Tomorrow evening, after sundown, after the Sabbath, Jews around the world will flock to their Synagogues to celebrate the giving of the Torah. It is a night of study, lasting until dawn the following morning; a night of pondering on anything from the literal meaning of the 10 Commandments (well, actually 613) to ethical problems we face today in a busy, modern society.
There is something wonderfully earthy over this holiday; this pilgrimage festival is dressed in agricultural colors; this is the time of the spring harvest, and blessing of the first fruits.
The Book of Ruth is read. Ruth – the Moabite woman, the widow, the refugee, the convert and the great-grandmother of King David. Somebody once said that her book, Ruth’s book, is a paradoxic book, where the central plot and height of suspense is revealed in its first line. In the first chapter, Ruth becomes a widow, her children die of starvation, and in order to not die of starvation herself, she joins her mother in Law and flee to safety from Moab to Bethlehem. Her sister in Law, Orpah, makes an early exit from the history, after Naomi reassures her that she is free to go home to her kinsfolk. Ruth declines the offer and says that words that have become emblematic for her faith: “Wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge, your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”
In the next chapter, Ruth, now working as a farmhand during the spring harvest, meets Boaz, sweet music is heard the two get married and have children.
The rest of the book deals with trivial details of the harvest, everyday matters, and everybody lives happily ever after.
It is this story that has come to symbolize the culmination of the Exodus – the giving of the Torah.
Isn’t it extraordinary how utter vulnerability can take you to a higher ground?