Shavuos – Megillas Rus – Connecting the Dots

  I found a fascinating introduction to Megillas Rus in one of my Mikraos Gedolos on the megillas which I want to share with everyone. (Click Here and Here and Here for Hebrew text.)

“Behold in the days that judges were judging, behold there was a famine in the land” (Rus 1:1). It is mentioned in the Medrish Rabba that 10 famines came to the world: 1. In the days of Adam Harishon… 2. In the time of Lemech… 3. In the days of Avraham… 4. In the time of Yitzchak… 5. In the days of Yaakov… 6. In the days of the judges judging… 7. In the time of Dovid… 8. In the days of Eliyahu… 9. In the days of Elisha… and 10. One will roll out and come to the world in the future… Rebbe Shmuel bar Nachmani said the most important famine was in the days of Dovid. It was supposed to come in the days of Shaul but because he would not have withstood the test it came in the days of Dovid. Rav Chisda bar Rav gave a parable to an attendant who had a box full of bottles and glasses and when he wanted to hang up the box he got a peg and fastened it into the wall to hang the box on it. For this reason all the famines did not come in the days where the people were unstable; rather at times when people were strong and able to stand up to the test at hand.

This medrish split the famines in half. Five were before the Torah was given and from Yaakov until the judges judged there was no famine in the world until the time came for the start of King Dovid’s service to spark and shine. For it is known the famous Chaza”l, ‘I found Dovid My servant. And where was he found? In Sedom.’ It is explicit from here that as long as the seed of Moav had not mixed with the House of Yehuda the light of Dovid was hidden and this reality was not revealed yet. However, in the days of this tzadik, Boaz, who took care of Rus the Moabite, who was the wife of Machlon, only then this reality (the line of Dovid Hamelech with the eventual advent of Moshiach) was revealed in the world.

Therefore, there was a place for the next famine to the rest which will return all the Jews. For this reason, this megilla started with the matter of the famine which was in those days and at the end discusses the lineage and birth of Dovid.

The Megilla is called Rus because all three are connected to each other: 1. The story of Rus eventually marrying Boaz, 2. revealing the roots of Dovid Hamelech’s lineage, and 3. the 6th famine that swept through the land. This connects to the 7th famine in the days of Dovid… where Dovid sought out Hashem in repentance, which then lead to the 8th famine in the days of Eliyahu Hanavi (who will herald in Moshiach). Then came the 9th famine in the days of Eliyahu’s student Elisha, and finally the last famine will be in the days of our righteous Moshiach; in his days the pasuk writes: ‘I will send a famine in the land, but not a famine for bread or a thirst for water but rather to listen to the word of Hashem.’

It’s also brought down in Medrish Rabba of Rus that Rebbe Ze’ira said that this megilla has no mention of purity or impurity, prohibitions or permissibility, so why was it written? To teach us how much good Hashem rewards those who act with kindness. For because Boaz saw the good heart of Rus, that she was imbued with a drive to do acts of kindness, which is one of the 3 signs of a Jew: 1. Merciful, 2. Bashful, 3. Doers of kindness, and Boaz saw in her all 3 attributes… Chaza”l say in a gemara in Shabbos 113b he saw modesty (which stems from the attribute of being bashful) by her, also her great humility when she said ‘I am not like one of your maidservants.’ All of these Boaz saw in Rus and recognized that she was the most fit from all the other women, and possibly she was the female Moabite which was prepared to bring into the world the light of the King Moshiach. For this reason he researched into her and thus the prophet Shmuel wrote at length this megilla to tell us who Rus was and how it came about that Rus was brought into the congregation of the Jews, who brought her on her journey. Therefore this megilla was called Rus to show that the main story was about her.

In the end it gives the account of the lineage from Peretz, the son of Yehuda, until the birth of Dovid and no more, because it also seems this megilla was written in order to trace the lineage of Dovid, in how Hashem orchestrated that Dovid would come out of Rus the Moabite. Hashem declared a famine on the land, and He put into the thoughts of Elimelech to move far away from Beis Lechem Yehuda to the land of Moav. His sons then married Moabite women, and Rus who came back with her mother-in-law, and wound up falling in “levirate marriage” to Boaz, to keep up the name of his family. They gave birth to Oved the father of Yishai, who was the father of Dovid. When Dovid came of age and killed Goliath, and King Shaul promised that anyone who would kill Goliath would marry his daughter, there was a huge argument amongst the sages of Israel if Dovid was permitted to enter the Congregation of Israel since it is written in the Torah that an Ammonite or Moabite may never enter the congregation of Hashem. But then Shmuel Hanavi sent word and poskined that only the males from Ammon and Moav were forbidden but the females were permitted (and Dovid came from a female Moabite), and they accepted this halacha. Since Shmuel saw that the main reason why Dovid was permitted to marry a Jewess was because of what he poskined, and if he would have been dead then they would have invalidated Dovid from marrying into the faith, therefore he wrote this megilla at great length to inform and show the world Dovid’s lineage.

