The Story - Chapter 3

 

SECTION XXV

 

Ruth 3:1-5

 

Text:

 

:L7k‘c*yhh r‚#A4t 8j„b7n Lˆ7k‘A38c4t t‡4v h›!1c š7,n4j h!n^gb š„7k r#nt`‚•u   t

oh„!r`g}8v i#r`‚‘,#t vˆ#r`z tv‘v™1v uh7,r4g•b‘,#t ,h„h7v r‚#A4t b7}g8s`n z*g`c t‚4v v7*gu   c

:v7kh78v

Ah!t7k h!g0s!‘k*t i#r`׏8v [}0s*rhu] h}0s*rhu Lh„8k7g [Lhˆ*,}n`!a] Lˆ! *,}n`!a }}n`‡*au | }0m8j7ru   d

:,}A1ku k`‚f%t3k „,8ƒ s‚*g }0f8xu

h}0c7f7Au uh„7,}r*n ,h‚1du ,tˆ7c o7A‘c8ƒ}Ah r#A4t oe7Œ8v‘,#t }*g8shu c0f7A0c h1vhu   s

:ih`!a4g* r‚#A4t ,„2t L7k shЏ•h tvu [}0c7f7Au]

:v`#a%g#t [h„8k2t] „8 2  h‚!r}nt`‘r#A4t k`ˆƒ 7vh3k2t r#nt`„•u   v

 

Targum:

 

TANAKH

Translation

SEPTUAGINT

Translation

r#nt`‚•u

and she said

 

 

š„7k

to her

 

 

h!n^gb

Naomi

 

 

š7,n4j

her mother-in-law

 

 

h›!1c

my daughter

 

 

t‡4v

not

 

 

‘A38c4t

I should seek

 

 

Lˆ7k

for you

 

 

8j„b7n

rest

 

 

r‚#A4t

where

 

 

‘c*yhh

he will be good

 

 

:L7k

for you

 

 

v7*gu

and now

 

 

t‚4v

not

 

 

z*g`c

Boaz

 

 

b7}g8s`n

kinsman of us

 

 

r‚#A4t

whom

 

 

,h„h7v

you are

 

 

‘,#t

with

 

 

uh7,r4g•b

his servant girls

 

 

‘v™1v

behold

 

 

tv

he

 

 

vˆ#r`z

winnowing

 

 

‘,#t

 

 

 

i#r`‚

threshing floor of

 

 

oh„!r`g}8v

the barleys

 

 

:v7kh78v

the night

 

 

}0m8j7ru

And you wash

 

 

}0f8xu

and you perfume

 

 

}}n`‡*au

and you put on

 

 

Lˆ! *,}n`!a

your clothes

 

 

[Lhˆ*,}n`!a]

 

 

 

Lh„8k7g

on you

 

 

h}0s*rhu

and you go down

 

 

[}0s*rhu]

 

 

 

i#r`׏8v

the threshing floor

 

 

‘k*t

not

 

 

h!g0s!

you make yourself known

 

 

Ah!t7k

to the man

 

 

s‚*g

until

 

 

„,8ƒ

to finish him

 

 

k`‚f%t3k

to eat

 

 

:,}A1ku

and to drink

 

 

h1vhu

and he will be

 

 

c0f7A0c

when to lie down him

 

 

}*g8shu

and you know

 

 

‘,#t

 

 

 

oe7Œ8v

the place

 

 

r#A4t

where

 

 

‘c8ƒ}Ah

he lies

 

 

o7A

there

 

 

,tˆ7c

and you go

 

 

,h‚1du

and you uncover

 

 

uh„7,}r*n

his feet

 

 

h}0c7f7Au

and you lie down

 

 

[}0c7f7Au]

 

 

 

tvu

and he

 

 

shЏ•h

he will tell

 

 

L7k

to you

 

 

,„2t

 

 

 

r‚#A4t

what

 

 

:ih`!a4g*

you must do

 

 

r#nt`„•u

and she said

 

 

7vh3k2t

to her

 

 

k`ˆƒ

all

 

 

‘r#A4t

that

 

 

8 2  h‚!r}nt`

you say

 

 

[h„8k2t]

to me

 

 

:v`#a%g#t

I will do

 

 

 

Peshitta

 

3:1 Then Naomi said to her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you?

 

3:2 And, behold, Boaz is our kinsman, with whose maidens you were; and behold, he is going to winnow barley tonight in the threshing floor.

 

3:3 Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself, and put on your best garments, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not show yourself to him until he has finished eating and drinking.

