steeped in The Living Torah can eat from the Tree of Life and experience eternal life in the Garden of Eden!




The story of Ruth is read at the time of the giving of the Torah so that we might know that the Torah Shebiktav (Written Torah) and the Torah Shebalpeh (Oral Torah), are together one Torah, and one is not possible without the other. For David, the anointed of G-d unto all generations, was descended from a Moavite woman, and his legitimacy depended on the Oral Torah - which declared that only a Moavite man was prohibited from entering the Congregation of Israel - but not a Moavite woman. On the foundations of Torah Shebalpeh, the House of David, the whole people of Israel, and the Mashiach Himself, are supported. For it says in Matitiyahu chapter one, that Yeshua HaMashiach is the son of David the son of Abraham. The text explicitly states that King David and Yeshua HaMashiach are direct descendants of Obed, the son of Ruth and Boaz. The Talmud, in Yevamoth 76b, explicitly states that a Moabitess is permitted and a Moabite is not permitted. Therefore, King David and Yeshua HaMashiach depend on the legitimacy of the Torah Shebalpeh for their authority to even be a part of the congregation of Israel.


Torah is like “Cliff notes”, notes taken during a lecture.. The meaning comes through only if you have attended the “lecture”. The lecture being the oral law. Without an understanding of Mishna, Gemarah, Midrash, and Zohar, it is impossible to mine the depth of meaning which is contained in these “Cliff notes”. Having a teacher who is trained in the oral and written law, enables the student to make use of Torah in the same way that attending a lecture allows you to make sense of the “Cliff notes”. The book of Ruth, therefore, is written to those who have the time and inclination to study the oral law. Without the proper background and training, we come away with the understanding that this book is just a “Fairy tale” about a poor downtrodden maiden who marries a Prince. Nothing could be further from the truth.


R. Ze'ira said: This scroll does not have in it impurity or purity, prohibited or permitted, why was it written? To teach the great reward for those who give graciously. (Ruth Rabbah 2:14)


According to R. Zeira the book is about chesed, kindness. Ruth, the Moabite, is the character most roundly praised  for her "chesed." Yet, it is the Moabite lack of kindness which leads to them being excluded from the "congregation of God" (understood to mean prohibition of marriage).      An Ammonite or a Moabite is not to enter the assembly of HaShem; even to the tenth generation no one from them is to enter the assembly of HaShem, for the ages, on account that they did not greet you with food and with water on the way at your going out from Egypt.... (Devarim 23:4-5) Ruth is the one who rises above her "breeding" and displays chesed and loyalty. Because of this she is worthy of becoming a part of God's assembly.


The Torah, whose beginning and end is chesed, kindness (Sotah 14a), which was given in this season, is exemplified by the behavior of Ruth and Boaz, the main characters of Megilat Ruth


The Place of Sefer Ruth


Sefer Ruth is positioned between Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) and Eicah (Lamentations) in the Tanakh. Since Shir HaShirim is a love song between Ha-Shem and His people, while Eicha is a lament over the lack of love between Ha-Shem’s people and Ha-Shem, we get a hint that the position of Sefer Ruth alludes to the connection that connects the lack of love to wholehearted love.


Sefer Ruth is positioned between Judges and Samuel in the KJV Bible. Since Sefer Ruth begins in the period of the Judges and ends with King David who was anointed by Samuel, we get a hint that it is in chronological and subject order. There is also a hint in Sefer Ruth:


Ruth 1:1 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled …


Ruth 4:18-22 Now these [are] the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.


Sefer Ruth opens by announcing that it takes place in the time of the Judges. Sefer Ruth closes by declaring the lineage of His Majesty King David. Thus we see that Sefer Ruth is a book of transition between the time of the Judges and the time of the Kings. There is also an interesting allusion in this sequence, in that His Majesty King Saul is not mentioned. King Saul had an imperfection, in that he failed to destroy the Amalekites. In times to come this may hint to a future King who will precede His Majesty Mashiach ben David. This King, too, will have an imperfection. But, like King Saul, he will not be a part of the Messianic kingdom.


Ruth and Naomi arrive in the Promised Land, from Moav, on Passover, and they arrived in Bethlehem on Nisan 16 when the omer is reaped, according to Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:9-12. So, Ruth and Naomi arrive at the very beginning of the Barley harvest and the story ends as the wheat harvest is in full swing. Boaz is also known as Judge Ivtzan according to the Talmud in Baba Bathra 91a. Boaz and Ruth were married in 2792 AM, 968 BCE, 304 years after Joshua led the Children of Israel into the promised land.




In the midnight meeting between Ruth and Boaz (chapter 3), the story alludes to two similar situations--Lot's daughters (Genesis 19:31ff), and Tamar, Yehuda's daughter-in-law (Genesis 38). The three situations have common features, most notably, that there are women who have little prospect of having further children who take actions to insure their own offspring. In both stories, a mitzvah (a good deed) has the appearance of immorality. Additionally, each of the cases has the death of two husbands.


A Our Sages say that the story of the daughters of Lot was in order to extract two good sparks, or portions. One is Ruth the Moabite and the other is Naamah the Ammonite. Clearly these two sparks are related to the rectification of the two daughters of Lot who gave birth to the two peoples of Moab and Amon. They erroneously thought that the entire world had been destroyed, as in the time of the Flood, and that they had to retain the existence of the human race. Their good intention, which is the good spark within them, returned as the two converts, Ruth the Moabite and Naamah the Ammonite. Mashiach, whose role is to bring the earth to its final rectification, also descends from them.


The Tikkun of Yehudah and Tamar


Most folks see the encounter between Tamar and Yehudah as a sin of immorality. Torah, on the other hand, sees this encounter as a very great mitzvah. It is a mitzvah because Tamar was a childless widow, and her dead husband’s family was commanded, according to Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:5, to raise up seed for the deceased. The family was required to raise up seed for the deceased on his land. When Yehudah failed to give his son, Shelah, to fulfill this mitzvah, Tamar enticed Yehudah himself to fulfill it. The Midrash records that Ha-Shem sent an angel, Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LXXXV:8, to “force” Yehudah, against his will, to turn in to Tamar’s tent. The angel asked Yehudah, “If you fail to turn to Tamar; from where will the Kings come?” So, Yehuda’s sin in not giving his son Shelah, the first in line for this mitzvah, was corrected when Boaz gave way to Ploni Almoni, for the same mitzvah, because he was first in line. This tikkun, this rectification, required enormous strength.


In the case of Yehuda, Yoseph was made homeless and exiled from the land much as Elimelech and Lot, albeit involuntarily. Yoseph is the lost son who returns to his family, and the place from which he was dispossessed of his inheritance, Dothan Valley, is given later as an inheritance to his descendants, the daughters of Zelophehad. There they resurrect their dead father's name, and there they also resurrect the name of Yoseph, who had been exiled by brothers.


The most prominent case of return to lost property appears in our Megillah, where the acquisition of Ruth overlaps with the purchase of the field of Machlon. "When you acquire the property from Naomi and from Ruth the Moavite, you must also acquire the wife of the deceased so as to perpetuate the name of the deceased" (Ruth 4:5). Redemption thus occurs when the name of the deceased is resurrected on his property. Parallel to this, in Parashat Behar we find the term redemption used with regard to the return of the freed slave to his property and the return of family estates in the Jubilee year.


When a slave, who sold himself to a foreigner and went out from amongst his nation, is returned to his property, that is called redemption. The prophet Yechezkel (chap. 36) describes the redemption of the nation of Israel in a similar manner. First, the nation will return to the land of its inheritance. Immediately afterwards, God purifies Israel: "I will sprinkle pure water on you and you will be pure" (36:25). Here, the parallel to the red heifer is clear (and therefore these verses are known to us from the Haftarah of Parashat Parah) - purification from the impurity caused by contact with the dead. After these verses comes the chapter on the dry bones, "I will cause breath to enter you and you shall live" (37:5). Thus, the redemption nation of Israel begins as the redemption of the land, and on the redeemed land the dry bones arise and live.


The land, the inheritance, gives man his connection to eternity. The days of the land are "like the days of the world" (as Rashi explains), and even though man's days are limited, his connection to the land gives him eternal life. When a person is rooted in his property and passes it to his son and grandson, only then does he taste immortality. Cain's punishment for the murder is that "You shall become a ceaseless wanderer on earth" (Bereshit 4:12). In parallel, when the nation of Israel is punished with exile, when it is evicted from the land of the living, it turns temporarily into a "dead" nation until the redemption of the bones, the resurrection of the dead on his property.


The same rooting in the land is described by the verse: "For the days of My people shall be as long as the days of a tree" (Yeshayahu 65:22). The tree embodies eternal existence, as described in Iyov (Job) (14:7-9): "There is hope for a tree; if it is cut down it will renew itself ... at the scent of water it will bud." Even after the tree has dried out, it can still revive itself through its attachment to the land. But the death of man, who is not attached to the land, is an eternal death.


Dr. Moshe Katz (CompuTorah) found an interesting connection between the story of Yehuda and Tamar in a Bible code. The passage about Judah and Tamar, in Bereshit 38, is linked with sefer Ruth in a Bible code. Using a 49 letter code (the number we count for Sefirat HaOmer), we discover the central figures in Sefer Ruth: Ruth, Boaz, Oved, Yishai, and David. Ruth and Boaz are found together in Bereshit 38:11 at a –49 interval. Oved, their son is found in Bereshit 38:20, also at a –49 skip interval. Yishai and David, their grandson and great-grandson, are found in Bereshit 38:28, at a –49 skip interval. A copy of this page can be found at the end of this paper.


