Ruth; THE MOST Beloved Character in The Bible
The book of Ruth (megillat Ruth) is an exceptional literary work. There are no negative characters in it, or even complex characters. All of the heroes are good and pleasant, polite and generous. They live a life of love, admiration, peace and friendship - without any jealousy, intrigue, or other human activities that often accompany our lives.
And the most perfect in this brilliant story is Ruth, our main Hero. We fall in love with the first sentence coming out of her mouth, and our love for her grows stronger with each passing scene, from beginning to end. I don't think there's a more beloved character in the Bible than Ruth. Even King David, her famous great-grandson, who is considered one of the Bible's greatest loves, attracts a lot of adversity, while Ruth is beloved by everyone; the protagonists and readers, from biblical times until today.
Our sages (Chazzal) ask:
מגילה זו אין בה לא טומאה ולא טהרה ולא איסור ולא היתר. ולמה נכתבה? ללמדך כמה שכר טוב לגומלי חסדים.
"This scroll has no impurity and no purity, not a ban and no permit. Why was it written? To show you that, deeds of loving kindness reap great rewards."
The book of Ruth is a story, not law. It doesn’t contain any rules/commandments (mitzvoth), but it does contain many acts of loving kindness bestowed upon it’s heroes by one another.
So what possible lesson can we take from such a story full of goodness?
Our Sages believe that the educational effect is created by the introduction of an ideal world: Everyone is good, and everyone gets rewarded for his/her goodness.
In our “realistic” world today, we must often push and fight to get respect, get heard and make our mark. Being kind/nice is often seen as a weakness by others.
But in Ruth’s world the more acts of loving kindness one does, the more successful s/he becomes.
I very much admire Chazzal’s interpretation of the book of Ruth. Especially in light of all the popular reality shows on TV which present us with a world that is completely upside-down. For example, “House wives of...” shows that the success of one person always comes at the expense of another: The person who screams the loudest, gossips, spreads the most rumors and commits unkind acts, is the one who receives fame, money and acclaims. It seems to be the general theme in most reality shows. These shows however, present a limited reality that “dresses up” as the real world. Life isn’t always about “it’s you or me,” often it’s “you and me,” and sometimes it’s “Just me and I don’t care about you, I’m the only one that matters and the world revolves around me...”
So perhaps, the book of Ruth does not exactly reflect the real world we live in. Well, not perhaps, for sure. The person who does acts of kindness and is sweet/good isn’t always rewarded by society. At the same time, reality shows also don’t fully reflect our lives. And between those two unrealistic alternatives, the book of Ruth, according to the readings of Chazzal, at least offers us an ideal that we can and should strive for.
Ruth shows us that we should love, be loyal and decent. We should care for others and make sure the people around us are doing well. We should not be so self absorbed, that we only give in order to get something back, and we should get ahead/make our mark through the goodness of our hearts and not by being shallow and self centered.
Ruth is the most beloved Character in the Bible because she is sweet, nice, loving, caring and thoughtful. She gets rewarded for all these qualities and is put on a pedestal by her society for them.
May we strive to live in a world where kindness, love and light live; a world where the ones who do acts of loving kindness, are always seen as Heroes.
Rabbi Shai Specht
Rabbi Shai Specht is a Spiritual Life Coach, educator, motivational speaker and musician/cantor. He is based in New York City. Rabbi Specht's blog Physician of The Soul is where this piece was found ( http://www.rabbishaispecht.com/ ) . Thanks Rabbi Specht for allowing us to share this here ~ in peace, Humanity's TeamPosted Juni 8th, 2011 by Oneness Blogger