For the week ending 15 May 2021 / 4 Sivan 5781
Reading Megillat Ruth on Shavuot
Here are seven reasons why we read the Megillah of Ruth on Shavuot:
- The events occurred during the harvest season. Shavuot is the harvest festival.
- Ruth was a convert to Judaism. Conversion is an individual Kabbalat HaTorah — receiving and accepting the Torah.
- Ruth the Moabite was permitted to marry Boaz, based on a drasha (a teaching in the Oral Law) of the verse, "A Moabite may not marry into the Congregation of Hashem" (Devarim 23:4). This hints at the unity between the Written Torah and the Oral Torah.
- King David was born on Shavuot. The Megillah of Ruth concludes with David's lineage.
- To teach the greatness of gemillut chassadim — acts of loving-kindness.
- To teach that the Torah is acquired only through affliction and poverty.
- The name "Ruth" has the numerical value of 606. At Mount Sinai the Jewish People accepted 606 mitzvahs in addition to the 7 Noachide Laws which were incumbent upon them already (606 plus 7 equals the 613 mitzvahs).