ותאמר לה נעמי חמותה בתי אבקש לך מנוח
Naomi, her mother-in-law, said to her: ‘My daughter, I must seek security [‘rest’ — a marriage] for you. (3:1)

QUESTION: Naomi used the term “mano’ach” — “rest” — as a synonym for marriage because a woman has no security [“rest”] until she marries (Rashi). Shouldn’t she, however, say “menuchah” — in feminine — as she previously said “u’metzena menuchah” — “[may Hashem grant] that you may find security [lit. ‘rest’] (1:9)?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Bava Batra 91a) says that Ivtzan, who was one of the Judges (Judges 12:9), is the same as Boaz. Ivtzan had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He married them all off and made a total of 120 feasts — one in his own house and one in the house of the family into which each child had married. To all of those feasts he did not invite Manoach, who at that time was childless, but who would later father Shimshon (see Judges ch. 13).

Ivtzan’s reasoning was that since Manoach had no children for whom to make feasts, he would have no way to invite Ivtzan in return. (Ivtzan’s intention was not to hurt Manoach’s feelings. His concern was that Manoach would be at loss to reciprocate and would be forcefully reminded of his own loneliness. Manoach, however, interpreted Ivtzan’s behavior negatively and was thus offended — Maharsha). Unfortunately, all of those children died during Ivtzan’s lifetime.

Noami wanted Ruth to be married to Boaz and through the children born, the name of her son Machlon would be perpetuated. However, she calculated that Ruth might refuse out of concern that Boaz’s children were shortlived and thus, marrying him would not accomplish anything.

“Hence,” Naomi said to her, “Ivtzan/Boaz’s children died because he did not invite Manoach to the festivities. Therefore avakeish lach manoach — I will seek Manoach and make sure that he participates in your marriage celebration. Thus, your children will be blessed with longevity and the name of my son will be perpetuated.”

(ברכת טוב לר' משה נראל הכהן ז"ל מק"ק קרעמניץ וויניציאה תע"א)

ותאמר לה נעמי חמותה בתי הלא אבקש לך מנוח אשר ייטב לך
Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter I will seek security for you that it may go well with you.” (3:1)

QUESTION: If Naomi was Ruth’s mother-in-law, she should have addressed her as “daughter-in-law,” not “daughter.” Moreover, the words asher yitav lecha” — “that it may go well for you” — are superfluous; would she seek a husband for her that would not be good for her?

ANSWER: Naomi told Ruth, “When you got married to my son, you were a Moabite. As long as you were married, our relationship was one of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. After he died, you became a righteous proselyte. Our Sages tell us ‘One who converts is like a new-born child’ (Yevamot 22a). Since your conversion was done under my tutelage, I consider you as though I gave birth to you and you are dear to me as biti — my daughter.

“Indeed” Naomi said, “Every parent that marries off a child wishes the best for them. But little do they know what the future holds. I, however, have a prospective husband for you, and I know prophetically that not only will it be good for you in This World, but asher yitav lach — it will be good for you in the World to Come. There you will derive much nachas from the descendants you will have through marrying him.” (The Gemara (Kiddushin 39b) interprets the pasuk “lema’an yitav lach” — “so that it will be good with you” (Devarim 5:19) — to refer to “the world that is entirely good” i.e. Olam Haba — the World to Come.)

(זאת נחמתי)

אבקש לך מנוח
I must seek security for you. (3:1)

QUESTION: Since a woman has no security (“rest”) until she marries, Naomi meant she will find a spouse for her. But instead of alluding to a husband why didn’t she say openly “I will seek a husband for you”?

ANSWER: Thereare opinions that one should not marry a lady who is in her first year of widowhood. The reason is because the first husband’s spirit continues to stir within his widow’s body for the first twelve months after the physical leaving of the world and there is confrontation between the new husband and the spirit of the first one, which in turn causes much pain to the woman (Zohar, Shemot 102a).

Ruth recently had become a widow. When Naomi began suggesting marriage she was apprehensive since twelve months of her husband’s death had not passed. “Perhaps,” she thought, “it is not advisable for her to now consider marriage to a new husband. Naomi sensed her concern.” Therefore, in an attempt to dispel her fear, she did not say openly “I will seek for you a husband,” but rather “[I will seek] lecha mano’ach (לך מנוח).” These words can be arranged to read “kemachlon” — “like Machlon”(כמחלון). She was thus saying, “I will seek to find someone like Machlon. Thus, thanks to their compatibility you will not experience any difficulty caused by strife between them, though you are within the first twelve months of widowhood.”

(שמחת הרגל, ועי' ספר שמירת הגוף והנפש סי' קס"ז)

ועתה הלא בעז מדעתנו
And now, Boaz our kinsman. (3:2)

QUESTION: The word “ve’atah” — “and now” — is extra.

ANSWER: Naomi knew prophetically that the Davidic dynasty and Mashiach would emerge from the marriage of Boaz and Ruth. She also knew that Boaz’s life span was nearing an end and he would die shortly. And, in fact, he died the next night, the night of their marriage (Yalkut Shimoni, Ruth, 608).

