A few days ago, we celebrated the Holiday of Shavuot, 2022, or as the non-Jewish world calls it, Pentecost.
The main protagonist of the Book of Ruth’s story is Ruth the Moabite, a Biblical figure and the great grandmother of King David.
So let’s talk about one woman, a special and super brave one, named Ruth. She was so special that a Biblical scroll was written about her. Interestingly enough, Ruth and Esther, two biblical women, are the only ones about whom a biblical scroll was written and their name is celebrated with admiration.
The Story of Ruth
On Shavuot we read the Book of Ruth, briefly summarized below.
Elimelech was married to Naomi and they had two sons, Machlon and Kilion. Following a famine in the land of Israel, they moved to Moab. The two boys assimilated. They married Moabite women, named Ruth and Orpah.
One day, tragically, Elimelech died and ten years later, his two sons died as well, and their wives became widows.
Naomi, Elimelech’s wife, decided to return to the land of Israel, to her homeland. Her two daughters-in-law wanted to join her but Naomi begged them to stay in their homeland, Moab.
Orpah was convinced and she stayed in Moab. But Ruth was stubborn. She repeatedly told Naomi, “Your people – my people and your God – my God. Wherever you go, I go.” And she declared that only death will separate her from Naomi. Naomi could not persuade her to stay in Moab.
Arriving In Judah
Naomi and Ruth arrived in Judah – widows, poor, and destitute. They arrived in Bethlehem during the harvest season, and Ruth decided to exercise her right as a poor woman, the right to gather wheat at the edge of the wheat field.
And here, as if by chance, she came to the field of Boaz, a relative of Naomi, a respected man and a property owner. Boaz saw Ruth among the gatherers in the field, and he liked her. He wanted to know about her and her family, and when he heard what she had done for her mother-in-law, Naomi, he decided to give her favorite treatment.
After a while, Naomi advised Ruth to go at night to the threshing floor where Boaz stayed during the time of wheat sowing, and to lie at his feet in order to get Boaz to marry her. It seems that Naomi was asking Ruth to use the seductive “weapon” for that purpose. This is not the mitzvah of yibbum (form of levirate marriage found in Judaism) in the simplest sense of the word, because the mitzvah of yibbum in practice is only carried out by marrying the wife of a late brother who did not leave heirs; but it is related to the custom of yibbum – marriage between the wife of the dead man and her relative.
Ruth obeyed Naomi, she bathed, perfumed and put on her dresses, and went down to the threshing floor at night and lay at the feet of Boaz.
And so, in the middle of the night, Boaz noticed Ruth lying at his feet, and she asked him to redeem her and marry her.
Happy ending – all is well: Boaz decided to redeem her and he married her.
And Ruth bore him a son, who was to be King David’s grandfather.
But why did Ruth’s story touch my heart?
Because of her courage. Because of her decision to leave the familiar and known to her, her homeland, and to follow her mother-in-law to a country that was foreign to her.
Because she did not let her fears drive her decision. She dared, she picked up the glove, and just flowed. She said to the Creator, to the universe, to what was unbeknown to her, or to that supreme power – I flow with you, I trust in you. I agree to leave the familiar and the known, to get out of my circle of comfort, and dare.
How many times do we miss opportunities in life because we are afraid to leave the familiar and the known: to succeed, to evolve, and to grow?
In the story of Ruth, there is a message for each of us. Jump into the water; get out of the known and the familiar; silence the fears; take down all the walls of defense. Dare.
Each of us is totally worth it. All each of us has to do is believe in ourselves and trust in our abilities and the same supreme power.
Courage, Faith, and Daring
At every Shavuot holiday, remember to have the courage, faith, and daring power as Ruth, the Moabite, had over 3000 years ago!