In order that this megilla would not get lost through the years it was set into the holy scriptures of Tana”ch amongst the Kesuvim. Since Shavuos is the day we received the Torah, which is called the Torah of Kindness, and Dovid came from Rus the Moabite, one who was imbued with kindness, and he was born on Shavuos and died on Shavuos, and also the Torah and the name of Moshiach were created together before the creation of the world, and Dovid himself is the anointed one of the G-D of Yaakov, as it’s written ‘and Dovid My servant is a prince of theirs’ – therefore we read this megilla on the holiday of Shavuos.

From this introduction to the Book of Rus we see how Hashem has a master plan throughout the history of the world from before its creation to the very end and to see how it’s being orchestrated and played out with such exactitude and precision is an awesome sight to behold! We just must open our eyes, hearts and mind to see how Hashem’s master plan unfolds itself.

Torah Riddles #192

1.      Question: Why is one allowed to accept Yom Tov early on Shavuos, before sunset?


A. On Shavuos we make it a point to daven maariv and say Kiddush once it is completely dark in order so that 49 complete days have passed in the omer as the Torah says should happen before the onset of Shavuos.

B. Rav Nissim Karelitz said that if you take on yom tov early only regarding stopping doing melacha that does not take away from the 49 complete days needed.

  Answer: Since that time is still considered the 49th day of the omer, it’s just that it’s forbidden to do melacha because of Tosefes yom tov, therefore it’s not really recognizable that you are impeding on the day rather you are just passively not working (See Dirshu Mishna Berura 494 footnote 2).  

Shavuos – No One Published “Understanding G-D for Dummies”

For Food for Thought in Spanish: Haga clic aquí para leer en español. Please share this with your Jewish Spanish speaking family, friends, and associates.

בָּר֥וּךְ כְּבֽוֹד־יְהֹוָ֖ה מִמְּקוֹמֽו
 “Blessed is the glory of the Lord from His place” (Yechezkel 3:12). This pasuk is said, at a minimum, 3 times every morning in our davening, as well as being in every Kedusha. What is the meaning behind this pasuk and why does it conclude the haftorah for the first day of Shavuos?

The Haftorah for the first day of Shavuos comes from the first chapter of Yechezkel which discusses the Maaseh Merkava, Hashem’s “Heavenly Chariot,” because the vision that Yechezkel had in his prophecy is similar to what took place when Hashem gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Har Sinai. The Mishna in the beginning of the second perek of Chagiga says that one may not expound on this subjectexcept with one individual who is a sage and understands of his own knowledge. The Rambam explains the concept of the Maaseh Merkava as trying to understand in detail the reality of Hashem and His description, as well as angels, the soul,  intellect, and what happens after death. The Bartenura argues and says it refers to using “Hashem’s Crown” through mentioning Hashem’s Holy Names, including how exactly angels are arranged in Heaven, and tapping into Divine Intervention, Ruach HaKodesh. Either way, it is a very deep concept which we will not get into. Then the Haftorah seems to randomly conclude with the pasuk in perek 3 pasuk 12 of Yechezkel:

And a wind lifted me up, and I heard behind me the sound of a great uproar: “Blessed is the glory of the Lord from His place.” יבוַתִּשָּׂאֵ֣נִי ר֔וּחַ וָֽאֶשְׁמַ֣ע אַֽחֲרַ֔י ק֖וֹל רַ֣עַשׁ גָּד֑וֹל בָּר֥וּךְ כְּבֽוֹד־יְהֹוָ֖ה מִמְּקוֹמֽוֹ:

The Gemara in Megilla 31a lists which haftorah we read for each Yom Tov, and does not mention this last pasuk. The earliest known source I was able to find was the Tur Orach Chaim, siman 494, which mentions reciting this last pasuk after reading the first chapter of Yechezkel as the Haftorah. It would seem random to throw in a pasuk, two perakim later, to conclude the Haftorah. What seemingly is the connection?
The Yalkut Shimone  puts the pasuk into context, “Rebbe Pinchas the Kohen, the son of Chama said in the name of Rebbe Reuvain, ‘What does and I heard behind me’ mean? After My friends and I praised Hashem I then heard ministering angels praise and declare, ‘Blessed is the glory of the Lord from His place.’ And it says, ‘When the morning stars sing together, and all the angels of G-D shout’ (Iyov 38:7).”  Though very true that “Then the Ofanim, and the Holy Chayos with great noise raise themselves towards the Seraphim. Facing them they give praise saying ‘Blessed is the glory of Hashem from His place,’” as we say every morning in our davening, as alluded to in this medrish; yet  the Radak says on this pasuk that Yechezkel is foretelling through prophecy an appearance of him being lifted by the wind to go into exile, and when he was lifted by the wind he heard a voice from after the place he had his prophesy and the voice said, “Blessed is the glory of the Lord from His place.” This means to say that when Hashem’s Holy Presence removed itself from His place on top of the covering between the Keruvim because the Jewish people were diminishing His honor when He was amongst them, as a sign of His zealotry. It is as if He added to His honor when removing Himself from them. “Blessed” refers to adding on good and honor… And the great sage, the Rambam, explained “From His place” to mean according to His loftiness and His basic role in reality. (Click here for Hebrew text.)
According to the Radak, Yechezkel was prophesizing about Hashem’s Holy Presence leaving the Beis HaMikdash, which led to the destruction of the First Temple. Granted, the Jews did not deserve Hashem’s Presence amongst them with all the miracles that took place daily in the Beis HaMikdash; but why is it considered an added honor for Hashem by acting with zeal to remove Himself from the Holy of Holies? Two wrongs do not make a right! The ideal place for Hashem’s Holy Presence in this world is the Holy of Holies above the Holy Ark, ideally with Hashem’s children following His commands. Why then did the Radak say that by leaving the Jewish people, because they were diminishing His honor, he was then adding honor to Himself?

