ולנעמי מידע ... לאישה ממשפחת אלימלך ושמו בעז
Naomi had a relative through her husband ... from the family of Elimelech, his name was Boaz. (2:1)

QUESTION: The word “moda” — “relative” — is read as though it were written with a vav (מודע), but in the actual text it is spelled with a yud (מידע) — what is the significance of the yud?

ANSWER: The Midrash Rabbah (Shemot 15:26) says that the moon operates on a 30-day cycle. In the beginning its illumination becomes stronger each day, and on the fifteenth day of the month it reaches its peak. Afterwards, it starts a downward trend. Likewise, there were fifteen generations from Avraham to King Shlomo. Avraham began to illuminate the world and the full glory of the Jewish people was manifest in the days of Shlomo. A verse states, “King Shlomo became greater than all the kings of the land in wealth and wisdom. All the kings of the world wanted to see Shlomo, to hear his wisdom which Hashem put in his heart” (II Chronicles 9:23).

Elimelech, Salmon (father of Boaz) and Ploni Almoni (Tov, the would-be redeemer) were all brothers. When Boaz married Ruth a child was born named Oved — Oved’s son was Yishai, and his grandson was David (4:21). Since Shlomo was the fifteenth generation, David was the fourteenth, and Boaz was the eleventh. Had Ploni Almoni (Tov) who was Elimelech’s brother redeemed the property and married Ruth, then King Shlomo would be the fourteenth and not the fifteenth generation after Avraham.

Therefore, when Boaz is first introduced on the scene as a relative, there is a yud in the word “moda” — “relative” — which has the numerical value of ten. This indicates that from Avraham until him there were already ten generations and he was the eleventh. Prophetically, Naomi knew that Shlomo had to be the fifteenth generation, and thus she knew that Boaz and not his uncle, Tov, was the one who Providence destined to marry Ruth.

(אלשיך, זאת נחמתי – מר' שלמה ז"ל יאנאווסקי)

* * *

Alternatively, the yud, which has the numerical value of 10, is indicating that from this relative [Boaz] will emanate David who will be the 10th generation descendant from Peretz (see genealogy at end of Ruth).

(שמחת הרגל)

* * *

According to the above that the yud in moda — relative — is a reference to David who was the tenth generation, the word moda (מודע) is an acronym for “matzati David avdi” (מצאתי דוד עבדי) — “I found David My servant” — which is the way Hashem expresses Himself about David (Psalms 89:21), (see p. 209).

Thus, perhaps the extra yud tells us that the way David was found to be a legitimate member of Klal Yisrael is thanks to the extra yud in the word Mo’avi (מואבי) from which the Sages derived that only a Mo’avi, a male Moabite is precluded from entering into the Congregation of Hashem (but not Mo’avit — a female). Since David’s link to Moab was through his great-grandmother Ruth, who halachically converted, he is an authentic member of Klal Yisrael.

(פרפראות לחכמה מר' נח ז"ל ליפשיטץ המכונה ר' נח מינדעס מ'ווילנא)


ושמו בעז
And his name was Boaz (2:1)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Bava Batra 91a) says that Boaz was actually the judge Ivtzan who is mentioned in the book of Judges (12:8). If so, how did he get the name Boaz?

ANSWER: In the Hebrew language the letter beit (ב) has the numerical value of two, and the word az (עז) means strength. Thus, the name Boaz (ב-עז) is a juxtaposition of two words, connoting that he possessed a double strength.

Boaz was a great tzaddik and (1) in his merit the Jewish people were victorious over their enemies, and (2) thanks to him the famine that struck Eretz Yisrael came to an end.

(תרגום על רות ד:כ"א)


ותאמר רות המואביה
Ruth the Moabite said. (2:2)

QUESTION: By now Ruth was a bonafide convert. Why is she titled “the Moabite”?

ANSWER: The title “Mo’avi’ah” here is not used in a derogatory sense, but on the contrary, to express her greatness.

In the following three chapters of the Megillah there are events which superficially seem to exemplify unbecoming behavior for people of such stature, to put it mildly. Therefore, at the outset it is necessary to make a disclaimer that all that we will read about was fully lesheim Shamayim — for the sake of Heaven.

Ruth was a tzadeiket — a righteous woman. She had a lofty Heavenly mission to become the “Mother of Royalty” through her descendants King David, Shlomo and Mashiach.

In order that this come to fruition it was her goal to forge the third link in the Davidic and Messianic chain. The first was accomplished by the daughters of Lot. The second was created through Yehudah and Tamar and now she and Boaz would bring about the third and final link (see p. 277).

That whatever Yehudah did was for the sake of Heaven is indisputable. His name is testimony to this. Four of the five letters of his name Yehudah (יהודה), spell the Holy Four letter Name, the Tetragrammaton.

Likewise, the word “HaMo’avi’ah” (המואביה) contains all the four letters of the Tetragrammaton to indicate that Hashem was with her and approved of all that she did.

The remaining letters of “HaMo’avi’ah” are mem, alef and beit. The mem and beit, which numerically add up to forty two, is for Hashem’s Holy forty-two lettered Name.(See Kiddushin 71a.)

Hashem has different Names, each serving a distinct purpose. There is a forty-two lettered Name of Hashem (שם מ"ב) which according to the Kabbalists is the holiest of all His Names. It is comprised of the first letters of the forty-two words ofthe “Ana becho’ach” prayer composed by the Tanaitic Sage Rabbi Nechunia ben Hakanah. The Siddur, at the end of each of the seven verses of “Ana becho’ach,” prints an acrostic of the first letters of the six words of the verse. These letters, according to the Kabbalists, are the forty-two letters which spell this exalted Name.

Furthermore, Hashem created the world with this forty-two lettered Name (Zohar II, 234b), and it facilitates a Jew’s endeavors to ascend spiritually from level to level. For this reason, every morning as we prepare to ascend spiritually through prayer, we recite “Ana becho’ach” before “Eizehu mekoman.” Likewise, for the ascent through the minchah prayers, before “Ashrei” we say karbanot (portions dealing with offerings) and conclude with “Ana becho’ach.” Before going to sleep we recite “Ana becho’ach” in Keriat Shema al Hamitah, since the neshamah prepares itself to be rejuvenated and to rise to a higher spiritual sphere. And on Friday night, after reciting six Psalms corresponding to the six days of the week (see Siddur Otzar Hatefilot), as we prepare to enter the holiness of Shabbat, “Ana becho’ach” is also recited. (Siddur with Chassidut, by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, Sha’ar Ha’keriat Shema 74a.)

The righteous Ruth, who was destined to rise to exalted levels, was endowed with the knowledge to employ this holy Name to ascend spiritually.

The alef in the title HaMo’aviah (המואביה) attests that she sought no personal pleasure or gain; all her efforts were purely for the sake of the One and Only G‑d.

(נחמת צמח ישראל בשם ספר דברי שלמה)

* * *

Perhaps the mem-beit (which are the Hebrew numerals for forty two) of the title HaMo’avi’ahמואביה) is an allusion to what the Gemara (Sotah 47a) says “As a reward for the forty two sacrifices which the wicked Bilaam offered (Bamidbar 23:1-2, 14, 29-30) he merited having the proselyte Ruth among his descendants.” (“From whom emanated David and Shlomo who brought a multitude of offerings” — Rashi.)


אלכה נא השדה ואלקטה בשבלים
Let me go out to the field and glean among the ears of grain. (2:2)

QUESTION: During the harvest season the owner of the field must leave the leket — gleanings — of one of two ears of grain that fell from the harvesters hands for the poor. The poor also receive pei’ah — corner — i.e. they are allowed to reap a corner of the field, and shikchah — forgotten stalks overlooked by the harvesters.

Why did Ruth only tell Naomi about her plan to gather leket?

ANSWER: The righteous Ruth knew that she had been entrusted with a mission to enable the advent of the Davidic Dynasty and the ultimate redeemer of Klal YisraelMashiach.

