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Megillat Ruth - מגילת רות

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

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Megillat Ruth - מגילת רות. 1

Introduction.. 1

Background.. 2

The Place of Sefer Ruth.. 2

Why read Ruth on Shavuot?. 3

PaRDeS - פרדס. 3

Geirut – Conversion.. 4

A Comparison between Boaz and Joseph.. 5

A Comparison of Ruth and Iyov.. 5

The Nature of Women in Torah.. 5

Structure.. 7

History of Moab.. 8

Major Theme.. 9

The Timing of Sefer Ruth.. 9

Cast of Characters. 10

The Forgotten Sheaf.. 17

The Reading of Sefer Ruth at Shavuot.. 17

Methodology.. 20

The Structure of Sefer Ruth.. 20

The Structure of the first chapter.. 21

The Story – Chapter I. 23

An Overview of Chapter II. 79

The Story – Chapter II. 80

The Story – Chapter III. 123

The Story – Chapter IV.. 149

Conclusion.. 180

Notes. 180

The Ashkenaz Synagogue service for the day we read Megillat Ruth   181

Bibliography:. 182

Appendix 1. 183

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Introduction

 

The Book of Ruth is found in the third main division of the Tanach, Ketuvim (Writings). The book has been preserved on parchment and thus came to be known by its Hebrew name of Megillat Ruth, the Scroll of Ruth.

 

This scroll concerns itself with the Ikvot Meshicha (Ikveta diMeshicha - Aramaic), the approaching footsteps of Mashiach. It concerns itself with the time immediately preceeding the coming of the Mashiach. This is related in the parasha of the “heel”:  Eikev - Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25

 

This scroll centers around Ruth, a Moabite widowed princess who spends most of her life alone, without a husband, family, and kinsmen. Her life is filled with hardship as she gleans grain in order to have enough to eat. She has no other way to live. Why does she choose to leave her father’s palace in Moab to become a pauper in a foreign land?  We will explore the answer to this question later in our study.

 

The Torah opens with man close to HaShem, Who is openly revealed in the Garden of Eden. With progressive sins of unredeemed power and passion, he gets further and further away from HaShem, 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 HaShem 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 to 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 Mashiach, 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!

 

Megillat Ruth speaks of the history of man, allegorically, from the beginning, in Gan Eden, until the reign of Mashiach ben David. In this study I would like to reveal this allegory and bring out it’s allegorical details which reveal Mashiach. The allegorical level of Torah interpretation is known as remez and is the second level of PaRDeS interpretation.

 

Background

 

"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").

 

Who wrote the Book of Ruth? The Sages of the Talmud tell us that it was written by the Prophet Samuel[1].

 

The story of Ruth is read at the time of the giving of the Torah because the acceptance of the Torah at Mt. Sinai was the final step in the conversion of the Jewish people. At Sinai, we all stood as the perfect convert. Megillat Ruth details this perfect Jewish convert as allegorically portrayed by Ruth. Ruth is the archetype of a convert and Shavuot (Matan Torah – the giving of the Torah) represents the mass conversion of Am Yisrael[2].

 

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, Gemara, 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.[3] 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[4], which was given in this season, is exemplified by the behavior of Ruth and Boaz, the main characters of Megillat Ruth.

 

The Place of Sefer Ruth

 

Sefer Ruth is positioned between Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) and Eicha (Lamentations) in the Tanakh[5]. Since Shir HaShirim is a love song between HaShem and His people, while Eicha is a lament over the lack of love between HaShem’s people and HaShem, 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.

 

Ruth and Naomi arrive in the Promised Land, from Moab, 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[6]. Boaz and Ruth were married in 2792 AM, 968 BCE, 304 years after Joshua led the Children of Israel into the promised land.

 

Why read Ruth on Shavuot?

 

There are seven reasons why we read the Megillah of Ruth on Shavuot:

 

  1. The events occurred during the harvest season. Shavuot is the Harvest Festival.
  2. Ruth was a convert to Judaism. Conversion is an individual "Kabbalat HaTorah".
  3. Ruth the Moabite was permitted to marry Boaz, based on a drasha ( a teaching of the Oral Law) of the verse, "A Moabite may not marry into the Congregation of HaShem" (Devarim 23:4). This hints at the unity between the Written Torah and the Oral Torah.
  4. King David was born on Shavuot. The Megillah of Ruth concludes with David's lineage.
  5. To teach the greatness of Gemillut Chassadim, acts of loving-kindness.
  6. To teach that the Torah is acquired only through affliction and poverty.
  7. The name "Ruth" has the numerical value of 606. At Har Sinai the Jewish People accepted 606 mitzvot, in addition to the 7 Noachide Laws.
  8. The main reason for our reading the Book of Ruth on this festival is because it gives us such a vivid picture of the ger tzadik, true proselyte. Shavuot is the "time of the giving of our Torah," and when we received it, we too, like the ger tzadik, pledged to accept the Torah and fulfill its 613 commandments.