Naomi alluded to this by saying “Ve’atah — and now [Boaz our relative] — that is, at present he is our relative, but shortly he will be detached from our family. Therefore, you should immediately pursue him in marriage, before he will be unavailable.” (Accordingly, the last word of the pasuk, “halailah” — “tonight” — also goes on the opening words of the pasuk, i.e., “Now, Boaz is our relative, tonight.”)

(מלא העומר)

הנה הוא זרה את גרן השערים הלילה ... וירדת הגרן
He will be winnowing barley tonight on the threshing floor ... go down to the threshing floor. (3:2-3)

QUESTION: Why did Naomi pick the goren — threshing floor — for Boaz and Ruth’s place of meeting?

ANSWER: In preparing Ruth for her meeting with Boaz, Naomi instructed her to bear in mind that everything she was doing was to be lesheim Shamayim — for the sake of Heaven — because the future of the Jewish people was dependant on it.

Upon the advice of the prophet Gad, David purchased the threshing floor of Aravneh the Jebusite. He built an altar there and offered olot and shelamim — burnt-offerings and peace-offerings to Hashem. This property was actually on Mount Moriah, where King Shlomo built the Beit Hamikdash — Holy Temple. (II Samuel 24:18-25, II Chronicles 3:1).

Thus, Naomi said, “You are going down to the threshing floor to beseech him to ‘spread his wings’ over you. Please remember that from your union with him needs to emerge King David, who will purchase a goren — threshing floor — upon which the Beit Hamikdash will be built. The Jews will come there to beseech Al-mighty G‑d to rest His Shechinah — Divine Presence — in that place, and echoing your request, to “spread His wings over them.”

(משיב נפש להב"ח)

* * *

Incidentally, the words “veyaradeta hagoren” — “and go down to the threshing floor” (וירדת הגרון) — have the numerical value of 879 (im hakolel — when counting the statement as one), which is also the numerical value of “Zehu Beit Hamikdash” (זהו בית המקדש) — “This is the Beit Hamikdash.”


ורחצת וסכת ושמתי שמלתיך עליך וירדתי הגרן "ויהי בשכבו ... ובאת וגלית מרגלתיו ושכבתי ... ותבא בלט ותגל מרגלתיו ותשכב
Bathe and anoint yourself, don your finest garb, and go down to the threshing floor, and when he lies down, go over, uncover his feet and lay down. She came softly, uncovered his feet and lay down.(3:3,4,7)

QUESTION: Instead of advising Ruth to act like a harlot and engage in what appears to be a licentious relationship, why didn’t Naomi engage a shadchan — marriage broker — to talk to Boaz about marrying Ruth?

How Mashiach came to be

ANSWER: Throughout the existence of this mundane and earthly world, Man has a constant battle doing good and avoiding evil. Satan, the representative of evil, endeavors to draw him into his camp. This phenomenon will continue until the Messianic era. At that time Satan will be out of business, and Man will be rid of his yeitzer hara — evil inclination. The prophet Yechezkeil describes those days as a time when “I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 31:26). Zechariah prophesied that “It will happen on that day ... I will also remove the spirit of impurity (yeitzer hara) from the land” (13:2). Satan fights ferociously to prevent that period from coming.

Thus, under normal circumstances it would be almost impossible for man to give birth to Mashiach, unless he goes about it in a strictly secretive and obscure way. Man must, in a sense, bribe Satan so that he will be convinced that the ensuing action is for his benefit and not suspect otherwise.

Hashem scattered the sparks from which the Davidic dynasty would be constructed in many parts of the world. The only way to put them together was for the act to be shrouded in the mists of impropriety.

The First Link

It all started with the relationship of Lot and his daughter who were miraculously spared from the destruction of Sodom. Thinking that the entire world was annihilated, Lot’s daughter cohabitated with her father and bore a son named Moab, who was the first offshoot from which David and Mashiach emanated. (See Bereishit 19:31-37.)

Her intent was pure and lofty, and all that she did was lesheim Shamayim — for the sake of Heaven — to make possible the emergence of Mashiach. According to the Midrash Rabbah (Bereishit 49:8) this is evident from the way she expressed herself to her sister. “Our father is old, come let us give our father wine and lay with him that we may give life to zara — offspring — through our father.” The Midrash notes, “It is not written, ‘that we may give life to bein — a child — through our father,’ rather, ‘that we may give life to zara — a seed (offspring) through our father,’ that is to say, the offspring that comes from a different source, which is the King Mashiach. (“Comes from different source,” that is to say, one of their posterity that will come from a different mother and father — Yehudah and Ruth — Rashi.)

The Second Link

Later on, when Yehudah’s two sons passed away, his daughter-in-law Tamar became concerned that she would not be able to share in the building of Hashem’s kingdom. Divinely inspired, she posed as a harlot and lured Yehudah into marrying her. She conceived and gave birth to twins, one of which, Peretz, was the ancestor of David (ibid. 38:13-29 Ruth 4:8, 22).

The sequence of events definitely looked strange and smelled of impropriety. Halachically, however, things were in proper order. Inevitably, the emergence of Mashiach couldn’t be accomplished in any other way. In the end Satan was bribed, and he considered their behavior his victory. Fortunately, he was blinded and Yehudah and Tamar, with Divine consent, planted the next phase necessary for the emergence of Mashiach.