When Mashiach reveals himself, he will gather together all the Jews dispersed throughout the world, as the prophet Yeshayah says, “Ve’atem teluktu le’achad echad B’nei Yisrael” — “You will be gathered up one by one, O children of Israel” (Isaiah 27:12).

Ruth and Naomi had a language of their own. Ruth was talking allegorically and thus said to Naomi, “Sitting home I don’t think I will achieve my mission. Let me go out to the field, and perhaps there I will find the connection necessary for me to ‘gather among the ears.’ That is, I may find a husband with whom I can enable the creation of Mashiach, whose goal will be to ‘gather’ up the Jewish people.”

(כפלים לתושיה – ר' שמואל ז"ל לאנדא, ווילנא תרכ"ז)


אלכה נא ואלקטה בשבלים אחר אשר אמצא חן בעיניו
Let me now go to the field, and glean among the ears of grain behind someone in whose eyes I shall find favor. (2:2)

QUESTION: Instead of saying “achar” (אחר) — “behind” — someone in whose eyes I will find favor” shouldn’t she have just said “in a field belonging to someone in whose eyes I will find favor”?

ANSWER: When Ruth made the offer to go out to glean in the fields so that they would have sustenance, Naomi was apprehensive. She said to Ruth, “I am concerned for your welfare. You are an exceptional beauty. Since many of the workers in fields are not the most refined people and they may show you inappropriate attention, perhaps you should reconsider and stay home.”

The difference between the words “achar” and “acharei” is that “achar” means following closely, i.e. nearby, while “acharei” means following from a distance (Bereishit 15:1, Rashi).

To dispel Naomi’s concerns, Ruth said to her, “Unfortunately, there are people who though they give tzedakah — do not look favorably at the poor. They sometimes make cutting remarks about them or even insult them. I will only go to a field where I will find favor in the eyes of the owner, that is, I will seek out an owner who looks at people with chein — a favorable eye, “one who is kind and compassionate and understands the plight of the needy. Once I find such an owner, I will stay achar — closely — behind him. So in the event that any of the workers or even perhaps one of the poor people acts improperly, he will immediately intervene and put a stop to it.”

Seeing her modesty and mature outlook, Naomi told her “Go ahead, my daughter.”

(נחמת צמח ישראל, אגרת שמואל)


ותלך ותבוא ותלקט בשדה
She went and came and gleaned in the field. (2:3)

QUESTION: It should have first said “vateilach” — “she went [to the field],” and then “vatelakeit” — “she gleaned [in the field]” and afterward “vatavoh” — “she came” (presumably back to Naomi)?

ANSWER: Ruth was very intelligent and practical. She didn’t begin gleaning as soon as she entered the field. Rather, she first walked to the end of the field (empty handed). Then vatavoh — she started her return home and began picking up the gleanings in the field.

This way she spared herself the extra toil of carrying an ever-increasing load until she reached the far end of the field and then carrying it all back to the beginning of the field.

(קול אליהו להגר"א)

(See following piece for another explanation.)


ותלך ותבוא ותלקט בשדה
She went and came and gleaned in the field. (2:3)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Shabbat 113b) says that Boaz was very impressed with Ruth because “he noticed wisdom in her. She would glean two ears of grain that fell from the harvester’s hand, but she would not glean three ears.”

This is the opinion of Beit Hillel in Mishnah (Pei’ah 6:5) and the halachah. Undoubtedly, all the poor people who gleaned knew it as well, so what was Ruth’s uniqueness? Also instead of saying he saw in her a matter of “wisdom,” it should have said a matter of scrupulousness?

ANSWER: Beit Hillel holds that the law of leket — gleanings — applies only to two ears of grain that fall from the harvesters. Beit Shammai opines that three are permitted and four belongs to the owner. The Jerusalem Talmud (Pei’ah 6:4) explains that Beit Shammai’s reason is that the pasuk in Devarim (24:1) says of the gifts for the poor, “It shall be for the convert, the orphan and the widow.” The verse specifies three eligible receivers, and thus three ears of grain are permissible as leket. Beit Hillel opines since the pasuk (Vayikra 19:9) says “for the poor and for the convert, shall you leave them,” specifying only two eligible receivers, only two ears of grain are leket and not three.

The Maharsha (Shabbat 113b) says that for a person who is a poor, a widow and an orphan, all would agree that three ears are permissible as leket. Thus, in the case of Ruth, who was poor, widowed and orphaned (she was the daughter of King Eglon who was killed by Ehud when he came to him to deliver Hashem’s message, see Judges 3:19-22) she could have taken three ears that fell from the harvesters.

The impressive wisdom Ruth demonstrated was that first vateilach — she went through the entire field (together with all the gleaners) and picked up only stalks that fell away at the time of reaping with one or two ears. Though her unique situation made her eligible to take three, nevertheless, in the beginning she endeavored to get first as many of the stalks with two ears available lest the others would glean it. Afterwards, vatavoh — on her return — she also picked up the stalks of three ears which she had previously skipped over. Since she was the only one eligible to take them she left them on the ground and was confident that they would be there on her return.

(חידושי הרי"ם על שבועות – פון אונזער אלטן אוצר)


ויקר מקרה חלקת השדה לבעז אשר ממשפחת אלימלך
She found herself in the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was the family of Elimelech. (2:3)

QUESTION: In the opening pasuk of this chapter we are told that “Naomi had a relative through her husband of the family of Elimelech and his name was Boaz,” so why three pesukim later when Boaz is mentioned is it necessary to state that he is related to Elimelech?

ANSWER: The Midrash Rabbah (Ruth 2:5) says that Elimelech was a member of the tribe of Yehudah from which royalty emanated, and would pride himself that royalty would descend from him. His name signified his claim that “eilai tavoh malchut — “to me kingship shall come.”

The intent of the Megillah is to describe the founding of the Davidic dynasty, from which ultimately Mashiach will emerge. This drama began to play itself out when hashgachah pratit —Divine Providence — brought Ruth to a field that happened to belong to Boaz and her meeting him there.

Thus, when she arrived at Boaz’s field, we are told that he was related to Elimelech, as if to say, now the prophesy of Elimelech that “to me kingship shall come” was beginning to take effect. The Sages tell us that at times one may say prophesy without realizing that he has prophesied (Bereishit 45:18, Rashi).

(אהל דוד)


חלקת השדה לבעז
In the portion of the field belonging to Boaz. (2:3)

QUESTION: It should have just said “in the field belonging to Boaz,” what is meant by “chelkat” — “portion”?

ANSWER: Nachshon the son of Aminadav the Nasi of the tribe of Yehudah had four sons, Elimelech, Salmon (Boaz’s father), Ploni Almoni (Tov, the would be redeemer) and Naomi’s father. When he died he left over a field which was divided up among his four heirs. After Boaz’s father Shalmon died, Boaz inherited his portion of the field. And when Naomi’s father died she inherited his portion in the absence of any sons.

Thus, the field that Ruth happened to enter was Boaz’s portion of a larger field in which both Boaz and Naomi happened to have shares in. Hence, when Naomi was considering selling her portion Boaz discussed it with Tov, for since they were all related it was incumbent on them to redeem it.

(נחמת צמח ישראל)


והנה בעז בא מבית לחם
Behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. (2:4)

QUESTION: The term “vehinei” — “behold” — is usually used to express something which was unexpected. Since he was the owner of the field, why was his visit considered a novelty?

ANSWER: Boaz would visit his property on a regular basis. However, his wife died the day Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, and he was busy with her burial (Midrash Rabbah 3:6). Afterwards started a period of the shivah — mourning — and for seven days he couldn’t leave his home. The visit was the first one after the mourning interval. Therefore, the workers blessed him that he should find a suitable wife (see p. 242).