 

PaRDeS - פרדס

 

Sefer Ruth can be viewed on four different levels, according to the acronym PaRDeS.

 

פרדס - PaRDeS is the Hebrew word for orchard. Pardes is actually a roshei teivot (literally, “heads of words”), an acronym, for the words:

 

פשאת   -           Pshat » simple understanding

רמס     -           Remez » hinted meaning

דרש     -           Drush » allegorical explanation

סוד       -           Sod » esoteric understanding

 

פ - PSHAT - "simple" the plain meaning of (e.g.) a Scriptural passage. Rashi’s commentary was written at this level. Pshat is not the literal meaning of a verse but the accepted traditional interpretation to the literal meaning of the verse.  For example, when the Torah says ‘an eye for an eye’, the Pshat is monetary compensation and not the literal ‘eye for an eye’

 

ר - REMEZ - "hint" the interpretation of Scripture at the level of allusive implication. Gematria is a form of remez. Many of the explanations in the Talmud are based on rather obvious hints in the Torah such as extra words, extra letters, missing letters, missing words, big letters, little letters, and the spacing between words and letters.

 

ד - DERASH - "search" the non-literal, homiletic interpretation of Scripture (moralistic meaning), as in the Midrash, or Talmudic, aggadot. This level of understanding is based on a detailed logical analysis of Talmudic rules of logic. "The word 'derash' means 'investigation,' implying a level understanding arrived at only after one has delved beyond the black and white letters and words. This is an exegetical level of understanding.

 

ס - SOD - "secret" is the Kabbalistic or mystical, super rational dimension illuminated by the teachings of the Kaballah. Normally, the mystical understandings are studied at night.

 

In this study we will examine some aspects of these various level. As we examine these levels we will see different stories emerge from each level.

 

Tikkun

 

Geirut – Conversion

 

The theme of geirut, or conversion, is central to the Festival of 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[7] 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 brit, the covenant. The Gemara states that the model for entering a brit is mila, tevila (immersion in a mikveh), and fronting the Bet Din. 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 HaShem’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”.

 

In 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.

 

The Jewish people do not seek proselytes. The Torah tells us that when a proselyte wishes to become a Jew, it is our duty to point out to him or her all the difficulties this would entail, as well as the burden of responsibility that rest upon the Jew in his obligation to fulfill the Torah and its commandments. We are to show him that he is choosing a very difficult path, and a life that is not popular with the rest of the world.

 

If, despite all these considerations and warnings, the person still persists in his or her desire to embrace Judaism, then indeed we can be proud to accept such a man or woman into our fold, for they will surely become devout and sincere Jews.

 

A Comparison between Boaz and Joseph

 

Both Boaz and Joseph were tempted by women who wanted marital intimacy.

 

A Comparison of Ruth and Iyov

 

These two stories have many points of comparison[8]:

 

1) Both stories discuss a person who has lost their 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 HaShem is behind all that happens to them.

 

Iyov said, (27:2) "As God lives, Who has taken away my right, and the Almighty, Who has embittered my soul".

 

Naomi said, (1:20) "The Almighty has embittered my soul greatly".

 

3) In both stories, society reacts in astonishment at the tragedies:

 

About Iyov's friends it says: (2:12) "And they lifted up their eyes from afar and they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept".

 

The women at Beit Lechem said: (1:19) "And the whole city was astir at their arrival, and they said: 'Is this Naomi?'"

 

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).

 

The Nature of Women in Torah

 

There are three women who play a central role in sefer Ruth. Since we are going to examine this narrative from various perspectives, we need to understand the meaning of women. I have collected the following representative samples to help us understand how a woman represents various groups:

 

Malchut

A single man is not yet called a "man", as he does not yet possess a home. In Kabbala, the home is always referred to as malchut. For this reason, his home is also called his wife[9]. The woman represents malchut throughout the Torah.