Regarding the Yehudah and Tamar episode the Midrash Rabbah (Bereishit 85:1) quotes the passage “For I know the thoughts” (Jeremiah 29:11) and goes on to say that the shevatim — tribal ancestors — were engaged in selling Yosef; Yaakov, Reuven and Yosef were taken up with their sackcloth and fasting; and Yehudah was busy taking a wife, while Hashem was creating the light of Mashiach.

The Final Link

Naomi was a righteous woman. Often she would hear her husband, Elimelech, proclaim that his name signified that “eilai tavoh malchut — “to me shall kingship come.” In addition, she too knew prophetically that somehow a member of her family would be the ancestor to the Davidic dynasty. Boaz also knew this to be true. The only member left of her family was Ruth. How could this goal be achieved?

Send a shadchan? Of course not!

Satan would easily persuade Boaz to refuse. “After all,” he would say, “You are an old man; why get involved with a young girl! You have already buried all of your sixty children. Why undertake a new marriage? Do you want more children to bury? You are a righteous person, the head of the Sanhedrin; what will people say if you marry a Moabitess?” With these and many additional arguments, Satan would have easily nullified Naomi’s desire for Boaz to marry Ruth.

The sole alternative was to bribe Satan, induce him into perceiving victory. Then, not only would he look aside, but happily encourage the seemingly illicit relationship.

The three tzadikim, Naomi, Ruth and Boaz worked hand in hand to make possible the advent of Mashiach. Acting within the realm of halachah, reluctantly, they did things that may appear to onlookers as improper, but they successfully ignited the final spark necessary to create the Davidic dynasty and Mashiach.

(משיב נפש, בשורת אליהו בשם יד יוסף)

* * *

The famous Chassidic Rebbe, Rabbi Meir of Premishlan used a parable to explain the procedure utilized to bring the exalted and holy neshamah of David down to earth.

It is extremely difficult to pass very valuable new merchandise across the border of a country without having to pay the customs agents a hefty tariff. A wise merchant will dirty and crease the merchandise so that it looks old, and pass it through easily without any payment. Afterwards, he cleans it up and irons it out, and it is as fresh and new as ever.

(פרדס יוסף, בראשית)

ויהי בשכבו וידעת את המקום אשר ישכב שם
And when he lies down, know the place where he lies. (3:4)

QUESTION: The words “et hamakom” — “the place” — are extra — she could have just said “And when he lies down, note where he lies”?

ANSWER: When the construction of the Beit Hamikdash was completed King Shlomo offered a prayer to Hashem in which he referred to the Beit Hamikdash as “Hamakom” — “the place” (I Kings 8:30).

As explained (see above), Naomi was telling Ruth that from her pursuit of Boaz on the threshing floor, David would emerge and ultimately acquire a threshing floor to build the Beit Hamikdash.

Thus, she instructed Ruth that when he would lie down, she was to “know the place,” that is, she was to know i.e. have in mind that she was not there for personal gain. Rather, the purpose of her lying there was that the Jews would ultimately have “hamakom” — “the place” — where Hashem will rest His Name.

(משיב נפש)

וגלית מרגלתיו ושכבתי
Uncover his feet and lie down. (3:4)

QUESTION: The kesiv — written tradition — for the word “veshachavt” — “lie down” — appears with a yud at the end, “veshachavti (ושכבתי) — “I will lie down.” How could Naomi say “I will lie down” when she sent Ruth to go there?

ANSWER: The Torah (Devarim 23:4) states “Lo yavo Amoni uMoavi bikehal Hashem” — “An Amonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation of Hashem.” Although they are permitted to convert to Judaism, they are banned from joining the Jewish people in marriage. Nevertheless, the Gemara (Yevamot 77a) comments that since it says Amoni-Moavi and it should have said Amon-Moav, the extra yud teaches that only the males are precluded from marrying into the Jewish congregation and not the females (see Tosafot).

With the extra yud in veshachavti, Noami was encouraging Ruth to follow her instruction and pursue Boaz to marry her. She told her, “Don’t have any apprehensions that because you are a Moabite he may be precluded from marrying you. Be aware that veshachavti — you may lie down near to him, i.e. be married to him, thanks to a clarification our Sages derived from an extra yud in the Torah.”

(אם המלך – בן איש חי)

ותרד הגרן ותעש ככל אשר צותה חמותה
So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law instructed her. (3:6)

QUESTION: What specific connection is there between a “goren” — threshing floor — women, and the Beit Hamikdash?

ANSWER: Divinity itself is infinite. In order for it to be manifest in the finite universe it must undergo contractions (tzimtzumim). The vibrant [“light”] of the Divine Attributes constantly dim as they make their descent from a higher world to a lower world until it ultimately reaches a level at which it can relate to the mundane world.