 

3:4 And it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall remember the place where he lies, and you shall draw near and lie down near his feet; and he will tell you what you shall do.

 

3:5 And she said to her, All that you say to me I will do.

 

Stones Translation

 

3:1 Naomi, her mother-in-law, said to her, My daughter, I must seek security for you, that it may go well with you.

 

3:2 Now, Boaz, our relative, with whose maidens you have been, will be winnowing barley tonight on the threshing floor.

 

3:3 Therefore, bathe and anoint yourself, don your finery, and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.

 

3:4 when he lies down, note the place where he lies, and go over, uncover his feet, and lie down. He will tell you what you are to do.

 

3:5 She replied All that you say to me I will do.

 

KJV

 

3:1 Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?

 

3:2 And now [is] not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.

 

3:3 Wash thy self therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: [but] make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.

 

3:4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.

 

3:5 And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.

 

Septuagint

Ruth 3:1 ei\pen de; aujth'/ Nwemin hJ penqera; aujth'" quvgater ouj mh; zhthvsw soi ajnavpausin i{na eu\ gevnhtaiv soi

Ruth 3:2 kai; nu'n oujci; Boo" gnwvrimo" hJmw'n ou| h\" meta; tw'n korasivwn aujtou' ijdou; aujto;" likma'/ to;n a{lwna tw'n kriqw'n tauvth/ th'/ nuktiv

Ruth 3:3 su; de; louvsh/ kai; ajleivyh/ kai; periqhvsei" to;n iJmatismovn sou ejpi; seauth'/ kai; ajnabhvsh/ ejpi; to;n a{lw mh; gnwrisqh'/" tw'/ ajndri; e{w" ou| suntelevsai aujto;n piei'n kai; fagei'n

Ruth 3:4 kai; e[stai ejn tw'/ koimhqh'nai aujtovn kai; gnwvsh/ to;n tovpon o{pou koima'tai ejkei' kai; ejleuvsh/ kai;

ajpokaluvyei" ta; pro;" podw'n aujtou' kai; koimhqhvsh/ kai; aujto;" ajpaggelei' soi a} poihvsei"

Ruth 3:5

ei\pen de; Rouq pro;" aujthvn pavnta o{sa eja;n ei[ph/" poihvsw

 

Ruth 3:1-5 Then Noemin her mother-in-law said to her, Daughter, shall I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? 2 And now, is not Boz our kinsman, whose young maidens you were with? Behold, he is winnowing barley at the threshing floor tonight. 3 Therefore you will wash and anoint your-self, and put clothing about yourself, and you will go up to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 And it shall be, when he lies down, that you will learn the place where he lies down; and you will go and uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will describe to you what you will do. 5 Then Ruth said to her, All that you shall say, I will do.

 

 

Peshat Level:

 

Targum

 

3:1 Naomi, her mother-in-law, said to her: "My daughter, I swear that I shall not rest until I have found comfort for you, that it might be well with you.

 

3:2 "Now, does not Boaz, our kinsman, with whose maidservants you were in the field, winnow barley at the threshing floor in the night breeze?

 

3:3 "Bathe yourself with water, anoint yourself with perfumes, and put on adornments; then go down to the threshing floor, but do not reveal your presence to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.

 

3:4 "When he lies down to sleep, however, mark the place where he sleeps; then go in, uncover his feet, and lie down yourself. Then ask advice of him, and in his wisdom he will tell you what to do."

 

3:5 And she responded: "I will do everything that you have told me."

 

Rashi

 

3:1 Our kinsman Our relative.

 

Behold he is winnowing The chaff, Vraner in O.F.

 

Tonight Because the generation was steeped (lit., unrestrained) in theft and robbery, he would sleep in his granary to guard his granary.

 

3:3 Therefore bathe (This verse is to be interpreted symbolically, i.e.,) from the filth of your (past) idolatry.

 

And anoint yourself These are precepts (a reference to Torah observance).

 

And put your garments (Your) Sabbath garments.

 

And go down to the threshing floor It is written h,srhu and I will go down, (meaning,) my merit will go down with you.

 

Do not make yourself known to the man (I.e.,) to Boaz.

 

 

Gemarah Level:

 

Talmud Babli

 

Chullin 91b And there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. Said R. Isaac: Hence [it is learnt] that a scholar should not go out alone at night. R. Abba b. Kahana said, [You can derive it] from the verse, Behold he winnoweth barley tonight in the threshing floor.

