Ruth 2:11-12




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and he replied








and he said




to her




to be told




he was told




to me












you did








your mother-in-law








death of




your husband




that you left




your father




and your mother




and land of




your home




and you came




















you knew












may he repay








your deed




and may she be




your reward








from with








God of












you came




to take refuge








His wings






2:11 And Boaz said to her, I have been fully informed of all that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband; and how you have left your father and mother and your family, and come to a people that you did not know before.


2:12 May the Lord God of Israel reward you, and may the One under whose wings you have come to take shelter recompense you.


Stone’s Translation


2:11 Boaz replied and said to her, “I have been fully informed of all that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth and went to a people you had not known yesterday or earlier.


2:12 May HASHEM reward your deed, and may your payment be full from HASHEM, the God of Israel, under Whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”




2:11 And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and [how] thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.


2:12 The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.



Ruth 2:11 kai; ajpekrivqh Boo" kai; ei\pen aujth'/ ajpaggeliva/ ajphggevlh moi o{sa pepoivhka" meta; th'" penqera'" sou meta; to; ajpoqanei'n to;n a[ndra sou kai; pw'" katevlipe" to;n patevra sou kai; th;n mhtevra sou kai; th;n gh'n genevsewv" sou kai; ejporeuvqh" pro;" lao;n o}n oujk h[/dei" ejcqe;" kai; trivth"


Ruth 2:12 ajpoteivsai kuvrio" th;n ejrgasivan sou kai; gevnoito oJ misqov" sou plhvrh" para; kurivou qeou' Israhl

pro;" o}n h\lqe" pepoiqevnai uJpo; ta;" ptevruga" aujtou'


Ruth 2:11-12 And Boöz answered and said to her, “A report was brought back to me, of all that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you had not known before yesterday . 12 May the LORD repay your work, and may your recompense by the LORD God of Israel be full, unto whom you have come to rely, under his wings.” 



Peshat Level:




2:11 Boaz replied thus: "It has been told to me on the authority of the sages, that when the Lord decreed [against intermarriage with Moav], He did not decree against the women, but against the men. Through prophecy I have been informed that kings and prophets are destined to descend from you, because of the kindness which you have shown your mother-in-law, in that you supported her after your husband died, and you left your gods and your people, your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have gone to become a proselyte and to dwell in the midst of a people with whom you were unacquainted before.


2:12 "May the Lord reward you well in this world for your good work, and may you receive full recompense from the Lord, the God of Israel, in the world to come, because you have come to be a proselyte and to seek shelter under the shadow of His Glorious Presence. Through that merit you will be saved from the punishment of Gehinom, so that your portion will be with Sarah and Rebecca and Rachel and Leah."



Gemarah Level:


Talmud Babli


Yevamoth 48b It was taught: R. Hanania son of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: Why are proselytes at the present time oppressed and visited with afflictions? Because they had not observed the seven Noachide commandments.


R. Jose said: One who has become a proselyte is like a child newly born. Why then are proselytes oppressed? — Because they are not so well acquainted with the details of the commandments as the Israelites.


Abba Hanan said in the name of R. Eleazar: Because they do not do it out of love but out of fear. Others said: Because they delayed their entry under the wings of the Shechinah. Said R. Abbahu, or it might be said R. Hanina: What is the Scriptural proof? — The Lord recompense thy work, and be thy reward complete from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose etc. thou art come to take refuge (Ruth II, 22. ‘Thou art come’ before ‘to take refuge’ implies haste. Ruth was given credit for the haste she made in entering under the divine wings. Delay in such action is culpable.).



Midrash Level:


Midrash Rabbah


Ruth V:3 AND BOAZ ANSWERED AND SAID: IT HATH BEEN FULLY TOLD ME (II, 11). Why is the verb repeated? It hath been told me in the house, and it hath been told me in the field, ALL THAT THOU HAST DONE UNTO THY MOTHER-IN-LAW SINCE THE DEATH OF THY HUSBAND, and certainly during his lifetime, AND HOW THOU HAST LEFT THY FATHER AND MOTHER AND THE LAND OF THY NATIVITY-this means, thy country; AND THOU HAST LEFT THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER—i.e. thy idolatry, as it is said, Who say to a stock: Thou art my father, and to a stone: Thou hast brought us forth  (Jeremiah II, 27). AND THE LAND OF THY NATIVITY refers to her surroundings, AND ART COME UNTO A PEOPLE THAT THOU KNEWEST NOT HERETOFORE, for had you come heretofore, you would not have been accepted [The entrance of a Moavitess into “the congregation” having only just then been sanctioned].