The Tikkun of Lot and His Eldest Daughter


Many folks see the encounter between Lot and his eldest daughter [From the younger descended Naamah the mother of Rehoboam (v. I Kings XIV, 31) the first King of Judah.] as incest. The Torah, however, records this encounter as a GREAT mitzvah. The eldest daughter truly believed that the only way to fulfill the mitzvah of filling the earth, was through her father. So, as repulsive as the act was, she endured it in order to sanctify the name of Ha-Shem. So great was the effort that she was rewarded with this offspring to become a part of the Messianic line.


When the sun came up on the day HaShem was to destroy Sodom, the angels told Lot, "Get up and take your wife and your two daughters who are found." Why did the Torah write, "who are found"? The verse would be easy to understand without writing the phrase, "who are found"!


Rabbi Yitzchak (Bereshit Rabbah 41:4) says that this word is connected with the verse (Tehilim 89:21), "I have found David my servant," which refers to Mashiach.   And where did HaShem find Mashiach? In Sodom!


But how does Mashiach come from Sodom?  Because from one of Lot's daughters came Ruth, from whom came King David, from whom comes Mashiach.  In fact, the reason Lot's daughters were saved was for the sake of King David and Mashiach.


The sin of Lot’s eldest daughter was not incest. Her sin was in not consulting Lot so that He could bring his wisdom to bear on this situation. This sin had its tikkun, its rectification, on the threshing floor, when Ruth deferred to Boaz to tell her what to do. She did this even though it resulted in great disappointment and a potential loss of Boaz.


There is another connection to this tikkun: Just as Lot abandoned the land of Israel and went away from Abraham, so too did Elimelech. Lot left Abraham's house for a land that became known as part of Moav. Lot's departure constituted not only a geographic exit from Israel but also a cultural and religious exit, from the Godly nation of Abraham to a foreign nation, from Abraham's way of life (which followed the path of God, a way of charity and justice) to its opposite, the Sodomite way. According to Chazal (The Sages), Lot declared: "I do not want Avraham and his God."


Elimelech repeats the same act, and there is no doubt that it has the same significance; as Chazal say, "One who lives outside of Israel is like one who has no God." Elimelech's sons marry non-Jewish women (according to Rashi and Chazal but not according to Ibn Ezra). He becomes immersed in foreign culture, and, essentially, he leaves Abraham and his God, attaching himself to the culture of Moav. For this reason, his punishment is also so great.


Lot in his time was punished in a similar manner - his wife dies, his sons-in-law and married daughters are destroyed, and he remains an old man with daughters who cannot marry. Elimelech, too, leaves behind a wife who cannot bear children, and two daughters-in-law whom no man in Israel will come forward to redeem.


In Megillat Ruth there is a meeting between the House of Yehuda and the family of Lot. We find a similar sin with a similar punishment with regard to Yehuda. Although Yehuda did not leave the country and did not abandon his father's culture, he did force this fate onto his brother Yosef, causing him to leave his father's home and culture with the intent that he should become defiled by the culture of a foreign nation. The punishment exacted of Yehuda is similar to that which befalls both Lot and Elimelech. Immediately after selling Yosef, Yehuda marries; his wife later dies, his two sons die, and in his opinion, his third son cannot perform the act of yibum (levirate marriage) with his daughter-in-law. He is left without any assured continuity.


The tie that binds these cases is that in all three stories there is almost a total loss of family, but at the last minute a solution is found through the act of yibum. With regard to Yehuda, the yibum is mentioned expressly in the text. With regard to Lot, the matter is hinted at. Professor Benno Jacob points out a linguistic anomaly in the statement of Lot's daughters: "And there is not a man on earth to consort with us" (Bereshit 19:31). In Hebrew, the word "Aleinu" is unusual; usually the word "eleinu" would be used in this context. The only other time that "Aleinu" appears in a similar context is in the chapter on yibum: "Her husband's brother shall unite with her" (Devarim 25:5). In other words, this hints that yibum was at the heart of Lot's daughters' attempts to revive their father's seed and rebuild the name of the family that perished.


In the third case, that of Boaz and Ruth, there is no expression relating to yibum, but the text does state, "So as to perpetuate the name of the deceased on his estate" (Ruth 4:5), similar to what is written in the parsha on yibum, "... shall be accounted to his dead brother, that his name not be blotted out in Israel" (Devarim 25:6). Yibum in all three cases is the solution to the problem, but in all three cases, the yibum is irregular. We do not find here a standard case of yibum between the brother of the deceased and the widow; rather, we have a father (Lot) with his daughter, a father (Yehuda) with his daughter-in-law, and the father's brother (Boaz) with the father's daughter-in-law. These irregular, surprising acts of yibum are what return the families to the land of the living.


With Ruth, a beautiful tapestry of tikkun, intricately woven across the centuries, is revealed for all to see. Ruth “returns” to Eretz Yisrael and she “returns” to the God of Abraham. She takes the disparate threads of her ancestors and displays them as the tapestry of majesty! she rectifies the sin of Lot, in a spectacular way, and carried Machlon back to the land to rectify the sin of Elimelech. In Ruth and Boaz, the Kingly qualities of both Abraham and Yehudah are reunited in a spectacular display of intricacy that only HaShem could have done. Rightly has the story of Ruth been called “A Harvest of Majesty”!


But wait! There is much more to this tikkun! Rabbi Moshe Alshich suggests that Ruth is a gilgul, a reincarnation, of Lot’s eldest daughter. When we compare Ruth and Lot’s eldest daughter, we see that they share many common points.


Man's existence depends on passing his property to his sons or to those who come in their place due to yibum. We have mentioned three stories: the first (Lot) is the story of the birth of Moav. The second is the story of the birth of the House of Yehuda. The third is the story of the meeting between the two - between Ruth (Moav) and Boaz (Yehuda). The theme uniting the three is the resurrection of the name of the dead on his property. This is redemption, and this is the goal of the House of David – to reestablish the People of Israel on its land. When all hope is gone, there is still the possibility of yibum, even in an irregular, unnatural manner, which allows the name of the deceased to be resurrected on his property. When this “irregular tapestry is turned over, we can see that all of those odd threads have been perfectly placed by HaShem. They have been perfectly woven into the tapestry of our redemption.


As we begin comparing the events of Sefer Ruth with the story of Lot and His daughter, along with the story of Yehuda and Tamar, we will begin to see how the protagonists of Sefer Ruth will effect a tikkun, a rectification of the sins of their ancestors. In Sefer Ruth, there is an emphasis on Ruth's modesty and Boaz's self-control. Ruth, unlike Lot's daughters, makes only a symbolic advance to Boaz, who had been drinking of his own accord. Lot's daughters, on the other hand, get their father drunk and have relations with him. Boaz's self-control, in contrast to Yehuda's impulsive behavior, allows him to follow the proper procedure regarding the more rightful redeemer. Rabbi Sassoon explained that the meeting between Ruth and Boaz is a "tikkun" (rectification) of the previous two encounters. Ruth is the descendant of the product of the first encounter (Lot and his eldest daughter), Moav, and Boaz is a descendant of a product of the second encounter (Judah and Tamar), Peretz. It is the correction of these earlier encounters that eventually leads to the birth of the ruling dynasty in Israel, and ultimately to the Mashiach.


Ruth the Moabite joins the tribe of Judah, through an act of kindness, and she becomes the great-grandmother of David ben Yishai, the king of Israel. Predictably, Sefer Shmuel summarizes his reign as follows: 


2 Shmuel (Samuel) 8:15 "And David reigned over all of Israel, and David performed MISHPAT and TZEDAKA for his entire nation."


[Recall that David had earlier hidden out in a CAVE (not unlike the cave when Lot encountered his daughters) in the area of the Dead Sea (Ein Gedi), where he performed an act of kindness by not injuring Shaul - see I Shmuel 24:1-15; note especially 24:12-15! See also Yirmiyahu 22:1-5!]


The Kingship of David constitutes the tikkun for the descendants of Lot: his kingdom was characterized by the performance of TZEDAKA & MISHPAT - the antithesis of Sodom, Moab, and Ammon.


One of the most important roles for Mashiach to fulfill, is this tikkun, this rectification:


II Luqas (Acts) 3:19-21 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, And that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you--even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.


This correction, this return to the faith and obedience of the Patriarchs is forcefully proclaimed in the closing verses of Malakhi:


Malachi 4:4-6 "Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of HaShem comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."


This return to the fathers is nothing less than a return to the Torah of Moses, as we can see from the context.


All of the basic soul-roots from Adam on, reincarnate in order to continue to elevate their tikkun, their rectification.


Is it logical to expect that another reincarnation of that soul will appear just before the coming of Mashiach?


Why did HaShem consistently look outside of the Jewish nation, when compiling the gene pool for our Savior?


What was Ruth doing in the field of Boaz? She was performing Leket, gathering ears of corn. She gleaned and picked up. Leket is a halachic and metaphysical institution, HaShem gleaned and gathered beautiful inclinations and virtues from people all over the world in order to weave the soul of the king Messiah. HaShem was preoccupied with the Messiah's personality. He disregarded race and religion and instead looked through all of mankind to find special qualities and capabilities. This is the Almighty's approach to culture, to sift and glean through the nations of the world noting outstanding moral traits and ethical accomplishments.


Ruth was chosen because of her unique heroism. She came from pagan royalty, a life intoxicated with orgiastic pleasures and unlimited luxury. Ruth sacrificed all this to identify with a strange and mysterious people, to adopt a religion that demanded superhuman discipline.


