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Ruth, Mother of all Converts

Discussion in 'Judaism DIR' started by jewscout, May 11, 2005.

  1. jewscout

    jewscout Religious Zionist

    Sep 29, 2004
    Every religion has its heroes and role models. For converts to Judaism, the Biblical Ruth, the daughter of the king of Moab, is the archetypical personality. Ruth and her forlorn mother-in-law, Naomi, suffered greatly losing their husbands in Moab. Without any apparent motive or personal benefit, Ruth placed her lot with the Jewish people. Ruth’s persistence in staying with Naomi and her proclamation, "…Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die…” remain inspirational rallying cries for converts in every generation. She wholeheartedly accepted the tenets of Judaism and became the consummate faithful Jew, and the great-grandmother of King David – the heir to the Messiah.

    The story of Ruth is read on the Pentecostal holiday called Shavuot (Feast of Weeks). One of the reasons for reading the Scroll of Ruth is that Shavuot commemorates the people of Israel receiving the Torah, just like Ruth did as an individual. Ruth’s very name in Hebrew alludes to this concept. “Gematria” or numerology is one of the techniques of Biblical exegesis (or methods of extracting meaning from Scripture), where hidden messages can be revealed. The three Hebrew letters that form her name are Reish-Vav-Tuf. In Gematria, Ruth’s name adds up to 606. What does that mean?

    All non-Jews are bound by the covenant of Noah. The Talmud demonstrates how verses in the Torah teach us that when Adam was created, God gave him six basic laws of morality to observe. After the Flood of Noah, mankind was given one more, not tearing a limb from a live animal (general prohibition of caused pain to animals). These seven universal laws are known in Judaism as the “Sheva Mitzvot B’nei Noach,” or Seven Noahide Laws. As an ethical non-Jew, Ruth had already accepted these seven laws. With her conversion to Judaism, she became obligated in 613. The difference between these two numbers is 606, the numerology of her name. Thus, we find a hint in this matriarch’s very identity to her being a model for conversion. However, her connection to conversion doesn’t end there.