The Light of the Messiah
And when she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying: 'Let
glean even among the sheaves, and put her not to shame.
And also pull out some for her on purpose from the bundles, and leave it,
and let her glean, and rebuke her not.'
So she gleaned in the field until evening; and she beat out that which she
had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.
And she took it up, and went into the city; and her mother-in-law saw what
she had gleaned; and she took it out and gave to her that which she had
left after she was satisfied.
And her mother-in-law said to her: 'Where did you gleaned today? and
where you worked? blessed be he that took notice of you.' And she told her
mother-in-law with whom she worked and said: 'The man's name with whom I
worked to-day is Boaz.'
And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law: 'Blessed be he of HaShem, who has
not left off His kindness to the living and to the dead.' And Naomi said
unto her: 'The man is a kin to us, one of our near kinsmen.'
And Ruth the Moabitess said: 'Yea, he said to me: keep fast by my young
men, until they have ended all my harvest.'
And Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law: 'It is good, my daughter, that
you go out with his maidens, and that you be not met in any other field.'
So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley
harvest and of wheat harvest; and she dwelt with her mother-in-law. (Ruth
After Boaz and Ruth ate together, things went back to the way they were.
Ruth returned to gleaning in the field and Boaz to being its master. So it
went until the barley harvest passed and also the wheat harvest – a period
of almost three months. Behind the scenes, however, Boaz was taking care
of Ruth’s material needs in a way that did not leave her beholden to him
or even aware of his kindness. He commanded that sheaves be left for her,
as if forgotten in the haste of the harvest, so that she bring them home
and accumulate a store of grain. Ruth, however, did not know from where
this largesse came and refused to take it. Perhaps it came from the lads
who labored in the fields, perhaps they meant to curry favor with her or
had their own designs or hopes or expectations. Ruth kept her dignity and
remained aloof, taking only the gleanings to which she was in any case
When on that first day Ruth returned home, she carried a large quantity of
grain and she also brought with her remains of a prepared supper that she
saved for Naomi– parched grain, perhaps slices of bread dipped in vinegar.
The poor who glean in the fields do not get fed. Naomi assumed that Ruth
did not only glean but hired herself out that day – “where did you glean
and where did you work?, she asks in surprise. Naomi is concerned, for
clearly some stranger was overly kind to her daughter-in-law, perhaps for
the sake of heaven, perhaps not for the sake of heaven. So Ruth tells
Naomi who the man is and then is surprised in turn. Boaz is a kinsman!
Naomi blesses God for she knows that this could have come only from Him
and that in some way He has a Plan.
Ruth must have been torn between a sense of obligation and fear. Shouldn’t
Naomi hear what took place between Ruth and Boaz, would Naomi understand,
would she grasp what unfolded , would the act of telling her sully the
ephemeral, delicate and evanescent things that passed between Boaz and
Ruth. Perhaps it isn’t even true, for nothing was made explicit or clear.
Could it be that her poverty and sorrow play tricks with her mind, evoking
fantasies, portraying things that were not and never could be? A
foreigner, a Moabite beggar, and the Prince of the people?
Ruth communicates to Naomi in the only way that befits a refined and
intelligent woman like her – by allusion. The servants stand in by proxy
for Boaz,“ He said to me: keep fast by my young men, until they have ended
all my harvest”… but Naomi does not grasp her intent.
So months pass by without another conversation. For reasons that remain
obscure to us until later, Boaz does not reach out to Ruth. On the
surface, the story has stalled but behind the scenes, Hashem is working
toward His purpose.
And it was at that time that Judah went down away from his brothers… R.
Shmuel bar Nachmeni began: “For I know the calculations (Jeremiah 29)”.
The brothers were busy with the sale of Joseph. Joseph was occupied with
his fasting and sackcloth. Reven was occupied with his fasting and
sackcloth. Yakov was occupied with his fasting and sackcloth. Yehudah was
occupied with finding a wide. And the Holy One Blessed be He was occupied
with creating the light of the Messiah (Gen. Rabbah 85:2)
No one can rash the light of the Messiah. Boaz, Ruth and Naomi continued
to think, consider, hope and evaluate. When the time comes, they will be
ready; their thinking clarified, their emotions purified, their purpose
certain. Like pregnancy, the determination was growing within them for
three months; when the barley and wheat harvest was completed, so was the
Plan. Now all the actors are ready and in chapter 3 the Actor brings it to
Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Dr. Meir Levin and Torah.org.