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Browse Zemanim: Shabouot: Observations on Megilat Ruth

Contributed by: Rabbi Haim Shaul

Megilat Ruth begins with the narration that a man from Bethlehem in Yehuda went to live in the fields of Moav, because of the famine in Israel. Our sages criticize this person for abandoning his people in their time of need and fleeing with his family to Moav.

When we are first told of this person's departure, he is mentioned anonymously ("a man"). Then we are told this name, Elimelech.

Why is this man introduced anonymously and why is his identity concealed until the next verse?

It is interesting that the very same type of sentence construction occurs in a different place in the Torah: "And a man went from the house of Levi and he married the daughter of Levi" (Shemot 2:1). The Torah later identifies these mysterious individuals as Amram and Yocheved, the parents of Moshe Rabenou. So again, why the initial anonymity? Why not say from the very beginning “And Amram went and married Yocheved?

It is further interesting to note that these two places are the only times in the entire Torah where the expression "And a man went" is used.

The Baal Hatourim comments that the verse "A man went from the tribe of Lev" brought about the first redeemer (Moshe), and the verse "A man went from Bethlehem Yehuda" led to the creation of the final redeemer (Mashiah who will descend from the King David, a descendant of Ruth). To teach us that the person who produces the redeemer can be an anonymous person. One does not need to be a great leader of his generation to produce worthy offspring. Everyone has the capability to produce who child who will be the greatest personage in this generation.
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