Ruth 2:19




s±™Ź*Ż•u Lť×r7c L„2rh1ƒ*n h‚1vşh ,h`Ü!a7g v¶b±7tşu «o¨œ8v }Ż}y‹8ż1k v`«ph2t š®7,¨n4j š«7k »r#nt`Ż•u   yh

:z*g`c o¨„œ8v ¨ˆŒ!g h!,h`‡!a7g r«#A4t «Ah!t7v o‹2A r#nt`ˇŻ•u ¨ÜŒ!g «v7,`}a7g‘r#A4t ,‹2t šˇ7,¨n4j8k









and she asked




to her




her mother-in-law








you gleaned




the day




and at where




you worked




may he be




one noticing you




being blessed




and she told




to her mother-in-law












she worked




with him




and she said




name of




the man








I worked




with him




the day










2:19 And her mother-in-law said to her, Where did you glean today? Blessed be the place in which you were and the man in whose eyes you have found favor. And she told her mother-in-law where she had been, and said, The man’s name in whose field I gleaned today is Boaz.


Stone’s Translation


2:19 “Where did you glean today?” her mother-in-law asked her. “Where did you work? May the one that took (such generous] notice of you be blessed. “So she told her mother-in-law by whom she had worked, and said, “The name of the man by whom I worked today is Boaz.”




2:19 And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought to day [is] Boaz.    



Ruth 2:19 kai; ei\pen aujth'/ hJ penqera; aujth'" pou' sunevlexa" shvmeron kai; pou' ejpoivhsa" ei[h oJ ejpignouv" se

eujloghmevno" kai; ajphvggeilen Rouq th'/ penqera'/ aujth'" pou' ejpoivhsen kai; ei\pen to; o[noma tou' ajndrov" meq! ou| ejpoivhsa shvmeron Boo"


Ruth 2:19 And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today, and where did you work? Blessed be he who noticed you.” And Ruth related to her mother-in-law where she worked, and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boöz.” 



Peshat Level:




2:19 And her mother-in-law said to her: "Where did you glean today? Where did you win favor to work? May the man who showed himself friendly to you be blessed." And she told her mother-in-law with whom she had won the favor to work. "The name of the man with whom I won favor today is Boaz," she said.




2:19  May the one who took notice of you be blessed  (I.e.,) the owner of the field who acted graciously with you (lit., who raised and gave (his) face to you) (and permitted you) to glean in his field.



Gemarah Level:



Midrash Level:


Midrash Rabbah


Ruth V:9 AND HER MOTHER-IN-LAW SAID UNTO HER: WHERE HAST THOU GLEANED TO-DAY? (ib. 19). It was taught in the name of R. Joshua: More than the householder does for the poor man does the poor man do for the householder, for Ruth said to Naomi: THE MAN'S NAME FOR WHOM I WROUGHT TO-DAY. She did not say, ‘who wrought for me,’ but FOR WHOM I WROUGHT. I wrought him many benefits in return for the one morsel of food which he gave me. R. Jose said: ya'an ubeya'an; the word ya'an (because) has the same letters as ’ani (a poor man). R. Shiloh of Noveh said: Your wealth depends upon the poor man. R. Nahman said: It is written, Because that (bigelal) for this thing the Lord thy God will bless thee in all thy work: (Deuteronomy XV, 10) it [poverty] is a wheel (galgal) which comes round to all in the world, like the wheel of a pump which empties that which is full and fills that which is empty. Bar Kappara said: There is no man who does not come to this state [poverty], and if he does not his son does, and if not his son, his grandson. It was taught: R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: The vengeance taken of the idolatrous nations will be on account of Israel, while the vengeance taken of Israel will be on account of their poor. The vengeance taken of the idolatrous nations will be on account of Israel, as it is said, And I will lay My vengeance upon Edom by the hand of My people Israel  (Ezek. XXV, 14); the vengeance taken of Israel will be on account of their poor, as it is said, And he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin in thee  (Deuteronomy XV, 9). R. Abun said: The poor man stands at your door, and the Holy One, blessed be He, stands at his right hand. If you give unto him, He who stands at his right hand will bless you, but if not, He will exact punishment from you, as it is said, Because He standeth at the right hand of the needy  (Psalm CIX, 31). R. Abbahu said: We should be grateful even to the impostors among them. It has been stated: R. Johanan and Resh Lakish went down to bathe in the public baths of Tiberias, and a poor man accosted them. He said to them, ‘Give me something.’ They answered, ‘When we come out we will give it.’ When they came out they found him dead. They said: ' Since we did not assist him during his life, let us attend to him after his death.’ When they arose from washing his body, they found a purse of dinars by him, and they said: ' It is well.’ Whereupon R. Abbahu said: ‘We should be grateful even to the impostors among them, for were it not for the impostors among them, were a man to see a beggar begging alms and refuse him, he would be punished with death immediately.’