"ויאמר לקוצרים ה' עמכם ויאמרו לו יברכך ה'"
“Boaz said to the harvesters, ‘G‑d be with you’ and they said to him, ‘May you be blessed by G‑d.’ ” (2:4)

QUESTION: Why did Boaz recite Hashem’s Name first when he greeted the harvesters (“Hashem imachem”), while the harvesters said “yevarechecha” — “may you be blessed” — then reciting Hashem’s Name?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Nedarim 10a) says that when a person designates an animal as an offering, one should not say, “This is to G‑d as a sin-offering,” rather, one should say “This is a sin-offering to G‑d.” The reason is that if he should die after saying the word “laHashem” — “to G‑d” — without completing the phrase, he will have recited Hashem’s Name in vain.

Therefore, the harvesters said “yevarechecha” — “may you be blessed” — and afterwards they recited Hashem’s Name. However, our sages have taught, “Be the first to extend greeting to anyone you meet” (Pirkei Avot 4:15). One who fulfills this merits longevity, as King David says, “Who is the man who desires life — bakeish shalom veradfeihu — seek shalom (peace) and pursue it” (Psalms 34:13,15). Thus, since Boaz greeted the harvesters first, he did not have to fear that he would die before finishing his greeting, and therefore he mentioned Hashem first.

(ישועות יעקב יו"ד סי' קמ"ח, נפש יהונתן מר' יהונתן בנימין הכהן ז"ל מסעליש)

* * *

When two people meet it is customary that the first one says Shalom aleichem and the second responds Aleichem shalom.” Why doesn’t he too say in response “Shalom aleichem”?

The word “Shalom” is considered one of the Names of Hashem (see Shabbat 10b). Consequently, since the one who opened with the greeting will be blessed with long life, he can recite the Name of Hashem first without fear. However, the one responding says “aleichem” first and then mentions “Shalom.”

(עי' בהנ"ל, וטעמי המנהגים ע' תק"ג)


"ויאמר לקוצרים ה' עמכם ויאמרו לו יברכך ה'"
He said to the harvesters “Hashem be with you,” and they answered him, “Hashem bless you.” (2:4)

QUESTION: The Midrash Rabbah (4:5) says that Boaz and his Beit Din instituted that people use Hashem’s Name when greeting each other. What provoked Boaz to enact this?

ANSWER: Boaz was the Judge at a time when lawlessness was rampant and people had no respect for their superiors. Society was at its lowest ebb.

Boaz concluded that the root of the problem is that people forgot that Hashem is the One who created the world and that He sees their behavior. Therefore, he felt it was necessary to make Hashem a household word. Particularly, if when two people meet they would express greetings mentioning His Name, it would remind them and make them aware that Shalom — peace — between man and his friend can only be realized when the two recognize that there is a Higher Authority who looks after and over both of them.

(מלבי"ם)


ויאמרו לו יברכך ה'
And they answered him, “May Hashem bless you.” (2:4)

QUESTION: Boaz was older than his workers and a very prominent person, why didn’t they greet him first?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Ta’anit 23a) relates that when there was a need for rain, the Rabbis would send a request to Aba Chilkiya, the grandson of Choni Hame’agel: and when he would pray, rain would come. Once a delegation of Rabbis were sent to him and they found him working in the field. They greeted him (extended Shalom to him), but he did not respond. Later, when they asked for an explanation of his behavior, he responded, “I was hired as a dayworker. Thus, I said to myself, let me not interrupt my work even for a moment to greet you.”

Boaz’s workers were very scrupulous young men and therefore they did not greet him until he initiated. Were it anyone else who greeted them, they would not have responded. However, they assumed that precluded from this is when the employer extends greeting. Otherwise, they reasoned, he would not have started putting them in a dilemma whether to respond. Since he did, they perceived it as an indication that he did not mind being answered.

Therefore, the pasuk says “vayomru lo — “they said to him,” and only to him (their employer) did they permit themselves to respond, but they would not do so to any other person.

(שמחת הרגל)

* * *

Alternatively, as explained (see p. 239) this was Boaz’s first visit to his fields upon concluding his shivah — seven-day mourning period — for the loss of his wife. According to halachah, from the seventh day of mourning until the thirtieth day it is permitted to extend shalom to people since they are in a peaceful state, but others should not initiate and extend shalom to the mourner since he is not fully at peace (Yoreh Dei’ah 385:1). Hence, the workers refrained from greeting him, but once he initiated, they responded.

(שרש ישי מר' שלמה ז"ל אלקבץ – בעל מחבר פיוט לכה דודי)


ויאמרו לו יברכך ה'
And they answered him, “May Hashem bless you.” (2:4)

QUESTION: The word “lo” — “him” — is extra?

ANSWER: The Torah commands that one must help his destitute brother with “dei machsoro asher yechsar lo” — “enough for his lack which is lacking him” (Devarim 15:8). The Gemara (Kesubot 67b) says that “lo” — [what is lacking] “for him” — refers to a wife, as the pasuk says “I will make ‘lo’ — ‘for him’ — a helpmate” (Bereishit 2:18).

Since Boaz had recently been widowed, the harvesters’ blessing to him was that Hashem should speedily replace his loss; i.e. he should be blessed with “lo” — “a wife.”

(אם המלך – בן איש חי)

* * *

Moreover, when they heard Boaz telling them, “Hashem be with you” they understood it as a blessing that whatever they were doing in his fields should be blessed by Hashem. Thus they replied “May Hashem bless you with a wife. Once you will have lo — a wife — then yevarechachaHashem — you will experience Hashem’s blessing since the Gemara (Bava Metzia 59a) says ‘Blessing is found in a person’s house only on account of his wife.’ ”


ויאמר בעז לנערו הנצב על הקוצרים למי הנערה הזאת
“Boaz then said to his attendant who was in charge of the harvesters, ‘To whom does that young woman belong?’ ” (2:5)

QUESTION: Why did Boaz inquire specifically about this young woman?

ANSWER: Boaz, as the proprietor of the field, would visit it on a regular basis. However, this time Boaz noticed the Divine Presence (Shechinah) in his field. Upon realizing that the harvesters did not perceive that the Divine Presence was among them, he proclaimed in excitement, “Hashem imachem” — “G‑d is with you!” Not understanding, they took his statement as a greeting and responded, “Yevarechecha Hashem” — “May G‑d bless you.”

Realizing that he had been misunderstood, Boaz turned to the attendant who was overseeing the harvesters and asked him, “To whom does this young woman belong. Undoubtedly, the presence of Hashem I see here is due to her.”

(ר' יצחק זצ"ל מווארקא)


למי הנערה הזאת
To whom does that young woman belong? (2:5)

QUESTION: Instead of asking “Lemi hana’arah hazot” — “To whom does this young woman belong?” he should have just said “Mi hana’arah hazot” — “Who is this young woman?”

ANSWER: Boaz was a widower. Noting her modesty and perceiving that the Shechinah was with the young woman (see above), he was impressed with her spiritual stature, and therefore inquired, “To whom does she belong?” wanting to know if she was marriageable.

(אגרת שמואל)

Alternatively, when Boaz arrived in the field Ruth was the only woman gleaning there. Boaz thought that she was related to one of his workers and that he had cleared all the poor out of the field for her benefit. Curiously, he therefore asked “Whose young woman is this?” i.e., to which worker was she related. What bothered him was that it was a violation of halachah. The Mishnah (Pei’ah 5:6) says it is forbidden to allow one poor person to glean and forbid another to glean.

The overseer told Boaz, “She is not related to any of us. She is the Moabite young woman who recently arrived in town with Noami. The reason she is the only one in the field is that, in order to avoid any quarrels with the other people, she waited until they finished gleaning. When they left to another field she came to pick up whatever they left over.

“In fact” the overseer said, “she is also very modest. She even avoids the harvesters and therefore, she asked permission to glean acharei hakotzrim — way behind the harvesters.” (The difference between achar and acharei is that the latter indicates distant in time or in location. See p. 235.)

