והניף הכהן אתם על לחם הבכרים תנופה לפני יהוה על־שׁני כבשׂים קדשׁ יהיו ליהוה לכהן׃
וקראתם בעצם היום הזה מקרא־קדשׁ יהיה לכם כל־מלאכת עבדה לא תעשׂו חקת עולם בכל־מושׁבתיכם לדרתיכם׃
ובקצרכם את־קציר ארצכם לא־תכלה פאת שׂדך בקצרך ולקט קצירך לא תלקט לעני ולגר תעזב אתם אני יהוה אלהיכם׃
(Lev 23:20-22 CJB)
AT SHAVUOT IT IS TRADITIONAL TO READ THE BOOK OF RUTH.
RUTH The Exemplary Disciple.
Back in the days when the judges were judging, at a time when there was a famine in the land, a certain man from Beit-Lechem went to live in the territory of Mo'av -- he, his wife and his two sons. (Rth 1:1 CJB)
- This is the story of a man was from Bethlehem, a region of Judea.
- In our story, this man represents the Judeans: THE JEWS
- There was a famine. The conditions in Judea having become unlivable, many Jews went in exile within the nations.
- The 2 sons married Gentile women.
- Their wives were not only Gentiles but Moabites whom Hashem said were forbidden to enter the congregation of Israel for 10 generations. Deut 23:3
- Things were doing better in Israel now.
- In those days, when a woman married a man, she married into his household, his business, and his religion.
- By marrying these Judeans, these women had de-facto become Jewish. They were living as Jews.
- When Neomy decided to return to Judea, Orpah decided that she didn't mind returning to her gods.
- The Tana'ch often uses opposites in order to teach us principles. In Ruth and Orpah we are taught about two opposite kind of disciples.
- Orpah was a "convenience disciple". This or that was the same to her. Religion was solely a cognitive mental experience to her; or even a simple emotion.
- Ruth on the opposite had tangibly experienced the truth. She could not go back on it without lying to herself and her own senses. Peter makes the difference between the two concepts in these words, 'For when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, we did not rely on cunningly contrived myths. On the contrary, we saw his majesty with our own eyes. For we were there when he received honor and glory from God the Father; and the voice came to him from the grandeur of the Sh'khinah, saying, "This is my son, whom I love; I am well pleased with him!" We heard this voice come out of heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.' (IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT WE TOLD YOU IS NOT EMOTIONAL OR INTELLIGENT CONCOCTED STORIES THAT WE MADE UP; THESE ARE THINGS WE WITNESSES WITH OUR OWN PHYSICAL SENSES) (2Pe 1:16-18)
- As an example, look at how many people who thought they loved each other end up in divorces. Emotions cannot be relied on. They change all the time with the weather, through something someone tells us, or something we eat. Those whose faith is only an emotional reality are unstable like the sea, and like Orpah will not mind going back, like divorcing.
- Jews returning knowing they had been chased by the hand of Adonai because of their disobedience.
- Neomi returned to Beth'lechem right after Passover, with the beginning of the counting of the omer; at the beginning of the barley harvest season.
- IMAGERY FROM THE TEXT: "At the beginning of the barley harvest season, or at the beginning of the returning season, the exiled Jew comes back with the reaping of an extra person in the Jewish community; an extra person reaped from the Gentiles."
- Ruth was a good convert. She did her homework on Jewish law. She knew the law of gleaning.
- Where is this law of gleaning placed in the Torah? Interestingly enough, it is placed right with the Laws concerning Shavuot, laws which ends the counting of the omer. " 'When you harvest the ripe crops produced in your land, don't harvest all the way to the corners of your field, and don't gather the ears of grain left by the harvesters; leave them for the poor and the foreigner; I am Adonai your God.' " (Lev 23:22) The time of Neomi and Ruth's return to Beth-lechem.
- Boa'az is the kinsman redeemer. He knows he is a relative to Neomi, so therefore to Ruth.
- He is a good Jew fulfilling his family responsibilities.