Ruth V:4 THE LORD RECOMPENSE THY WORK, AND BE THY REWARD COMPLETE FROM THE LORD (II, 12). R. Hasa said: Solomon shall be thy reward.5 UNDER WHOSE WINGS THOU ART COME TO TAKE REFUGE. R. Abin said: We gather from Scripture that there are wings to the earth, as it is said, From the uttermost parts (lit. ‘wings’) of the earth we heard songs (Isaiah XXIV, 16); wings to the sun, as it is said, But unto you that fear My name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings (Mal. III, 20); wings to the Hayyoth, as it is said, Also the noise of the wings of the Hayyoth (Ezek. III, 13); wings to the cherubim, as it is said, For the cherubim spread forth their wings (I Kings VIII, 7); wings to the seraphim, as it is said, Above Him stood the seraphim; each one had six wings (Isaiah VI, 2). Come and consider how great is the power of the righteous, and how great is the power of righteousness,1 and how great the power of those who do kindly deeds, for they shelter neither in the shadow of the morning, nor in the shadow of the wings of the earth, nor in the shadow of the sun, nor in the shadow of the wings of the Hayyoth, or the cherubim or the seraphim, but under whose wings do they shelter? Under the shadow of Him at whose word the world was created, as it is said, How precious is Thy loving kindness, O God, and the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings (Psalm XXXVI, 8).



Zohar Level:



Other Commentaries:


Me’am Lo’ez


2:11 Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully related to me all that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth and went to a people that you did not know yesterday or the day before.”


Boaz replied that, in view of what he had heard about her from many sources, his kindness was a small part of his obligation.


The double verb sdv sdv, “it has been fully related,” imparts that he had heard two things. First, she had dealt kindly with her mother-in-law, and as Naomi’s relation he was obligated to requite the kindness. Second, she had left the security of family and the luxury of the royal palace to come to a strange land. Since she had never before seen the land or its people, that could not possibly have been what attracted her away from her native country. Obviously, then, her con­version was sincerely motivated by love of God.


The iterated sdv sdv further indicates that he had heard of her good qualities in two areas: her kindness to Naomi at home, and her wisdom. modesty, and industriousness in the fields.


Now the term ighu can mean “raised his voice” as well as “answered”; that is, Boaz praised her loudly for all to hear. “You are not a stranger,” he declared. “Your good qualities, particularly your kindness, make you one of us.”


Boaz singled out the quality of kindness, for that is the essence of all good qualities. Our sages teach: A bride whose eyes are beautiful needs no further inspection. That is, a person who has vcuy ihg “a benevolent eye,” needs no further inspection to establish the excellence of his character.


Targum Yonathan explains the double sdv sdv as follows: “It has been told to me by the sages that only male Moabites are prohibited from marrying Jews, and it has been told to me prophetically that kings and prophets will descend from you in the merit of your kindness to your mother-in-law.”


Moabite women in general, and she in particular, were permitted to marry Jews because the reason given by the Torah for the prohibition does not apply to them. The Moabites had failed to welcome the Israel­ites with bread and water, but it is not incumbent upon women to come out in greeting. Accordingly, they are excluded from the prohibition.


Indeed, by treating her mother-in-law kindly and even supporting her, Ruth did the opposite of what her ungenerous forefathers had done.


Only three days prior to Ruth’s arrival, this question had been put to the sages, and they had just replied: “We have a tradition from Sinai: a Moabite, not a Moabitess.” Therefore Boaz emphasized that she had not been in the land of Israel “yesterday or the day before.” Had she come a day sooner, she would not have been accepted for marriage into the Jewish nation, since the halacha had only now been clarified.



2:12 “The Lord repay your deed, and be your reward complete from the Lord, God of Israel, beneath Whose wings you have come to shelter.”


“Do not imagine that your reward ends with my kindness to you, said Boaz. “To requite your wonderful deeds is beyond human ability. Your reward will come from God Who has great goodness hidden away for the righteous.”


Since she was a woman alone in a strange land, Boaz blessed her according to her needs: with wealth and marriage.


