This Megilah, says R. Zeira, contains neither Tum'ah nor Taharah, neither Heter nor Isur. So why was it written? To teach us the reward of those who perform Chesed (Yalkut Shimoni).
This statement, says the Mo'adim ba'Halachah, is puzzling, to say the least. To begin with, there is one Halachah which Chazal learn from it openly and unambiguously, because it is the sole source in the entire T'nach. It is the Halachah pertaining to Kinyan Chalipin (the kinyan of exchange), in connection with which the Pasuk writes "And this is what was formerly done in Yisrael with regard to sales and exchanges, to clinch all things (i.e. business deals) a man would take off his shoe and give it to his friend; and this was the done thing in Yisrael" (Rus 4:7). In fact, not only do the Chachamim learn the actual validity of Chalipin from this Pasuk, but they also derive from it a host of details regarding the Halachah, some of them by way of dispute. For example, whether it is the acquirer who gives the object or the seller, whether a K'li (a vessel) must be used or whether fruit and the like is also eligible. And that, when it comes to acquiring something, whichever method of acquiring is customary, is valid.
And there are many others.
Aside from Chalipin and its detailed Halochos, the Chachamim learn no less than six additional Halochos from Megilas Rus. They learn ...
1. ... the prohibition of leaving Eretz Yisrael, unless certain criteria are met - from Elimelech, Machlon and Chilyon, who died in Mo'av primarily for leaving Eretz Yisrael, despite the fact that a famine was in progress at the time.
2. ... the obligation to marry in one's old age, even though one has been married in one's youth and even had children from one's first wife - from Bo'az, who married Rus in his old age, even though, when he was younger, he had fathered many children from his first wife.
3. ... that Birchas Chasanim (Chupah and Sheva B'rachos) requires ten people - from Bo'az at the end of the Megilah.
4. ... various details regarding the Dinim of Geirus (conversion), such as the obligation to teach a would-be Ger a variety of Halochos, some less-important and some more important, and that one neither makes it too difficult for him nor is one overly fussy with him - from Na'omi's dealings with Rus prior to her (Rus') conversion.
5. ... that one is permitted to greet a person using the Name of Hashem - from Bo'az (who actually initiated the custom and) who greeted his harvesters with the Name of Hashem.
6. ... that one should wear nicer clothes on Shabbos than one wears during the week - from Naomi, who told Rus to put on her clothes before going down to the barn where Bo'az was sleeping. She can only have meant that Rus should change into nicer clothes.
In addition to the above, Chazal learn many lessons in Mussar and Midos from the Megilah. For example, they learn from the fact that Bo'az remained in the barn the night after winnowing the harvest, that a Talmid-Chacham should not go out alone at night.
And from Bo'az, who bade the ten elders (that he chose to participate in his wedding with Rus) to be seated, they learn that in the presence of a person greater than oneself, one is forbidden to sit down without his express permission.
But then, the Mo'adim ba'Halachah explains, as far as Midos is concerned, the main message of the Megilah concerns the Midah of Chesed, as we wrote at the beginning. And it is from Bo'az' statement to Rus "Hashem will repay your good deed and your reward will be complete from Hashem ... under whose wing you came to take shelter" that they extrapolate the power of those who perform Chesed. They find shelter, not in the morning shade, not in the shade of the wings of the earth or in the shade of the wings of the sun, not even in the shade of the holy Chayos or of the Serafim, but in the shade of the One who said and the world came into existence, as the Pasuk writes "How precious is Your kindness Hashem, and in the shadow of Your wings they take shelter" '.
"And also they died" (1:5).
From the word "also", the Medrash learns that Machlon and Chilyon did not die before they had lost all their property.
First their horses, their donkeys and their camels died. This should have served as a warning to induce them to mend their ways (to divorce their non-Jewish wives and return to Eretz Yisrael).
And it was only when they refused to take the hint that Hashem struck them down.Rus and Orpah's Chesed
"And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law ... may G-d perform with you kindness, like you did with the deceased and with me" (1:8).
"With the deceased", Chazal explain, by seeing to their shrouds and burial; "And with me", they say, by foregoing their respective Kesubos (which Naomi had become obligated to pay when they died).
Predicting a Royal
and Wealthy Descendent
"May Hashem give you ..." (1:9).
'May all the good things and consolations ', says R. Yossi, 'that Hashem will give to Shlomoh Hamelech, come from you!' (see Torah Temimah).
Na'omi also hints at Shlomoh Hamelech later (chap. 2, 12), when she says "u'sehi maskurtech Sh'leimoh (and may your reward be complete, but) which can also be read as 'Sh'lomoh' (see also Medrash there on Pasuk 14).
