Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Quiet Resolve

In preparation for the upcoming yontif, I've been listening to a set of CDs by Rabbi Yisroel Reisman on Megillas Rus. We've had them for years, and have played them repeatedly, but he never gets old. 
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On the first CD, Rabbi Reisman discusses the debate about the permissibility of a Moabite convert. In the times of Rus, there still wasn't the later clarification that a woman from Moab was permitted to enter into Bnei Yisroel; "Lo yavo Amoni u'Moabi" (D'varim 23:4) was considered, by some, to also apply to the women. 

The megillah, it is said, was written by the prophet Shmuel, who was the contemporary of Rus' descendant, Dovid. Dovid's validity as king was questioned based on Rus being a Moabite; Shmuel established halacha, and sealed Dovid's claim, with this sefer. 

Consider, Rabbi Reisman said: Rus is a Moabite woman, and not only a convert, but a convert without established halacha backing her up. To add insult to injury, according to the commentaries, Boaz died the morning after their wedding. 
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How often does it happen that when something happens—a natural disaster, an untimely passing, a drop in the economy—people profess to know the reason why? The "reasons" I've heard for the horrific earthquakes in Nepal defy belief and Judaism: We are forbidden from claiming to know what Hashem's motivations are. But we do so anyway. 

Let us play a little game of imagination, shall we? 

There is a new lady in town, lovely, really, but she comes from a background which may be forbidden to enter into the Covenant. Then she has the gall to wed the wealthiest and most prominent man in town. Two strikes. 

He dies the next day. 

What would we be saying?

Not only that, how would she be treated for the rest of her days?

Rus abandoned all she knew and devoted herself to Na'ami, following her instructions without question. But that also meant abandoning acceptance and respect for a life sentence of loneliness and recrimination. She was not vindicated until many, many years later. 
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None of us are permitted to cloak ourselves in the robe of judge—for only the Eibishter is the Judge. He granted Boaz extra years just so he could fulfill the mitzvah of yibum with Rus, the most noble of women. 

According to Rabbi David Fohrman, "Eshes Chayil" is a song of praise to her. For she remained firm in her resolve to continue her husband's name, to be a servant of God, to be a comfort to her mother-in-law, while being ostracized and blamed.

Lessons: 

1) None can claim to know God's mind. 

2) No one can mistreat any one.  

3) If you are doing what you know, in your heart of hearts and brain of brains, to be right and true, let none gainsay you.      

2 comments:

littleduckies said...

Big like. :)
I've often thought about the story, how it is so odd in its own way, and so often just leaves us thinking, "What happened there?"
And in general, the book teaches us a lot of lessons.
Never thought of Boaz dying right after the wedding as G-d having granted him extra years just for the wedding, though.

Princess Lea said...

Many of these ancient tales have curious gaps. They never relate what the individuals were thinking, only what they did, which makes the stories all the more intriguing.

It's all about perspective. The people thought, "Ah, Boaz's life was cut short because he married a Moavi!" while Rabbi Reisman made me consider, "Ah, his life was extended just for this holy purpose!" So so so much we do not understand.