Monday, September 15, 2008

Thoughts on Parashat Ki Tetze and Megillat Ruth

In many ways it seems like megillat Ruth is a response to Ki Tetse. The parsha deals with gleanings, levirate marriage, treatment of the widow and the ger, any whether or not a Moabite can join kehillat yisrael. In Ruth a Moabite woman marries an Israelite woman, takes on the Israelite religion, and, through levirate marriage, becomes the progenitor of Israel's favorite king. A strict enforcement of the rules in this parsha would render that chain of events impossible. Beth Kissileff, in her address to the Saint Paul Melton graduation of 5768 noted that Ruth is an example of dynamic legal tension within Tanakh itself. I myself would like sometime to count the generations from Joshua to Ruth. If they are ten or more, that poses an interesting possibility - namely that the "even unto the tenth generation" that we so often take to mean "never" may in fact mean what it says. If so, then a limit is set on this exclusion. That leaves us with the question of what to do with verse 23:4, where it says "ad olam." So why then, does Ruth merit to join the kehilla? - for the care she has taken of Naomi - she thus separates herself from the Moabite sin of refusing to sell food and water to the Israelites. This teaches us to assess people on their individual merit rather than their tribal affiliation.

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