Trembling – Yitzach vs. Boaz


There is a question concerning another prominent woman in Tanach, Rivka, who orders Yaakov to seize deceptively the blessings intended for his brother. Convinced that Yaakov deserved the blessings, by virtue of both his character and the explicit prophecy she had received from God – "the older will serve the younger" (see Targum Onkelos and Rashbam to Bereishit 27:13), Rivka instructs Yaakov to deceive his father and take his brother's blessing. In both instances, the women felt assured of their scheme's success, despite the considerable risk entailed. The Midrash (Ruth Rabba 6:1) indeed draws a comparison between these two incidents:


"'A man's trembling becomes a trap for him' (Mishlei 29:25): This refers to the trembling Yaakov caused Yitzchak, as it says, 'Yitzchak was seized with very violent trembling.' He should have cursed him, only 'But he who trusts in the Lord shall be safeguarded' – You placed [an idea] in his heart to bless him, as it says, 'Now he must remain blessed.' [This verse also refers to] the trembling Ruth caused Boaz, as it says, 'The man trembled and pulled back.' He should have cursed her, only 'But he who trusts in the Lord shall be safeguarded' – You placed [an idea] in his heart that he would bless her, as it says, 'You are blessed to the Lord, my daughter.'"


It is doubtful, however, whether this comparison between Naomi and Rivka could justify what Naomi did. The commentaries have noted that Yaakov's deception was the direct cause of his exile – not only practically, but also on the level of reward and punishment. Many sources have also observed the clear parallel between Lavan's duplicity towards Yaakov, particularly in substituting Rachel with Leah, and Yaakov's seizing of Esav's blessing. The Midrash comments (Bereishit Rabba 70:19):


"Throughout the night, he would call to her, 'Rachel,' and she would respond. In the morning, 'Behold, she was Leah.' He said: You are a trickster, the daughter of a trickster! She said to him: Is there a teacher without students? Did your father not similarly call to you, 'Esav,' and you responded? You, too, called to me and I responded."


This Midrash clearly Yaakov's experiences with Lavan as a punishment "measure-for-measure" for deceiving his father. (For further elaboration on this subject, see Nechama Leibowitz's "Studies on Sefer Bereishit.")


In our context, too, the Midrash (Ruth Rabba 7:1) emphasizes the chillul Hashem (desecration of God's Name) that could have resulted from Ruth's visit to the threshing floor:


"Rabbi Chonya and Rabbi Yirmiya said in the name of Rav Shemuel bar Rav Yitzchak: That entire night, Boaz was spread out on the floor crying, 'Master of the worlds! It is revealed and known to You that I did not touch her. May it be Your will that it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor, so that the Name of God not be desecrated through me!'"


Geirut – Conversion


The theme of geirut, or conversion, is central to the Feast of Hag Shavuot. The moment of matan Torah, the giving of the Torah, was marked by a national conversion, accentuated by the acceptance of the mitzvot when the Children of Israel said, “We will do and we will listen”. Because of this theme of geirut, we read Megillat Ruth because it chronicles, among other things, the righteous conversion of Ruth the Moabitess. Ruth's conversion is, indeed, the earliest record of a sincere conversion (in contrast to the Givonim whose conversion in Sefer Yehoshua was motivated by less than sincere motives).


The Gemara in K’rithoth 9a derives the process of geirut from the manner in which our ancestors converted at Har Sinai. Until Har Sinai, the Children of Israel had not entered the covenant. The Gemara states that the model for entering a brit (the historical covenant between the Jewish people and HaShem, Blessed be He, culminated by matan Torah) is mila (circumcision), tevila (immersion in a mikveh), and harza'at damim (a korban). These three exercises were performed by our forefathers prior to, or during, the events at Har Sinai. These same exercises are required of all converts today.


To enter the covenant requires that we fulfill the requirements of the covenant. For example: Many home sales require that the buyer agree to a covenant. When they sign the covenant, which is much like going before the Bet Din for conversion, they agree to it’s provisions. In most cases there is a monetary cost and actions that must be completed. A common covenant says that a homeowner may not have an Recreational Vehicle (RV) parked where it is visible in the yard. If one were to violate this agreement by parking an RV in the driveway, then the homeowner could be fined or lose his home. Another common covenant is a maintenance covenant. In this covenant, the homeowner is required to pay an association fee and, in return, the association arranges for all of his yard work to be completed in a timely manner. This keeps all the yards looking good.


One can not enter such a covenant simply by declaring that he would like to do so. Instead, he must buy a particular home and pay the required fee. No interlopers are allowed. In the same way, if one wants to become a part of the Sinai Covenant and become a part of G-d’s people, he must be circumcised (if a male), immersed in a mikveh, and bring his sacrifice. (In practice we can not yet bring a sacrifice.) No interlopers are allowed. One may not make up his mind to be grafted in, and then assume that he is. One who is grafted in, must perform the required steps and “sign” the contract.


The process of conversion also requires that a convert appear before a Bet Din, a Jewish court, to agree to keep the mitzvot. This is how the contract is “signed”.


Megillat Ruth we can picture Ruth’s appearance before the Bet Din using the same words she used with Naomi: “Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge; your people are my people, and your God is my God."


With these powerful words, Ruth would surely have been accepted before the Bet Din.


A Taste of Torah in honor of Shabbat

from Rabbi Avi Weiss

God's Special  Love for the Convert


If a thief robs by violence, swears falsely and then confesses his guilt, the Torah tells us that he is liable to return the value of the object plus an additional one-fifth to the plaintiff.  (Numbers 5:6,7)  If, however, the plaintiff dies leaving no relatives, the money is returned to the Priest, the emissary of God.  In the words of the Torah, "if the person has no kinsmen to whom restitution may be made for the guilt, the restitution for guilt which is made shall be the Lord's, even the Priest."  (Numbers 5:8)


An obvious question emerges: Is it possible that the plaintiff does not have any relatives?!  In the words of the great Rashi, "is there anyone in Israel who has no next of kin, or distant relation going back to Yaakov (Jacob)? "  Rashi concludes that the text, therefore, must refer to a ger, a proselyte, who has died leaving no next of kin among the Jewish people. If the ger passes away, the law is that the money must be restored to the kohen.  


In order to understand this idea, the special relationship between God and the proselyte must be examined.  Nehama Leibowitz points out the following Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 8:2), "Proselytes are what they are, not by virtue of a family title, but simply through their own free will they have come to love God.  He [God] therefore, responds by loving them, as it is written 'the Lord loves the righteous.'" (Psalms 146:8)  For the Midrash, the righteous are converts for whom God feels a special love.  Having accepted God through their own volition, God, in return, feels a unique love for them.


Hence, in our text, theft against a ger results in payment to God, as God is the closest kin of the convert.  The money is then given to the kohen, God's emissary.


It is often the case in our community that the convert is mistreated and not embraced equally in the fold.  Here the Torah is teaching that the ger, far from being cast aside, is the most important.  Being especially loved by God, we in that same spirit should have special love for them.


No wonder this law is always read in the portion that follows the holiday of Shavuot.  Shavuot celebrates God's giving of the Torah.  The law of gezel ha-ger (stealing from a proselyte) reminds us that the Torah was given to all Jews-including converts.


Shavuot also features the reading of Megillat Rut, the Scroll of Ruth.  Ruth is the convert par excellence.  Not coincidentally, from her the Messiah will one day come, teaching once again that while we may be holy, the convert is the holy of holies.


A Comparison of Ruth and Iyov

By Rav Amnon Bazak


A. Introduction


Many have pondered over the question as to why Megillat Ruth was written (see the introduction to the "Da'at Mikra" commentary on Megillat Ruth, pp. 3-6). This question begs to be asked since it is an accepted principle that all biblical texts must indicate the involvement of God in His world. The unequivocal and recurring point in Tanakh is that every event stems from the will of God. God causes death and life, lowers the haughty and raises the downtrodden, repays man with kindness according to his deeds, and repays the wicked with evil according to his wickedness. The famous exception to this rule is Megillat Esther, within which God's name is not mentioned at all. However, this omission is understood since Megillat Esther deals with the period of the Second Temple during which there was no prophecy within Israel. The whole purpose of that Megillah is to show the hidden providence that characterized this time period.


With this in mind, Megillat Ruth stands out: this wonderful story is completely brought about through the actions of man without any involvement of God - neither in speech nor in action. (The two times God is depicted as acting - Ruth 1:6 and 4:13 - are side points and are natural events which are not portrayed as miracles.) Furthermore, even an event that could have been seen as miraculous - Ruth's coming specifically to Boaz's fields on the exact day that Boaz visited that very field - is explained in the Megillah as a chance occurrence ("va-yiker mikreha," 2:3). Another place in the Megillah where the idea of "chance" is prominent is at the beginning of chapter 4: "And Boaz went up to the gate and sat there, and behold the relative whom Boaz had spoken of passed by." This is an exceptional phenomenon in Tanakh, since on the whole the Tanakh does not lend itself to chance occurrences. What, then, is the message that Megillat Ruth is coming to express?


We will not be able, due to limited space, to delve into the depths of the Megillah and its hidden plots. Therefore, we will focus on one point which may shed some light upon our question. We will compare Megillat Ruth to the book of Iyov, which has many similar details to the story of Naomi. With this comparison as our background, we will be able to distinguish the essential difference between them.


B. "Iyov Lived in the Days when the Shoftim Judged"


These two stories have many points of comparison (see "Mikra Le-Yisrael," Yair Zakovitch, introduction, pp. 30-31):


1) Both stories discuss a person who has lost his/her children and possessions, and is left without any realistic chance of rebuilding his name anew.