The Targum translates: “May God repay you in this world for your good deeds, and may your reward be complete in the hereafter for coming to convert.”


An act of kindness is like a loan made to God, as it is written, “He who is merciful to the poor lends to the Lord” (Proverbs 19:17). Thus, for her kindness to Naomi, God would “repay your deed.”


In addition, her soul would shelter beneath the wings of God. Our sages observe that those who do acts of kindness take refuge not under the wings of the supernal Hayyoth that draw the Heavenly Chariot (Ezekiel 1), nor of the Cherubs, nor of the Seraphs, but under the wings of the Creator Himself.


“How precious is Your kindness, O God,” exclaimed King David; “and the sons of man shelter in the shadow of Your wings” (Psalms 36:8). Human kindness is a pale imitation and reflection of divine kind­ness, and if in return for the kindness that a man does he merits to gain shelter beneath God’s wings, how precious must God’s own kindness be!


Moreover, since kindness yields dividends for the benefactor in this world even as the principal remains intact for him in the World to Come (Talmud). Boaz assured Ruth that she would enjoy the dividends of her kindness to Naomi in this world. Her children would become leaders of Israel and she herself would wear the royal crown. Although she was a pauper at the moment, her descendant would dedicate a hundred talents of gold to the Temple (Ezra 8:26). Her reward would be vnka “com­plete,” which also spells vnka, Solomon, whom she would live to see, as it is written: “[Solomon] caused a throne to be set for the mother of the king” (1 Kings 2:19), that is, for the mother of royalty—Ruth.


These would be the dividends. The principal reward to come from the Lord, God of Israel, was reserved for her soul in the World to Come, where it would shelter under God’s wings, “revel in the pleasantness of the Lord, and visit in His palace” (Psalms 27:4).


Rabbi Chassa accented the special sense of “beneath Whose wings you have come to shelter.” Ruth’s reward would be great not because of her good qualities and her kindness to her mother-in-law, but because she converted.


Boaz mentioned two rewards—”The Lord repay your deed,” and “be your reward complete.” A proselyte is rewarded for his resolution to accept the mitzvoth as well as for his actual conversion. Furthermore, because she hastened to come instead of tarrying as other converts do, her reward would be complete in both worlds. She would not suffer in this world as other converts do.


For coming to shelter under His wings willingly and sincerely, with no ulterior motives, and without hope of ever marrying, God would give her a boundless reward in the World to Come, where “the righteous sit with crowns on their heads and enjoy the radiance of the Shechinah” (Talmud).


Since the souls of the righteous of Israel reside above the wings of the Shechinah and the souls of the converts below, Ruth had converted with the idea of sheltering “beneath [His] wings.” Boaz assured her, however, that her reward would be “complete,” that is, her soul would reside above His wings together with the righteous of Israel.


Abraham was the first convert, and his protective merit extends to all future converts. But Ruth had no need to rely on his merit, for her action surpassed his. She was vnka —her own merit was complete and in­exhaustible.


While Abraham had come to the Holy Land at God’s command to go forth from your land, and from your birthplace, and from your father’s house” (Genesis 12:1), Ruth came on her own initiative and against Naomi’s protests. Her reward would be complete as if “you [singular] have come” alone, without Naomi.


That she sought shelter with the God of Israel was also its own reward, for the reward of a mitzvah, the Talmud teaches, is the mitzvah itself.



Abraham Ibn Ezra





11. Boaz responded, [saying] to her. He said: You have found favor in my eyes for two reasons: [1] "I was repeatedly told about everything you did for your mother-in-law" which shows the goodness of your character and your heart -for in the majority of cases a daughter-in-law dislikes her mother-in-law, especially after your husband died: whereas you were her helper and supporter. [2] You converted to Judaism without any ulterior motive of material benefit or gain; behold, that you left your father and mother and the land where you were born, and you went to [live among] a nation that you did not previously know.


12. Question: Why did Boaz state a seeming redundancy: May the ETERNAL repay you for your [good] deeds, and may your reward be complete from the ETERNAL?


