Thursday, August 22, 2019 -
Print Edition

Full circle

RUTH, the namesake of the the Scroll of Ruth, has always been the gentle and beautiful heroine whom we all love so much.

Her compassion and lovingkindness, her maternal caring and brave courageousness in the face of despair, and ultimately her choice to join the Jewish people, have captured all of our hearts.

She is the woman who, by the sheer leap of faith she takes alone, becomes the agent of change and kindness that transforms not only the people around her and in Bethlehem, her community, but ultimately Jewish destiny.

The Book of Ruth begins with so much catastrophe, so much pain, loneliness and a sense of bereftness. Yet it ends with love, and with a baby.

Who transforms the painful beginning to the hopeful ending? None other than Ruth the Moabite herself.

It’s interesting how, despite Ruth being the centerpiece of the scroll, there is something of an intermixing of different Biblical personalities echoing in the text.

From the very first verses, as Elimelech and his family descend from the pinnacle of society to a family bereft of everything, we are reminded of Job. Job, a wealthy man who is plagued by G-d’s actions, is stripped of everything, piece by piece.

It’s hard to read about the scene of sisters Ruth and Orpah, descendants of Lot, walking Naomi to edge of the town without thinking about their ancestor Lot. The parting of the sisters reminds us of a parting scene between Abraham and Lot.

Abraham suggests to Lot that they each go their separate ways due to the abundance of their flocks and the accompanying challenges, specifically the flocks being too numerous to share the same land. Abraham offers Lot the choice of pastures — the direction in which he prefers to travel. Lot, the ancestor of Moab, and Abraham, the founding father of the Jewish people, part ways.

The rest of this article is available in the IJN’s print edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at (303) 861-2234 or email

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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