2) Both sufferers complain about their bitter fate with the realization that God is behind all that happens to them. The words which each of them use are amazingly similar: Iyov said, "As God lives, Who has taken away my right, and the Almighty, Who has embittered my soul" (27:2); and Naomi mourns, "The Almighty has embittered my soul greatly" (1:20). It is important to stress that these two books are the only ones in Tanakh in which God is called by the name Shakkai (Almighty). [The phrase "Kel Shakkai," on the other hand, appears many times in Tanakh, and the name Shakkai appears from time to time in biblical songs (e.g., Bereshit 49:25).]


3) In both stories, society reacts in astonishment at the tragedies, which affected even the external appearance of the sufferers: about Iyov's friends it says - "And they lifted up their eyes from afar and they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept" (2:12), and about the women at Beit Lechem it says - "And the whole city was astir at their arrival, and they said: 'Is this Naomi?'" (1:19).


4) There is a "happy ending" in both stories - the destroyed family rises to rebirth (Iyov has children, and Naomi - a grandson). There is a parallel as well in the way in which salvation is reached: Iyov lived to see four generations of sons and Megillat Ruth ends with the fourth generation of Naomi - David. To Iyov seven sons were born (42:13), and paralleling this, the women of Beit Lechem give testimony about Ruth: "[She] is better to you than seven sons"(4:15).


5) There is no doubt that these comparisons were noticed by R. Elazar, who maintains (Bava Batra 15) that "Iyov lived in the days when the Shoftim judged." The wording of this statement is intentionally similar to the opening of Megillat Ruth.


However, these comparisons actually sharpen the essential DIFFERENCE between the two stories, which is expressed through the means of salvation in each. By explaining this difference, we can clarify the different and even opposing purposes of the two books. Firstly, let us take a look at the book of Iyov.


C. "Shall a Rebuker Contend with God? He who Reproaches God, Let Him Answer" (Iyov 40:2)


The book of Iyov deals with the classic problem of "Tzaddik ve-ra lo" (evil befalling the righteous). Throughout the majority of the book, Iyov and his companions are involved in raising philosophical ideas concerning this problem. No one in the book attempts to actively change the situation. The entire story consists of deliberations alone.


Even the solution in the end is a philosophical one. Iyov never finds out what we know from the beginning of the book: that all the troubles which befall him are only a result of the "argument" between God and the Satan as to whether Iyov would remain steadfast. God does not reveal the specific solution to Iyov concerning his plight, but rather deals with the general question: the ability of man to come with complaints before the awesome and exalted Creator. The story of Iyov is one example of many of the suffering which comes upon man without his understanding why, and God wants to clarify the general picture: even when man does not understand, he does not have the right to complain before God. After all, who is man - who comes from dust and returns to dust - that he can stand before the everlasting King? "Who is this that darkens counsel with words without knowledge ... Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth, say if you have understanding ... Have you entered into the springs of the sea, have you walked in the hollows of the depth? Have the gates of death been revealed to you or have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? ... Have you entered the treasuries of the snow or seen the treasuries of hail? ... Do you know the laws of Heaven, can you establish its rule on earth? ... Shall a rebuker contend with God? He who reproaches God let him answer." (Iyov, chapter 38)


Only after Iyov admits that "I know that You can do everything and that no plan of Yours can be thwarted ... therefore, I have said things which I did not understand, things too wondrous for me that I knew not" (42:2-3), does the time come to complete the circle: "And God gave Iyov twice as much as he had before" (42:10). Just as there was no apparent reason for the calamity, so too, there was no apparent reason for the salvation.


The book of Iyov thus considers human tragedy from God's viewpoint. "He is a faithful God, never unfair, righteous and moral is He" (Devarim 32:4). Man with his limited perspective and short life span cannot judge God. Man's actions will not always directly determine his destiny. Even when he does not understand, he must recognize his place. "What is man that You remember him and the son of man that You are mindful of him ... God, our master, how mighty is Your name in all the earth" (Tehilim 8:5,10).


D. "Kindness Builds the World" (Tehilim 89:3)


How different is the picture in Megillat Ruth, the same Megillah in which God does not act directly at all! In Ruth, it is people with THEIR acts of kindness who bring about the redemption and the building of the house of David. The whole essence of the Megillah is the chain of acts of kindness brought about by people of chesed:


1) The first kindness we find is when Ruth and Orpah remain with lonely Naomi after her husband's and sons' deaths. For this, Naomi thanks her daughters-in-law: "May God do kindness with you as you have done with the dead and with me" (1:8).


2) Ruth, by leaving her nation and god in order to live with her mother-in-law Naomi in a strange land and strange surroundings, without any practical chance of building a family, does an amazing kindness: "It has been fully told to me all that you have done for your mother-in-law after your husband died, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a nation whom you did not know before" (2:11).


3) Boaz gladly accepts Ruth into his field and allows her to glean with a generous hand. This brings Naomi to bless him, "Blessed is he to God who has not abandoned his kindness to the living and the dead" (2:20). The story of the meeting of Boaz and Ruth resembles in many ways the meeting of Abraham's servant and Rivka in Bereshit 24 (see the introduction to "Da'at Mikra," pp. 13-14). Ruth has also been compared to Rivka, who was a prototype of kindness.


4) Naomi's turn arrives to do kindness for her daughter-in-law: "Shall I not seek a home for you that I may be good for you?" (3:1), and therefore she initiates the meeting between Boaz and Ruth, which brings about their marriage.


5) Ruth's agreement to marry Boaz, who was older than her by many years, is seen in the eyes of Boaz as a kindness: "For you have shown greater kindness in the end than at the beginning, that you did not follow after the young men whether poor or rich" (3:10). ("At the beginning" here is referring to Ruth going with Naomi - see number 2 above.)


6) There is no doubt as well that the readiness of Boaz to marry Ruth was an act of kindness. This is obvious, based on the refusal of her kinsman to marry her - "I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I harm my own inheritance" (4:6).


We shall not continue to prove this point, because the motif of kindness is interwoven throughout the entire Megillah. "The characters of the Megillah contribute their part to an ideal atmosphere; there are no negative characters. Similarly, the heroes of the Megillah compete amongst themselves over doing good; everyone helps one another, everyone is striving to see their fellow man in a state of abundant goodness" (Y. Zakovitch, page 3).


In contrast to the book of Iyov, Megillat Ruth reveals another facet in the way the world runs: man through his actions can fix, build, establish, expand and redeem. "Olam chesed yibaneh" - the world can be built through kindness. Man has a significant form of power. "You gave him dominion over the works of Your hands, You put everything at his feet" (Tehilim 8:1). Through the power of acts of kindness, the world MUST (as it were) be repaired. It is impossible that a person of kindness such as Ruth would not come to the fields of Boaz, a man of kindness, exactly on the day that he arrives at the field. It is impossible that the kinsman would not pass by the gate of the city at the exact moment that Boaz was trying to complete the circle of kindness. This is the power of kindness. All the deeds of Naomi, Boaz and Ruth and all the rest of the good people along the way, shout out for themselves: "We have done that which have decreed upon us, do with us that which you have promised us" (Sifri Devarim 26:15). "Boaz did what he had to do, and Ruth did what she must do, and Naomi did what she was supposed to do, God said also: I shall do My part" (Midrash Ruth Rabba 7:7). God has no choice, as it were, but to look down from His holy dwelling place, and to complete the work - "And God gave her a pregnancy and she bore a son" (Ruth 4:13).


E. "And in the days when the Shoftim Ruled" (Ruth 1:1) ... "And Yishai Fathered David" (Ruth 4:22)


We began with the question of the purpose of Megillat Ruth, and discussed the message that arises from its plot, namely, the abundance and influence of acts of kindness. It still remains for us to discuss one detail: the framework within which all of these events occurred - the passage from the time period of the judges to that of the kings.


It seems as if the text wished to express the message of man's responsibility and his ability to be active in the world specifically at this point in time, when the Israelite monarchy is about to commence. There is no one like the king to represent the highest level that man is capable of reaching, in terms of his authority and power to act. It is specifically at this time period, then, that it must be stressed that man must invest all his efforts in doing kindness, and then he will be able to build worlds, rebuild ruins, and redeem.


There are two ways in which God rules the world. One way is fixed from the beginning according to a hidden plan, and man must come to terms with it and accept it as absolute truth. The other is placed in the hands of man and he is given almost unlimited powers to influence his world. Megillat Ruth, then, comes to stress man's ability and obligation to do good; this is the power which brought about the lineage of King David and eventually the Mashiach, may he redeem us speedily.


"R. Ze'ira said: This Megillah does not discuss purity or impurity, commandments or prohibitions; so why was it written? To teach how great the reward is for the bestowers of kindness." (Ruth Rabba 2:15)


Translated by Sara Krengel


The Author of Sefer Ruth


"Megillat Ruth" is Hebrew for "The Scroll of Ruth". Traditionally, the book of Ruth is scribed on its own scroll (separate from the other books of the Bible) and usually is affixed to a single post (aytz chayim, or "tree of life").


'Megillat Ruth was written by the Prophet Samuel, to indicate the genealogy of Kind David for Ruth the Moavite. We learn from the writing of this Megillah that there was Divine assent in the matter, for the end of the Megillah recounts David's ancestry and David was born on Shavuot and died on Shavuot' [Jerusalem Talmud - Chagigah 2,3, Talmud Bavli - Shabbat 30b].


Samuel the prophet, the author of the Megillat Ruth, was the one who anointed His Majesty King David and proclaimed him king. Samuel saw first hand how weak the knowledge of the nation of Israel was regarding the laws surrounding the conversion of Moavite women. Therefore, Samuel decided he had to educate the masses in this area. It could even be that Samuel felt he was obligated to do such, because he was the one who anointed David as king over the nation of Israel. Therefore, he was the one who had to "defend" what he had done and publicize the fact that His Majesty King David was of proper lineage, according to Jewish law, and more than fit to be king of Israel. The Megillah of Ruth accomplished this task. It cleared the air of any doubts as to the lineage of David, from who Mashiach, the Messiah, will descend. It proclaims that a Moavite woman, like Ruth, may join the nation of Israel.


