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Browse Zemanim: Shabouot: Megilat Ruth in 2 Minutes

Naomi, her husband and their two sons left Israel for Moab. Both her sons married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. Tragically, all three women lost their husbands. Naomi then decides to return to Israel and urges her daughters-in-law to remarry and begin again. Orpah does. Ruth doesn't: "For wherever you go, I will go. Where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God." (Ruth 1:16)

Ruth and Naomi return to Israel, impoverished and hungry. The Torah tells farmers to leave small sheathes dropped or forgotten during harvest for the poor. Field corners had to be left for the poor to harvest, as well. Knowing this, Ruth goes to gather wheat in Boaz's field. Because Boaz has heard of Ruth's compassionate treatment of his relative Noami, he treats Ruth kindly, permitting her to drink with his workers. Once Naomi hears this, she encourages Ruth to remind Boaz of his obligation to perform yibum.

If a man died without leaving an heir it was a mitzvah for the deceased husband's close relative to marry the widow so that the deceased husband's family line would not be extinguished. This mitzvah is known as yibum. Most often, because this mitzvah made for complicated family ties, the rabbis encouraged the couple to sever their obligation to each other through a chalitza ceremony, where for some reason or another a shoe was removed from the male relative's foot.

Ruth followed Naomi's instructions and crept into Boaz's threshing room. He was sleeping there, perhaps to guard the grain, after the harvest. She laid down next to him and uncovered his feet. Boaz awoke and asked for an explanation. Ruth explained her predicament, but Boaz replied that a closer relative had to forsake his obligation to Ruth first.

This unnamed relative declined to marry Ruth and performed chalitza instead. Boaz and Ruth marry and have a son, Oved, who grows up to be King David's grandfather.

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