(עי' מלבי"ם)


ויאמר בעז לנערו... למי הנערה הזאת. ויען הנער... נערה מואביה היא השבה עם נעמי משדה מואב.
Boaz said to his attendant “To whom does that young woman belong?” “...She is a Moabite girl, the attendant replied, that came back with Naomi from the fields of Moab. (2:5-6)

QUESTION: Boaz asked “lemi” — “To whom [does that young woman belong?]” and not simply “mi” — “Who is this woman?” he was seeking some specific information about her. How did the attendants reply satisfy his request for information?

ANSWER: Some commentaries opine that originally Ruth was married to Kilion and Orpah was married to Machlon. Sometime after the marriage Machlon died and Ruth got married Kilion in some sort of yibum — levirate marriage (see p. 201). Afterwards, Kilion also died and now she was a widow for a second time. According to an opinion in Gemara (Yevamot 64b) such a woman is considered a katlanit — a woman who causes her husbands to die — and should not marry anymore.

When Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, it was the talk of the entire city. So it stands to reason that Boaz also, knew of it. Seeing her in the field dressed in Moabite garb, he immediately understood who she must be. Observing her modesty and the holy aura that surrounded her, he took “note of her” as perhaps a suitable wife for him.

He had, however, one concern which he needed to clear up. Therefore, he said to his servant “Lemi hana’arah hazot” — “To whom did she belong? Was she the one married to Kilion the whole time or is she the one who was first married to Machlon and later married to Kilion after Machlon’s death? If it is the latter, then she is a katlanit and I cannot marry her, but if she is the one who was married to Kilion the whole time she is not a katlanit and I can consider marrying her.”

The attendant assured Boaz that he had no reason for concern because she was a Moabite who had recently returned together with Naomi and had undergone a conversion. Now, the reason one should not marry a katlanit is because her mazal — predestined lot in the world — causes the death of her husbands. However, the Gemara (Yevamot 22a) says that a convert is like a newly born child and therefore, starts a completely new mazal. “Hence,” the servant said, “though she is the one who was widowed twice, you can marry her without any reservations. Since undoubtedly, now as a Jewess, her mazal will change for the better.”

(אם המלך – בן איש חי)


ותאמר אלקטה נא ואספתי בעמרים אחרי הקוצרים
And she said please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters. (2:7)

QUESTION: Ruth told Naomi (2:2) that she would gather “achar” (אַחַר) — behind — [someone in whose eyes she would find favor]. Why did the overseer tell Boaz that she had said she will glean acharei (אַחַרֵי) — behind — the harvesters?

ANSWER: The word “achar” — “after” — means closely behind (or immediately following). The word acharei — “after” — means far behind (or distant from previous event) (Bereishit 15:1, Rashi).

Naomi cautioned Ruth to beware of the harvesters for many of them were not refined. Ruth took this very seriously and therefore told her “I will seek a field that belongs to a compassionate person and I will stay achar — immediately behind the owner. In the event of a confrontation, he will take action and stop it.”

Ruth set out early in the morning and found a field where she heard favorable things about the owner. However, the owner was not in. Not wanting to waste the day, she entered the field and told the overseer that her plan was to gather l“acharei” — “way behind” — the harvesters. This way they would not see her and would not have any dealings with her.

(נחמת צמח ישראל)


ותבוא ותעמוד מאז הבקר ועד עתה
She came and has continued from the morning until now. (2:7)

QUESTION: According to Jerusalem Talmud (Pei’ah 4:5) “there are three times in the day designated for the poor to come into the fields, and the owners are required to be there to assure that everything goes peacefully. The first is the early morning to accommodate nursing mothers who can go then to the fields since their babies have been nursed and are asleep.” Ruth calculated that this would be the best time for her, too.

Why wasn’t Boaz in the field when Ruth arrived?

ANSWER: Normally, Boaz would arrive at his field in the early morning to greet the first set of poor people. However, he had lost his wife a few days ago and was observing shivah — the seven days of mourning. Today was the seventh day and according to halachah on the seventh day one must practice mourning only a small portion of the day although it is counted as the entire day. When he stood up from shivah and arrived in the field, it was after the early morning portion of the day had begun, and the poor were already gleaning in the field.

(נחמת צמח ישראל)


הלוא שמעת בתי אל תלכי ללקט בשדה אחר
Listen well my daughter. Do not go to glean in another’s field. (2:8)

QUESTION: Why the warning “Listen well?”

ANSWER: According to some commentaries the overseer was favorably impressed with Ruth and spoke positively about her. Other commentaries say that he besmirched her and accused her of indecent behavior.

According to the opinion that the overseer said nice things about her, the words “halo shama’at biti,” mean, “Have you not heard my daughter?” that is, “Listen well, have you not heard the nice things being said about you.” Boaz, was telling her. “It is always good to stay in places where you are praised and admired. Therefore, I advise you to remain working in this field and do not go to another field. You can never know how they will treat you.”

If we should say that the overseer maligned and cast doubts about her integrity, Boaz soothed her feelings by calling her “biti” — “my daughter.” He told her that he didn’t accept any vile talk. To him she was like a daughter — just as he would think highly of his daughter and not accept any negative remarks about her, likewise, he thought highly of her and was sure that her intentions were pure.

Furthermore, he told her “halo shama’at biti” — “Listen well, you heard my daughter, what the overseer said — therefore, I advise you not to go to another field, for then people will interpret it as an admission of guilt and think that you fled this field to avoid embarrassment.”

(אלשיך)

אל תלכי ללקט בשדה אחר וגם לא תעבורי מזה וכה תדבקין עם נערתי
Do not go to glean in another field, and also don’t leave here, but stay close to my maidens. (2:8)

QUESTION: Since he told her not to go to glean in another field, and that she should remain with his maidens, the further statement “and also don’t leave here” is redundant?

ANSWER: In Hebrew the word “zeh” — “this” — is used to indicate limiting and excluding; i.e., when one says zeh — it means this and not anything else. Of the word “gam” — “also” the Gemara (Kiddushin 41b) says it is “lerabot” — “to include — many other people or things. Thus, if for instance, one experiences an unpleasant occurrence and he says “zeh letovah” — “this is for the good” — it would mean this is for the good but not necessarily everything else that happens to him. When one, however, says “gam zeh letovah” — “this is also for the good” — he, in a sense, is saying “I ‘see’ the good in all that happens to me and also this which on the surface I can’t perceive as good, is also for the good.”

Boaz knew of Ruth’s refined character and modesty. He also knew that she was a former member of a Moabite kingly family and grew up in riches. Seeing her going together with the beggars to find some means of sustenance, he became filled with compassion. Seeking to comfort her, he told her the following:

“Don’t have remorse about your clinging to Naomi. Though you may be wondering why G‑d caused you this agony, please believe that it is all for your good. Undoubtedly, you will see that something very good will emanate from this. However, you must also realize that not only is this for the good but everything Hashem does is for the good. Thus, vegam al ta’avori mizeh — do not make an interruption between gam and zeh. (Don’t move away gam from zeh.) Don’t just say ‘zeh letovah’ — ‘this is for the good’ — which may insinuate that Hashem does some things which are not for the good. Rather, always put the gam and zeh together and say ‘gam zeh letovah’ — ‘this is also for the good’ — similar to everything He does, this too is for the good.”

(אם המלך – בן איש חי)


עיניך בשדה אשר יקצרון
Let your eyes be on the field that they reap. (2:9)

QUESTION: Boaz had already told her to remain working in his field and to cleave to his maidens, what additional thing was he insinuating by telling her about “her eyes”?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Bava Batra 2b) says “It is forbidden for a person to stand in his friend’s field during the times it displays a standing crop,” lest he become jealous and cast an ayin hara — evil eye. While this is true about ordinary people it does not apply to a righteous person. He has only a “good eye” and in fact people make an effort that a tzaddik cast his eye upon them.