Megilat Ruth - the "baby" of Tanakh


It's 85 psukim is the least of all books, accounting for less than 0.4% of the psukim in Tanakh. (Contrast this with Tehilim, with 10.9% of the psukim in Tanakh.)


Its 4947 letters are also the least in Tanakh, but its 1294 words are more than Shir HaShirim. Ruth's psukim average about 50% longer than Shir HaShirim's.


Of the 85 Psukim in Megilat Ruth, all but 8 begin with the letter VAV. That's 90.5% of its psukim begin with a VAV.


Exactly what is the significance of this fact?


History of Moav


This story starts in Israel and ends in Israel, but the sad parts of the story all take place in Moav. Lets review, for a moment, a bit of the history of Moav:


Moav was the son of Lot and his eldest daughter (Beresheet 19:30-38). Lot’s daughters committed incest with their father because they believed that everyone else on earth was dead. In fact, the only reason they were alive was because Avraham Avinu had prayed for them (Beresheet 18). The Moavites, therefore, owed a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people. This character trait of ungratefulness is such a serious flaw that the Torah mentions it before the cursing of Balaam:


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 23:3-4 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of HaShem; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of HaShem for ever: Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.


By the time the Bnei Yisrael came out of Mitzrayim, ungratefulness and immorality had become part and parcel of the national character of Moav (Bamidbar 25:1-9).


Moavites, therefore, are a picture of those who rebel against Ha-Shem. They are ungrateful for what He has given them and turn instead to false gods.


It is therefore quite remarkable to encounter a Moavitess, Ruth, who was the epitome of kindness. Ruth was a princess, the daughter of Eglon, King of Moav, according to our Sages (Nazir 23b). Moav typifies an immoral people who have left the ways of God and lack kindness. Because of their apostasy, the Sages decreed that it was forbidden for an Israelite to marry a Moavite man (Yevamoth 76b). Ruth, though a Moavitess, demonstrated kindness par excellence! So great was this kindness that she merited becoming an ancestor of King David and an ancestor of the Kingly line.


The commandment, of Devarim 23:3-6, will play a pivotal role in the story of Ruth.


Major Theme


The major theme of this book is famine, as we can see from the first verse. (This was one of the ten famines.) This famine was the result of “everyman doing what was right in his own eyes”. (7 Laws of Hillel - "as is in another place") The reaction of the people to this famine is what drove Elimelech, a judge, to move to the land of Moav. This man had an opportunistic (Lit. narrowness of the eye) mind rather than an aristocratic one. The common man would tend to want food to eat, while the aristocrat would want to know “why” this famine has come. The aristocrat cares about how to end the famine and the consequence hunger of his people, while the common man has no time for such things. He just needs to figure out how to get his next meal. Our focus shows us our class. If we do not care about the cause of the famine, then we are not ruling, we are existing. A ruler cares about the causes so that they can be avoided, while most of us care only about our own stomachs.


This book comes to teach us about:


1.  Marrying within the proper class: Ruth, as a convert of the royal class (Eglon, King of Moab, was her father), was able to marry Judges (Kings and other ruling class). This ensures that the ruling class will be able to rule without letting friendship or love with another class, cloud their decisions. This is why army officers are not allowed to fraternize with the troops. So, a convert is allowed to a judge as Ruth is allowed to Boaz.


A convert, in general, is eligible to a Kohen to a Judge and to any Israel. His Eminence sums this for us in a most cohesive manner:


“So, the laws of intermarriage for us as Nazareans go further in that we are not allowed not only to marry outside with a Gentile, but we are further not to marry anyone that does not belong to the Royal family.”


“I think that the clue is that we are Royal Consorts and by "we" I mean Nazareans we will rule and judge with Mashiach, thus any and every true Nazarean belongs ipso facto to the Royal Household of Yisrael, every Nazarean belongs to the Royal Family of Yisrael.”


Machlon and Kilion married within the ruling class, but they married the wrong ruling class: Moabite as opposed to Israelite. Now the sin against the Memra (Logos) was that they did not marry either a Jewish woman of the Royal House of Israel, or a convert.


“The so called Ten Commandments are nothing else nor less than the ten attributes of Mashiach.”


The tikkun, rectification, of this sin was found when Naomi helped Ruth to convert. When Ruth married Boaz, the ultimate rectification has taken place: The royal convert has married the judge of the generation. This tikkun is made complete when the text says:


Ruth 4:9-10 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, "Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Machlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Machlon's widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records. Today you are witnesses!"


The Timing of Sefer Ruth


Sefirat HaOmer – Counting the Omer


The Sages teach us that Ruth and Naomi arrived in Beit Lechem in Nisan 16, when the Omer is reaped. It is, therefore, instructive to examine this period of 50 days leading from Pesach to Shavuot.


We can see that the days of Sefirat ha-omer as having some value in and of themselves. While this seven-week period in Jewish history served as the build-up to the giving of the Torah, it also served as the time when the Jewish people coalesced into a nation and raised themselves up from the depths (the forty-ninth level) of impurity to which they had plunged. While this is also connected to the giving of the Torah, it has independent significance as well, from both a national and a religious point of view. Through the counting of the Omer, we highlight the path from the offering of the Omer, which was made of barley (animal food), to the offering of the two loaves (shtei ha-lechem), which represents food fit for man. We thus celebrate the rise of spiritual man above the animal kingdom, and above the animal nature that is part of man as well. Within this perspective, the focus of Sefirat ha-omer is on the Jewish people themselves, and no one day in more important than any other day.


The counting of the forty-nine days of the Omer represents a lack of intelligence and spiritual sleep. The Omer offering that was offered on the second day of Passover consisted of barley which is considered to be mainly animal food, nourishing the animal intellect. This means that barley and the Omer period resonates with animal intelligence which represents a lack of knowledge. For the animal mind is very limited in what it can comprehend. A lack of knowledge and awareness enables the forces of evil to create barriers to a person's goals, thus throwing him into a spiritual sleep.


Barley is traditionally regarded in the Talmud as animal food, while wheat is the staple of humans. The Omer brought on the Festival of Freedom, Pesach, comes from barley because we achieved only physical freedom with our Exodus from Egypt, and that is only animal-like liberation. Only on Shavuot when we received the Torah did we achieve the Divine guidance that endowed us with true human intelligence and responsibility. We therefore bring our Two Loaves from the grain that is the food of humans - wheat.


The bringing of the omer is in many ways parallel to the  separation  of  Terumah.  Like Terumah,  the  omer  is called  "reishit"  -  the first  (Vayikra  23:10).   Like Terumah,  in  which even one kernel makes the entire  silo permissible,  the  tiny amount of omer makes  permissible the  entire  year's  crop,  which  until  that  time   is forbidden  as  "Chadash."   And  Terumah  is  also  called "avodah" (service) -  like  omer  which is a true  Temple  offering (Pesachim 72b).


     Now, one of the things which characterizes Terumah is that  it  must be brought from the best part of the  crop (see  Mishna Terumot 2:4).  We would likewise expect that the  omer,  which  makes ALL grains of the  wheat  family permissible, should come from the choicest grain - namely wheat.   But  this is not so - actually, the  omer  comes from  barley, which is generally animal food and  (except for  the  offering of the sota and the  omer  itself)  is never  permitted for Temple offerings!  What can we learn from this commandment?


There are many fine punctilious Jews whom we  could characterize as "shtei ha-lechem" Jews.  Every aspect  of God's service must always be in “the  best possible  way”. Any other kind of service has no value  in their  eyes.  According to this approach, we would  never dare bring mere barley as a Temple offering.


Yet  what can we do - "first" means not only "best" but  also the temporal first, and barley just happens  to ripen months before wheat.  In commanding the bringing of the  omer, the Torah seems to be telling us: Don't  be  a "shtei  ha-lechem Jew."  Of course, God's service demands the   best,  but  the  best  is  determined  in  practice according to what is possible and practical.  If the only grain  available at Pesach is barley, then by  all  means bring barley to the altar!       But does this mean that we should be "omer Jews"  - settling  for  second best, reconciling  ourselves  to  a bedi'avad  situation?   The Torah  rejects  this  extreme also.   We  ARE  allowed, and even  commanded,  to  bring barley  -on  the  condition that we  IMMEDIATELY  begin counting the days towards the time when we will  be  able to  fulfill the mitzvah of bringing the new grain crop  to the  Temple in its fullest glory - the "first fruits"  of the  wheat  crop  represented by the two  loaves.   God's forbearance  towards us should never  be  an  excuse  for indolence.


Cast of Characters


Elimelech – To me the King - THE NAME OF THE MAN WAS ELIMELECH, since he used to say, ‘To me shall the kingdom come. A descendant of Nachshon ben Aminadav, prince of the tribe of Judah.


Husband of Naomi, father of Machlon and Kilion. He was a prince of Israel who broke faith and left the land of Israel. He was the leader of the family and caused his wife and two sons to depart with him. He was one of three (3) males to leave eretz Israel.


Said Rav Hanan bar Rava in the name of Rav: Elimelech, Salmon, Ploni Almoni, and the father of Naomi were all descended from Nachshon ben Aminadav. What does he come to teach us by this statement? That even the merit of one’s ancestors is of no avail when one leaves eretz Israel for a foreign land.          - Bava Bathra 92b; Yalkut Shim’oni 599.