According to Kabbalah and Chassidut there are Ten Sefirot or Divine emanations. The tenth, Malchut, is considered to have a feminine aspect because it receives and transmits the influence of the other nine Sefirot. The idea of receiving and transmitting is analogous to the feminine principle because the female receives seed from the male and enables a further level to come into being through the birth of a child. A threshing floor suggests a similar pattern since it receives the “seed” — the kernel — separated from the wheat. Malchut is also identified with the Shechinah — the Divine Presence. Just as Malchut allows the influence of the Sefirot to be transmitted to lower levels. Likewise, from the Shechinah which is clothed in the Holy of Holies of the Beit Hamikdash, Divine light and vitality are extended and diffused to the whole world (see Tanya ch. 52).

As mentioned the feminine is analogous to the goren — threshing floor. Thus, most appropriately, the word goren (גרן) has the numerical value of 253, since according to Rabbi Akiva in Gemara (Bechorot 45a) women have 253 limbs.

Hence, it was propitious that Ruth — the feminine — be the one to pursue Boaz so that the Beit Hamikdash would be built and there would be a resting place for Shechinah in this world.

Interestingly, Ruth is referred to as “ima shel malchut” — “the Mother of Royalty.” Perhaps she earned this title because of her effort on behalf of the Shechinah, which is identified with Malchut. Both are the avenues that make possible Divine revelations in this world. (See Tanya, ch. 52; Iggeret HaKodesh VIII; and Mystical Concepts in Chassidism, chapter III, by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet.)

(רגל ישרה ר' צבי זצ"ל מדינוב, ואגרא דכלה סוף פ' קרח, ועי' אור תורה בראשית)

ותבא בלט ותגל מרגלתיו
And she came softly and uncovered his feet. (3:7)

QUESTION: The Midrash (Ruth 5:15) says that though Boaz was a very wealthy man, he himself went to sleep at the end of the grain pile to protect it from thieves since immorality was rampant among his generation.

What kind of watchman was he if he didn’t even sense a woman coming in and uncovering his feet?

ANSWER: When Moshe and Aharon appeared before Pharaoh and performed a miraculous sign, Pharaoh called his scholars and magicians and they were able to do the same thing belahateihem — with their magic arts (Shemot 7:11).

The word balat is from the same root word of belahateihem. Ruth employed certain hidden magical arts and was able to enter and do whatever she did without being seen or heard by Boaz or any of his workers.

(אגרת שמואל)

ויהי בחצי הלילה
In the middle of the night. (3:8)

QUESTION: Instead of “bachatzi halaylah” why doesn’t it simply say “bachatzot” — “at midnight”?

ANSWER: The words “bachatzi halaylah” (בחצי הלילה) — “middle of the night” — have the numerical value of 190, which is also the numerical value of keitz (קץ) — “the end.” This refers to the ultimate conclusion of all the exiles of the Jewish people which will occur through Mashiach.

On this night Boaz told Ruth that she was a righteous convert and that he would marry her since the Biblical prohibition against Moab applied only to the males.

With their marriage the final link for the creation of Mashiach will be forged. Thus, thanks to the dialogue that took place bachatzi halaylah — in the middle of the night — the Jewish people can anticipate the revelation of Mashiach who will gather together all the Jews and effectuate the keitz — end of galut — exile.

(עי' הגש"פ מוצל מאש – בית אהרן – בפי' פאר אהרן)

ויהי בחצי הלילה ויחרד האיש
In the middle of the night the man trembled. (3:8)

QUESTION: Why did Boaz wake up at midnight particularly?

ANSWER: According to the Zohar (Bereishit 40a, Shemot 36b) at midnight Hashem visits the Tzaddikim in Gan Eden to enjoy Himself with them. Since He is then in a very good disposition, it is considered a most propitious time to wake up to engage in prayer and Torah study. Hence, Boaz had trained himself to do exactly that every night. Thus, though he had worked hard that day and had feasted to celebrate his success and had given thanks to Hashem, he hastily woke up when midnight arrived.

(משיב נפש)

* * *

King David, whose birth was made possible through the event of that midnight, says “At midnight I will arise to thank You because of Your righteous judgments (Psalms 119:62).

QUESTION: What righteous judgment was David referring to, and why did he arise at midnight in particular to thank Hashem for it?

ANSWER: The Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 15:12) explains that David composed this verse with reference to two historical events. One of them was personally significant. Midnight symbolizes a turning point in David’s fortunes, because it was at midnight that Ruth, David’s great-grandmother, entreated Boaz to take her as a wife (Ruth 3:8).

Until then, she feared being disqualified from such a union because the Torah forbids an Israelite to marry a Moabite (Devarim 23:4). At midnight Boaz revealed to Ruth the Oral Tradition that only the men of Moab are included in this prohibition; the women of Moab are acceptable as wives. Throughout his lifetime David arose at midnight to give thanks to Hashem for this judgment which was so essential to his lineage. (The second was nationally significant — see Shemot Rabbah 18:2.)

ויהי בחצי הלילה ויחרד האיש
In the middle of the night the man was startled. (3:8)

QUESTION: Instead of “the man” why doesn’t it say “Boaz”[was startled]”?

ANSWER: Naomi gave Ruth detailed instructions. At the conclusion she said “vehu yagid lach asher ta’asin” — “He will tell you what you are to do” (3:4). Commentaries (Besurat Eliyahu) take “hu” — “He” — to refer to Hashem. I.e., prophetically Naomi told Ruth that she could anticipate having a Divine revelation there and Hashem would converse with her and instruct her accordingly.

