Ruth Reveals Hope in Troubling Times

Ruth Reveals Hope in Troubling Times

On the first day I attended a reserve police academy, I was given law books for the State of California and Los Angeles County. Together, they contained more than 10,000 statutes, codes, and laws. Considering this, the 613 biblical commands no longer appear overwhelming, as some critics of the Torah argue.

When Ruth decided to return to Bethlehem with Naomi, she was not frightened by the “burden” of the Torah. To the contrary, she was prepared to join the Jewish people by accepting the God of Israel and the responsibility of observing the commandments.

This commitment is alluded to in Hebrew letters of Ruth’s name which have a numerical value of 606. Since Ruth was already following the seven Noahide commandments, by accepting the additional 606 she brought the total to 613.

This lesson is particularly appropriate for the Shavuot holiday, which commemorates the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people more than 3,300 years ago. The Torah contains spiritual, moral, and ethical lessons, and the Jewish people have proudly carried the torch of the commandments and served as a “light to the nations.”

In these troubling times compounded by confusion and lack of moral direction, the Ruth narrative reminds us of our collective responsibility to transform the world into a world filled with the knowledge of God, which will be ushered in by Ruth’s descendant, the heir to the Davidic throne, who will bring our messianic hopes of peace to fruition.

Chag Sameach,

Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz

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