For the week ending 11 May 2013 / 1 Sivan 5773

Ruth and Shavuot

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From Joy:

Dear Rabbi,

Why do we read the Book of Ruth on Shavuot? Thanks!

Dear Joy,

There are seven reasons I am aware of as being the source of this custom. Here they are and I wish you a meaningful and joyous Festival!

  1. The events occurred during the harvest season. Shavuot is the Harvest Festival.
  2. Ruth was a convert to Judaism. Conversion is an individual "Kabbalat HaTorah – Receiving the Torah."
  3. Ruth the Moabite was permitted to marry Boaz, based on a teaching of the Oral Law for the verse, "A Moabite may not marry into the Congregation of G-d" (Deut. 23:4). This hints at the unity between the Written Torah and the Oral Torah.
  4. David HaMelech was born on Shavuot. The Scroll of Ruth concludes with David's lineage.
  5. To teach the greatness of Gemillut Chassadim - acts of loving-kindness.
  6. To teach that the Torah is truly acquired only through “affliction and poverty” – dedication and commitment.
  7. The name "Ruth" has the numerical value of 606. At Mt. Sinai the Jewish People accepted 606 mitzvot in addition to the 7 Noachide Laws.

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