Rashi informs us of the rest of the story. Elimelech was among the richest people alive at the time, and when the famine hit the land of Israel he chose not to assist his brethren in need. In order to avoid the constant "harassment" of poor people knocking on his door, he and his family fled to the land of Moav. Thus, not only has Elimelech demonstrated a lack of concern for his fellow man which his children will certainly assimilate into their own consciousness, but he has also placed his family in the totally decrepit and immoral society of Moav.


Naomi -  (no’am, pleasant) "Her actions were pleasant and sweet" – Ruth Rabbah 1. Her name also carries within it a significant word: Ami – (my people) – a word which will play a crucial role in her relationship with Ruth.


Elimelech's wife, and the mother of Machlon and Kilion. She is the only female to leave the land of Israel. In Sefer Ruth, she represents the Torah teacher.


Machlon ben Elimelech -  "blotted out", sickness.


The son of Elimelech and Naomi, and Ruth's husband. That Ha-Shem forgave him is indicated by the fact that Ruth and Boaz raised up his seed. He was one of three (3) males and one of two (2) sons who left the land of Israel. He is obviously a “good” guy because the ultimate end of our story tells about the raising of his name on his land, his inheritance. Indeed, this seems to be the entire goal of the story of Ruth.


Machlon comes from the word "Mechila" meaning forgiveness.


Machlon – from halal, meaning profane. Because he profaned his body.


Another interpretation: Machlon and Kilion – because they were completely wiped out and disappeared from the earth – Bava Bathra 91a; Ruth Rabbah, Yalkut Shim’oni 600.


Kilion ben Elimelech -  "perished from the world”, destruction.


The son of Elimelech and Naomi. He was Orpah's husband. He was one of three (3) males and one of two (2) sons who left the land of Israel.


In Scripture, Machlon and Kilion are also called Yoash and Saraph (1 Chronicles 4:22), which means despair, and burning. They despaired of Ha-Shem saving Israel from the famine, and by Divine retribution, measure for measure, they deserved death by burning for leaving the Holy Land. For Torah Law forbids leaving the land of Israel except under certain conditions, and when one nullifies even a single aspect of Torah teaching, it is as if he burned the entire Torah.

Bava Bathra 91b


Kilion is derived from kelayah, extinction. – Yalkut Shim’oni 600


Kilion – From Caliyah, meaning destroyed. Because he was judged worthy of destruction.


Another interpretation: Machlon and Kilion – because they were completely wiped out and disappeared from the earth – Bava Bathra 91a; Ruth Rabbah, Yalkut Shim’oni 600.


Orpah bat Eglon - She turned her back, the "nape of the neck", on her Mother-in-law. Daughter of Eglon, king of Moav.


Kilion's wife and the daughter of Eglon, King of Moav. She represents the wife who yields no fruit. She turned away from the God and the land of Israel.


The Midrash (Ruth Rabbah 2:20) tells us that upon leaving Ruth, Naomi, and their religion, Orpah made a 80 degree turn. That very evening she involved herself in a debauchery, engaging in unspeakable acts with both man and a dog. She subsequently became pregnant and gave birth to the famous giant, Goliath, who led the Philistine armies against the Jewish people many years later (Samuel I chapter 17).


When a potential convert, with genuine intentions, is distanced from the Jewish people by being made to feel unfit, the consequences for the Jewish people can be disastrous. The same occurred to Orpah. When she was discouraged from joining the ranks of the Jews, her children were given vast powers over the Jewish people. One of these children was Goliath, another was Yishbi; both of them were massive warriors who focused their efforts on fighting against the Jewish people.


For forty days Goliath blasphemed HaShem, challenging the Jews to try to stop him. All were terrified until David, a descendent of Ruth, became so incensed that he marched forth and slew his cousin with a sling shot.


Ruth bat Eglon - ‘Saw’, i.e. ‘Considered Well’, similar to the Aramaic translation of the word "to inherit" (Hebrew "yarash" = Aramaic "yarat," see the Targum to Numbers 24:18; apparently Moavite was similar to Aramaic in this respect as the Moavite stone also has the word "yeruta.")


RUTH is from the Hebrew meaning "friendship".


Machlon's wife and the daughter of Eglon, King of Moav. Ruth carried with her the inheritance of Elimelech. ,ur is derived from vur to saturate, which R. Johanan connects together. Daughter of Eglon, king of Moav. Ruth represents Gentile converts who were former Idolaters, but are now Jews by choice. 'When we received the Torah, we were all converts' (Agan). This means that at Sinai, when we received the Torah, we were all converts. That is why the rules of conversion are based on the events that led to the giving of the Torah. So, as a convert, Ruth represents the House of Israel when they were all of one mind and one purpose, the day they received Torah. The House of Israel stood that day as one man, and as one man they had a whole heart dedicated to Ha-Shem and a total dedication to His Word, His Torah, His Messiah.


According to the Gemara (Bava Batra 14b) she  was called Ruth, because her descendant David 'saturated'  HaShem with songs and praises.  (Ruth can be read "ravat"  which mean saturate.)


Ruth is from the Hebrew meaning "friendship." 


Gematria of ‘Ruth’ is 606. Add the 7 Noachide and we get 613, the number of mitzvoth in Torah.


Ploni Almoni – Ploni = hidden, Almoni = nameless.


Another name for Tov the brother of Elimelech. He was the nearest kin and potential redeemer of Ruth. He was the first (nearest) of the two (2) Kinsman-Redeemers. He represents Messiah ben Yoseph in the story.


Boaz ben Salmon – “In Him there is strength”. He was also known as Judge Ivtzan, the 11th "Shofet". [Ibn Ezra, Judges 12:8]. Now Ivtzan already had 30 sons and 30 daughters, all of whom had died before this story took place. Ivtzan died in the year 2793 (Rashi).


“Strength or rod of iron” [Ken]


The Sages agree that Boaz is another name for Ivtzan. Two reasons, for the name change, are given in the Targum, according to Rabbi Moshe Alshich:

  1. He saved Israel from the sword of her enemies.
  2. He saved Israel from perishing in the famine by praying on her behalf.
  3. He was a source of strength for Israel.

 Zg means strength”. The letter c has the numerical value of 2 which is added to Zg  to signify that he had been strong two ways, thus his name became Zgc.


Boaz combines two words "Bo" and "Az," which means "he comes with strength"


Boaz was Elimelech’s nephew and second closest redeemer. He was the Rosh Bet Din, the head, of the Sanhedrin. He was the second of the two (2) Kinsman-Redeemers. Boaz represents Messiah ben David.


Concerning Boaz it will documented that he was the Rosh Bet Din in Bet Lechem see Midrash on Sefer Ruth. As to Yachin, I do not have any authoritative Jewish commentaries on Sefer Divre HaYamim (Chronicles) nor on Sefer Melachim (Kings). I have only a small Judaica Library and hope and pray that it is enlarged soon because of the need in this research. From memory I can recall once hearing at Yeshivah that Yachin (which name means "G-d will establish") personified courage, and Boaz (composed of two words Bo = in Him, and Az = strength, personified strength, the pillars therefore testifying that through G-d's Temple (Theocratic Governance), G-d would supply Yisrael with strength and courage. That is all I can say from this land down under poverty stricken in Judaica:-)


However if he wants me to let him into a secret I shall do so. In Sefer Revelation 13:10 the Greek reads literally (with Strong's Numbers):


10. |1536| If anyone |0161| captivity |4863| gathers |1519| into |0161| captivity |5217| he goes. |1536| If anyone |1722| by |3162| a sword |0615| will kill, |1163| must |0846| he |1722| by |3162| a sword |0615| be killed. |5602| Here |2076| is |3588| the |5281| patience |2532| and |3588| the |4102| faith |3588| of the |0040| holy ones.


The Catholic New Jerusalem Bible translates:


10. Those for captivity to captivity; those for death by the sword to death by the sword. This is why the saints must have perseverance and faith.


Similarly also Dr. David G. Stern's Jewish New Testament


The Revised Standard Version translates:


10.  If any one is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if any one slays with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.   


The New American Bible translates:


10. Anyone destined for captivity goes into captivity. Anyone destined to be slain by the sword shall be slain by the sword. Such is the faithful endurance of the holy ones.


The New Revised Standard Version translates:


10. If you are to be taken captive, into captivity you go; if you kill with the sword, with the sword you must be killed. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.


I am most sorry if I am confusing him too much but bear with me please. Does Your Eminence see what I see?


Let us go back to the New Revised Standard Version translation:


"If you are to be taken captive, into captivity you go;"


In other words any resistance to captivity and the Diaspora is futile if Ha-Shem so has foreordained.


"if you kill with the sword, with the sword you must be killed."


Again military resistance against the powers that be in order to make a country Torah observant a la Bar-Kochba is also futile.


"Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints."


What about if I complicate things and translate this phrase as: "Here is a call from Yachin and Boaz of the saints." Not so crazy after all? no? In fact, we could render this verse as "Here is a call for the strength (Boaz) and courage (Yachin) of the Tzaddikim" and thereby a perfect allusion of these two columns at the entrance of the Temple. What this text is saying in a veiled way, that the only way to beat captivity and slaughter on the part of the Gentile powers is for the Tzaddikim (i.e. the Hakhamim) to exercise the strength of Hakham Boaz and the courage of Hakham Yachin by teaching Torah right left and center and being an example to all, as well as by maintaining vibrant communities ruled by just Batei Din.


I was going to share this with Your Excellency on Yom Rishon in the Shiur but I was pressed of time since I had an appointment after class with His Honour Adon Yochanan regarding a small yet most interesting essay he wants to publish before the 17th of Tammuz. I am exceedingly glad Your Eminence keeps me on my toes, and well guesses that it possible that this Hakham is not telling the whole story for some reason or another :-)


Now if he goes to Revelation 14:12 there is further elucidation:


|5602| Here |9999| {the} |5281| patience |3588| of the |0040| holy ones |2076| is. |5602| Here |3588| those |5083| keeping |3588| the |1785| commands |3588| of |2316| G-d |2532| and |3588| the |4102| faith |2424| of Yeshuah.