Indeed this is what happened. Between Ruth and Hashem there evolved a lengthy dialogue concerning the future of Klal Yisrael and the imminent Redemption. According to Kabbalists, the term Ish — Man — is a reference to Hashem, and Ishah refers to Klal Yisrael’s receiving His benevolent revelations. Also, the galut — exile — is compared to night and redemption to day.

“In the middle of the night,” the darkest moment of exile vayecharad ha’ish — the Man — Hashem — was startled, to see, behold “a woman” (Klal Yisrael) lying margelotav — at His feet.” This word can also be read as mar — bitter — gelotov — exiles. Suddenly, Hashem asks “who are you?” She responds [emotionally] “I am Ruth Your handmaid.” This means “I am Klal Yisrael who have accepted Ruth (רות) — additional 606 mitzvot at Sinai over the seven the entire world has.” The dialogue continues, “Spread Your wings over Your handmaid” — “take us out of galut and reunite with us” — “Ki go’el atah” — “for You are a redeemer.”

A short conversation follows in which Hashem blesses and praises Klal Yisrael for their devotion to Him. Then, in response to her (Klal Yisrael’s) request, Hashem says, “While it is true that I am a redeemer, there is also a redeemer closer than I” (3:12). The Gemara (Sanhedrin 98a) explains that the prophesy regarding the redemption “I am Hashem, in its time I will hasten it” (Isaiah 60:22) means that there are two sorts of redemption. One is “be’itah” the redemption of the predestined time. The other is “achishenah” — an accelerated redemption which we must merit for our good deeds.

Thus, Hashem says, “Stay the night” — i.e. “remain [temporarily] in galut, vehayah baboker — then in the morning [when your redemption time comes] im yigalcha tov — if you have much ‘tov’ — good deeds — to merit your redemption, be assured that yigal — an accelerated redemption will take place.”

Now, the Midrash (Rabbah, Vayikra 11:7) says that the word “vehayah” — it will be — connotes joy and happiness. Thus, Hashem is telling her, “I will be very happy if the good deeds of Klal Yisrael merit them the speedier redemption. However, if G‑d forbid, you will not meet the standards required to merit such a redemption — [then be assured that the galut will not be eternal, for] uge’alteich ani chai Hashem — I promise that I personally will redeem you. Shichvi at haboker — lie patiently in galut till your redemption, for it will surely come.” The verse continues, “Vatishkav — so Klal Yisrael remained to lay — margelotov — in the bitter galut — which He imposed on them, ad haboker — until the morning” — eagerly anticipating the redemption.

(משיב נפש, אגרת שמואל)

ויהי בחצי הלילה ויחרד האיש וילפת והנה אשה שכבת מרגלתיו
In the middle of the night the man was startled, and behold there was a woman lying at his feet. (3:8)

QUESTION: Halachah forbids yichud — for a man/woman to be in seclusion with a woman/man besides a spouse or close family members. In fact, it is one of the laws Naomi explained to Ruth while preparing her for conversion (Yevamot 47b). Why did Ruth and Boaz violate this?

ANSWER: There are various forms of yichud. Some are forbidden Biblically and others Rabbinically. The prohibition for an unmarried woman to be in seclusion with a man was instituted by the court of King David (Avodah Zarah 36b). Since this episode preceded the era of David, there was no violation of halachah.

* * *

The meetings between Boaz and Ruth were all beHashgachah Peratit —Divine Providence. Thus, Heavenly intervention forestalled the Rabbis from issuing this edict, to enable the emergence of Mashiach and to assure that there be no blemish on David. Once, however, this was accomplished, Heavenly intervention, inspired David and his Beth Din to enact the prohibition of yichud — seclusion — with an unmarried woman.

(אוהל דוד, הרב דוד שי' כהן)

ותאמר אנכי רות אמתך
And she answered “I am Ruth your handmaid” (3:9)

QUESTION: Why earlier (2:13) when she spoke to Boaz did she describe herself as a “shifchah” — “maid-servant” while here she refers to herself as an “amah” — “handmaid”?

ANSWER: A Jewish master can employ either an amah — handmaid — or a shifchah — maid-servant. The difference is that it is forbidden for him to marry his shifchah — but he is obligated to marry his amah, who is a Jewish girl whom he acquired as a worker (see Shemot 21:8).

When Ruth met Boaz the first time she was apprehensive as to how Boaz would perceive her conversion. Would he consider a Moabitess who converted eligible to marry into the Jewish community or not? Therefore, at first she referred to herself as a shifchah — maid-servant — to indicate that she was ineligible to marry him or any other Jewish man. During their conversation, however, he made her aware of the recent clarification that the Torah edict applies only to males and thus she could marry a Jew.

Consequently, when she came with the intention to pursue Boaz in marriage, and cognizant that he as a member of the family was a redeemer, she modestly described herself as amatecha — your hand-maid. She thus hinted to him that she as a former Moabitess was eligible to be married to a Jew and that he as a redeemer was obligated to marry her.