In reality, the ideal setting for Hashem’s greatness in this world is to rest amongst His children as He did when He initially gave the Torah to us at Har Sinai with all the lightning, thunder, shofar blasts and legions of angels, and as he continued when they erected the Mishkan and eventually the Beis HaMikdash with the Shechina resting above the Aron Kodesh on top of the Keruvim. However, as the Radak concludes, by quoting the Rambam, ultimately Hashem’s greatness and honor is defined by His loftiness and with respect to His basic role in reality, which is in fact a mystery to us, and we can only conjecture using our finite brains.

For this reason it seems very apropos for the haftorah which discussed the Maaseh Merkavah, such a complex concept, to conclude with this pasuk since it is acknowledging how complex the loftiness and very concept and reality in fact is the Almighty, Blessed Be He, King Of All Kings, Master Of The Universe, Hashem.

It is also very apropos for Shavuos itself, because we must appreciate more and more the profundity, depth, and magnitude, of the gift Hashem gave us. By realizing and gaining a better recognition of who the author of the Torah, the blueprints of creation and guidebook for life, is, then we can better appreciate how important it is to serve Him with every detail and minutia as He intended when giving us the Torah at Har Sinai.

Good Yom tov,
Rabbi Dovid Shmuel Milder

Torah Riddles Test #114

  Question: Why does the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 494:1) and others say you cannot fast on Shavuos a taanis chalom, fast after a bad dream, but can fast on other yom tovim and Shabbos?       


A.      A taanis chalom is fasted by an individual if he is so unsettled about a dream one has that he feels he must fast as an atonement to relieve his anguish. He is even allowed to do so on Shabbos and Yom Tov, though he has a mitzvah to delight on these days and is forbidden to fast, but in this case fasting is what brings this anguished person to delight so he is permitted to do so.

B.      The Gemara in Pesachim 68b says that everyone agrees that on Shavuos one must dedicate part of the day to “lachem” to oneself, in delighting in the day and not just learning and praying the whole day. Rashi there explains that one should be joyous with food and drink to show how one is satisfied and accepts the day the Torah was given. Even learning Torah the whole day would not suffice.   


Answer: On Shavuos one is obligated to share with others your enjoyment over accepting the Torah which is  clearly seen by having a meal, it is not enough to learn Torah the whole day, or to fast even though they both bring delight for the person.     (See Dirshu Mishna Berura 594:3:11:17.)   

Torah Riddles Test #42

Question: Why does Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach say that we do say Tachanun on the 13th of Sivan even if living outside of Israel even according to the opinion that one does not say Tachanun for six days after Shavuos which was the make up time of when they would bring their Yom Tov offering in the beis hamikdash since not everyone could do it on Shavuos itself?


A. The Mishna Berura (131:7:36) writes that there are places who have the custom to not say Tachanun all six days after Shavuos since they used to make up the sacrifices of the holiday during those days.

 B. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach holds the count of those days does not start after the second day of Shavuos outside of Israel, rather after the first day which is the sixth of Sivan so there would be no Tachanun until the 12th and they would start back saying it on the 13th.

Answer: The sacrifices were only brought in the Beis Hamikdash in Israel which only keeps one day so that is why we don’t start counting from the day after Shavuos ends outside of Israel. (See Dirshu note 14 in Mishna Berura 494:3:8).

Torah Riddles Test #41

  1. Question: Why doesn’t Tosefes Yom Tov, taking on Yom Tov early in regards to prohibiting yourself from doing melacha before sunset, not contradict the 49 complete days of the Omer but saying kiddush and maariv before nighttime does?


A. The Mishna Berura (494:1:1) says that maariv should be pushed off to later on the first night of Shavuos until the stars come and it is completely night so that the days of the counting of Omer will be 49 complete days.

B. The Pri Megadim says this applies to saying kiddush also, if one would eat first then Daven maariv in a set minyan or for a woman who is alone and is not davening maariv.

 C. Rav Nosson Karelitz says one can accept upon himself “Tosefes Yom Tov” because that doesn’t take away from the completeness of 49 full days it is just that one cannot do any melacha because he took upon himself Tosefes Yom Tov.

Answer: Davening maariv or saying kiddush is an action which actively shows they are moving on to the next day so if done earlier they are not completing the 49 days of counting. Whereas refraining from doing malacha is passive, all it is taking a vow not to do any work for a certain time period for the sake of honoring the Yom Tov but it does not show that they are ready to move on to the next day. (See footnote 1 and 2 in Dirshu there.)