Considering the abject poverty to which Rus and Orphah had subjected themselves, Shlomoh's wealth was indeed an apt blessing and consolation (maybe that explains the insertion of the word 'consolations' by R. Yossi, which otherwise appears meaningless).
But That's Not Yibum
"Even if I was expecting children, would they become your husbands?" (1:11).
The Yibum to which Naomi was referring was in reality, a borrowed term. After all, Rus had not even been Jewish whilst she was 'married' to Machlon, and in any case, Bo'az was not Machlon's brother. But these legal flaws apart, the Yibum would have been illegal anyway, since Elimelech (Naomi's husband) had already died, rendering this a case of 'the wife of a brother who died before he was born', to whom Yibum does not apply. As the Ramban explains in Parshas Vayeishev [38:8]), Bo'az acted in the spirit of Yibum, without actually performing the Mitzvah.
Tzum Dritten Mohl!
Going, Going, Gone!
"Return my daughters, take leave ... " (1:12).
This was the third, and last time, says the Medrash, that Naomi used this expression.
We can learn from here (see Torah Temimah) that one is obligated to dissuade a would-be convert to go through with his plans only three times. Should he still persist, then one is duty-bound to accept him, without another word.
The Power of Tears
"And they raised their voices and wept a lot" (1:14).
Rava explained that Orpah emitted four tears, and it was on account of those four tears that she merited giving birth to four mighty men, Golyas and his three brothers Saf, Madon and Yishbi.
The gates of tears, say Chazal, are never shut ... never mind who it is who is crying, provided the tears are real. No genuine tears ever get lost!
It Didn't Take Long!
"And she (Naomi) said 'Behold your 'rival' has returned to her people and to her gods ... " (1:15).
The moment Orpah returned to her people, she returned to her gods, Chazal explain.
Orpah had been married to Chilyon for ten years, yet she had hardly turned her back on Naomi, and she had already relinquished all that she had learned.
That's how the Yeitzer-ha'Ra works. He makes you forget in a few minutes what took ten years to learn.
Cutting Her Nose ...
"And Rus said 'Don't plead with me (Al tifge'i bi) to leave you ... ' " (1:16).
The Pasuk ought to have said 'Al tiftzeri bi'. It used the word "tifge'i", because it has connotations of 'Pega', which in turn, has connotations of sin and punishment (see Torah Temimah).
'Don't sin through me', Rus was saying to Naomi. 'If you prevent me from converting, you will end up by being punished' (see above 'Tzum Dritten Mohl! … ')
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Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim
The reason that the Chachamim refer to Shavu'os as 'Atzeres' is twofold, the Kedushas Levi explains:
1. All other Yamim-Tovim (with the exception of Shemimi Atzeres, which shares Shavu'os' name and the reasons under discussion) are subject to two ways of Avodas Hashem - one in the form of the speciality of that particular Yom-Tov (Matzah, Shofar, Lulav or Succah ... ), the other, in the form of not doing 'work'.
Shavu'os is subject only to the latter (which translates as Atziras Melochoh). Hence the title 'Atzeres'.
2. Both other Chagim (Pesach and Succos) have a Chol ha'Mo'ded attached to them, on which work, under certain conditions, is permitted. Shavu'os (like Shemini Atzeres) has not. Once again, the title 'Atzeres' is appropriate.
The Ya'avatz explains that the mountain Har Sinai derives its name from the 'S'neh' (the burning bush), where G-d first appeared to Moshe (indeed, the Pasuk in Sh'mos [3:12] equates the two).
He also refers to members of the ben Chisdai family of Barcelona, who showed him remarkable stones that they took from the mountainside of Har Sinai. On each stone was engraved a perfectly-shaped picture of a bush, and this picture appeared on every side of the stone. Even more amazing was the fact that however many times one broke up the stone, the same picture could be seen on each side of the fragments. These stones are purchasable in abundance today.
The Magein Avraham attributes the Minhag to stay up the whole of Shavu'os night to learn Torah to the Medrash, which explains that Yisrael at Har Sinai slept the entire night prior to Matan Torah, and G-d had to arouse them in the morning. We therefore rectify that lapse by staying awake.
As Good as New
The Sefarim cite the Kisvei Ari, who says that when Yom-Tov arrives each year, history repeats itself and whatever happened on the original day (Yetzi'as Mitzrayim on Pesach, Matan Torah on Shavu'os ... ) happens again.
The question arises however, how it is possible to receive the Torah on Shavu'os, seeing as we already have it?
We can do so, says the Ma'or Einayim, by applying what Chazal say 'Every day Torah and Mitzvos should be fresh in your eyes like the day on which they were given'. Taking this upon oneself on Shavu'os, the anniversary of Matan Torah, is akin to accepting the Torah afresh.