12. May the ETERNAL repay you for your [good] deeds. For all that you have done for your mother-in-law and, corresponding to your conversion and may your reward be complete from the ETERNAL, because He is the God of Israel Who oversees them and all converts who join them. In the Midrash Ruth Rabbah (5:4), "Rav Chasa said, 'under Whose wing you have sought protection. '” [According to the Malbim's commentary (Parashas Kedoshim, Section 30), there is a difference between rfa (reward) and vkugp (payment) as well as between a rhfa (employee) and kgup (independent contractor or craftsman). An independent contractor or artisan receives a payment specifically for the service or item he has rendered. For instance, a tailor sews a garment and is compensated for it: this is called vkugp ("payment"): he receives remuneration for the exact work done. However, an employee has a contract for a specific period of time, for example, three years, and must be paid whether he works or not.] Relative to the carrying out of instructions, a person receives "payment" for each individual act done, about which, Boaz advised Ruth, May the ETERNAL repay you for your [good] deeds. However, in regard to Ruth's act of conversion, she had accepted upon herself to serve God and observe His commandments, which is tantamount to being a "lifetime employee." As such, she is deserving of the status of a" salaried employee," who is guaranteed a constant wage whether or not she performs (i.e., whether or not the opportunity presents itself to do a mitzvah, nonetheless, she should still benefit a "full wage"). In regard to this aspect of Ruth's worthiness Boaz said, and may your reward be complete from the ETERNAL, implying a constant benefit. Under Whose wing you have sought protection. And are worthy of the status of being a lifetime employee of God with full privileges and benefits. About this Rav Chasa said, Under Whose wing you have sought protection -for which you are deserving of a permanent recompense, in addition to each time you perform an individual commandment and are worthy of its appropriate reward. I [the Malbim] have already explored the question in my work Ayeles HaShachar. Is this not the greatest reward that a person can possibly receive: the opportunity to fulfill a commandment to serve this mighty and awesome Being, either from the aspect of the perfection of the soul which is achieved by virtue of one's actions or from the mere fact that by doing so one can make claim to being the servant of the great King Who created everything? Why then does the Torah promise a reward for the commandments? Are not they, in and of themselves, the greatest reward possible (as the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (4:2) says, "The reward of the mitzvah is the mitzvah..." -meaning that since the mitzvah itself is its own greatest reward)? I proposed that for someone who has the heart to understand and the spirit to feel the pleasantness of the commandments themselves, it is unnecessary to promise any reward other than the decree itself. Yet, since the majority of people do not sense the pleasantness of the commandments or the marvelous goodness which one acquires through them, it was necessary to assure a temporal and tangible reward in order that individuals would perform the commandments initially for their sake. Subsequently, they will come to realize that one should fulfill the commandments for their own intrinsic worth and good.[1] According to this, Boaz told Ruth, May the ETERNAL repay you for your [good] deeds.


God will reward your good deeds, but the truth is: and may your reward be complete from the ETERNAL, that the primary reward is actually being under Whose wing you have come to seek refuge -which is the ultimate reward that has no shortcomings at all. Perhaps this is what Rav Chasa was referring to when he said, under Whose wing, etc. -this is truly the fundamental "reward" for all that Ruth had done.





(10)Then she fell on her face and spread out on the ground and said to him, “Why is it that I have found favor in your eyes so that you take notice of me? I am but a stranger.

(11)Boaz answered her saying, “It has been repeatedly told to me how much you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband; how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth and went to a nation you knew nothing of the day before last.

(12)“May God recompense you for your work. May your reward from the Lord, God of Israel, under whose wing you have come to seek refuge, be complete.”


First we will take a look at verse 10: the Hebrew word gusn seems out of place here. It is generally used when a complaint is being registered for some wrong or injustice, as in the question, “Why have you done such a thing?” The correct adverb in this case should be lht: “How is it that I have found favor...” Besides, it is hardly courteous of a person who has ‘found favor’ to ask, Why? Ruth should have expressed her delight at pleasing Boaz. Moreover, by adding . . .so that you take notice of me, she seems to have lauded herself for the fact that Boaz had honored her by taking notice of her.


Turning to verse 11, why the double term sdv sdv? It is interesting that Boaz did not mention anything of her past life when he began speaking to her (verse 8). Why did he wait until now? And why does he mention the death of her husband? Why did he find it necessary to mention her homeland since he had praised her for leaving her parents, who were dearer to her than her country?


In verse 12 Boaz blesses Ruth. Does she need blessings? Of course God will pay her as she deserves! Is anyone to claim that God’s reward will Not be complete? Has God ever given a man less than he is entitled to?


