Many of our friends and family just celebrated the 3rd FEAST of the LORD (Lev. 23) called SHAVUOT. It’s an amazing feast day filled with a wealth of knowledge if one just takes the time to even scratch beneath the surface.
One of the most interesting occurrences affiliated with this amazing feast day is that the Book of Ruth is read. Why the book of Ruth? She was not ‘Jewish’ nor did she assimilate! Why would the whole Jewish world read a ‘gentile’ book? Let’s examine a few things:
Book of Ruth
There are five books in Tanakh that are known as Megillot (Hebrew: מגילות, “scrolls”) and are publicly read in the synagogues of some Jewish communities on different Jewish holidays. The Book of Ruth (מגילת רות, Megillat Ruth) is read on Shavuot because:
- King David, Ruth’s descendant, was born and died on Shavuot (Jerusalem Talmud Hagigah 2:3);
- Shavuot is harvest time [Exodus 23:16], and the events of Book of Ruth occur at harvest time;
- The gematria (numerical value) of Ruth is 606, the number of commandments given at Sinai in addition to the Seven Laws of Noah already given, for a total of 613;
- Because Shavuot is traditionally cited as the day of the giving of the Torah, the entry of the entire Jewish people into the covenant of the Torah is a major theme of the day.
- Ruth’s conversion to Judaism, and consequent entry into that covenant, is described in the book. This theme accordingly resonates with other themes of the day;
- Another central theme of the book is ḥesed (loving-kindness), a major theme of the Torah.
- The above is just touching the surface of the many faces of Shavuot – but I’d like to take a few moments to ‘see‘ Ruth…who was this woman who is behind so much of what we believe in?
Follow along with me….