- Everything he says here are Torah commands:
- Protection against oppressing the foreigner (even from an enemy country as Ruth was)
- The Laws of gleaning.
- Going above and beyond the commandment.
- Bo'az is a very Torah observant Jew.
- Gentile Ruth feels unworthy. This section seems to foreshadow the episode between Yeshua and the Canaanite woman.
Bo`az answered her, "I've heard the whole story, everything you've done for your mother-in-law since your husband died, including how you left your father and mother and the land you were born in to come to a people about whom you knew nothing beforehand. (Rth 2:11 CJB)
- The Judean kinsman redeemer is grateful to, and honors Gentile Ruth for caring for Jewish Naomi while she was in exile.
- He knows the blessing given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for the Gentiles who bless them.
- Ruth, the true believer is not only thankful but she feels unworthy.
- She knows that her nation has been banished from Israel. She does not feel a spirit of entitlement towards the covenant of Israel.
- She feels that way because of her great faith and understanding of the God of Israel and of his people.
- She foreshadows the following episode with Yeshua: One of the P'rushim invited Yeshua to eat with him, and he went into the home of the Parush and took his place at the table. A woman who lived in that town, a sinner, who was aware that he was eating in the home of the Parush, brought an alabaster box of very expensive perfume, stood behind Yeshua at his feet and wept until her tears began to wet his feet. Then she wiped his feet with her own hair, kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them. When the Parush who had invited him saw what was going on, he said to himself, "If this man were really a prophet, he would have known who is touching him and what sort of woman she is, that she is a sinner." Yeshua answered, "Shim`on, I have something to say to you." "Say it, Rabbi," he replied. "A certain creditor had two debtors; the one owed ten times as much as the other. When they were unable to pay him back, he canceled both their debts. Now which of them will love him more?" Shim`on answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt." "Your judgment is right," Yeshua said to him. Then, turning to the woman, he said to Shim`on, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house -- you didn't give me water for my feet, but this woman has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair! You didn't give me a kiss; but from the time I arrived, this woman has not stopped kissing my feet! You didn't put oil on my head, but this woman poured perfume on my feet! Because of this, I tell you that her sins -- which are many! -- have been forgiven, because she loved much. But someone who has been forgiven only a little loves only a little." (Luk 7:36-47 CJB)
- The kinsman redeemer invites the Gentile (from an enemy country) to his table. Something unheard of, but that we find in the stories of:
- Isaac setting up and banquet in front of the Philistines who made peace with him after cheating from his father's wells. (Gen 26:30)
- Now we are at the time of Shavuot: the time of the wheat harvest.
- Firsfruits and Shavuot are the two book ends of the barley and wheat cereal harvesting.
- Now the Jerusalemite Jewish mother wants to care for her Gentile caretaker.
- She wants Ruth to be fully adopted into Israel.
- She doesn't only know Jewish laws, but she knows Jewish customs.
- The harvest season included winnowing the wheat at a "threshing floor," a parcel of ground where there was a prevailing wind. The grain was tossed into the air and fall downwind a small distance; the chaff, being lighter, would be carried further away. When done properly, two piles would result: the furthest would be burned as trash; the closer one would be bagged for the marketplace.
- The harvest was, of course, also a time for celebration, and the evenings were accompanied by festivities for having made payroll another season, etc. After the celebration, the owners typically would sleep near the grain to preclude theft. Ruth is instructed by Naomi to approach Boaz privately at the threshing floor.
- The shul ("skirt"), or hem, was the house emblem of rank or authority in Israel, much like the stripes on the sleeve of a naval officer or airline pilot in our culture.
- Ruth was asking Boaz to put the authority of his house over her. She is invoking her right under the laws of Israel for him to take her to wife.
- Boaz was delighted to accommodate her, but there was an obstacle to be overcome.
- Bo'az recognizes Ruth integrity, that her motivations were pure and not selfish.
- She did not see it as gain to be part of Israel but as an element of serving
- That;'s the way we should look at the Torah.