An Indication of Her Modesty


Ruth was grateful to Boaz for his kind words and bowed down to him. The Talmud (Berachoth 34b) points out that ‘vshf means bowing down on one’s face, while the term ‘vhuj,av denotes spreading the hands and feet on the ground. Thus, for ‘vshf’ the text has vhbp kg kup,u, She fell on her face. Subsequently, vmrt uj,a,u, she spread out [her hands and feet] on the ground.


We can also see how modest a woman she was. Had she spread herself out on the ground immediately, parts of her legs might have been revealed. So she fell on her face first, and only then did she slowly spread herself out, ensuring that even her ankles remained covered.


Why Did Ruth Command Respect?


Why didn’t Ruth protest against the youth who had slandered and belittled her? Moreover, she had the right to remonstrate with Boaz himself for not berating his servant for his malicious outburst. She would have been justified had she asked: “Why have you acted in this manner? Is it proper of you?” However, she did no such thing. On the contrary, she said to herself: “I am surprised at finding favor in his eyes and that he takes so much notice of me. How is it that he has been so courteous towards me? I would expect to be treated with contempt, by the way the overseer regarded me, for I am only a stranger here. I have no complaint against him or against Boaz.” So her question is: “What have I done that you accord me such respect?” 


The adverb gusn is not out of place in these circumstances.It is an expression of surprise at the way Boaz regarded her. She had not expected it. Instead of retorting, “How dare that boy speak such lies? Why don’t you rebuke him?” she was overwhelmed by the respect shown to her. She thus asked, “Why do I deserve so much recognition? A stranger like me does not expect to be shown any courtesy.” 


Alternatively, her intention was to convey the following to Boaz: “There is little reason to doubt the words of the overseer, but you, Boaz, refuse to accept his story. Not only that, but you have won me over with your kind words. Maybe it is because you believe me to be the one who is destined to derive from Moab? But, how do you know it is me? What have I done to have found favor in your eyes? Have I acted so modestly? Maybe that is only because I am a stranger here and it is not a true reflection of my character. Would that my modest ways reflect my natural behavior! As it is, my behavior is attributed to the fact that I am a newcomer; no one believes it to be my natural self.” Boaz answered her saying. Here, too, we encounter the double expression rnthu...ighu, answered...saying. In chapter one we explained this as denoting a raising of one’s voice. There, too, Boaz raised his voice so that all those within hearing distance could hear him laud her praiseworthy qualities and model character. Furthermore, he did not want any bystander to run away with the idea that they were carrying on some private conversation together.


Boaz Apologizes


Firstly, Boaz apologized for his servant’s outburst. He explained to Ruth that the boy meant no harm but wished to prevent his master who was the elder and leader of his people from marrying such a girl as she, since people might say that his heart was captivated by what his eyes beheld. Thus, Boaz replied to her: “As you have said, it is unusual for me to take notice of a stranger like you. However, I have been repeatedly told about you.”


Note that the text has hk, it has been repeatedly told ‘to me.’ Boaz meant to apologize on the lad’s behalf: “Only I have been told about you and not my servant. I have acted on what I heard. He did not know anything about you and is not to blame for what he did.”


How could Boaz defend his servant in this way? Wasn’t Ruth’s story common knowledge in Bethlehem? Shouldn’t the overseer have known all about her by now?


Double Expression Double Meaning


This might help us to understand the double expression sdv sdv. The first sdv denotes that Boaz had heard a long story comprising many details about Ruth. The second sdv indicates that he had heard her story repeatedly so that it became impressed on his mind. The overseer had heard only rumors and gossip; thus, he hardly thought the matter to be worthy of attention.


“I became convinced,” said Boaz, “of your pure intentions. It was not ‘said’ to me (vrhnt) but it was ‘told’ to me (vsdv), so that I accepted it as the truth.”


Boaz Controverts His Servant’s Report


Boaz clearly refuted every single one of his servant’s lies, thus showing Ruth that he had not accepted any of the accusations leveled against her. However, he referred to matters concerning her alone, although his servant had alluded to Boaz himself. For instance, he had made a point of mentioning that she was a vrgb, a young woman. This may not have been a derogatory title for Ruth, but it was an attempt to dissuade Boaz, who was much older than she, from contemplating marriage.