Now the Greek word used here for patience is "hupomone" and pronounced as in Spanish "hoop-om-on-ay" means "cheerful (or hopeful) endurance," or "constancy over time." This is not "Yachin = Courage" but "Boaz = Strength." And what was the strength of Hakham Boaz who married to Rut? Was it not his great strength in "the keeping of the commandments of G-d and the guarding of the faith of Yeshuah (David)" as a Rosh Bet Din in Bet Lechem whilst the rich and powerful would no share with their people their great wealth in times of drought and hunger but fled to Moab?   


Similar allusions are found in Sefer Revelation 1:9; 2:2; 2:19; 3:3; 3:10 and 14:12 quoted above to enumerate some from the top of my head.


O.K. I am confused here somewhat and do not follow the cast of characters and their roles. Who does the third kinsman represents? I mean he has identified two of them as Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David, who is the third Mashiach?


So, Boaz has an uncle who started this whole story. Strong’s defines an “uncle” as:


1730 dowd, dode; or (short.)     dod, dode; from an unused root mean. prop. to boil, i.e. (fig.) to love; by impl. a love-token, Beloved, friend; spec. an uncle:-(well-) beloved, father's brother, love, uncle.


Judges 12:7-11 Jephthah (He will open) led Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died, and was buried in a town in Gilead (Heap of Testimony). After him, Ibzan (Splendid) of Bethlehem led Israel. He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He gave his daughters away in marriage to those outside his clan, and for his sons he brought in thirty young women as wives from outside his clan. Ibzan led Israel seven years. Then Ibzan died, and was buried in Bethlehem. After him, Elon the Zebulunite led Israel ten years.


The ten elders (Ruth 4:2) – These ten represent the Congregation, which is the body of Messiah. In a previous study, I found that the Word of God was found in the number 10. This is also the minimum number of men required to form a congregation (Numbers 14:35).


1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Messiah, and each one of you is a part of it.


Leaving Eretz Israel


Avraham Avinu left eretz Israel seemingly for the same reasons that Elimelech left:


Bereshit (Genesis) 12:10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine [was] grievous in the land.


Notice the similarity of the words that Torah uses to describe these two departures:


Ruth 1:1 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Beth-lehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.


They both left because of a famine. They both “sojourned” in a foreign land.


However, there are certain differences between these two verses. The famine in the days of Avraham Avinu is described as “grievous”. There is no such modifier used to describe the famine in the days of Elimelech. The Torah mentions that Elimelech took his family, while no such mention is made, initially, for Avraham Avinu.


Avraham Avinu chooses Mitzrayim, most likely because that land is watered by the Nile river rather than by rainfall. So, why does Elimelech choose the land of Moav? What is there about the land of Moav that would attract a wealthy, aristocratic Jew in time of famine?


The ending for these two stories is quite different. Elimelech never return from the land of Moav. Elimelech, his unborn child, and his two grown sons all die in Moav. All of his wealth is also consumed.


Avraham Avinu, on the other hand, returns from Mitzrayim with fabulous gifts and his wife Sarah returns with Paro’s daughter as her maid.


Why is the outcome of these two stories so different? Why does Ha-Shem bless Avraham Avinu and smite Elimelech?


The Forgotten Sheaf


A very poignant portion of Sefer Ruth involves the mitzvah of the forgotten sheaf:


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 24:19-22 When you cut down your harvest in your field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go again to fetch it; it shall be for the stranger, for the orphan, and for the widow; that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, for the orphan, and for the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, for the orphan, and for the widow. And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this thing.


In this short passage, we note that HaShem is emphasizing “the stranger, the fatherless and the widow”.


This is has considerable significance for our subject, because Ruth is going to glean in the role of all three of them!


The Reading of Sefer Ruth at Shavuot


Masechet Soferim records the practice of reading Megilat Ruth with a blessing "al miqra Megillah" on Shavuot. Ruth is read on the end of the first day of "gathering", until half the book and it is completed at the end of the second day. And there are those who say that all (the Megillah readings) are begun on the night after Shabbat before the holiday and thus the people have practiced.... (4:18)


The popular custom as recorded above is not practiced anywhere today. Currently, there are four customs concerning the reading of Megilat Ruth on Shavuot. The Sephardic custom is not to read the Megillah during prayer services at all. Rather, it is read as part of the "tikkun lel Shavuoth", on the night of Shavuot, and half is read on the first afternoon of the holiday and half on the second afternoon (perhaps similar to the first custom that Masechet Soferim recorded.)


The Galician Hassidic groups read the Megillah before the second day's Torah reading (in the diaspora). They read from a Chumash and not from a scroll and they read individually. The custom of the Mitnagdim is to have the cantor read publicly from either a scroll, if one is available, or from a Chumash, without a prior blessing. Some groups in Israel who follow the rulings of R. Eliyahu of Vilna, read Megillat Ruth from a scroll with a blessing. (Zevin, Hamoadim Behalacha, pp. 327-328)


Since in many communities, it is customary to read Megillat Ruth on Shavuot. What are the reasons for this?


1.'Ruth is read Shavuot because the timing of its events occurred 'at the beginning of the barley harvest,' and this period is also the time of Shavuot' (Abudraham).     


2.'The reading of Ruth on Shavuot is a reminder of the stand at Mt. Sinai, when the people of Israel received a total of six hundred and thirteen mitzvoth - six hundred and six mitzvoth in addition to the seven previous Noachide Laws. The numerical value of Hebrew letters which comprise the word Ruth is six hundred and six' (Teshu'ot Chen).


Ruth is the archetype of a convert and Shavuot (=Mattan Torah) represents the “mass conversion” of Am Yisra’el  (see BT Keritut 9a, MT Issurei Bi’ah 13:1-4). This explanation is also found in the Mahzor Vitri.


3.'From her very birth, Ruth was worthy of accepting upon herself the yoke of mitzvoth; and the very letters of her name bear witness to it. The letters for Ruth add up to six hundred and six which together with the seven Noachide Laws add up to six hundred and thirteen' (the Gaon of Vilna).     


4.'Our fathers had the status of converts when they accepted the Torah (in order to enter the covenant they were required to undergo circumcision and immersion as is the case with converts). In honor of Ruth who was a convert and became the mother of Israel's royal family, we say, 'When we received the Torah, we were all converts' (Agan).     


5.'Megilat Ruth was written by the Prophet Samuel, to indicate the genealogy of Kind David for Ruth the Moabite. We learn from the writing of this Megillah that there was Divine assent in the matter, for the end of the Megillah recounts David's ancestry and David was born on Shavuot and died on Shavuot' (Bechor Shor).    


"King David died on Atzeret, that is Shavuot. (Jerusalem Talmud, Chagigah 2:3)


6.The story of Ruth is read at the time of the giving of the Torah so that we might know that the written Torah and the Oral Torah, are together one Torah, and one is not Possible without the other. For David, the anointed of G-d unto all generations, was descended from a Moabite woman, and his legitimacy depended on the Oral Torah - which declared that only a Moabite man was prohibited from entering the fold of Israel - but not a Moabite woman. On the foundations of the House of David, the whole people of Israel is supported. All this could only come about through the authority of the Oral Torah.


Ruth was the ancestor of King David, and he is the ancestor of Mashiach. The book of Ruth concludes with the connection between King David and Ruth. King David died on Shavuot  (Jerusalem Talmud, Chagigah, 2:3), and since the Gemara  (Rosh Hashanah 11a) says "HaShem completes the years of the  righteous from day to day," it follows that David was born  on Shavuot. Hence, it is customary to read Megillat Ruth in  his honor.


7. The reading of Megilat Ruth serves as a perfect focus for the two themes of Shavuot - Torah & Eretz Yisrael.


8.  “What does Megillat Ruth have to do with Shavuot, the season of the giving of the Torah? To teach you that the Torah was given through afflictions and poverty.” (Midrashic collection Ruth Zuta 1:1)


Ruth is a prime model of an individual who made a completely sincere commitment to G-d, Torah, and a Torah Life. When we think of Matan Torah at Sinai, we tend to see the whole if Israel rather than the many individuals who make up the nation. Receiving the Torah was an act of the whole nation, but for it to be real in our lives, the commitment has to be personal and individual. In this way, the reading of Megilat Ruth complements the Torah reading beautifully. The Megillah is very clear as to the venue of the story and its significance. It was a famine in Eretz Yisrael and their communal responsibilities which drove Naomi's husband and sons to leave the Land. They were punished for leaving the Land. Naomi and Ruth were rewarded for returning to it. Repeated reference is made to mitzvot of the Land.


Using a typical Jewish approach, an individual is equivalent to a whole nation. Shavuot is a celebration of both historic conversions.


The original intention of HaShem, that the Torah should be the property of every human being is steadfast and has not been terminated. The tactics have changed, not the goal. The Torah was not given to the non-Jewish community directly, but it was given indirectly to the entire mankind as an eschatological reality. The ultimate destiny of human fulfillment, in the messianic age, is for everybody to embrace the Torah, our faith. Our task has been and still is to teach the torah to Man kind, to influence the secular world, and by that, save the world from destruction. We are the executers and messengers for the entire world; our task is to represent the moral outlook on life to which the Jew has committed himself. The gentile world should be able to watch the Jews and admire our way of living, for we bear witness to the unique relationship man has with God.