Zohar Level:



Other Commentaries:


Me’am Lo’ez


2:19 Her mother-in-law said to her, “Where have you picked today and where have you wrought? May your benefactor be blessed.”


She told her mother-in-law for whom she had wrought, and she said, “The name of the man for whom I wrought [by whom I worked] today is Boaz.”


Astonished at the amount of clean grain Ruth had brought home, Naomi spoke quickly and excitedly, the thoughts tumbling out one after another.


“Where did you pick so much grain?” she asked. “What field owner gave you a free hand to pick, treated you with dignity, and even allowed you the rare privilege of beating out your grain in his field? Blessed be the one who welcomed you as if he were lrhfn your friend or relative.”


[Naomi’s second question, ,hag vbtu, is generally explained as refer­ring to Ruth rather than to her benefactor.]


“How long (tbt sg)—as in hbumtbh tbt sg, ‘how long will [this people] despise me?’ (Numbers 14:11)—did it take you to pick all of this?” To which Ruth replied, ouhv, all day.”


“In one day it is impossible to gather so much grain through peah, leket, and shikechah. Did you perhaps work for wages?” And Ruth answered that she had worked for Boaz, who already had many workers and evidently hired her out of kindness.


“You have garnered much grain! You are truly a woman of valor who eats not the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27), and you will be a blessing to the man who will take notice of you and become your husband.”


Ruth modestly objected, however, that the credit went not to her industriousness but to the extraordinary generosity of Boaz.


Recognizing God’s blessing in the abundance of grain, Naomi wondered whether it had come on account of the righteous Ruth or the generosity of her benefactor. In case the blessing had come because of Ruth, she asked, “Where have you picked, so that I may pray that the benefactor be blessed as well?” And if it had been on account of the owner of the field, she asked “Where have you wrought?” Ruth modest­ly replied that it had come on account of Boaz, for “the generous of eye shall be blessed” (Proverbs 22:9).


Or else, realizing that Ruth could not have simply picked so much, Naomi concluded that she must have accepted the gift of lrhfn, a relative, and Naomi blessed him for his generosity.


Ruth named the field owner, but tactfully pretended not to know he was a relative in order to play down the embarrassing fact that Naomi’s kinsman had seen her daughter-in-law picking with the paupers.


Our sages note that instead of saying that Boaz had wrought for her, Ruth spoke of “the man for whom I wrought” They thus infer that “More than the householder does for the pauper, the pauper does for the householder.” For in return for the charity he gives, the householder receives God’s blessing.


Furthermore, from the verse, “Deal your bread to the hungry, and the cast-out poor bring to your home” (Isaiah 58:7), our sages conclude that if a householder is worthy, his charity goes to the hungry and saves lives; if not, it goes to the less poor. Since Naomi and Ruth had arrived in Bethlehem on the point of starvation, Ruth’s benefactor had acquired the merit of saving a life, and was sure to be greatly blessed.


When therefore Ruth identified Boaz as her benefactor, Naomi exclaimed, “Thank God that he was the one so privileged!”


Abraham Ibn Ezra





19. Questions: Why did Naomi repeat herself, asking both, Where did you gather today and where did you work? Ruth's words, The name of the man for whom I did [this], are seemingly superfluous.


19. Her mother-in-law asked her. The food which Ruth had given to her indicated that she had done some kind of special work for an individual (and had not gathered leket) who paid her with bread and parched grain. However, the amount of leket she brought back attested to her having gleaned the entire day (and not doing any special work for an individual). Therefore, Naomi said, Where did you gather today? -that you could have gathered so much leket?


Where did you work? For you must have been employed by someone who gave you food as your wage (food was not normally provided for the gleaners of leket). Naomi's only possible conclusion was that someone had recognized her dire situation and given her the meal as an act of kindness, for Ruth had found favor in his eyes.


"May the one who befriended you be blessed." She told her mother-in-law what she had done for [this man]. Ruth explained to Naomi what she had done (worked) for [this man]. Boaz had communicated to Ruth that by virtue of the kindness she had performed for her mother-in-law and her conversion to Judaism, she had found favor in his eyes. Therefore, he had given her food, for what she had done for Naomi and for herself [her conversion] were in his eyes as if she had done him a favor and a meritorious deed. Ruth elucidated her comment by saying, "The name of the man for whom I did [this] was Boaz." Since he is a judge of Israel, these actions are considered by him as a personal tribute and service.




(19)Her mother-in-law said to her, “Where have you gleaned today? And where did you work? May the one who acknowledged you be blessed!” Ruth then related to her mother-in-law what she had done. She said, “The name of the man whom I worked with today is Boaz.”


