Shavuot 5780

May 26, 2020

Shavuot 5780

 

One of the reasons we read Megilat Rut is because Shavuot is Chag Hakatzir and the story of Rut took place at the harvesting season in Eretz Yisrael. Others say we read Rut because just like Rut, we came into a covenant with Hashem at Har Sinai and were born anew.

There is an important point in the story of Rut that I would like to address today and that is the identity of Boaz. The Gemara says: Boaz prepared one hundred and twenty feasts for his children at their weddings. As it is stated, concerning Ivtzan: “And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he sent abroad, and thirty daughters he brought in from abroad for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years” (Judges 12:9). The verse indicates that he had sixty children. In the Midrash, Chazal identify Boaz as the Judge Ivtzan. At each and every wedding he prepared for his children, he made two feasts, one in the house of the father of the groom and one in the house of the father-in-law of the groom. And he did not invite Manoah, the future father of Samson, whose wife was barren (see Judges 13:2) to any of them, as he said: It is not worth inviting him; he is a sterile mule, how will he pay me back? Manoah will never invite me in return, as he has no children. Whilst this is difficult to understand at face value this is not the topic of this article. As a result of not inviting Manoah our Sages teach that all his children died in his lifetime. Can you imagine how Boaz felt losing his entire family? Moreover, the Midrash tells us that on the day that Rut and Naomi arrived in Bet Lechem, the wife of Boaz passed away. There are various opinions in the midrash as to the age of Boaz at this time but according to all opinions he was at least 80 years old. It is hard to imagine that a bright future awaited him.

However, Chazal tell us as follows: And Rabbi Yitzchak also says with regard to this passage: That very day when Ruth the Moabite came to Eretz Yisrael, the wife of Boaz died, i.e., from the moment of their arrival the possibility was created for Ruth’s eventual marriage to Boaz. This explains the adage that people say: Before the deceased dies, the person who will next be in charge of his house arises, as in this case Boaz’s new wife, Rut, arrived as his previous wife died.

Boaz did not give up, started all over again and married Rut resulting in the eventual birth of King David who gave to Am Yisrael the book of Tehillim, as well as being the progenitor of the royal Davidic lineage that will that will reach its pinnacle with the coming of Mashiach.

Similarly, the Yetziat Mitzrayim also occurred in such a fashion. Pharaoh made a decree that all boys should be thrown into the river. Amram the father of Moshe divorced his wife so as not to bear sons to be killed by Pharaoh. As he was the leader of the Jewish nation all the Bnei Yisrael followed suit and divorced their wives.

Miriam, the sister of Moshe said to her father that whilst Pharaoh made a decree on the boys, national divorce would by default extend the decree to the girls as well. Accepting her argument, Amram remarried and Moshe Rabenu was born. This notion to never give up, even in the face of stark adversity gave rise to the Redeemer of Israel.

Another example is the Tanna Rabbi Akiva. For 24 years he toiled and taught his students; eventually heading the biggest Yeshiva of his day, with 24,000 students. Yet in the short period between Pesach and Shavuot they all tragically passed away. But Rabbi Akiva never gave up, he went to the south of Israel where he gathered five new students; Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Yossi, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Rabbi Elazar ben Shamua. The entire Torah we have today is from these five students of Rabbi Akiva. Where would we be today if Rabbi Akiva had not persevered?

Boaz, after losing all his family never gave up and brought us David Hamelech and the Mashiach. Amram even with the decree of Pharaoh brought to the world Moshe Rabenu and Rabbi Akiva rebuilt on the ashes of the old and brought the greatest light to our world.

Shavuot is the festival that we receive the Torah again. Let us be inspired to increase our commitment to learning Torah, to never give up on learning Torah. In our youth and in older age, whether in times of peace or of crisis the Torah should always be the oxygen of our life may we be merit to accept the Torah in any condition and bring light to the world, Amen.

Rabbi Fhima

Beth Hamidrach Anshei Shalom