(נחמות צמח ישראל מר' נחום ז"ל מגיד בירושלים)

ותאמר אנכי רות אמתך ופרשת כנפך על אמתך כי גאל אתה
And she answered “I am Ruth your handmaid. Spread your garment over your handmaid; for you are a redeemer.” (3:9)

QUESTION: Why is the vowel under the tof of the first amatecha — your handmaid — a segol (ֶ) אַמָתֶךָ, and under the second a sheva אַמָתְךָ?

ANSWER: “Boaz asked her “who are you?” Now since a segol has three dots and a sheva two, it can be interpreted that she gave him a three phase and two phase reply to identify herself.

The three dots signify the three elements which made up her present self: 1) The soul of Lot’s daughter reincarnated in her, 2) The spirit of her deceased husband Machlon, which “pulsated in her stomach,” and 3) Her own physical self.

The second amatecha has a two dotted vowel as she wanted to convey the following. “Even if I do not contain the reincarnated soul of Lot’s daughter, I have within me Machlon’s spirit (and my own physical self). Hence, even if you do not feel obligated to do anything for my sake, at least do so for the sake of ‘Machlon’s spirit’ that rests within me, ki go’el atah — for you are a redeemer.”


ופרשת כנפך על אמתך
Spread the [corner of] your garment over your handmaid (3:9)

QUESTION: How is this an allusion to marriage?

ANSWER: An integral part of a wedding ceremony is the badekenish — when the Chatan places a veil over the Kallah’s face. There are various explanations for this custom, but according to some this process is considered the chupah, by which the Gemara (Kiddushin 5a) says one may acquire a woman as his wife. (See Shulchan Aruch Even Ha’ezer 55:1, Beit Shmuel, 5.)

Her request for Boaz to spread his garment over her was an allusion that he should make a badekenish through which they would be married.

(עי' רש"ש על מס' קידושין י"ח ע"ב, ואוצר הפוסקים אבהע"ז סי' נ"ה סעי' א' ס"ק י"ז))

* * *

Alternatively, in some communities there is a custom to put a talit belonging to the Chatan over the heads of the Chatan and Kallah while they are standing under the chupah. The word “kenafecha” — “the corner of your garment” — is an allusion to the talit. (In reference to the mitzvah of tzitzit the Torah says they should be placed on “arba kanfot kesutcha” — “the four corners of your garments” (Devarim 22:12).)

Thus, Ruth was asking Boaz to stand with her under the chupah in marriage, where his talit would be placed over the two of them.

(עי' אוצר הפוסקים אבהע"ז סי' נ"ה ס"ק ט"ז, ועי' באר היטב או"ח סי' ח' ס"ק י"ח שיש נוהגין ליטול טלית שאולה מפני ספק ברכה)

ופרשת כנפך על אמתך
Spread your garment over your handmaid (3:9)

QUESTION: The word “kenefecha” literally means “wings”? Why is it written without a yud, which is the singular (wing)?

ANSWER: Ruth’s interest in being married to Boaz was strictly lesheim Shamayim — for the sake of Heaven. She was interested in bringing back the soul of her deceased husband, Machlon, to this world through giving birth to a child. Also, she knew prophetically that from her and Boaz would emerge the final link of the future Davidic dynasty through whom King Mashiach will ultimately come.

She also knew that their marriage would, unfortunately, not be long-lasting since Boaz was destined to die during the first night of their marriage (see Yalkut Shimoni).

The missing yud which makes the word “kenafecha” singular, is to allude that she beseeched him to marry her even if it meant being married only for one night.

(אגרת שמואל ועי' משיבת נפש עה"פ ברוכה את פ"ג:י)

היטבת חסדך האחרון מן הראשון
You have made your latest act of kindness greater than the first (3:10)

QUESTION: Which was the first and how was it greater?

ANSWER: Ruth was a gilgul — reincarnation — of the older daughter of Lot. She survived the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and thought that the entire world had been decimated. So she said to her sister [since] “There is no man in the world to have relations with; come, let us give our father wine and then cohabitate with him that we may give life to offspring through our father” (Bereishit 19:31,32). She gave birth to Moab who was the ancestor of Ruth. Her intent was pure and lofty. It was all a part of the Divine plan to bring about the eventual emergence of Mashiach.

Boaz, recognized who Ruth really was and the profound purpose of their forthcoming union. Therefore, he said to her, “Your first act of kindness was indeed great and exalted. Although it seemed tainted, you cannot be faulted since you did it out of your conviction and understanding that no man was left on the face of the earth except your father.

“That was then. Now, however, since you are an exceptionally beautiful woman, and there are many young and rich men available who would indeed desire to marry you. Nevertheless, you decided to marry me to create a new link in the Davidic dynasty. This demonstrates your concern for the Jewish people, and this kindness is indeed greater.”

(אלשיך – משיב נפש)

* * *

Alternatively, after the death of Machlon and Kilion, Naomi said to her daughters-in-law, “May Hashem deal kindly with you as you have dealt kindly with the dead and with me” (1:8). According to the Midrash Rabbah (Ruth 1:14) she meant that they went beyond what is required of a wife and busied themselves with their shrouds and burial. They also waived their right, for Naomi’s benefit, to their ketubah — marriage settlement — to which they were legally entitled.

