Sunday class, May 4, 2006, Book of Ruth

If we create a vessel to receive, there is a reciprocal action in the Heavens.

V’yehee, woe: this is the origin of “oy vay.” It appears twice in the first line.

The ban on intermarriage with Moab began when they offered us salted fish when we left Egypt. The maliciousness of this action is revealed when we realize that we were not passing through their land—they had nothing to fear from us, but were going out of their way to do evil.

The person who listens to loshon hora, gossip, is the most guilty. The listener is the one who can’t resolve the problem and is also the one who is most affected—he picks up a problem which is not his.

The meaning of names in the stories of Tamar/Yehuda and Ruth (these stories are related in some key ways):

Tamar’s first husband, Air, means arousal. Reversed, it becomes “Ra,” corruption. Both ways it denotes sexual problems.

Tamar’s second husband, Onan: masturbation.

Naomi: pleasant, my pleasantness.

Ruth: lover of G*d, fruitfulness.

David: Singer of G*d.

Machlon (Naomi’s son): destruction (it also means forgiveness).

Elimelecth (Naomi’s husband): My G*d is King. This name is very similar to Avimelech, My Father is King; this is the king who kept filling the wells which Yitzaak dug. The name connotes a sense of kingly male, entitlement, princeling.

Bethlehem. Better, Bait-Lechem, House of Bread.

In the 48 ways, limitations are placed on certain pleasurable activities. We limit (limit, not avoid) pleasure in order to promote joy. “Kinyan” is the holiest word, the most important thing is the way you obtain something, not the thing itself. Without those limits there is no joy. We need limits in order to create longing and increase connectedness.

Chesed is the undefined (unrefined? Undifferentiated?) desire to love and be loved. We’re tyring to move chesed into Yesode, Foundational Intimacy.

Ephrat is a corridor from Hevron to Jerusalem.

We can use knowledge to control or use it to create intimacy.

When you have faith, you know that pain has a meaning. Naomi has this kind of knowledge (emuna, generally translated as faith, means “direct knowing.”)

Bethlehem links the story of Ruth to Tamar and Yehuda. The two sons of Naomi and Elimelech parallel Yehuda’s two sons. Naomi’s sons died from their sin of leaving Eretz Yisroel during a famine (a physical manifestation of a lack of spiritual food (Torah) and intermarrying with Moabite women, and Yehuda’s sons died because of their refusal to procreate (the elder, in order to preserve Tamar’s beauty, and the younger to avoid providing his dead brother with an heir).

Naomi knows she has to suffer the pain of humiliation of returning destitute and bereft of husband and sons to a place where her family had been prominent and wealthy because she knew that they sinned when they left Eretz Yisroel and intermarried. Elimelech had a lot of food but didn’t want to share with the hungry populace.

Kosher birds don’t hold onto their food when they eat. Sometimes people do this when they’re afraid their food will be snatched away from them.

Bread is our first comfort historically. This comfort comes at a high price, the insanity of civilization. The hunter/gatherers had a connection, and this was given up for the comfort of civilization.

Seven is satisfaction.

Moab means “From the Father.” Fathers who pimp their wives and daughters: the King of Moab sends his daughter, Cosby, to seduce Moses. The Roman governor sends his wife to seduce Rabbi Akiva. The latter is the gilgul (reincarnation) of the former. She represents all of the Roman wives—these women supported the rabbis because the rabbis treated women well.

In the story of Tamar, everyone in Jacob’s family was stuck. Tamar had to get out of her comfortable rut. She had to acknowledge that she was a victim of her husbands and not, as Yehuda thought, a black widow responsible for their deaths. She reasoned, “If you’re going to treat me like a whore, I’ll act like a whore.” She met Yehuda at The Opening Of The Eyes (if you know the names of people and places, much of the hidden parts of the stories are revealed). She had good judgment; she picked Yehuda to confront, and not a schlub like Elimelech.

Death is a consequence that G*d put into the world. There are some sins that can be atoned for only by death. Shabbos is a symbol of death, since we stop controlling on Shabbos.

Bread was invented in Iraq, where civilization started. This is ironic, since this is now where hatred rules.

Death comes as a corrective, a blessing.

The saving remnant; the ones who are left behind, what can we learn from them, ????? vah-tisha-al. The woman was left of her two children. The same word is found in reference to Tamar.

Ish (pronounced eesh), man, husband: this word provides the yud.

Isha (pronounced ee-SHA): woman, wife, this word provides the hey.

Yud/kay is G*d’s name. A marriage is made up of the man, the woman and HaShem. Remove Hashem and you have aish, fire.

Shmah is the sitting down prayer. You have to sit (Shabbos) in order to connect.

The standing up prayer, Amidah, you can’t listen from the princeling position. Standing up is taking the initiative.

The Shmah and the Amidah are considered one prayer. First we sit, connect, go down, and then we stand, take initiative, go up. We have to go down before we can go up, relax before we can spring.

They returned from the fields of Moab….

The teshuva moment was when Naomi said, “I lost my husband and sons because-”

Mi-phose-phase: searching lightly with a feather (as for the chumatz at Pesach), allowing that you might be wrong.

When there was a famine in Eretz Yisroel, the community would have a series of 13 fasts. They would bring the Torah to the town square, and then the trustees of the town would review every business transaction in a community soul searching.

The litmus test of society is the way widows and orphans are treated.

Integrity is accepting-

The moment of conversion before-

Naomi tells her daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ houses.” They have to decide between comfort, security, unconditional receiving on the one hand and the hope of something more moral on the other.

Ruth’s previous gilgul was Lot’s other daughter, who, true to her uncle Abraham’s teaching of chesed, fed an old man slated to starve to death. When her act of kindness, which was illegal in Sodom, was discovered, she was killed, and it was this act which brought judgment down on Sodom. Her mistake was in staying with her parents in Sodom instead of going off with Abraham. Ruth repairs the error by returning to Eretz Yisroel with Naomi instead of the comfortable Moab palace. If we judge by the way things look, we will never convert.

The theme of waiting for a son to grow up is found in both stories, of Ruth and Tamar.

Naomi gives Orpah and Ruth a blessing when she sends them on their way. Orpah kisses, Ruth clings. Clinging is yesode, foundational intimacy. “de-vay kute,” returning to the status of original creation – becoming one. Kissing is chesed, leading to creation. You can fake kissing, but not cleaving. Cleaving takes place only with integrity. Cleaving means cut apart and also cling together. The cutting apart indicates the integrity of wholeness, while the clinging together is keeping oneself in intimate relationship.

Naomi pushed Ruth away four times in order to establish that integrity, that clarity of thought, helping her clarify her choices. In this way, Naomi empowers Ruth to make her decisions. This action is the distillation of Naomi’s character.

Boaz saw Ruth not picking up stalks which were forbidding to gleaners and also noticed that she did not bend over immodestly. He saw beneath the surface. The cousin, “Mister John Doe,” who refused to redeem the field with Ruth, didn’t see beneath the surface.

Torah is given in the desert, in a place that is ownerless. Are we entitled or are we a guest?

Naomi and Ruth counterbalance David and Jonathan.

What is the heaviness of old age?

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