 

Yerushalami Peah 8:7 and go down to the threshing floor [What is the intent of (the written form): and I shall go down?] Naomi (as it were) said to her: My merit shall go down with you.

 

 

Midrash Level:

 

Midrash Rabbah

 

Ruth V:12 WASH THYSELF THEREFORE, AND ANOINT THEE (ib. 3). WASH THY SELF clean of thine idolatry. AND ANNOINT THEE refers to good deeds and righteous conduct. AND PUT THY RAIMENT UPON THEE. Was she then naked? It must refer to Sabbath garments. It was from this verse that R. Hanina said: A man should have two sets of garments, one for weekdays and one for Sabbath. And so did R. Simlai expound publicly, whereupon the scholars wept and said: As our raiment on weekdays, so is our raiment on the Sabbath. He said to them: It is nevertheless necessary to change.1AND GET THEE DOWN TO THE THRESHING- FLOOR. She said to her, ' My merits will descend with you. Another interpretation of AND GET THEE DOWN TO THE THRESHING - FLOOR: from this we learn that one should make a threshing-floor in the lowest part of the city. It was stated: R. Simeon b. Halafta purchased a field from R. Hiyya. He said to him, ' How much does it produce? He answered: One hundred kor. He sowed it but it produced less than a hundred, and he complained to R. Hiyya saying, ' Did not the Master say that it would produce a hundred kor, [and it has produced less]? He answered, ' It is so! He said to him, ' But it has produced less? ' He asked him, ' Where did you set up the threshing floor? He answered, In the highest point of the city. R. Hiyya retorted: Is it not written, AND GET THEE DOWN TO THE THRESHING-FLOOR? All the same, he sifted the chaff and it produced the remainder.

 

Ruth V:13 AND IT SHALL BE WHEN HE LIETH DOWN, THAT THOU SHALT MARK THE PLACE... AND SHE SAID UNTO HER: ALL THAT THOU SAYEST UNTO ME I WILL DO (ib. 4 f.). The word elai (to me) is a k'ri, but not a ketib. Ruth said to her, But perhaps one of those dogs will come and join me? Nevertheless it is for me to find a way to fulfill your words.

 

 

Zohar Level:

 

 

Other Commentaries:

 

Meam Loez

 

3:1 Naomi, her mother-in-law, said to her, My daughter, shall I not seek for you secure rest that it may be well with you?

 

Both women had correctly surmised that Ruth found favor in the eyes of Boaz, who had recognized in her the woman from whom the line of David would come.

 

A woman of valor who can find? Solomon was to proclaim. Her value is far beyond pearls (Proverbs 31:10). But Boaz did not pursue his find. Three months had passed from the time of Ruths conversion at the beginning of the harvest season, and still he made no move to seek her hand. It was as if after finding her, he lost her, and was resigned to the loss.

 

Naomi now took the initiative. A woman of valor herself, she opened her mouth with wisdom (Proverbs 31:26) and spoke to Ruth in a way that was beneficial and pleasant, as befit her name (naomi, the pleasant).

 

Although Boaz has not broached the matter, she began, I cannot rest until I see you secure in a marriage that will be good for you now and in years to come. Have I not advised you in the past to find rest, each in the house of her husband (v. 1:9)? For a man has no peace without a wife, nor a woman without a husband.

 

For marriage Naomi used the term manoach (jubn), rest or security, which is also cognate with nachat ruach, spiritual satisfaction.

 

After death dissolved the family ties between Ruth and Naomi, and they remained destitute, purity of character bound them together. Ruth continued to treat Naomi as her mother-in-law, and Naomi now set aside her bitterness over her own suffering to seek happinessand a marriage partnerfor Ruth. She was determined to find Ruth a secure rest that it may be well with you, in contrast with her ill-fated marriage to Machlon.

 

Although I am your mother-in-law, she said, I seek your welfare as if you were my daughter. I advise you to marry an old man not because he is wealthy, but because he is a great tzaddik and the union will be good for you. As for me, although I will remain alone, I will rejoice in your happiness.

 

To underscore her words, Naomi swore to Ruth that she genuinely wished her to remarry. According to Targum Yanathan, the term tukv, shall I not, connotes an oath.

 

Naomi spoke of a rest that may be good for heri.e., only in the future, seeminglybecause the marriage would last but a few hours before Boaz died. The satisfaction that Ruth derived from the marriage came much later, when she saw her descendant King Solomon judging Israel, as it is written, And [Solomon] had a chair set for the kings mother (1 Kings 2:19).That was Ruththe mother of royalty (Talmud).

