On Tuesday evening, May 18 the Jewish holiday of Shavuot will begin, the holiday where we celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai by God to Moses and the Children of Israel. One of the traditions associated with Shavuot, is the reading of the Book of Ruth. This is the story of Ruth, a Moabite woman who, after her husband dies, follows her Israelite mother-in-law, Naomi, befriends her and converts to Judaism. She asserts the right of the poor to glean the leftovers of the barley harvest, breaks the normal rules of behavior to confront her kinsman Boaz, is redeemed by him for marriage, and becomes the ancestor of King David. Ruth is an incredible Jewish figure and in her journey tells her mother-in-law Naomi “whither you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge, your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” Ruth was pious, courageous, extremely loyal and the fact that King David was one of her direct descendants speaks to the important role she played in the Jewish community.
One of the key messages of the story of Ruth is that sometimes small gestures and acts of love and kindness can have far reaching impact and significance beyond our wildest imaginations. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law showed compassion towards Ruth and welcomed her into their family and as a result of this love, Ruth remained loyal and converted to Judaism. Little did Naomi realize, but Ruth would be the direct ancestor of the great King David. Tradition also tells us that when the Messiah comes it will also be from that same family of King David. What acts of kindness have you performed lately? Don’t take them lightly, because as the Book of Ruth teaches, our actions can have eternal significance. Happy Shavuot Holiday