Simcha's Torah Stories
Avi, I sure am excited about Shavuos.
So am I, Chaim. I stay up late into the night learning Torah with my father.
Me too. It is really something to see the Beis HaMidrash (study hall) packed at that hour.
My father will be giving a class Shavuos night.
Really, Avi? What will he be speaking about?
He will talk about the connection between the Megilla of Ruth, which we read on Shavuos and the holiday itself.
I always wanted to know what the story of Ruth had in common with the giving of the Torah on Shavuos.
Why don't you come to the class, Chaim?
I think I will.
Later that night, Avi's father begins the class.
I am happy that all of you could join us this evening. Tonight we will be discussing the connection between the Megilla of Ruth and the holiday of Shavuos.
Our story begins with a famine in the Land of Israel. Elimelech was one of the wealthy men of the time, a supporter of many people. Due to the famine, poverty became rampant, and Elimelech did not want to support the many needy people who would beg for his help. He decided to leave his homeland, along with his family, and stay in the land of Moab. After a while he decided to live there. That is when the problems began. Elimelech passed away. His sons married non-Jewish women. They too passed away, leaving his wife, Naomi, a widow with no children. She became poverty stricken and heartbroken. Naomi decided to return to her homeland, the Land of Israel.
Her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, were Moabite women. Moab was the son of Lot, the nephew of Avraham Avinu, our father Abraham. Ruth and Orpah had Jewish ancestry. We know that Avraham Avinu was a man whose very essence was kindness. He spent his entire life doing acts of kindness for others. That is why he was fitting to be the father of the Jewish nation. His descendants also had this character trait of kindness. However, Lot, his nephew went to live in Sodom, a place where kindness was against the law. The trait of kindness became hidden, covered up, and eventually almost forgotten. Until it surfaced generations later in the person of Ruth, the Moabite.
Ruth was a beautiful woman, the daughter of Eglon, King of Moab. She could have stayed in Moab and married a wealthy young man. Instead, she clung to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and returned with her to the land of Israel. Why did she do this? She saw Naomi's plight and empathized with her. She saw the truth of the Torah and was drawn to it. The trait of loving kindness, which had lain dormant for generations, was coming out. She later performed an even bigger act of kindness. She married an elderly man, Boaz, for the sake of Naomi's family. These two acts of self-sacrifice earned her a place in Jewish history.
Now, what does this have to do with receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai? The very essence of the Torah is kindness. The mitzvos are one act of kindness after another. In order to receive the Torah, one must prepare himself. What sort of preparation is necessary? Being kind to others. Becoming a compassionate, selfless, empathetic person. Only such a person can receive the Torah.
The story of Ruth can be an inspiration to all of us in our day and age. All Jews have that spark of kindness in their hearts. They are exiled throughout the world, far and wide. Sometimes that spark of Jewishness is covered by many layers of the foreign culture in which they are living. We should not be discouraged, however. The spark is always there. It just needs to be uncovered and brought back to its source. There it will grow into a flame of Jewishness, loving G-d, Torah, and all Jews.
Back to our friends, Avi and Chaim.
Avi, that was so inspiring. I am ready to go help anyone that I can come closer to Judaism.
Chaim, it is also a self-inspiration. Our own hearts also want to do more acts of kindness. When we help others, we are also helping ourselves, and preparing ourselves to receive the Torah in its entirety this Shavuos.
Avi, we should all be successful.
A traveler comes to a fork in the road and does not know how to get to his destination. Two men are at the fork in the road. One of them always tells the truth, and the other one always lies. He may ask the men one question to find his way. What question does the man ask these men?
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