 

The term manoach, security or rest, alludes to Solomon, who found rest from his enemies and who built the Beth HaMikdash, the earthly resting place of the Divine Presence (Shechznah). Thus he was to declare, Now the Lord, my God, has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor evil occurrence. And behold, I propose to build a house for the name of the Lord, my God (1 Kings 5:18,19).

 

The word manoach further hints that the fruit of the marriage would be Menachem (the comforter)the Messiah.

 

To allay Ruths fear that none would deign to marry a mere convert like herself, Naomi reminded her of the teaching of our sages that a man can find happiness in marriage if he marries a woman of lower station. The right man would thus choose her.

 

 

3:2 And now is there not our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been? Behold, he is winnowing barley on the threshing floor tonight.

 

The best husband for you, continued Naomi, is Boaz. He is a man of personal distinction, renowned throughout the land for his righteousness; and he is our relative, of the same aristocratic family as your late husband. Moreover, unlike those men of wealth who pretend not to know their poor kinfolk, he has continued to conduct himself as our kinsman. This you know from your own experience, having been with his young women. And you may have also come to know his nobility of character.

 

At the same time, Naomi was certain that Boaz would agree to wed Ruth. Not only was he a relative, but he had come to know her virtues by observing her in the field, and had already begun to show her kindness.

 

Tonight, said Naomi, is the time to act on my plan. He will be alone on the threshing floor, and full of joy after measuring the first bounteous crop after years of famine. Do not fear to approach him, for he is our kinsman and he knows you well from the field.

 

Naomi knew that Boaz would be sleeping on the threshing floor this night, because winnowing was done late in the day to avoid the suns scorching rays, and was customarily followed by measuring the clean grain. In the meantime night would fall, and since, as the Talmud says, it is unseemly for a scholar to go out alone at night, Boaz would sleep on the threshing floor. Thereby he would also guard his grain from the thieves. He did not rely on his field hands to do this, for in those times harlots were paid from the threshing floor, which he wanted to avoid.

 

According to the Midrash, Boaz was then cutting the omer an offering of barley that was cut at night and then winnowed.

 

Many generations earlier, when Rebekah had instructed Jacob to obtain from his father the blessing that Isaac had meant for Esau, Jacob had been reluctant to go, fearing that he would incur his fathers curse instead. But Rebekah had insisted: Tonight the treasures of dew are open, and the angels are singing Gods praise. This is the night that your descendants will be redeemed from slavery, and this night they will sing the Song of Moses. Go then and prepare delicacies for your father so that he will bless you.

 

Similarly, when Naomi instructed Ruth to go to Boaz, Ruth was reluctant, and feared that she would incur his curse. But Naomi assured her that now was the time to act. For tonight he would be glad in spirit, and divine inspiration would rest upon him.

 

3:3 Therefore bathe, and anoint yourself, and put your raiment upon you, and go down to the threshing floor. Do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.

 

Naomi asked Ruth to prepare for her mission as one prepares for the Sabbath: by bathing, anointing herself, and donning her Sabbath attire.

 

According to another interpretation, Ruth possessed only one shabby garment, which Naomi told her to arrange neatly, perhaps to roll it down as the halacha advises those who have no Sabbath garments. If you arrange your garment neatly, Naomi assured her, your appearance will be finer than if you were wearing costly robes, which in any case would be out of place on the threshing floor.

 

Our sages elaborate that Naomis instructions relate to spiritual matters:

 

,mjru Cleanse yourself of idolatry. Although Ruth had long since abandoned idolatry, she had not yet undergone the required ritual immersion before a conversion court of three judges. For upon arriving in Bethlehem she had immediately gone to pick in the field and worked straight through the harvest season. Or else, she had already immersed, and Naomi now simply warned her to shun pagan customs and superstitions. Thus our sages also explain ,mjru as purify your soul, a step that follows conversion.

 

,fxuAnnoint yourself with mitzvoth and charity. Meticulously fulfill in detail every precept, Naomi admonished. Even after you rise in social standing through your marriage to Boaz, do not become haughty, but continue your careful observance.

 

In this regard her donning Sabbath attire alludes to spiritual matters, since our sages characterize the Sabbath as an aspect of the World to Come.

 

The word ,nau, meaning put, is spelled h,nau, I will put, to convey Naomis assurance that she herself would do the same. Similarly, ,srhu, go down, is spelled h,srhu, I will go down. That is, Naomis merit would accompany Ruth on her mission.