The first question Na’omi asked her, Where have you gleaned today? seems rather bland, since what good is it to know where she gleaned? A better question would have been: In whose field did you glean? Is he a righteous person or not? The second question, Where did you work? is altogether superfluous. What information is being sought here that has not already been included in the first question?


The Hebrew ,hag vbtu would usually be translated as “where have you done?” The verb vag seems out of place here where the subject is gleaning a field.


Also confusing is the fact that Na’omi asked Ruth questions but blessed her benefactor before she heard any answers. Ruth’s reply is just as perplexing, as it does not answer Na‘omi’s question. Instead of telling her where she had been, she told Na’oani what she had done, and she went further by supplying the name of her benefactor, although Na’omi didn’t request it.


It may be argued that when Na’omi said that his name should be blessed, she was hinting at her desire to know his identity, but this does not explain why she ignored the other queries. In addition, since Ruth’s benefactor was the topic of their conversation, the correct clause should be, “She told her mother-in-law about how well he had treated her,” vng vag rat ,t


Another perplexing point is the double mention of the word ouhv, today, first by Naomi and then by Ruth, who had not been gleaning on any other day. Lastly, there is the apparently redundant addition of the word rnt,u, she said. Ruth was in the process of speaking to her mother-in-law, so why the need to add she said?


Before we proceed to explain the verse it is necessary to cite two teachings from our Sages.


The Best Form of Charity


The Midrash (Ruth Rabbah 5:9) points out that instead of the words ung h,hag I have worked with him, the text shouldt have read, vng vag (he had worked with her) as we mentioned earlier. The reason why it prefers the former is to teach us that “more than the householder does for the poor man, the poor man does for the householder.” In other words, the dispenser of charity benefits spiritually on account of his good deed, while the poor man has only material gain from the money he has received.


We have further learned (Talmud Ta’anith 23b) that one who stays in the home and gives bread to the poor which they can enjoy immediately has a greater merit than one who gives them money to buy food, for the money itself is of no use; they must trouble themselves to change it for bread. This would explain why the rains came down on the side where Abba Chilkiya’s wife was praying before they fell on his side. Obviously, her merit was greater than his, as she fed the poor. Similarly, the Talmud relates the story of a man and his wife who would go out stealthily at night to throw money at the gates of the houses of the poor. One pauper wished to discover the identity of his nocturnal benefactors and attempted to follow them. However, they became aware of his presence and fled, with the poor man in hot pursuit. To save themselves from embarrassment, they jumped into a hot oven, but the man had to put his feet close to his wife’s feet to prevent them from being singed. Again, we see that the woman had the greater merit, and it was for her sake that a miracle was performed, because generally speaking the woman of the house actually feeds the poor while the man only gives them money.


Coming back to the passage in question, Na’omi took note of two things which seemed quite unusual. Firstly, Ruth had returned with a whole ephah of barley. Secondly, Boaz had given her a meager handful of parched grain for a meal. Boaz gained more by giving her parched grain, which was ready to eat, than by allowing her to glean, for the ears of grain had to be ground, kneaded and baked before they became edible.


What Ruth ‘Did’ for Boaz


Boaz gained more from Ruth in spiritual terms, for through her he had a charitable act to his name. All told, Ruth had done more for Boaz than Boaz for Ruth. Now we should have no problem in understanding why the verse has rat ung h,hag, which ‘I’ have done for ‘him.’ The word vag (to do or create), is employed because, as a result of the good deed an angel was created.


Na’omi might have told Ruth the following: “I have noticed that two strange things have occurred. You managed to gather an ephah of barley, which is a large amount for one day’s work. Secondly, you were given parched grain to eat. My question is twofold. Where did you glean today? How were you able to collect so much in just one day? Is that field blessed to the extent that a single stalk that is left amounts to so much, or is there perhaps some other reason?”


Note that the usual Hebrew for ‘where,’ vbt, is not used. The word vpht denotes that in her question she was hinting to the ephah of grain Ruth had gathered, since she thought it to be an unusually large amount.


Na’omi’s second question refers to the parched grain Ruth was given. “This was indeed a meritorious act by your benefactor. Where did you ‘do’ this? Who was the one who benefited spiritually by providing you with food? If he is righteous and acted solely for Heaven’s sake, then both of you played a part in this worthy deed. If, on the other hand, he intended only to find favor in your eyes, and was attracted by your beauty, you did him a great kindness, for, by accepting the food from him, he gained much credit. Since his intentions were not pure, however, he has forgone the opportunity to take advantage of this and was not able to ‘create’ a holy angel.”


Na’omi’s question to Ruth was: “Where did you work? Was it in a suitable place; for a worthy man, or not? I sincerely hope that your benefactor is a man who is fit to be blessed and that you did not have to accept food from one whose actions do not deserve to be blessed.”