Boaz realized that Ruth was a righteous and good-natured woman. He therefore told her that she should focus her eyes on his field and he was sure that through her “eyes” his fields would be blessed.

(אם המלך – בן איש חי)


וצמת והלכת אל הכלים ושתית מאשר ישאבון הנערים
Should you get thirsty, drink from what the young men have drawn. (2:9)

QUESTION: Boaz’s main message was that she should not go to the well to draw water herself, why did he emphasize which water she should drink?

ANSWER: In companies with many employees and also many customers there are bathrooms and eating areas marked “for employees only” and separate ones for use by the public. In addition there are also “executive bathrooms and lounges.” Usually the areas reserved for “employees only” are much cleaner and inviting than the one used by the public.

In Boaz’s field there was also a drinking area designated for the supervisors, one for the employees, and one for all the poor people who came to the field. Wanting to spare her discomfort, he told her that though she was one of many people visiting the field, she should not go to the public drinking area, which may not be so clean. He also told her to avoid the area for the kotzrim — employee harvesters — but rather she should go to the area observed for the ne’arim — supervisors — i.e. “executive area.”

“Moreover,” Boaz said, “I have no control over the caliber of people that come to glean my fields. Among them may be wanton individuals who may flirt with you and even molest you. Some of my kotzrim — harvesters — may also not be of the highest quality people. However, I have authority over my ne’arim — supervisors. Thus, I have instructed the ne’arim —supervisors — not to interfere with you. Feel free to serve yourself at the ‘executive only’ area and there your security will, please G‑d, be assured.”

(עי' אם המלך – בן איש חי)


ותאמר אליו מדוע מצאתי חן בעיניך להכירני ואנכי נכריה ויען בעז ויאמר לה הגד הגד לי כל אשר עשית ... ותעזבי אביך ואמך וארץ מולדתך ותלכי אל עם אשר לא ידעת
She said to him: “Why have I found favor in your eyes that you should take notice of me though I am a foreigner? Boaz replied, it has been fully told me all that you have done. You left your father and mother and went to a people you did not know previously. (2:10,11)

QUESTION: Why did she question his benevolence?

ANSWER: She had just recently converted and was not sure whether Boaz knew of it or would approve it since she was a Moabite. Based on the pasuk that says regarding idol worshippers “Lo techaneim” — “You shall not consider them favorably” (Devarim 7:2), the Gemara (Avodah Zarah 20a) says “You shall not give them a free gift.” “If so,” Ruth was saying, “since I am nachriyah — a stranger — i.e. a non-Jewess, why are you violating this negative commandment and graciously giving me gifts?”

Boaz responded, “I am aware of your conversion and I recognize it to be halachically correct. It was recently declared that the prohibition against Moab does not apply to females. Thus, you are a bona-fide proselyte and by giving you gifts, I am fulfilling the Biblical command of ‘you shall love the convert’ ” (Devarim 10:19).

(ילקוט האורים מר' משה אורי ז"ל קעללער בשם שארית יעקב)


ויען בעז ויאמר לה הגד הגד לי...
Boaz answered, it has fully been told me... (2:11)

QUESTION: Why is the word “hugad” — “told [me]” repeated twice?

ANSWER: Boaz told Ruth two things.

1) “I was told by the Sages that when Hashem issued His decree against Moab, it referred only to the males and not the women.”

2) “It was told to me, prophetically, that there will emerge from you kings and prophets as a reward for what you have done for your mother-in-law namely, your supporting her after your husband’s death, and for your forsaking your faith and that of your parents. Moreover, you converted to become part of a people you had not known yesterday and the day before.”

(תרגום)


ותלכי אל עם אשר לא ידעת תמול שלשום
And went to a people you did not know previously. (2:11)

QUESTION: How is it that she was married into the family of Elimelech for a number of years and yet did not know of the Jewish people?

ANSWER: The Jerusalem Talmud (Yevamot 8:3) explains that Boaz said to her “Had you come [to convert] earlier we would not have accepted you.” That is, “The law that makes a distinction between the males and females of Moab was not yet popularized” — (Karban Ha’eidah). “Thus, as a Moabite you could not have converted altogether even if you had no desire to marry a Jewish man.”

The Rambam (Isurei Bi’ah 12:17), however, says that “Moabites and Amonites who convert are full-fledged members of the Jewish people, but they are precluded from coming into the community — marriage.” This is also evident from the Gemara (Berachot 28a) and other places in the Babylonian Talmud.

According to the latter sources, Boaz was just hinting to her that had she converted much earlier she would not have been permitted to marry a Jew. However, having converted very recently, not only was the conversation valid but according to the newly popularized halachah, she could even marry a Jew.

Perhaps, Boaz intentionally used the term “yada’at” — “you did not know” — because it is an expression associated with the union of husband and wife, as the Torah says “And the man (Adam) yada — had known his wife Chavah” (Bereishit 4:1). Hence, Boaz was praising Ruth for leaving her father and mother, and joining a people [who you definitely had heard of previously] but “lo yada’at” — “you did not know them [previously]” — that is, “as a source of marriage for you.”

(עי' ציץ אליעזר חי"ג סי' צ"ח, בענין אם מקבלים גרים מעמון ומואב)


ישלם ה' פעלך ותהי משכרתך שלמה מעם ה'
May Hashem recompense your work and may you be fully rewarded by Hashem. (2:12)

QUESTION: When being paid by a human employer a person prays that he will be paid in full and not cheated, but why was it necessary for Boaz to say to Ruth that Hashem’s payment should be “full”?

ANSWER: The word “sheleimah” is spelled here without a yud (שְלֵמָה) and thus can also be read “shlomo” (שְלֹמֹה). Boaz was alluding to her that King Shlomo would be among her descendants (Yalkut Shimoni 60:2).

Shlomo was the son of David. Since she was the ancestor of David, why did he specify Shlomo — isn’t it automatic?

Boaz knew, of course that Shlomo was David’s son and if she was the ancestor of David, Shlomo would be her descendant. His intention was however, to bless her with longevity that she merit to see him.

This berachah was indeed fulfilled. When Shlomo succeeded his father as king, his half brother Adoniyahu asked Bat-Sheva, Shlomo’s mother, to intercede on his behalf with the king that he be permitted to marry Avishag the Shunamite as a wife. It is related (I Kings 2:19) that she came to Shlomo and he sat on his throne “Vayasem kisei l’aim hamelech — and placed a chair for the king’s mother.” Since this episode was about Bat-Sheva, the king’s mother, it should have said, “placed a seat for her.” Therefore, the Gemara (Bava Batra 91b) says that “aim hamelech” is an allusion to “ima shel Malchut” — mother of royalty — that is, Ruth was the matriarch of the entire royal line of David, and she lived to see her descendant Shlomo on the throne of the kingdom.

(שמחת הרגל להחיד"א, בית יעקב – מסולתן)

Alternatively, the Gemara (Nazir 23b) says “A person should always strive to perform a mitzvah as soon as possible, because as a reward to the elder daughter of Lot for having preceded (with pure motives) the younger daughter by one night (to cohabitate with her father) — she merited to precede her younger sister to the throne of Israel by four generations.” That is, four generations of the royal Davidic line (Oved, Yishai, David and Shlomo) were descended from the older daughter before a descendant of the younger daughter emerged in the Jewish Kingdom. The younger daughter was the progenitor of the Amonite nation and her descendant was Rechavam, the son of Shlomo, who succeeded him to rule over a part of the divided kingdom.

Ruth the Moabite was a gilgul — reincarnation — of Lot’s older daughter, who was the progenitor of the Moabite nation. Boaz knew this and therefore told her “Hashem will reward your actions” — that is, “the swiftness with which you acted that night many years ago. His payment will be sheleimah — that the first four generations of the Davidic dynasty, up until King Shlomo, will emerge from you. Only afterwards, will the descendants of your sister play a role in the Jewish kingdom.”

