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           flowersMegillas Rus

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Of the five megillos in Tanach, two are named for women, Megillas Esther and Megillas Rus, which is read on the holiday Shavuous coming up in two weeks. We are familiar with Esther and her central role in the miracle of Purim. She was a major figure in the megillah. Contrast Rus, who, on the surface, seems to have done very little to have a whole megillah named after her, not to mention being the mother of the Davidic line of kings in Israel!

We first hear of Rus by name with her sister Orpa when they take leave of their mother-in-law who is returning to the Land of Israel from Moav. Her sister is loathe to leave her mother-in-law, but in the end she does so, and goes back to the glamorous palace life in Moav where she will live as a non-Jew to the end. Rus, on the other hand, refuses to leave Naomi and, as Rav M. Eisseman states in his new sefer, Pearl in the Sand, this was due to her love for Naomi. At first glance we may overlook the strength of character innate in this decision, until we note that this was such a great act of self-control and negating one's own desires that Orpah was unable to submit herself to this yoke. However, even though Rus did not actually do anything, she merely followed her mother-in-law, this was an extremely worthy act which set her in motion to be the progenitor of Dovid the King! As it states in Ethics of the Fathers, "Who is strong? One who conquers his evil inclination." This means not a visible act of bravery limited to those with physical prowess; but rather an inner strength that anyone can merit to achieve. Later on in the Megillah when Rus is collecting wheat in the field, she is again outstanding for what she doesn't do- she doesn't carouse with the harvesters, nor argue with the other gleaners, nor bend immodestly. Her strength is focused inward.

Does this imply that a woman must always take the quiet stand? No, we see from Esther that even though she wanted to remain passive and not approach Achashverosh, Mordechai adjured her to act right away. In Pearl in the Sand on Megillas Rus, Rabbi Eisseman implies criticism for Naomi for not speaking up when her husband left Israel to live in Moav. He maintains that the husband and sons sinned because of their involvement in their various desires which they could not see their way out of. Naomi, however, was free from any emotional involvement and could see clearly with her spiritual eye- and yet she did not speak out against the move. In this case it would have been correct and an obligation to voice an objection (in a wise and pleasant way, of course)

How is one to know which behavior is called for in various situations? Certainly society's attitudes, fluctuating over the years like a pendulum from severe restriction to amoral permissiveness, are not what we women base our values on. Luckily we as Jewish women are blessed with the timeless Torah and our teachers the sages who interpret Torah for our day and age to guide us in what our role shall be. Then it can truly be said " her mouth is opened with wisdom.." (Mishlei)

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In Loving Memory Of Our Father, Mr. Joseph Black (Yosef Ben Zelig) O"H
In Loving Memory Of Our Mother, Mrs. Norma Black (Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh) O"H
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