 

Naomi assured Ruth that no one would see her going, for the threshing sites were located in the lowest part of the city, which is most sheltered from the wind, so that the grain would not be blown away along with the chaff.

 

Tonight Boaz will eat at length, said Naomi. Do not risk irritating him by disturbing his meal, but wait patiently in your hiding place until he has finished. Then emerge stealthily and note where he lies down to sleep.

 

3:4 And it shall be when he lies down, that you will know the place where he lies. Then come and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what you are to do.

 

Having already noted where he sleeps, continued Naomi, you will be able to find him later [in the dark]. When he awakens, ask his advice, and he, in his wisdom, will tell you what to do.

 

If Naomi wished to arrange a match between Boaz and Ruth, the conventional approach would have been for her to speak to Boaz and suggest that as a relative and redeemer he wed Ruth, whom he personally knew to be a woman of valor. If the match was truly from God, the matter would have been successfully completed with minimal effort. Why did Naomi choose instead to expose Boaz to temptation? Why did she send Ruth down to the threshing floor to lie at the feet of Boaz, judge of Israel and head of the Sanhedrin, and ask him to marry her?

 

One answer is that had Naomi approached Boaz directly, he would have replied that Ruth would be happier as the wife of Plony Almony, a closer relative. But Naomi wanted the seed of Boaz to come through Ruth. She instructed Ruth to lie quietly at the feet of Boaz as a demonstration that her purpose was solely for the sake of heaven, and could be accomplished only through this aged sage and tzaddik.

 

Another answer is that Naomi was certain that Ruth was to be the mother of royalty, but did not know whether the father would be Boaz or another redeemer, perhaps even a member of a different Judean family. Therefore she avoided a direct approach, preferring to arrange matters so that the outcome would be entirely in the hand of God. For as our sages teach, God has been engaged in creating the light of the Messiah since the beginning of the world.

 

An early instance of God creating the light of the Messiah was when He sent an angel to rescue Lot and his two daughters from the destruction of Sodom. In the cave where they took refuge, the daughters plied Lot with wine that Providence provided, and consorted with him so that we may give life to offspring through our father (Genesis 19:32). The resultthe nations of Moab and Ammon, who bore within them Messianic sparks waiting to enter Israel through two pearls of these nations.

 

Naomis plan was to hint of the deed of Lots daughters and bring Boaz to the recognition that Ruth was the long-awaited pearl of Moab.

 

Again, God was engaged in creating the light of the Messiah when Tamar, dressed as a harlot, lured Judah off the path and bore him Peretz, another link in the chain leading to David and the Messiah. Naomi chose to follow in her footstepsas hinted at by the end letters of rat o'uenv ,t the place where, which spell rn,, Tamarfor she was certain that through Ruth God would complete what Tamar had begun.

 

Esoterically, Naomis actions were also a means to foil Satan, so to speak, similar to Israel appeasing Satan on Yom Kippur by sending the Seir Azazel to its destruction (Leviticus 16). Thus Jacob produced the twelve tribes by marrying two sisters, which Torah law forbids, Judah begot Peretz through an unconventional tryst with Tamar, and Ruth went to Boaz on the threshing floor, to appease Satan and foil his mission of preventing Gods light from being brought into the world.

 

3:5 And she said to her, All that you say [to me] I will do.

 

Although Ruth did not understand the reason for the strange plan, which ran counter to her sense of modesty and dignity, she agreed to do whatever Naomi said, certain that Naomis instructions were hkt, to me, that is, for her benefit.

 

But hkt, though pronounced, is not written in the text, to convey that even if Naomis instructions had not been for her benefit and addressed directly to her, Ruth would have carried them out neverthelesssimply because Naomi had spoken.

 

Also conveyed by the missing hkt, is that Ruth went on her mission only to fulfill Naomis wish, not to gain anything for herself. It was as if Ruth had no personal stake in the outcome.

 

Abraham Ibn Ezra

 

 

Malbim

 

1. Naomi, her mother-in-law, then said to her, "My daughter! Do I not seek a place of contentment for you?" Now that the three months since her conversion had passed, Naomi felt it incumbent upon her to seek a husband for Ruth, as it says, May the ETERNAL grant you that each find contentment in her husband's home (1:9).

 

That is good for you. Because sometimes a woman may find security in the house of her husband, but it will not be good for her if her husband does not observe the commandments of the Torah and she will be lacking the spiritual " good." The Tractate Avodah Zarah 39a relates, regarding a woman who was married to a tax collector (a profession whose members were suspected of thievery, see Rashi ad loc) that she used to tie the stamps and seals of tax collectors on his hand (i.e., she needed to assist him in his work). Naomi therefore stated that she would attempt to find security for Ruth in a home in which she would also have this real spiritual "good."