Boaz is saying to Ruth “The first kindness which you did for your husband and Naomi was basically monetary and relates to temporal worldly benefits.

Your present kindness, however, outshines this. It’s a great sacrifice for a woman in her prime to forego the opportunity to marry a young and rich man in favor of marrying a very old man. Yet you are prepared to do so because I am a related to your family and you will thereby perpetuate the name of your deceased husband. This is indeed a greater act of kindness. The good you will be doing for his soul will have a bearing both in this world and in the World to Come.”


כי יודע כל שער עמי כי אשת חיל את
For all the men in the gate of my people know that you are a worthy woman. (3:11)

QUESTION: What did Boaz mean with this compliment?

ANSWER: King Shlomo, in Proverbs (31:10-31) details the all-encompassing virtues and attributes that the true Eishet Chayil — accomplished [worthy] woman — possesses. He opens his remarks with a question Eishet chayil mi yimtza” — “An accomplished woman who can find?” This seems to imply that an Eishet Chayil is a rare phenomenon. However, later he says that her family will declare in her praise, “Many women asu chayil — have amassed achievement — but you surpassed them all.”

Superficially, this seems contradictory to his opening question. If many women are eishet chayil, why does he say “who can find one?” Moreover, how does this woman whom the family is praising surpass the other eishet chayil?

Shlomo means to say that the true eishet chayil is one who embodies and exhibits all the enumerated qualities. This, however, is quite rare. Some women may have a few of the praiseworthy qualities of an eishet chayil, but not all the attributes. Therefore, he asks, “Who can find one woman who has achieved all the qualities?”

Shlomo then says, “Her children and husband will extol her, saying ‘rabot banot asu chayil’ — ‘if you take the various achievements of many woman and put them all together, you will have made an eishet chayil — a noteworthy accomplished woman,’ but you surpassed them all. You don’t need to be merged with others, rather on your own you are a true eishet chayil — one who has demonstrated valiantly that you yourself have all the qualities of the eishet chayil. You are a unique unparalleled entity and your value is far beyond pearls’.”

Boaz said to Ruth, “You are an exceptional woman, a true Eishet Chayil. You are not merely a woman who has some praiseworthy features and attributes, but rather an eishet chayil par excellence, one who personifies all the virtues enumerated by King Shlomo.”

(שמחת הרגל - חיד"א)

ליני הלילה
Stay here tonight. (3:13)

QUESTION: Since he tells her at the end of the pasuk “shichvi ad haboker” — “lie down until the morning.” The words “lini halalay” — “stay here tonight” — are extra. What is the particular emphasis?

ANSWER: As explained (see above) this entire conversation was a dialogue between Hashem and Klal Yisrael regarding the exile, and our beseeching Him to take us out of it.

The exile we is suffering in consists of four parts, Babylonia, Midian, Greece and Rome.

The word lini (ליני) is an acronym consisting of the last letters of each of the exiles בבל, מדי, יון, רומי. Hashem is telling His beloved people “Lini halailah” — “stay here tonight” — “Be patient and you will definitely be redeemed.”


שכבי עד הבקר
Lie down until the morning. (3:13)

QUESTION: Since the pasuk begins with his telling her “stay here tonight” aren’t the words shichvi ad haboker — “lie down until morning” extra?

ANSWER: The words shichvi ad haboker (שכבי עד הבקר) numerically add up to 713, as does the word teshuvah (תשובה). As explained (see above) Hashem is comforting Klal Yisrael that the galut is not eternal, and ultimately we will be redeemed. Thus, Hashem concludes the conversation with telling Klal Yisrael, “shichvi ad haboker — in the interim until the geulah happens do teshuvah.”


ותשכב מרגלותו עד הבקר
She lay at his feet until the morning. (3:14)

QUESTION: Why when she first lay down at his feet (3:7) and then when he noticed a woman lying at his feet (3:8) the word “margelotav” — “at his feet” — is spelled with a yud (מרגלותיו), why now it is spelled without a yud?

ANSWER: The word “margelotav” with a yud is plural for “feet,” without a yud it could be read “margeloto” as singular — “foot.”

The righteous Ruth did not lay down in bed alongside him. She lay perpendicular to his feet facing the foot of the bed. When he awoke, he noticed that a woman was lying at his feet. After the dialogue that ensued between them she wanted to leave. Boaz urged her, for her safety, not to leave and to lie down [alongside him] until morning. Once, she obtained from him the pledge she was seeking, she saw no purpose in staying there any longer. In deference to him, however, she remained, but moved away from margelotavhis feet — and lay margeloto — at the foot of the bed.

(משיב נפש)

וימד שש שערים וישת עליה
And he measured six [grains] of barley and set it on her. (3:15)

QUESTION: Why did he give her barley?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Ketubot 8a) says that in the olden days when a father would invite guests to a meal before his son’s actual chuppah was to take place and tell them that the meal is in honor of his son’s upcoming wedding, the berachah of “shehasimchah bime’ono” — “in Whose abode there is joy” — could be recited. The earliest time that this applied from when they threw the barley into the beer vat. This was a strong sign that the preparations for the wedding had begun in earnest.