She told her mother-in-law... Ruth related the whole story of her day in the fields so that Na’omi’s mind could be put at rest. She would realize that Ruth’s benefactor was indeed a righteous man whose intentions were for Heaven and not for personal gain. Thus, Ruth emphasized that she had worked with him — they had both played a part in effecting this great mitzvah. He began the deed by offering her food, and she completed it by accepting it, thus ensuring that Boaz would receive credit for his charitable act. All this was made known to Na’omi when Ruth told her of Boaz’s gentle manner, piety and kindness.


The Origin of the Name ‘Boaz’


To consolidate her opinion of Boaz, Ruth sought to demonstrate Boaz’s outstanding qualities to Na’omi. Before we proceed, let us examine the Targum’s rendering of a later verse (4:21), Salmon bore Ivtzan. “Ivtzan,” says the Targum, “was a prince named Boaz, the righteous man in whose merit Israel was delivered from her enemies.


The Targum had a difficulty to contend with. Why was Ivtzan’s name changed to Boaz? Two reasons are given: (1) He saved Israel from the sword of her enemies. (2) He saved her from perishing in famine by praying on her behalf. He was a source of “strength” for Israel (the word for strength in Hebrew is zg). The letter c, which has the numerical value of 2, was added to the word zg to signify that he had been strong in two ways, as we have seen. Thus, his name became zgc.


Ruth told Na’omi: “I have further proof that my benefactor is righteous and I joined together with him to effect a great mitzvah. The name of the man whom I worked with ‘today’ is Boaz, and not Ivtzan as it was previously, as his name was changed because of the great things he did for Israel. I therefore assert that I brought about a mitzvah with him and not alone, since his pure and holy intentions have turned a plain act of giving into a meritorious act of charity.”


On hearing this, Na’omi acknowledged that Boaz was indeed a man who was blessed by God (see verse 20).


‘Days’ of Substance?


The verse can be explained slightly differently, although along similar lines. The Zohar (Volume 1,99a) explains the verses The days drew near for Israel to die (Genesis 47:29), The days drew near for David... (I Kings 2:1) as follows: “The ‘days’ which have been lived by a righteous person and have been used for Torah and good deeds become entities of substance so that when man leaves this world they ‘draw near’to testify on his behalf before God.”


In our verse Na’omi alluded to this concept mentioned in the Zohar. Her question to Ruth was: “Where, in this world, did you gather a ‘day?’ Have your actions successfully been able to create a tangible ‘day’ that will, in the next world, testify for you? Were your intentions and those of your benefactor entirely for Heaven’s sake? Or were both your intentions mundane and devoid of spiritual value, in which case your ‘day’ of work will not endure eternally?”


May the one who acknowledged you be blessed. “If your benefactor was righteous, and he was kind to you because he saw that you, too, are a pious woman and worthy of producing holy offspring, then may he be blessed, for he certainly acted for Heaven’s sake.”


Ruth recounted all that had transpired that day, showing that a holy deed had resulted from their joint efforts, and that Boaz was a great and holy man.


She told Na’omi, “Know that the name of the person who helped me to create this ‘day’ is Boaz and this ‘day’ will endure eternally. Moreover, not only part of the day but the whole ‘day’ was involved in performing good deeds.” In the morning Boaz spoke gently to her and consoled her. Later, he ensured that she would be protected from harm by instructing his workers to look after her and not touch her. At mealtime, he found her a place at his table and provided her with food. Then he instructed his workers that she be allowed to take even from the sheaves. Hence, throughout the day, he was being good to her. Since she was the subject of his benevolence, she, too, played a role in his good deeds. Thus, she was able to say: Which I did ‘with’ him today.


We find a similar concept in the law of a Nazir (see Numbers, chapter 6). A person who undertakes the Nazirite vow must stay away from unclean sources for thirty days. If he does come into contact with an unclean object within that time, he must begin counting again, as Scripture tells us: The previous days shall be lost because his Naziriteship has been defiled (Numbers 6:12). The question is: Wouldn’t it have been more correct to say, “The person’s days are not

reckoned...” (ucajh tk). However, since he had shown a willingness to accept the yoke of the Nazirite upon himself, the days of abstention acquire a unique spiritual greatness. Now that he has come into contact with uncleanliness, those days have lost their value, and they have ‘fallen’ from the spiritual heights to which they had ascended Since the ‘crown’ (rzb) of holiness had been defiled, those days lost their value.


Ruth, in her wisdom, wished to impress upon Na’omi how great was the mitzvah which had been effected between herself and Boaz. She said, The name of the man together with whom I made a ‘day’ is Boaz. She meant to say that the two of them were responsible for giving the ‘day’ a spiritual substance so that it could endure forever.