Contrary to what many might think, the Jew has a mission. Since we have not yet perfected ourselves, it is inappropriate to act on our mission, but the idea of this mission is still correct. We must be a "beacon of light" for all the nations to follow. This mandate, however, can not be attained in terms of teaching or writing Judaic philosophy; the mere publication of ethical books, no matter how brilliant, will not bring the world closer to God. People are not attracted to abstract morality. Traditional Judaism says we do the teaching by example.


It is now clear how the redemption of the world (Messianic age) is connected to man inheriting the Torah. Matan Torah initiated the Messianic process of universal conversion. Judaism predicts that at some period in the future all man kind will not only come close to God and embrace our faith, but they will also join the sacred community dedicated to the service of God!


Har Sinai represents the private covenant between the Jew and the all-mighty, while King David represents the Messianic age, where the giving of the Torah is a universal affair. His Majesty King David will fulfill what was anticipated by the Almighty at Sinai. The full realization to the giving of the Torah will be achieved at the time of the Mashiach. It is no wonder we read Megilat Ruth on Shavuot, announcing the birth of His Majesty King David and the realization that the Torah will be the property of all mankind.


The tapestry like connections between King David and Shavuot, King David and Jerusalem, King David and Torah, King David and Ruth make this Megillah the perfect reading and the perfect reminder of the full meaning of Shavuot. Eretz Israel without Torah is like a body without a soul. But this soul needs its body too. Torah was meant to be lived in Eretz Yisrael. With a Beit HaMikdash, a Temple. With the majority of Bnei Israel there.


* * *


Spiritually, there is a relation between a baal teshuva ("returnee") and a convert, even though the baal teshuva is born a Jew. His spiritual service of being lost and reestablishing his identity is a process which is similar to conversion. This is the general state of being of our generation prior to the coming of Mashiach. When Mashiach comes he will cause all righteous Jews to become baalei teshuva.


Everyone must experience "conversion." On Shavuot, the giving of the Torah, the entire Jewish People are called converts. This is why we read Megilat Ruth on Shavuot.


There is definitely something unique about female converts. This is not only with regard to Moab and Amon, where Jewish law explicitly dictates that only females may convert and immediately marry into the Congregation of Israel. The intention of King Solomon by marrying the thousand princesses of the different nations was to elevate the holy spark of those Peoples. The holy spark of every People is in the princess, the female element, of the People and not in the male element. This is because the female is primarily a receiver. All nations of the earth are relatively receivers in relation to the Jewish People.




My method for studying Sefer Ruth, is to identify words of symbolic significance, typically the nouns and verbs in each verse, and define those words according to their true meaning. After we have discovered their meaning, I will rephrase the verse by substituting the meaning rather than the actual word. This rephrasing I will call “Translation”.


Armed with this “translation”, I am going to interpret this “translation” in the light of the wisdom of the Sages and of the Nazarean Codicil to understand a deeper meaning. This “deeper meaning” will be called “Translation”.


Thus we will examine each verse individually to discern the overall meaning of Sefer Ruth.


Note:  I am using the translation provided by Yalkut Me’am Lo’ez “The Torah Anthology – The Book of Ruth”, for each verse in this study.


The Structure of Sefer Ruth


 [Most of this material is based on Zakovitch’s introduction to his commentary on Ruth in the Mikra l’Yisra’el series]


The four chapters of the Megillah (even though this division is a Christian one and only shows up in Jewish sources with the first printed editions of Mikra’ot G’dolot in the early 16th century, the division is quite helpful in understanding the literary and thematic structure of Ruth) divide in a symmetric fashion:


Chapter 1: Moving from Beit Lechem to Moav (the loss of Elimelech’s field stands as the background to their self-imposed exile) and returning to Beit-Lechem; the painful losses along the way


Chapter 2: One day in Boaz’s field


Chapter 3: One night in Boaz’s granary


Chapter 4: The redemption of the field (and Ruth); the glorious gains of acceptance among the community of the townswomen and the legacy of the family – leading to the birth of David




1. The first and fourth chapters both have “female choruses” whose words are related to the designation of a name (we will yet revisit the issue of names in the Megillah; a fascinating subject which properly belongs to the fourth chapter) associated with Naomi. Note the difference: In the first chapter, their role is negative and their words are brief; the opposite holds true (in both regards) in the final chapter. 


2. Each chapter mentions God’s blessing (the harvest 1:6; Ruth – 4:13); the blessings of bounty and children are found side-by-side in numerous Tanakh texts (e.g. Devarim 28);


3. In both the first and final chapters, a protagonist “shines” when compared to another positive character. In the first chapter, it is only Ruth’s outstanding devotion that makes Orpah’s loyalty pale; in the final chapter, the Goel (redeemer) who is prepared to act with kindness, is seen as a lesser benefactor when compared with Boaz. Indeed, each of the “lesser” personalities here is prepared to “go the distance” until the “ultimate” test is presented. Orpah will not follow Naomi to the dreary existence she portrays in 1:11-13 and the Goel only backs down from his willingness to redeem Elimelech’s field when he finds that marrying Ruth is part of the “package”. 


4.The first chapter begins with the lineage (such as it is) of Elimelech’s family (Ephratim – 1:2) and the fourth chapter ends with the lineage from Peretz to David (4:18-22). 


5.The opening phrase of the Megillah: Vay’hi biY’mei Sh’fot haShof’tim the beginning events in the era of the Shoftim; the final step in the line of Boaz (Peretz) is David, leading us into the monarchic period. 






Some of the differences between the second and third chapters are natural results of the different settings. Since the second chapter takes place out in the field, there are several secondary actors present – which is, of course, not the case during that fateful night on the threshing floor of chapter 3. 


Several interesting parallels/contrasts:


1. Each chapter begins with a conversation between Naomi and Ruth, embodying a suggestion towards action that will set further events into motion. In the first case (Chapter 2), it is Ruth who makes the suggestion (we will discuss this next week), whereas the suggestion of Chapter 3 belongs to Naomi. In both cases, however, it is Ruth who is going to take the action.


2. In Chapter 2, Ruth appears in the field in advance of Boaz; in Chapter 3, it is Boaz who is on the threshing floor before Ruth arrives. 


3. In both cases, when Boaz “discovers” Ruth, he first asks (either the harvesters or her herself) who she is. The common v’Hinei which serves to accentuate the beginning of their interaction appears in 2:4 and 3:8.


4. Note how the roles of Ruth and Boaz intertwine between these two chapters. In 2:8-9, Boaz suggests a course of action to Ruth which involves him (and his field); in 3:9, Ruth directs Boaz how to act towards her.


5. In both chapters, Boaz demonstrates great concern for Ruth’s dignity (compare 2:15-16 with 3:14)


6. Each chapter concludes with Ruth returning to Naomi’s house; in each case, they wait until the end (the verb Kaleh is used in the final verse of each chapter) of a process – in Chapter 2, it is the end of the harvest season; in Chapter 3, they wait for Boaz to conclude his dealings at the city gates.


* * *


The name Boaz appears 18 times in the Megillah, and Ruth's 12 times. (Both of these counts ignore the genealogy at the end of the Megillah which is not, properly, part of the story). Note that both of these counts are divisible by six (6). the number six has some association with the house of David. Therefore, Megillat Ruth, which is really the "prologue" of the Davidic narratives, has several structural (as well as over textual) "sixes". This is likely the reason that when Jews in the Middle Ages adopted a (somewhat universal) figure with six points, they named it Magen David (there is no immediate connection between this mystical symbol and David that appears in either Biblical or Rabbinic texts).




The Structure of the first chapter


Besides the introductory verses, which establish the premise of the story, the first chapter is made up of 17 verses (6-22) which are made up of two even subsections of 8 verses each, with the fulcrum-verse (14) in the middle: 


1.vv. 6-13: Naomi, Orpah and Ruth


2.v. 14: “Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and Ruth cleaved to her”


3.vv. 14-22: Naomi and Ruth


Note that the “keyword” (Shuv - “return”) appears a total of twelve times in this brief chapter. Note how evenly the use of this verb is distributed in the chapter:


6 times: “Shuv” appears in the first half of the section (vv. 6,7,8,10,11,12)


6 times: “Shuv” appears in the second half of the section (vv. 15,15,16,21,22,22)


6 times: “Shuv” indicates a return to Beit-Lechem (vv. 6,7,10,21,22,22)


6 times: “Shuv” indicates a return to Moav (vv. 8, 11,12,15,15,16)


4 times: “Shuv” refers to Naomi (always returning to Beit Lechem) (vv. 6,7,21,22)


4 times: “Shuv” refers to both of the Kalot (vv. 8,10,11,12)


4 times: “Shuv” refers to one of the Kalot (vv. 15,16,17,22)


Naomi speaks four times in the chapter: twice in the first section (vv. 8-9, 11-13), twice in the second (v. 15, 20-21). Note the parallels between her first speech in the first section (vv. 8-9) and her first speech in the second section (v. 15); both adjure the daughter(s) to return to their homes, emphasizing the positive in what awaits them. The second speeches in both sections are also parallel to each other – both stress the bitterness (and use that word – Mar ) which Naomi has experienced at the hand of God. 


Note also how the second section ends (v. 22) with an echo of the first verse of the first section (v. 6): 


v. 6: Then she arose with her daughters-in-law, to return from the country of Moav; for she had heard in the country of Moav that HaShem had visited his people and given them bread.


v. 22. So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moavite, her daughter-in-law, with her, who returned from the country of Moav; and they came to Beit-Lechem at the beginning of the barley harvest.


The symmetry of the chapters sets up our story as the bridge between the period of the Judges (when “there was no King in Israel, each man doing as he pleases”, Shoftim (Judges) 21:25, and the establishment of the Israelite monarchy.