The overseer called her ‘a Moabitess.’ Boaz contradicted this by saying: “I have heard how much you have done for your mother-in-law. It would have been quite normal for you to treat her with disdain, for mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law rarely get along well together.” (In fact, the Talmud [Yebamoth 117a] explains certain Biblical laws as being based on this phenomenon.)[2] “You obviously did not act kindly towards her just to gain favor with your husband, since you did so after your husband’s death. Not only immediately after his death, when it may be claimed that you did so out of deference for his wishes, but even laht ,un hrjt long after the death of your husband. Had you been a true ‘Moabitess’ at heart, you would never have acted as you did, for it was the Moabites …who did not greet you [the Israelites] with bread and water (Deuteronomy 23:5) on their way to the Land of Israel, and they could hardly be called a compassionate people. You have shown yourself to be an Israelite, for you do not have the traits of a Moabitess.”


The overseer had attempted to downgrade Ruth by saying that she had returned with Na’omi. He was insinuating that her reasons for coming to Judah were not pure or for the sake of Heaven; she merely followed Na’omi. Boaz countered this allegation by saying, You left your father and your mother.


Why Did Ruth Really Leave Moab?


Many reasons could given to explain why Ruth followed Na’omi, besides her wish to live as a Jew: (1) She wanted Na’omi to care for her needs and wants. (2) She loved Na’omi and desired to be in her company. (3) She wanted to leave Moab after all the misfortune she had suffered there, so she followed her mother-in-law when she decided to leave. (4) She hoped that Na’omi would repay her for the kindness she had shown her.


Boaz referred to all four reasons, refuting them one by one: “I believe that your intentions were pure and you did not follow Na’omi for any purpose other than to serve God.”


You left your father. “Who is more suitable than a father to care for your needs and wants?”


And your Mother. “Is there anyone an unmarried woman loves more than her own mother? Who is better company for you than she?”


And the land of your birth. “Even if you had suffered misfortunes in your hometown, there are plenty of other places to settle in Moab. Yet you left your country behind entirely.”


And went to a nation you knew nothing about... “You did not rely merely on Na’omi for sustenance. You had to have faith in a people you knew nothing of. You were not to know that you would be able to sustain yourself with gifts for the poor. Thus, you were totally reliant on God, because you love Him and have chosen to devote your life to Him. Your coming here was solely for Heaven’s sake and is considered a great mitzvah. Consequently, you will come to no harm, as the Talmud says (Pesachim 8b), “Those sent to perform a religious duty or commandment do not suffer harm.”


You have come to seek refuge under His wing. “Though your husband died to atone for the sin of marrying you, a Moabitess, you need not worry, for you have come to shelter under God’s wing and are like a newly born babe.” (see Talmud Yebamoth 22a: “A convert is considered like a newly born”.)


The overseer further accused Ruth of constantly looking for ways to steal stalks from the sheaves. In addition, he alleged that she preferred to be out in the fields rather than in the house. These lies were so obvious that Boaz felt no need to refute them. Everyone could see that she had not taken the gleanings unlawfully. She had stayed in the field all day precisely for this reason — to make sure she wasn’t cheating by taking three stalks at a time instead of two. Thus, it took her longer to go through a field than anyone else.


True Reward Is Only Heaven-Sent


May God recompense you for your work. Boaz meant to say: “Do not pay attention to the overseer’s words. You may feel that you have a right to complain, for even if he didn’t bless you, there was no need to curse you! (cf. Numbers 23:25). Do you really expect any reward from man? You worked for God’s sake and He will give you your due reward.”


Ruth may still have felt that she had cause for complaint: “I do not expect to receive any reward from man, but at least let him leave me alone, for I don’t need his disparaging remarks either.”


Following this, Boaz added: May your reward be complete. These words can be explained with a story.[3] There was a certain Rabbi who would distribute alms to the poor. Once, during the course of his work, he gave a poor man some money and was promptly blessed. The Rabbi walked away crestfallen. Later, he gave another man money, but this man reviled him, and the Rabbi’s face lit up with happiness. His disciples, who had witnessed this strange behavior, asked for an explanation. He answered that for the thanks he had received, his merit for the good deed had been reduced. However, when he suffered derision, the credits had been increased.


Boaz used a similar argument when addressing Ruth: “Even if you suffer degradation, let it not bother you, for your reward will now be complete no credits will have been spent in this world. Had you been received kindly and treated with respect, you would have lost some of the Heavenly bliss that is due to you. Once you chose to shelter under God’s wing, you were, in effect, proclaiming your intention to rely solely on Him and not on your fellowman. Hence, don’t expect any gracious treatment from them and don’t pay heed to anything they say about you.”