Boaz’s giving Ruth barley to take home was a way of letting her know that he was seriously anticipating marrying her and she could go home and start making preparations for their wedding.

(ברכת חיים בשם מגילת ספר)

"ויאמר הבי המטפחת אשר עליך...וימד שש שערים וישת עליה"
“And he said, ‘Hold out the shawl...’ and he measured out six grains of barley, and set it on her.” (3:15)

QUESTION: Rashi says that with the six grains he alluded that from her descendants will come Mashiach, who will be blessed with six blessings. Why, however, did he give her specifically barley and not something else?

ANSWER: When Mashiach reveals himself the Jewish people will experience immense material and spiritual wealth. As the Rambam says, “In that time there will be no hunger, war, jealousy, or competition. There will be goodness in abundant measure, all delicacies will be available like dust, and the entire world will be involved only in the understanding of G‑dliness” (Melachim 12:5).

The Hebrew word for barley, “se’orim” (שערים), can be rearranged to spell the word “ashirim” (עַשִירִם) — rich. With the giving of six se’orim Boaz alluded that Ruth would be the ancestor of Mashiach, in whose time the Jews will all be ashirim — wealthy — materially and spiritually.

(נפש יהונתן מר' יהונתן בנימין הכהן ז"ל מסעליש)

ותבוא אל חמותה ותאמר מי את בתי
When she came to her mother-in-law who said “Who are you my daughter?” (3:16)

QUESTION: Why did Naomi suddenly not recognize her?

ANSWER: Naomi sent Ruth on a perilous mission. Undoubtedly, Naomi stood awake the entire night waiting to hear the outcome. When Ruth returned she anxiously asked, “Who are you?” meaning “Are you married and now the wife of Boaz, or are you still single?” (see Midrash Rabbah 7:5). She continues, “If you are married, why aren’t you with your husband, and if you are not, please tell me what happened? Regardless if you are married or not, be assured that I love you all the same and biti — you are [still] my daughter.”

(מדרש רבה רות, פ"ז:ד, זאת נחמתי)

* * *

Alternatively, the words “mi at” (מי את) — “who are you?” — [my daughter] can be arranged to read “eimatai” (אימתי) — “When, [my daughter]?” Naomi knew prophetically that Boaz had given Ruth his word that he would marry her, so in a modest way she asked “mi at” — “eimatai” — “when — biti — my daughter — will the happy event take place?”

(שמחת הרגל)

* * *

Alternatively, she did not recognize her because she left Boaz “before one man could recognize another” (3:14), and it was still dark when she arrived.


* * *

Alternatively, due to the heavy load she carried home on her shoulders, she walked with her face stooped downward so that Naomi saw womanly features, but couldn’t see her face.

(בשורת אליהו)

ותאמר שבי בתי ... כי לא ישקוט האיש כִי אם כלה הדבר היום
She said “sit still my daughter, for the man will not rest until he has settled everything this day. (3:18)

QUESTION: How was Noami so sure that Boaz would finish everything during the day?

ANSWER: According to halachah a widow who wants to get married at the earliest opportunity must wait 90 days plus the day her husband died and the day she becomes engaged (a total of 92 days) before she may marry again (Even Ha’ezer 13:1).

According to the Targum (Ruth 1:22) Ruth and Naomi arrived back in Eretz Yisrael on Erev Pesach. Some commentaries explain that Machlon died on Erev Pesach. (See Ohel David on Ruth 2:23.) Thus, the shivah — mourning period — was observed only until chatzot — midday. Immediately after getting up from shivah they started on their return to Eretz Yisrael and arrived late that day.

Thus, in addition to the day of death, a total of 90 days concluded on the 15th of Tammuz (16 of Nissan, 29 of Iyar, 30 of Sivan and 15 of Tammuz).

Consequently, on the eve of the 16th of Tammuz, Naomi advised Ruth to approach Boaz to engage her. Early that morning Ruth returned home with the good news that Boaz responded favorably. Naomi said to Ruth, “The 17th of Tammuz starts an unfavorable period of three weeks for Jewish people and our mazal is not good. Boaz the Tzaddik indeed knows of this prophetically and undoubtedly refrains from extra simchah from the 17th of Tammuz on. Therefore, since he knows what his marriage to you needs to accomplish, he will definitely do everything humanly possible to assure that the eirusin — engagement — take place today. At night, after the completion of 92 days, your nissuin — marriage — will take place, since, undoubtedly, he will not allow it to be postponed for three additional weeks.”

(חתם סופר)

כי לא ישקט האיש
For the man will not rest. (3:18)

QUESTION: Since their conversation was about Boaz, instead of saying “the man” she should have simply said “for he will not rest...”

ANSWER: Some explain that her saying “for the man will not rest” is a reference to Hashem who is described as “Hashem ish milchamah” — “Hashem is the man (master) of war.” I.e., Naomi was saying, “Hashem, the master, is very interested in this marriage coming to fruition as expeditiously as possible; therefore, He will do everything to assure its completion today.”

(בשורות אליהו)