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By Isaac Mozeson,,, feffer@netvision,


It is Shavuot, Feast of Weeks, when we read the Book of Ruth—
So Don’t Be RUTHLESS !
Not a pun. Old English reuthe meant “kindness, compassion,”

Only the negative RUTHLESS survived as a modern word.
Is reuthe then from an Edenic source like רעות R[A]yOOTH, friendship ? Probably not. English readers were reading the Book of Ruth for many centuries. The compassion Biblical heroine became synonymous with compassion.

Just as JACKrabbit or JOCKEY became synonymous with male fertility and positioning for leadership because of Bible readers’ perceptions of Jacob.

Why read the Book of Ruth on a holiday commemorating the receiving of the Ten Statements (mistranslated Commandments) ? Yes, we are all converts on Shavuot. And Ruth the Moabite was a premier convert from a culture of cruelty and idolatry to the culture of compassion and justice under Divine Law. The divine comedy (tragedy reversed) of Ruth ends with the conception, then genealogy of the Messianic Line. Only the Eternal could know that the Redemption, the seed of King David, could emerge from what begins as a sorry saga.
A Proud Legacy of Humility
The Messianic line begins with Judah. The scepter doesn't depart from him, according to Jacob.
In Judah's defining moment, Genesis 33, he is the judge condemning to death his daughter-in-law Tamar for getting pregnant when she is officially engaged to his 3rd, youngest son. Tamar has negative status as a widow two times over, from a non-Jewish background.
When Tamar shows the court the seal and walking stick of Judah which she received as a guarantee for the payment of Judah's prostitution service with her, Judah could have said nothing, or denied they were his. He was a premier judge. His power and prestige was on the line.
Nonetheless, he admitted his guilt, and proclaimed that this lowly criminal was, in fact, "more righteous than me."
In the same situation, borrowed by Nathial Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter, the Reverend Dimsdale is too proud to admit that HE is the father of the accused woman, and condemns Hester Pryne to punishment.
The child of Judah and Tamar, Peretz, was not conceived in the best circumstances, but Tamar's motive's were pure. She wanted to continue the line of her dead husbands, Er and Onan, and she could only do so by seducing Judah disguised as a prostitute.
Peretz is the ancester of Boaz and David. What about Ruth's side, the Moabide side of that illustrious family line? Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik pointed out a stark parallel. Moab is conceived also by a woman desperate to carry on life. It is hard to think of Lot's daughter seducing her drunken father in a positive light, but the Eternal knows motivations. She thought all humans had perished, as in the Flood. From the heroism of Lot's daughter came Moab, the nation of Ruth. From humble, even seemingly sordid heroism came the Messianic line.
The nighttime barn scene at the end of the Book of Ruth implies that Ruth seduced Boaz. Like Judah, Boaz had lost his wife.
But the focus here is on the humility of the male leads in the Messianic Line saga, not on the tactics of the female leads. Boaz could never have been approached if he were an imperious landowner as befitting his station.
Despite his wealth we see Boaz blessing his fieldworkers, and carefully leaving the proscribed areas of the field for the poor to glean. Someone of his position could well have ignored his relative Naomi as a pathetic, embarrassing stain on his lofty Bethlehem family. Instead, he looked after Naomi’s loyal caretaker. Boaz took pity on the status-less, gentile Ruth, and made sure that she and Naomi had food.
Like Judah his ancester, Boaz humbled himself in front of the court that he led, and publically made known his intention to marry this Moabite, insuring a legacy for Naomi's lost family.

Boaz and Ruth conceived David's grandfather. Redemption is conceived by these two heroes of compassion.
The tradition of humble leadership continues with David. He begins the often-imitated plot of winning the King's daughter by slaying the giant. Even though he is married to King Saul's daughter, Michal, he never parley's his Goliath-slaying into a grab for the throne. On the contrary. He loves prince Jonathan, and spares Saul's life even when the jealous king sets out to kill him.

He humbles himself before his non-Jewish enemies, pretending he has gone mad. Instead of collecting powerful friends, like his rebellious son would do, he leads a band of outcasts.
When he finally does get to be king, and to bring the sacred ark to Jerusalem, he dances joyously like a boisterous boy, with no sense of self-importance.
On Shavuot we celebrate Boaz and David's legacy from Judah, a proud legacy of humility. -------------------------------
Posted from Sefad, without Edenic interruptions. I will add that the anti-Ruth, the daughter-in-law of Naomi who did turn her back , to return to Moab, was named Orpah. עורף [O]RePH means the back of the neck , the [S]CRUFF. Oprah Winfrey’s name is a metathesis.

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