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Comparing Ruth to Abraham: The Power of Inclusion 

04/25/2022 07:10:06 AM


by Carol Haber-Cohen

Temple bringing the first crops of the harvest to thank G-d.  It is customary to eat dairy meals on Shavuot. Why, you ask? In true Judaic fashion, there were no fewer than seven reasons to explain this custom, ranging from not having the time to prepare a meat meal according to the newly received laws of Kashrut, to likening Israel to the land flowing with milk and honey. To celebrate Shavuot, Sisterhood and the Nursey School moms are collaborating on a wonderful cheese and wine tasting event on May 24.

On the second day of the holiday, we read the story of Ruth, which is set during the harvest season in Israel. As we have noted in several of our columns, without “her” story, we would not have “his”-tory.  Her story begins in Israel where there is famine, starvation, and havoc. Naomi, her husband, sons, and daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah leave Israel to seek a better future, and shortly thereafter Naomi’s husband and sons die. Ruth, a Moabite woman follows her Israelite mother-in-law, Naomi, into the Jewish people (she converts) with the famous words “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.”

When Ruth and Naomi return to Israel they are poor and starving. Naomi tells Ruth to assert the Biblical rights of the poor, to glean the leftovers of the barley harvest of her kinsman Boaz. She breaks the normal rules of behavior to confront Boaz and is redeemed by him for marriage.

According to Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kassoy (AJWS), this story suggests that “the inclusion of women in the work of building a strong family, society, and the eventual establishment of good government” is the solution to their plight.

Ruth’s selfless heroics bring salvation not only to herself, her mother-in-law Naomi and her family, but also to the Jewish people as a whole. By leaving everything she knows behind and courageously starting a new family, Ruth turns catastrophe into a vibrant future. By giving birth to Oved, the grandfather of David, Ruth paves the way for the Davidic dynasty.… At the hand of Ruth, famine has the potential to be abolished, replaced instead by security, sustainability and justice…. By both working within and challenging the norms of her society, she proposes inclusion as a model for communal advancement.

Megillah Ruth is a precursor to this idea. By comparing Ruth to Abraham, it demonstrates

that the visionaries who transform societies need not be kings, strong male leaders or even patriarchs…. Both are portrayed as courageous migrants who leave the land of their fathers to embark on unknown journeys for the sake of God and the Jewish people.

We look forward to seeing you on May 24 at the wine and cheese tasting event!

B’Ahava to our Sisterhood Visionaries,

– Carol & Mindy

Thu, June 1 2023 12 Sivan 5783