(אם המלך – בן איש חי)


ישלם ה' פעלך ותהי משכרתך שלמה מעם ה'
May Hashem recompense your work and may your payment be full from Hashem. (2:12)

QUESTION: The Targum explains that this is not a redundancy, since Boaz was referring to two payments, one in Olam Hazeh — this world — and the other in Olam Haba — the World to Come. How can this be reconciled with the Gemara’s statement (Kiddushin 39b) “The reward for fulfilling a mitzvah is not given in This World?

ANSWER: The term “pa’aleich” — means [your] actions, work and efforts. For the actual fulfillment of a mitzvah there is indeed no reward in this world. There is, however, reward in this world for the action — effort and work — one expends to fulfill the mitzvah. Therefore, Boaz said to her “You should be rewarded in this world for your actions, and in the World to Come you will receive full reward for the mitzvot you fulfilled. Nothing will be deducted due to what you received in this world, because this was for actions and the later reward will be for the mitzvah itself.”

(קדושת לוי – שבועות)

Alternatively, a reason for the lack of a reward in this world, is that our entire existence and well-being in this world is thanks to Hashem. The Haggadah Shel Pesach states, “Were it not for the fact that He took our forefathers out of Egypt we would have remained enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt.” Thus, for redeeming us from Egypt we are His slaves. We owe Him everything and cannot expect reward for performing His will.

However, since the proselytes were not in Egypt, they owe Him nothing. Thus, when they convert and fulfill His will they are entitled to reward also in this world. Hence, Boaz said to her “May Hashem recompense your work — in this world — since you have come, on your initiative to seek refuge under His wings (convert).”

(עי' קול אליהו להגר"א)


ותהי משכרתך שלמה מעם ה' אלקי ישראל אשר באת לחסות תחת כנפיו
May you be fully rewarded by Hashem, the G‑d of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge. (2:12)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Yevamot 48b) says that proselytes are afflicted and frequently experience hardships because they held themselves back from entering under the wings of the Shechinah earlier. The Gemara supports this from Boaz’s blessing to Ruth “Your payment be full... asherbata lachsot — for coming under the wings of Hashem.” Since the word “bata” — “you came” — is extra, (it could have said “asher chasta” — “for seeking refuge”), Rashi derives that Boaz blessed her for converting expeditiously.

How can this be reconciled with the fact that she was not a youngster since she was married to Machlon for 10 years, and according to Midrash Rabbah 4:4 she was 40 years old (see Tosafot)?

ANSWER: The popular consensus of opinion was that the prohibition of “a Moabite shall not enter into the Congregation of Hashem” (Devarim 23:4) applied equally to men and women. Thus, she did not rush to convert, because she wouldn’t be permitted to marry a Jew.

Around the time she arrived in Bethlehem the Sanhedrin, under the leadership of Boaz, defined that the Torah’s edict refers only to men and not to Moabite females. As soon as she became aware of this, she did not procrastinate, but speedily converted. Therefore, Boaz blessed her for her alacrity to immediately embrace Judaism.

This also clarifies Boaz compliment to Ruth “how you left your father and mother and went to a people you have not known yesterday or the day before” (2:11). Didn’t she know anything about Judaism during the 10 years she was married to Machlon?

Boaz meant, “Indeed you knew of the existence of the Jewish people and their Torah, but up to yesterday or the day before [recently] you would not consider converting because of the Biblical prohibition against Moab. Now that you have learnt about the clarification of the law, you immediately converted. For this you deserve commendation, and may Hashem reward you fully.”

(בשורת אליהו)


גשי הלם ואכלת מן הלחם ... ותשב מצד הקצרים
Come over here and partake of the bread ... and she sat beside the harvesters. (2:14)

QUESTION: Why did Ruth turn down Boaz’s invitation to eat at his table?

ANSWER: The tables were set up so that Boaz sat at the head of the table and the workers sat at the table facing him. Ruth was a raving beauty (Midrash Rabbah 4:4) and extremely modest. Concerned that should she accept his invitation and sit near him, lest she might incite the workers with her beauty, she chose to sit alongside the workers so that they would not be able to gaze at her.

(אלשיך – מלבי"ם)

* * *

According to the Gemara (Shabbat 113b) Boaz seated her at mealtime on the far side of the harvesters; i.e. she and Boaz were separated by all the harvesters. He was Divinely inspired (Ru’ach Hakodesh) to seat her in a manner in which all the harvesters intervened between him and her, and not alongside him or in the midst of the other harvesters to allude to the fact that the kingdom of the House of David which would come forth from both of them was destined to be split. [This division would take place after the death of King Shlomo, when his son Rechavam ruled over the tribe of Judah, and Yaravam son of Nevat ruled over the other tribes of Israel — see I Kings, ch. 12]

(רש"י, מס' שבת קי"ג ע"ב)


ויאמר לה בעז לעת האכל ... ותשב מצד הקצרים
At mealtime, Boaz said to her ... and she sat beside the harvesters. (2:14)

QUESTION: What benefit did the workers derive from Boaz’s eating together with them?

ANSWER: According to the Gemara (Berachot 16a) workers who are performing labor for their employer recite only two berachot of Bircat Hamazon — Grace After a Meal. (The first berachah is said in its entirety, and parts of the second and third berachah are condensed into one berachah.) However, if the employer is eating with them, it is assumed that the employer consents to their taking time off, and the entire text of Bircat Hamazon is recited.

(מלבי"ם)


ויאמר לה בעז לעת האכל גשי הלם
At mealtime Boaz said to her: “Come here” (2:14)

QUESTION: Why is it necessary to record that he gave her the invitation to “Come here and eat” at mealtime?

ANSWER: When Hashem was upset with King Shaul, He told the prophet Shmuel to go to Yishai the Bethlemite and anoint one of his sons as a king. [So that Shaul would not be aware of what Shmuel was doing,] Hashem told Shmuel to pretend that his trip was in order to bring an offering to Hashem. Therefore, he was to take with him a heifer to bring as an offering and invite Yishai and his family to the feast, and then he would anoint his son. Shmuel followed instructions, but he had no Divine instruction to anoint any of the seven sons present. So Shmuel asked Yishai, “Are these all your boys?” And he replied “The youngest is still left; he is tending the sheep.” So Shmuel said “Send and bring him, for we will not sit down until he arrives.” After David arrived, Hashem said to Shmuel, “Arise and anoint him for this is he” (I Samuel ch. 16).

The Midrash Rabbah (6:14) says that the word “Halom” is a reference to kingdom, as king David said, “Who am I that you brought me halom — this far” — i.e. to the kingdom (II Samuel 7:18). So when Boaz said to her “Goshi halom” — he meant “approach to royalty,” and he was prophetically intimating to her that the kings in Israel would descend from her.

Thus, Boaz was not only relating to Ruth a prophesy about her descendant becoming a king but also adding the detail that “l’eit ha’ochel — at mealtime — goshi halom — your descendant will be anointed to approach royalty.”

(אם המלך – בן איש חי)


וטבלת פתך בחמץ
And dip your piece of bread in the vinegar. (2:14)

QUESTION: Simply speaking, this was a means to refresh herself from the heat and avoid sun stroke (Shabbat 113b). However, the Gemara (ibid.) says, that Boaz alluded to her that “a son [descendant] is destined to come forth from you whose deeds will be as sharp (i.e. bitter) as vinegar. This was the King Menasheh.” He aged in wickedness for fifty five years of his rulership. (See II Kings 21:1-17.)

Boaz was telling her many uplifting things to anticipates, why would he want to dampen her spirits by telling her this fact?