Alternatively, Boaz may have intended the following: “Don’t be afraid of losing any merit because of what I have done for your sake; God will repay you for your work. Since so much evil has been said about you, you will receive your reward in full.”


Ruth Severed Her Connections with Moab


You went to a nation you knew nothing of. The word hfk,u, and you went, is used instead of the more appropriate ,fkk, as a result of which the verse would have been rendered, “you left your parents to go to


The meaning here is: “Even while you were still in Moab you decided to cut off your ties with them since you abhorred their way of life. Their people were not your people and their god, not your God. Only later did you go to join a nation which you knew nothing of. Hence, you didn’t leave them in order to go to another people, but because you detested them and their ways.”


With this we can understand the clause: ,uxjk ,tc rat, you came to seek refuge. Boaz meant to say: “You did not change from being a Moabitess to a Jewess just by coming here. This transformation had been accomplished long before you arrived in Judah. Now you only came to shelter under God’s wing. For only in the Land of Israel can you consider yourself as being under God’s protective infiuence.”[4]


Boaz Hints at the Emergence of Solomon


Let us return to verse 11 and the double expression, sdv sdv.’ The Midrash (Ruth Rabbah 5:4 and commentaries ad loc.) relates that Boaz spoke to Ruth with Divine inspiration. When he said  vnka l,rfan hv,u, and your reward will be complete, there is a play on words, for he was hinting that as a reward for her labors, she would have a descendant by the name of vnka,” i.e., King Solomon. They further said (ibid. 5:6) that when he told Ruth ufu okv had, Come here... (verse 14), he was alluding to the monarchy which would emanate from her, since the word okv has connotations of royalty.[5] With his words ojkv in ,kftu, and eat of the bread..., he meant to say, “eat of the ‘bread’ of royalty.”[6]


When Boaz measured out six measures of barley (see 3:15) he was alluding to six descendants of hers who would be blessed with six blessings (Talmud Sanhedrin 93b).


The Targum on verse 11 adds into Boaz’s words: “And it has been told to me through a prophetic vision that because you were kind to your mother-in-law, your descendants will be kings and prophets.”


Where does the Targum derive this from? It is not in any way implied in the text! The Sages learn it by applying the expository principle of gezerah shavah, i.e., similar words in different contexts clarify one another. Boaz says sdv sdv, It has been repeatedly told to me. In I Samuel 10:16 we find the same double expression again: ubk shdv sdv, He told us certainly.. .The verse ends with the words, tk vfuknv rcs ,tu ktuna rnt rat uk shdv, But of the matter of the kingdom he did not tell what Samuel had said.


Thus, we see that the expression is used in connection with kings and prophets, for the verse speaks of King Saul and Samuel the prophet. The same applies here. Boaz is ‘told’ that Ruth is the ‘good dove’ who will emanate from Moab and, through a levirate marriage, the spirit within her will be redeemed, paving the way for her to become the progenitress of kings and prophets.


Now to explain the verse in full. Ruth was not so much surprised by the malicious talk of the overseer as by the kind words expressed by Boaz. The way the overseer treated her was to be expected, since she was a stranger and he was within his rights to hold her under suspicion. She made her feelings known to Boaz and he replied: “I but not the overseer was told two things about you which will explain why I have accorded you so much respect. Firstly, I heard how you dealt kindly with your mother-in-law. Secondly, I have heard through Divine inspiration that the spirit of Machlon lives on within you.”


Boaz Puts Ruth at Ease


Note that Boaz says ...for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. With this he implied that Na’omi was considered a ‘mother-in-law’ even after Machlon’s death, because her son’s spirit lived on within Ruth.


Boaz’s words can be understood as follows: “Do not be surprised if I show favor to you, Ruth. I ignored the overseer’s remarks, because if you were really a ‘Moabitess,’ the spirit of Machlon could never have rested inside you, for the pure cannot mix with the impure.


“Even before you converted to your new faith you were imbued with a unique soul, and this enables your body to be a suitable receptacle for the spirit of your husband. These two things that I have heard about you are ample proof that you do not deserve the title of ‘Moabitess.’


“The overseer also insinuated that you had only returned to Judah with Na’omi because of your attachment to her and not for Heaven’s sake. I disregarded this accusation because you left both your father and your mother. It is hardly likely that you prefer the company of your mother-in-law to theirs, especially since it is unnatural for mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law to get along well together.