 

Binah

Every man represents a Chachma that belongs to a system, or family, of its own. Likewise, every woman represents a Binah that also belongs to a particular sub-system of Sefirot, and the concept of a "soul-mate" is the concept of pairing up the right Chochmah with the right Binah. The covering of the woman's hair at marriage signifies spiritually and physically the special and unique connection between a specific Chachma and Binah, husband and wife.

 

A Nation – 12 Tribes

 

Zechariah 5:7ff And behold, the leaden cover was lifted and there was a woman sitting in the midst of the ephah…

 

The wicked woman represents the nation whose people behaved unjustly in business. The woman is now punished by being enclosed in the ephah-measure, she is punished with the very same measure she meted out to others! A heavy lead lid closes her in: this represents the heavy weight of exile that punishes the sinners by keeping them trapped and silenced. RaDaK (on vv 7-8) explains that this woman represents the Ten Tribes, who were all part of one kingdom and went on the same wicked path, as a result of which they were sent into a long exile.

 

Bnei Yisrael

One common interpretation of the text is that the woman represents the people Israel and that HaShem is promising to bring them back to full bloom.

 

Rachel Imeinu represents Klal Yisrael and why she has been chosen to unite all the dispersed Jews of the world.

 

City of Zion

In Ezra 9:27 - 10:59, Ezra sees a woman weeping for her son.  He tells her to weep instead for Zion (10:7).  But she disappears and Ezra sees a huge city. Overwhelmed, Ezra calls for the angel Uriel, who explains that the woman represents the city of Zion, which is shown the city established (10:27), but not built by human hands (10:54). It is a consoling vision of the restoration of Jerusalem in the new age.

 

Halaka and Aggada

An older woman represents Halakha, as she insists on the consistency and stability of tradition, the white hairs. A younger woman represents Aggada, as she champions the black hairs, the freshness and vitality of new insights as well as the inner soul of observance. Lacking Halakha, we will not have the solid foundation upon which to build a Jewish life; the grand ideas of Aggada could not be translated into concrete practice. Conversely, bereft of Aggada, Halakha would remain dry, soulless and lacking energy.

 

A House

The woman represents a man's "house".

 

A City

The woman represents a city. (Revelation)

 

The Bride of Mashiach

Woman represents the Bride of Mashiach

 

Shechinah

The Shechinah is referred to as manifest in the Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem throughout Rabbinic literature. It is also reported as being present in the acts of public prayer[10]; righteous judgment[11], and personal need[12].

 

In certain ways the woman represents the Shechinah, the Divine Presence in the world. The quality of the feminine is the point where the physical and the sacred join. The Shechina in Megillat Ruth is represented by Naomi.

 

The woman, therefore, represents a nation, a family, or a group of people because the woman can replicate herself to form a group.

 

Wisdom

Eishet Hayil may signify the pursuit of wisdom or the journey of the soul. (Both wisdom, המכח, and the soul, המשנ, are nouns of the feminine gender in Hebrew.) This allegorization of Proverbs 31:10-31 goes back to the Book of Proverbs itself! The introduction to Proverbs explains that the words of the wise are riddles, proverbs and epigrams that require discerning understanding[13] similar to those famous riddles posed by the Queen of Sheba and unraveled by King Solomon to whom the Book of Proverbs is traditionally attributed. Throughout the Book of Proverbs, divine wisdom is personified as a virtuous woman, while a wanton woman represents the enticement of other goals.[14]

 

The Legitimacy of King David

 

Structure

 

Megilat Ruth’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. Since vav is the letter of connection (used as the conjunction “and”), we can see that Megilat Ruth stands to connect something. Since this book illustrates the whole of creation from Adam to the second Adam (Mashiach), we can understand that this book connects all of history to the Mashiach.

 

The eight pasukim, that do not start with a vav - ו are  באהל ישעי (yshi ba’ohel) meaning: “my salvation is in the tents (of Sarah)” or “my salvation is in the tents (of Torah)”. The vav - ו is a remez to the six orders of the Mishna. This alludes to the fact that Ruth was kosher only because of the oral law.

 

Exactly what is the significance of this fact?