ANSWER: Although for many years Menasheh was very wicked, the Gemara (Sanhedrin 101b) says that ultimately Hashem put Menasheh through much suffering. He was captured by the Assyrians and transported to Babylonia. When Menasheh was in distress he prayed to Hashem and repented. Hashem heard his supplication and returned him to his kingdom, and “then Menasheh knew that Hashem is G‑d.” Since, it was the yesurim — afflictions — that inspired Menasheh to do sincere teshuvah — repentance — and thereby regain his throne, Rabbi Akiva concluded that sufferings are precious.

The Gemara (Yoma 8ab) says that vinegar is meishiv et hanefesh — it restores the soul when one is very weak. Thus, it could be said that vinegar is a metaphor for teshuvah, which spiritually restores one’s soul. Hence, by telling her to dip her bread in vinegar Boaz was not only alluding that she would have a descendant whose deeds would be bitter as vinegar, but also telling her the good news that Menasheh would also repent and be righteous.

(אהל דוד)

* * *

According to the Gemara that he was alluding to her that one of her sons, Menasheh, would “go sour” (see above piece) the word “piteich” is particularly appropriate. Boaz used “bread” as a metaphor for children, and he was telling her, “piteichyourbread, i.e. one of your sons, will be dipped in vinegar.”


ואכלת מן הלחם וטבלת פתך בחמץ
Partake of the bread and dip your bread in the vinegar. (2:14)

QUESTION: The word “piteich” — “your bread” — is extra. Since he already said “partake of the bread” he should have just added “and dip it in the vinegar”?

ANSWER: It was common practice for the poor who came to glean in the field to bring some bread from home to eat for lunch together with water that was available in the field. Thus, when Boaz offered Ruth to “partake of the bread” which he prepared for himself and his employees, she humbly refused telling him that she had her own bread which she had brought from home. “Thus,” he said to her, “in that case, then at least avail yourself of my vinegar to dip your bread in it.”

(אם המלך – בן איש חי)


וגם של תשלו לה מן הצבתים ועזבתם ולקטה ולא תגערו בה
Even deliberately pull out for her from the sheaves and leave them for her to glean; and don’t rebuke her. (2:16)

QUESTION: Rashi explains that Boaz told his workers to pretend that they had forgotten the bundles so that she would feel comfortable to take them as shikchah — forgotten bundles. He also instructed the harvesters to let her glean (leket) even among the sheaves, although the law of leket applies only to ears of grain that fall while harvesting is in process.

According to halachah (Rambam, Matanot Aniyim, 5:27) the poor are not required to tithe matnot aniyim — the gifts in the field left for the poor. Now, if these were not really shikchah — forgotten — or not halachically leket — gleanings — they are not truly matanot aniyim and need to be tithed. If so, Boaz’s generosity was causing Ruth to eat tevel — non-tithed produce? Also why did he tell the workers not to rebuke her; why would they even think of doing it?

ANSWER: Boaz instructed his workers to do two things: 1) pretend to have forgotten them, and, 2) make them hefker — ownerless. According to halachah (Rambam, Terumot 2:9) produce which is hefker is exempt from tithing by the one who takes them.

Thus, the pasuk means as follows, “Pretend that you forgot them [and don’t be concerned that Ruth will be mislead and eat non-tithed produce, because] va’azavtem — you should leave them there,” i.e., make them hefker — forsaken property.

Additionally, he told the harvesters, “velo sigaru bah” — “don’t [out of kindness to her] rebuke [for her sake] others [who may want to take it], saying that only she may take it and not them, because since it is hefker — it is free to anyone on a first-come, first-serve basis.”

(שמחת הרגל, ועי' שו"ע אדמוה"ז סי' תל"ד סעי' ט"ו בענין הפקר ע"י שליח)

* * *

Neither Boaz or the harvesters shared with her this secret. They assumed that as a recent proselyte she was not well versed in Jewish laws concerning leket and schikchah and would take anything she saw lying around.

She was very well prepared, however, by Naomi in the laws, and therefore, after the meal, when she continued gathering, the pasuk says “vatelaket basadeh” — “she gleaned [only] in the field” (2:17). I.e., she did not take any of the deliberately dropped sheaves, but rather only the meager gleanings she was entitled to in the field.

Nevertheless, she worked ad ha’erev — until evening — and managed to gather a sizeable amount.

(מלבי"ם, אגרת שמואל)


ותלקט בשדה עד הערב
She gleaned in the field until evening. (2:17)

QUESTION: Why did she work until evening?

ANSWER: Ruth had unusual success in her gleaning. In total she gathered around an eifah of barley, which is somewhere between 35-50 lbs. Even the lesser amount (35 lbs.) in dead weight is quite a laborious task for a woman to carry. During daylight people are out on the street. If they had noticed her carrying a heavy load, she would definitely have attracted attention and some wanton people might have made inappropriate comments to her.

To avoid this she stayed late in the field and set out towards home when she was sure that no one was on the streets.

(בשורת אליהו)


ויהי כאיפה שערים
[And what she gleaned] came to about

an eifah of barley. (2:17)

QUESTION: What is the significance of this amount?

ANSWER: When King Shlomo built the Beit Hamikdash, “he erected two copper pillars in the hall to the Sanctuary. He named the right pillar “Yachin” and the left pillar “Boaz” (I Kings 7:21). Shlomo gave these names to symbolize his prayers that the House be Yachim — firmly established, and Boaz [“Bo-Az” — “strength is in it”] i.e. blessed with the strength of Hashem forever (ibid., Radak). The pillars were ornated with lines of golden pomegranates. Each line consisted of 96 pomegranates.

The word “eifah” (איפה) has the numerical value of 96 and “se’orim” is related to the word “shiurim” — measurement or calculation. The pasuk is thus telling us that Ruth prophesied that her grandson would name a pillar in the Beit Hamikdash after her husband Boaz, and on it would be a calculation of eifah — 96 pomegranates.

(אבן עזרא)

[Perhaps the reason it says ke’eifah” (כאיפה) — “about an eifah” — is that while there were 100 pomegranates in each line, four were somewhat concealed and only 96 were totally visible — see commentaries to Jeremiah 52:33 and I Kings 7:20, Radak.]


ויהי כאיפה שערים
And it was about an eifah of barley. (2:17)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Megillah 10b) says that the term “vayehi” — “and it was” — is an expression of pain. Shouldn’t Ruth have been very happy after such a successful day?

ANSWER: King David had a son named Avshalom who rebelled against his father and endeavored to declare himself as king. He was extraordinarily handsome and gloried himself in his long and beautiful hair. He was a nazir olam — a perpetual nazir — and would cut his long and heavy hair only once a year. His hair ultimately led to his death. Once, the mule he was riding upon came under the branches of a large elm tree; his hair became entangled in the elm, but the mule moved on. Avshalom hung there helplessly and his father’s soldiers, who were upset with his conduct, killed him (II Samuel 18, Sotah 10b). He was 21 years old at the time of his death.

The word “vayehi” (ויהי) — “and it was” — is a juxtaposition of two words vai and he, both of which are expressions of anguish and remorse in Aramaic.

The first two letters of the word כאיפה are כ"א and have the numerical value 21, Avshalom’s age at his death. The remaining letters יפה שערים mean “beautiful hair” (the plural for hair — שערים — is used, because of its abundant weight).

Thus, the Megillah is telling us that Ruth was distressed when she saw prophetically that her great grandson, Avshalom, would die at the age of 21 through his heavy head of hair.

(אבן עזרא ועי' ספר בני רשף מר' יונה ז"ל פילווארג, פיעטריקוב תר"ס שתיקן טעות בלשון האבע"ז)


ותתן לה את אשר הותרה משבעה
She gave her that which she had left over after she ate her fill. (2:18)

QUESTION: Is a guest permitted to take home or give others some of his portion?

ANSWER: Basically, it is forbidden. However, when the host places generous amounts of food on the table and there is no fear of a shortage, according to some it is permitted.

