by Alan Jay Gerber
The reading of the Book of Ruth is one of the central events of the Shavuot festival. Inasmuch as this holiday commemorates the birth and passing of King David, this reading teaches us about the life and travails of David’s great-great-grandmother, Ruth.
Rabbi Dr. Meir Levin composed a fascinating commentary on the Book of Ruth. Titled The Dawn of Redemption (Urim, 2009), the work highlights, in a mature and sophisticated manner, the entire saga, though it absents some of the more legendary aspects that have placed the work into question, both historically and theologically.
The historical value and perspective can best be demonstrated by the following observations of Dr. Levin.
“We all know that we carry our parent’s legacy with us through life, sometimes as a burden, sometimes as a blessing. However, we often do not appreciate the extent of our indebtedness to the generations that preceded us. The simple fact is that as families share similarities, inclinations and proclivities — so do nations. Some call these assortments of qualities ‘national character’ while others appeal to the collective unconscious of the entire human race, but, whatever they may be, these roots are deep, extending to the distant past, to the crucible out of which nations arose.
Every man and woman exists within this continuum of heredity and tradition. Each family and nation is given their allotted number of chances. This is true of individual failings as of communal ones.”
Ponder these words carefully as you read the events of Ruth’s sojourn, as well as current events, and consider their relevance today. Also examine the reason why the sages chose this particular work to be studied at this time.
This commentary by Dr. Levin deserves our attention because, unlike other works on Ruth, he takes this Biblical narrative as a serious historical and nationalist lesson for us, both in terms of a larger perspective and as the frail human creatures that we truly are. As the characters in the book play their roles, Dr. Levin enables us, through his commentary, to better appreciate their actions and motives.
For certain, you will never regard the Book of Ruth in the same way after learning from the pen of Dr. Meir Levin.
From The Jewish Star
The original text of the review may be found here.