- How does it help us serve and be kind to others, not how it separates and divides us.
- Her good character spoke louder than her Moabite background.
- There is a nearer kinsman who would have to first step aside for Boaz to assume his role.
- This is a cloud over the otherwise joyous proceedings.
- Boaz takes on the task of confronting this nearer kinsman, in front of the city council, to force the issue.
- When a widow requested the next of kin to perform the role of the goel, or kinsman-redeemer, he wasn't forced to. In fact, there were three conditions to be met.
- He had to be qualified as a kinsman;
- He had to be able to perform;
- He had to be willing.
- A dowry?
- Are you Mrs Bo'az?
- There were two issues at stake
- Redeeming of the land for Naomi
- Taking of Ruth to wife
- As far as the land is concerned, the man appears to be willing.
- For some undisclosed reason, he is unable to perform where Ruth is concerned.
- That clears the way for our hero, Boaz, to fulfill his role as the goel.
- The giving of the shoe needs an explanation. If the nearer kinsman declined the responsibility, he would have to yield one of his shoes and could also suffer the indignity of being spit upon. When he declined, he performed the traditional gesture by yielding his shoe to Boaz. The shoe was intended to be a symbol of disgrace, but to Boaz it was a marriage license!
- As they celebrated the wedding of Ruth and Boaz at the end of Chapter 4, we encounter a rather strange remark in verse 12: "May your house be like Perez..." If you understand the sordid tale of Judah and Tamar,which leads to the illegitimate birth of Perez, you might be inclined to think, "Same to you, fella!" What kind of a "toast" or blessing is that?
- To understand what lies behind this unusual prophecy, we need to remember that in the case of an illegitimate son, there could be no inheritance for ten generations. Appended to the Book of Ruth is the genealogy from Perez, and ten generations leads us to David, anointed King over Israel!
- When Israel clamored for a king and Samuel anointed Saul,we often get the impression that David was an "afterthought" when Saul didn't work out. Not so. Here, as early as the time of the Judges, is a prophecy that David was God's destined choice for King. Perhaps that is why Samuel had to go to the tribe of Benjamin, rather than the royal tribe of Judahfor his selection: the curse on Perez's line hadn't run out yet.
IN THIS MIDRASH, THE FIRST KINSMAN REDEEMER COULD REPRESENT THE SADUCEEAN SYSTEM THAT REFUSED THE COMING OF THE NATIONS INTO THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL.
A CONNECTION WITH SHAVU'OT AND THE GIVING OF THE TORAH:
- On Shavu'ot in the desert Gentiles were present when the Torah was given to Israel.
- With Ruth, at Shavuot, Israel brought in a righteous Gentile who ended up being the great grand-mother of Yeshua
- On Shavu'ot/Pentecost, the Spirit of God was given to the disciples in the form of different tongues so they could bless the Gentiles in teaching them about the God of Israel. (Acts 2)
Therefore, remember your former state: you Gentiles by birth -- called the Uncircumcised by those who, merely because of an operation on their flesh, are called the Circumcised --at that time had no Messiah. You were estranged from the national life of Isra'el. You were foreigners to the covenants embodying God's promise. You were in this world without hope and without God. But now, you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of the Messiah's blood. For he himself is our shalom -- he has made us both one and has broken down the m'chitzah which divided us by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances. He did this in order to create in union with himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom, and in order to reconcile to God both in a single body by being executed on a stake as a criminal and thus in himself killing that enmity. Also, when he came, he announced as Good News shalom to you far off and shalom to those nearby, news that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers. On the contrary, you are fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's family. You have been built on the foundation of the emissaries and the prophets, with the cornerstone being Yeshua the Messiah himself. In union with him the whole building is held together, and it is growing into a holy temple in union with the Lord. Yes, in union with him, you yourselves are being built together into a spiritual dwelling-place for God! (Eph 2:11-22)
SHABBAT SHALOM AND CHAG SAMEACH
שבת שלום וחג שמח