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Why do we read the book of Ruth on Shavuot?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

Library » Holidays » Shavuot » Laws and Customs | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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1. The book of Ruth centers on the personality of, what do you know, Ruth. She in turn was the ancestor of King David, who passed away on Shavuot1 (and according to some he was also born on this day).

2. Ruth was a convert to Judaism, willingly entering a covenant with G-d through the acceptance of His Torah. On Shavuot, the Jewish people en masse entered this covenant with G-d by willingly accepting His Torah. The connection between Shavuot and conversion is not just homiletic; the conversion steps taken by Ruth, as well as by prospective converts until this very day, are akin, and derived from, the steps the Jewish people took at Sinai in the process of receiving the Torah.

3. The Numerical Value of Ruth is 606. On Shavuot the Jewish people received 606 new commandments in addition to the 7 that were already commanded to Adam and Noah, reaching a total of 613.2

4. Shavuot is also known as Chag Hakatzir - The Harvest Festival.3 The Book of Ruth gives us a picture of the harvest, and how the poor were treated in the harvest season with sympathy and love.

Click here to read the story and/or book of Ruth.

Footnotes

  • 1. Jerusalem Talmud 2:4 (11a)
  • 2. Sources for 1-3: Chagei Yisroel U'Moadov
  • 3. Exodus 23:16

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Shavuot
Early summer festival marking the day when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the year 2448 (1312 BCE).
Noah
Tenth generation from Adam. Of all humankind, only he and his family survived the Flood which destroyed all civilization in the year 2106 BCE.
Adam
The first man, created by G-d on the sixth day of creation. He was banished from the Garden of Eden after eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden knowledge. Died in 2830 BCE.
David
King of Israel who succeeded Saul, becoming king of Israel in 876 BCE. Originally a shepherd, he became popular after he killed the Philistine strongman, Goliath. He is the progenitor of the Davidic royal dynasty -- which will return to the throne with the arrival of King Messiah.
Ruth
1. A Moabite woman who accompanied Naomi, the Jewish mother of her deceased husband, back to Israel. She converted, married, and was the ancestor of King David. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, which chronicles the events of Naomi's life.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.