Eating Milky on Shavu'os
The Minhag to eat milky foods, says the Machtzis ha'Shekel, is reminiscent of the two cooked dishes that we eat on Seider night, one to remind us of the Korban Pesach, the other, of the Chagigah. Likewise on Shavu'os, we eat milky and meaty (which necessitate two separate loaves), to remind us of the two Loaves that were brought on Shavu'os. Among the many ideas that the two Loaves represent is the two Toros - the written and the oral.
The Greatest Kindness
The Hagahos Minhagim ascribes the Minhag of eating milky on Shavu'os to the colour of milk. White, he explains, hints at the Midah of Chesed. Giving us His holy Torah was a supreme act of Chesed, inasmuch as it reveals to us all the Divine secrets.
The first letters of the words in Tehilim (92:3) "Lehagid Ba'boker Chasdecho ..." spell 'Cholov' (milk), a hint connecting Chesed and milk, and the first letters of the words in Pinchas (28:26 [in connection with the two Loaves on Shavu'os]), "ve'hikravtem Minchah Chadoshoh La'Hashem Be'Shovu'oseichem" spell 'me'cholov', a hint connecting milk with Shavu'os.
Eiver min ha'Chai
Another reason for eating milk foods on Shavu'os is given by R. Nachum Aharon Rokei'ach, who points to the Gemara in Bechoros (6), which cites as the source for the concession of drinking milk (although strictly speaking it ought to be forbidden, since it is Eiver min ha'Chai), the Pasuk in Sh'mos (3:8) which describes Eretz Yisrael as "a land flowing with milk and honey".
It therefore emerges that, only after the Torah (containing this Pasuk) was given, were our ancestors allowed to drink milk. Therefore, we partake of milk foods to remind us of Matan Torah, without which, they would have been forbidden.
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AND THEIR MEANING
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)
Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article
reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch
and are not necessarily Halachah.
To Appear in
Every male is obliged to appear in Yerushalayim in the Beis-Hamikdash on the three occasions each year that are fixed by the Torah ... Pesach, Shavu'os and Succos, as the Torah writes in Re'ei (16:16) "Three times a year all your males shall appear before Hashem your G-d".
The gist of the Mitzvah is for every man to go up to Yerushalayim together with whichever of his sons are able to walk, and to be seen there. This obligation incorporates bringing a burnt-offering, which is known as an 'Olas Re'Iyah'. There is no minimum value or size attached to this Korban; even a pigeon or a dove is valid.
The author already discussed in Mitzvah 88 (Celebrating on Yom-Tov) how Yisrael have been given three Mitzvos on Yom-Tov: Chagigah, Re'iyah and Simchah, and how each of these is accompanied by a Korban, known as Korban Chagigah, Olas Re'iyah and Shalmei Simchah, respectively.
A reason for the Mitzvah ... is so that Yisrael will see via the Korban which arouses their hearts, and take to heart that all of Yisrael, from small to big, are the portion of Hashem and His inheritance, a holy and chosen nation, who guard his testimony, and whom G-d treasures over all the nations that are beneath the Heaven. They will realize that they have been chosen to keep His statutes and to uphold His laws. That is why they must make the pilgrimage to His house thrice annually. It is as if they are announcing 'Behold we are servants of G-d, arriving under the shadow of His beam. We rely on His strength forever and ever, in His love and fear, and no stranger will come in our midst, for we alone are members of His household'. By this act, our thoughts will be aroused, we will imbibe the fear of G-d in our hearts and fix his love in our mind's-eye. And as a result, we will earn His kindness and His blessings.
The Mitzvah is confined to males, because they are the mainstay of the people, whilst the children and the women are secondary to them. And the bond that is created by the man's visit to the Beis-Hamikdash extends automatically to all those who fall under his jurisdiction.
Not so the obligation to travel to Yerushalayim on the Succos after the Sh'mitah, which pertains to the women and the children too. This is because the Sh'mitah releases every person from every form of subjugation, returning him to the sole jurisdiction of G-d.
Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah ... The above-mentioned Korbanos override neither Shabbos nor Tum'ah, but they do override Yom-Tov, in spite of the prohibition of bringing Nedarim and Nedavos (freewill offerings) on Yom-Tov. In Mitzvah 88, the author already clarified whom this Mitzvah affects and whom it does not, and other similar details, as he does throughout the Seifer.
Not to Appear in the Beis-Hamikdash Without a Korban
It is forbidden to appear in the Beis-Hamikdash on Yom-Tov without bringing the Korban Olas Re'iyah, which we referred to in the previous Mitzvah, as the Torah writes in Parshas Re'ei (16:16) "And the Face of Hashem shall not be seen empty-handed". It is as if the Torah had written "One shall not be seen before Hashem empty-handed".
The author also wrote there, a reason for the Mitzvah and other details pertaining to it, and that it is confined to males only, and not to women, just like the Asei that goes with it.
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