“The overseer hinted at the fact that you had returned with Na’omi alone, i.e., your husbands (and her children) had died on account of their sins and this was meant as a warning that no good would come of my marriage to a Moabitess such as you. In my opinion, however, they were punished for leaving the Land of Israel to go to Moab. You, on the other hand, have left Moab to come to the Land of Israel!


“He further alleged that you, together with Na’omi, had journeyed a long distance without male escorts, implying that you were quite probably assaulted by rogues waiting along the way. It is highly unlikely that anything happened to you, God forbid, for your destination was a nation whom you knew nothing about... Thus, your journey itself was a mitzuah, and no harm could have come to you.”


Ruth’s Reward


Boaz said that she did not know of the people the day before last. This implies that before that time, i.e., long ago, she did know of their faith! Here he was alluding to the fact that Ruth was the reincarnated form of Lot’s elder daughter (see verses 3-4). Thus, in her time, she knew Abraham, her father’s relative. This then is what is meant by the words, whom you knew not the day before last: “As a Moabitess, you did not know of Israel, but long ago you knew of Abraham. Your soul, which remembered its relationship with the Jewish People, yearned to return once again. God will repay you for the act you did when you lay with your father Lot, since your intention was to produce holy offspring. Had you not converted to Judaism, you would have received some measure of reward as befits a gentile. But now that you are a full-fledged Jewess, He will recompense you in full, for through you, a perfect soul will be formed by God, the Lord of Israel, under whose wings you sought refuge.”


Note that the phrase l,rfan hv,u, May your reward..., is in the feminine form (the masculine would be lrfa hvhu). This denotes that the reward would be a holy soul - apb, soul, is a feminine word which would emanate from her on account of her decision to seek refuge under the wings of God. Hence, the verse can be understood thus: “Your reward be complete, for it i.e., a holy soul — will be formed by God, the Lord of Israel.”



[1] See Pesachim 30a, R. Yehudah said, " A person should always engage in Torah and its commandments even if not for their own sake, because ultimately one will grow from doing them not for their own sake to doing them for their own sake."

[2] Everyone is considered trustworthy to bear witness against her except for her mother-in-law...

[3] The Aishich gives the Talmud as the source for this story. As yet, it has not been found.

[4] There does not seem to be any clear reference to this concept among the writings of our Sages. It is possible that the Alshich bases his words on a Zohar, (Volume 1, 108b), in which it is written that every nation and every land has its supervising angel, appointed by God. Only the Land of Israel was left under His Divine guidance. The Ramban on Leviticus 18:25 speaks of thi at length. He adds that this is the intended meaning of the declaration of our Sages: “Anyone who does not live in- the Land of Israel is considered as if he has no God.” See also Ramban on Genesis 46:15 and on Exodus at the end of Parashath Bo; and the Or HaChayim on Deuteronomy 26:17.


R. Yoel Sirkis (the Bach) in his commentary to Ruth, Meshiv Nefesh, 1:16, quotes this concept of the Alshich but explains it in an entirely different manner. I quote: The Alshich writes that the spiritual value of a person while he is in a foreign land cannot be compared to the worth of one who lives in the Land of Israel. The source for all Jewish souls is under the wings of the Divine Presence above. His influence spreads to the soul of man in this world, thus binding him to his God, and this gives him ‘life.’ When a man lives in the Land of Israel, which is directly beneath the Heavenly Land, his soul has a much stronger bond to God, for the atmosphere of the Land is holy, thus enabling the influence from above to permeate it, and therefore providing the soul with a higher level of spirituality. He is considered whole and perfect, for his soul lacks nothing from its source above. A man who lives in a foreign land, however, is at a disadvantage, for the air of these lands is impure, and it acts as a partition between him and the holy influence of his source above. How can he expect a spiritual influence to pervade this atmosphere of impurity without losing some of its value before it reaches his soul on earth? Thus, there is no direct link between his soul and its source. It is , however, more likely that the Alshich intended the explanation proposed by the Zohar and Ramban.

[5] The Midrash derives this from King David’s words in II Samuel 7:18, oukv hb,uthcv hf,You have brought me this far.

[6] As it is written vnka ojk hvhu, Solomon’s provisions were. ..(I Kings 5:2).