 

2. So now, is not Boaz...our relative? The barn was at the end of the field. The winnowing of the barley was not done in the barn itself but rather in the field in front of it, where the wind would blow. Certainly all the harvesters, both male and female, were engaged in their work in that location and it would be impossible for Ruth not to be seen by them. About this concern that Ruth would be seen in front of the barn, Naomi commented, "Is not Boaz...our relative?" Everyone knows that you are treated with special consideration because you are a relative and they will say that you have come to see the threshing and winnowing, as it is customary for relatives to rejoice in the celebration and success of their cousin.

 

With whose girls you were harvesting. And people will say that you have come tonight to see the winnowing and your friends, the maidens.

 

3. So bathe and anoint yourself put on your {best] clothes. The main purpose of these preparations: bathing, anointing, and wearing fine clothing, i.e., Shabbos clothes [it has already been clarified that usage of the word simlosaich rather than beged or levush indicates the especially fine clothing of Shabbos and Yom Tov] was so that Ruth would go down to the barn. Naomi did not instruct Ruth explicitly when to don her finery, for this she must understand by herself. Her primary guidance was that she should stay there until the winnowing should be completed -the time when the workers would be leaving for home and Boaz would be sitting down to eat. Then she should enter the barn in such a way, but do not [however] make yourself known to the man, for everyone will think that you had gone home, but remain hidden there until he finishes eating and drinking. Naomi did not say, "wear your fine clothes" but rather put on your clothes, implying that Ruth should carry them with her on her shoulder and dress with them in the barn, and not beforehand as this would have brought her under suspicion for wearing Shabbos clothes on a weekday.

 

4. Then, when he lies down. Boaz would certainly not lie down in the field, but inside the barn, protected by its walls. Since Ruth would be hiding inside, she certainly would note the place where he is lying, and come and uncover his feet and lie [there]. Naomi and Ruth were embarrassed to request directly from Boaz that he should marry Ruth, therefore Naomi advised her that she should petition him by means of hints -like one who indicates with a pointer. The concept of levirate marriage and the "removal of the shoe" (chalitzah) has already been explained (Devarim 25:5, HaTorah v'HaMitzvah 155) according to the Kabbalists. The body is considered as the "shoe" of the soul since it is otherwise impossible for the spiritual soul to exist in the "world of physical entities" without a corporal abode just as it is impossible for one who is fastidious to stand in a place of dirt and mud without shoes to protect his feet from becoming soiled. In reference to this, HaShem said, Remove your shoes from upon your feet (Shemos 3:5). The man who dies without children has left his soul in an agitated state: of being still beating within his wife with whom he had no children and is threatened by the dissolution of his name and memory. When the brother of the deceased performs levirate marriage and provides a descendant for the departed, it is as if the soul of the dead brother returns to the world for the second time. The child that is born is considered the reincarnation of the deceased, is called by his name, and inherits his estate. This is evidenced by 4:17 where it is stated, A son was born to Naomi, meaning that Oved, the son of Boaz, was in actuality Machlon, the son of Naomi. Only then is it considered as if the deceased has a "shoe hold in this world, that is, a physical body in which the soul may exist a second time in this world of physical entities. However, if the brother of the departed does not wish to perform levirate marriage, then the soul of the deceased remains without a shoe and is incapable of returning to the world. This is hinted at by chalitzah -the act of removing a shoe from the foot of the surviving brother and the calling of his name, The house of the one who had his shoe removed. Because, indeed, so has he removed the shoe from his deceased brother meaning that his soul is "shoeless," that is, without a physical body to serve as the vehicle of the soul's earthly existence. This is what Ruth intended by uncovering his feet and lying down -communicating to Boaz that, since he was the redeemer and the one to perform levirate marriage, he should either "uncover" his feet that they should be without shoes and be called beis chalutz hana'al, or that Ruth should lie near him in order to establish (conceive) the name of his deceased relative among the Jewish people, by which Boaz would cover his feet with a "shoe."

 

He will [then] tell you what you shall do. Naomi understood that Boaz would either instruct Ruth to seek a redeemer who was a closer relative or would offer to speak to him directly.

 

5. She answered. In response to what Naomi had said, He will [then] tell you what you shall do. Ruth replied that even then she would not do anything without first taking Naomi's counsel and then affirms, "Whatever you tell me [to do] I will do."

 

Alshich