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JUNE 8-10, 2000 6-7 SIVAN 5760

Pop Quiz: How old was Boaz when he married Ruth?

by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And you shall be to me a chosen nation" As Hashem approached the Jewish nation with the suggestion to receive the Torah, He described to us what it would mean if we accept the Torah. Our nation, despite its small size, would be the special nation dedicated to the Torah and Hashem. There is a mistaken notion that many people have, and this verse comes to set the record straight. The general opinion is that it would be enough for a few individuals to be dedicated to Torah study. These individuals will spend all their time studying and serving Hashem. This is not the plan. Our nation is called a chosen nation, not chosen individuals. Hashem's desire is that one entire nation from the rest of the nations would be dedicated to study and service.

On the holiday of Shabuot we should reflect on how it used to be. The community in Aleppo was known as a community that knew full well the ins and outs of Torah study. Everyone knew how to learn, besides knowing how to earn. We all have the ability to be accomplished scholars. If we decide on Shabuot that we will begin to attend study classes during the weekdays and/or nights, Hashem will help us to achieve the goal of being a chosen nation. Happy Holiday.

by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

The Talmud relates a fascinating episode. When Moshe went up to the heavens to receive the Torah, the heavenly angels didn't want to let the Torah go down to earth. Moshe was afraid to tackle the angels but Hashem told him to answer them. Moshe then told the angels, "Why do you want the Torah? Did you go out of Egypt? Do you have parents to honor? Do you steal, murder, etc.?" At that point they agreed with Moshe and let the Torah come down to the Jewish people and even gave Moshe "gifts." The question is obvious. What was the angels' point and how did Moshe convince them otherwise?

The Rabbis tell us that of course the angels knew they could not fulfill the Torah. However, they wanted to be the ones to decide the laws of the Torah. If ever there is a controversy or a question, the Heavenly Academy should be the decider. Moshe told them, you have to be involved and obligated in order to decide the laws of the Torah. The Torah is not just a subject to voice our opinions on; it is a way of life. If we live a life of Torah and study thoroughly, we have the ability to expound upon it and indeed even be one of the deciders of the Torah. All of our great scholars were indeed permeated with Torah through and through and were able to decide the halachah. It's amazing that although no one would ever contradict a brain surgeon as to his field of expertise, many people venture an opinion in halachah without even studying the subject. Let us recommit ourselves this Shabuot holiday to study, to learn, to understand and indeed to live a life of Torah. Tizku Leshanim Rabot.


What is the reason for the custom to read Megillat Ruth on Shabuot?

1) Ruth was the ancestor of King David, and he is the ancestor of Mashiah. King David died on Shabuot, and since the Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 11a) says, "Hashem completes the years of the righteous from day to day," it follows that David was also born on Shabuot. Hence, it is customary to read Megillat Ruth in his honor.

2) The story of Ruth concerns a girl, who as a Moabite, was seemingly forbidden to marry into the Jewish people. However the Sages interpret the verse, "An Amorite or a Moabite may not marry into the community of G-d" to refer only to the Moabite men but not to the women. Consequently, due to the Rabbinic interpretation of the Torah, it was possible for Ruth to marry Boaz and become the ancestor of King David and Mashiah. Therefore the Book of Ruth is read on Shabuot to emphasize the immense benefit the Jewish people derive from the Oral Torah.

3) Ruth was married to Mahlon, the son of Elimelech. After her husband and father-in-law died, she was seeking for one of their relatives to marry her and purchase the family field. Thus, when she came to the field, people would say, "This is Mahlon's widow," and his memory would be perpetuated. Her closest relatives were an uncle named Tob and a cousin named Boaz. Since she was a Moabite, Tob refused to marry her out of fear that he would bring a blemish upon his family. Boaz married her and also acquired the field.

At that time Boaz, who was one of the judges in the Jewish community, was wealthy and head of a large family. He could have easily avoided marrying Ruth. Why did he agree to get involved? Obviously Boaz's attitude was that no opportunity to do a misvah should ever be missed.

Shabuot is celebrated as the period of the giving of the Torah, and in the Torah there are six hundred and thirteen misvot. The reading of the story of Ruth on Shabuot emphasizes the importance of every misvah and that a person may never know how performing a single misvah may bring Mashiah and the ultimate redemption of the Jewish people. (Vedibarta Bam)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Three hundred years old.

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