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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Shavuot: Why the Book of Ruth?

Naomi, Ruth & Orpah (by William Blake)
Just as the Book of Lamentations is read on Tisha B'Av, the Book of Ecclesiastes on Sukkot, the Book of Esther on Purim, and the Song of Songs on Passover – so too is the Book of Ruth (Megillat Rut) read on Shavuot. tells us that Ruth is a great heroine who is "forever beloved and revered."  Her modesty,
dignity and great deeds provide us with fine examples
of "what a true friend, a true daughter, a true woman is made of."

Beyond this general description of what Ruth means to the Jewish people, there are some specific reasons
why her story is traditionally read on Shavuot.  These are as follows:

1.  Ruth's "quest to become part of the Jewish Nation" is often compared to the giving of the Torah to the Jews.

2.  Ruth was accepted by Yahweh just as the Israelites were.

3.  The gematria (numerical value) of the Hebrew letters of Ruth's name equals 606, which is the exact number of new commandments (in addition to the seven existing Noahide Laws) that were given to the Jewish nation on Shavuot.

4.  King David, Ruth's great-grandson, was born and died on Shavuot.

5.  Shavuot is also a Harvest Festival, and the Book of Ruth highlights Israel's harvest.

6.  Ruth exemplifies Chesed ("loving kindness" – akin to Agape and Caritas), which is the essence of many Torah teachings.


Copyright May 14, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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