 

Sefer Ruth has a clearly defineable chiasmus structure. This structure suggests that beginning is the same as the end, though the end is better. It suggests transition:


 

Literary Arrangement of the Book of Ruth

A Introduction: Ten years at Moab with death (1:1-6)

 

B Naomi is too old to conceive (1:7-22)

 

 

C The possible redeemer is introduced (2:1)

 

 

 

D Ruth and Naomi make a plan (2:2)

 

 

 

 

E Ruth and Boaz’ field (2:3)

 

 

 

 

 

F Boaz asks: “Whose is that young woman?” (2:5-7)

 

 

 

 

 

 

G Boaz asks: “Whose is that young woman?” (2:5-7)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

H Ruth becomes part of the Boaz household (2:8-16)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Naomi blesses Boaz (2:17-19)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J Boaz, the one who is in position to redeem (2:20)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

K Ruth joins Boaz’ workers (2:21-23)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X The plan laid by Naomi and Ruth (3:1-8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

K’ Ruth identifies herself as Boaz’ handmaid (3:9a)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J’ Ruth challenges Boaz to act as a redeemer (3:9b)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ Boaz blesses Ruth (3:10)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

H’ Boaz promises to marry Ruth (3:11-15)

 

 

 

 

 

 

G’ Naomi asks: “Who are you?” (3:16-18)

 

 

 

 

 

F’ Boaz goes to Bethlehem (4:1)

 

 

 

 

E’ Ruth and a field (4:2-12)

 

 

 

D’ Ruth and Naomi’s plan is fulfilled (marriage) (4:13)

 

 

C’ The redeemer was not denied (4:14-16)

 

B’ A son was born to Naomi! (4:17)

A’ Epilogue: Ten generations of births (4:18-22)

 

The Literary Arrangement of Ruth 1:1-22

A famine in the land (1:1)

 

B Emigration from Bethlehem (1:1)

 

 

C “Naomi” = “Pleasant” (1:2-5)

 

 

 

D Leaving Moab for Bethlehem (1:6-7)

 

 

 

 

E Naomi’s speech (1:8-9)

 

 

 

 

 

F Naomi kisses Orpah and Ruth goodbye (1:9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

G All weep loudly (1:9c)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

H The daughters’-in-law desire to stay with Naomi (1:10)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X Naomi is too old to concieve (1:11-13)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

H’ Naomi’s desire for her daughters’-in-law to return (1:13)

 

 

 

 

 

 

G’ All weep loudly (1:14)

 

 

 

 

 

F’ Orpah kisses Naomi goodbye (1:14)

 

 

 

 

E’ Ruth’s speech (1:16-17)

 

 

 

D’ Entering Bethlehem from Moab (1:18-19)

 

 

C’Marah” = “Bitter” (1:20-21)

 

B’ Immigration to Bethlehem (1:22)

A’ barley harvest (1:22)

 

The Literary Arrangement of Ruth Chapter Two

A Naomi's house - barley harvest 2:1

 

B Conversation between Ruth and Naomi – concise 2:2

 

 

C Description of Ruth's activities in the field 2:3

 

 

 

D Conversation between Boaz and the harvesters regarding Ruth 2:4-7

 

 

 

 

E Boaz/Ruth dialogue: Boaz's offers of kindness 2:8-10

 

 

 

 

 

F between Boaz and Ruth: Ruth's kindness with Naomi

 

 

 

 

E’ Boaz/Ruth dialogue: Boaz's offers of kindness 2:14

 

 

 

D’ Conversation between Boaz and the harvesters regarding Ruth 2:15-16

 

 

C’ Description of Ruth's activities in the field 2:17

 

B’ Conversation between Ruth and Naomi – expressive 2:18-22

A’ Naomi's house - wheat harvest 2:23

 


History of Moab

 

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

 

Moab was the son of Lot and his eldest daughter (Bereshit 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 (Bereshit 18). The Moabites, 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 Moab (Bamidbar 25:1-9).

 

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

 

It is therefore quite remarkable to encounter a Moabitess, Ruth, who was the epitome of kindness. Ruth was a princess, the daughter of Eglon, King of Moab, according to our Sages (Nazir 23b). Moab typifies an immoral people who have left the ways of HaShem and lack kindness. Because of their apostasy, the Sages decreed that it was forbidden for an Israelite to marry a Moabite man[15]. Ruth, though a Moabitess, 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

 

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 marry a judge as Ruth is allowed to marry Boaz.

 

A convert, in general, is eligible to a Kohen, to a Judge, and to any Israel. My Beloved Teacher 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 fifty 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[16].

 

Now, one of the things which characterizes Terumah is that it must be brought from the best part of the crop[17]. 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 [woman suspected of adultery] 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" (the two loaves of wheat bread which are offered on Shavuot) Jews. Every aspect of HaShem'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, HaShem'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