(אבן העזר סי'כ"ח:י"ז, באר היטב, או"ח סי'ק"ע:י"ט ובמשנה ברורה כתב "ולפ"ז כ"ש אם כבר כלו לאכול ונשתייר מותר ליתן להם מהשריים ובספר שמן רוקח חוכך בכל זה להחמיר")

Now, the Midrash Rabbah (Vayikra 34:8), says that the word “kali” — “parched grain” — is similar to the word “kalil” — “very little” — and alludes that Boaz merely gave Ruth a pinch of parched grain between his two fingers.” This would indicate that he was not overly generous with his parched grain. So if Ruth couldn’t eat up the little amount he gave her, why did she allow herself to take it home?

The Midrash asks, [how could we say that Boaz gave her very little] “but surely, it is written ‘and she ate and was satisfied, and leftover’? We might infer one of two things from this. Either a blessings rested in the hands of Boaz, or a blessing rested in the stomach of Ruth. Since, however, the pasuk says ‘She ate and was satisfied, and leftover,’ one knows that the blessing rested in the righteous [Ruth’s] stomach.”

In light of the above (that the leftover was caused by her), she was permitted to keep it and bring it home for Naomi.

(ביאור זרע אפרים לר' אפרים זלמן ז"ל מרגליות על פסיקתא דר' כהנא פסקא את קרבני לחמי סעי' ו' אות ל"ה)


ותאמר שם האיש אשר עשיתי עמו היום בעז
She said “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz. (2:19)

QUESTION: Instead of saying “asiti imo” — “with whom I worked” — she should have said “the man Asher likateti etzlo” — “that I gleaned by him?”

ANSWER: The words “asher asiti imo” — literally mean “that I did with him.” Ruth was telling Naomi, “Though he did with me great kindness, nevertheless, what I did with him is even greater. For more than the householder does for the poor, the poor does for the householder” (Midrash Rabbah 5:9). This means that the householder benefits more — spiritually — from the tzedakah and kindness he extends than the poor man gains — physically — from the benevolence he receives from the householder.


ותאמר שם האיש אשר עשיתי עמו היום בעז
She said “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz. (2:19)

QUESTION: The word “hayom” is extra, since this was the first and only day that she gleaned.

ANSWER: Ruth told Noami that the original name of the owner of the field was Ivtzan, and that today his name was changed to Boaz. He was given this new name because he is a great tzaddik — and thanks to him the famine ceased (see p. 232).


ותאמר לה נעמי קרוב לנו האיש מגאלנו הוא
Naomi said to her, the man is closely related to us, he is one of our redeemers. (2:20)

QUESTION: A relative is specifically obligated to redeem the property which his impoverished kinsman was compelled to sell (see Vayikra 25:25). Thus, to say that he is a relative and a redeemer is a redundancy?

ANSWER: Naomi was actually saying two separate things to Ruth: Firstly, “He is closely related to you. Thus, we can anticipate that he will redeem the field we are compelled to sell due to our impoverished financial state.”

The second thing she told was a prophecy. She made Ruth aware that “migo’aleinu hu” — “our eventual redeemer — Mashiach — will descend from him.”

(אגרת שמואל)


מגאלנו הוא
He is one of our redeemers. (2:20)

QUESTION: As explained (see above), Naomi was telling Ruth that from Boaz will emerge our Redeemer — Mashiach. However, the word “hu” (הוא) is extra; couldn’t she just have said “migo’aleini”?

ANSWER: Ruth was a reincarnation of Lot’s older daughter, who became the ancestor of Moab through cohabitating with her father. When the Torah relates the episode, it says, “They intoxicated their father with wine balailah hu — that night” (Bereishit 19:33). There too, the word “hu” (הוא)— “that [night]” — is superfluous?

Amalek is the arch-enemy of the Jewish people, and Hashem refuses to forgive him. In Shemot 17:16 it is written, “For there is a hand on the Throne (כס) of G‑d (י-ה); Hashem maintains a war against Amalek from generation to generation.” The word "כס" which means a chair (or throne) is written here without an "א". Usually, the Name of Hashem is written with four letters — "י-ה-ו-ה". In this pasuk Hashem is referred to by only two of the four letters. Rashi explains that Hashem swore that neither His Name nor His Throne will be complete until Amalek is wiped out entirely.

The first night when Lot was intoxicated, his older daughter became pregnant with Moab. Moab was the grandfather of Ruth. She is credited for bringing to this world King David, from whom will eventually come Mashiach. One of the first things Mashiach will do is to annihilate the people of Amalek and their memory.

At that time, the missing "א" and "ו-ה" will return to Hashem’s Throne and Name, giving them their full glory. The extra word “hu” (הוא) in the pasuk alludes to the missing three letters that started their return through the events of that night.

Similarly, Naomi told Ruth, “Not only migo’aleinu — through Boaz will emerge our Redeemer — but hu — through our Redeemer Hashem’s Name and Throne will be restored to their full glory.”

(מלא העומר על בראשית)


ותאמר רות המואביה גם כי אמר אלי עם הנערים אשר לי תדבקין
Ruth the Moabite said: “Indeed, he even said to me, stay close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest” (2:21)

QUESTION: Boaz clearly told her “Stay close by my maidens” (2:8) — why did she quote him to say “Stay close to my young men”?

ANSWER: Ruth sensed an affinity developing between herself and Boaz. She interpreted his telling her to “stay close by my maidens” not only as sound advice, but also as an indication that to him she was on an equal footing with his maidens. Just as they were permitted to marry Jewish men, so was she, thanks to the recent halachic clarification concerning Moab, that a female Moabite convert may marry a Jew.

Ruth anxiously wanted to share this good news with her mother-in-law, but her extreme modestly didn’t allow her to talk openly about her new marriage status. Therefore, she alluded to it by telling Naomi that the man told her “to stay close by my young men.” Ruth figured that since Naomi knew that Boaz was a tzaddik she would definitely understand that he couldn’t have meant it literally; rather, he was alluding that she was permitted to marry one of his Jewish young men.

Naomi, indeed got the hint, and said to her, “Tov biti” — “It is good [news], my daughter, but while gleaming in the field you must, practically speaking, stay on the side where the maidens are working, and not in the area where his young men are harvesting.”

(שמחת הרגל)


ותדבק בנערות בעז ללקט עד כלות קציר השערים וקציר החטים
She kept close to the maidens of Boaz to glean, until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. (2:23)

QUESTION: According to the Midrash Rabbah (5:11), from the beginning of the barley harvest to the end of the wheat harvest was a period of three months. Why did Naomi wait so long and not encourage Ruth to seek marriage with Boaz earlier?

ANSWER: According to halachah a proselyte who was married before her conversion must wait ninety days before she remarries, in order to distinguish between any pre-conversion and post-conversion pregnancy. Therefore, Noami delayed Ruth’s marriage plans.

(אלשיך)


ותשב את חמותה
And she dwelt with her mother-in-law. (2:23)

QUESTION: Isn’t this superfluous, and shouldn’t it have said im (עם) instead of et (את)?

ANSWER: The Hebrew word “et” is usually untranslatable (see Mishneh Berurah 62:3). Therefore, the Sages often extrapolate from it. For instance, the Gemara (Pesachim 22b) explains that in the verse “You shall not eat etbesoro — its flesh (of a stoned ox) — the word “et” serves to include that which is subordinate to the flesh (the skin).

Here, too, with the word “et” the pasuk is conveying the refined character and righteousness of Ruth. Although “she kept close with the maidens of Boaz to glean” and for the past three months she had gone out daily to work, becoming the breadwinner for the home and supplied Naomi with her needs, nevertheless, she did not become conceited and consider herself the head of the household. Rather, she continued to dwell and conduct herself et — as a subordinate — to her mother-in-law. She continued to respect her highly and followed her instructions.

(אם המלך מר' צבי הירש ז"ל זיסמאן, ווארשא תרמ"ט)