Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Belated Dvar Torah

I know I didn't post anything dvar torah-dik before yomtov, so I'd like to make up for it here. I went to a shiur on shavuos night by a Rabbi Greenberg that was mostly about some points we can take from Megillas Rus. Here are some of the things he said:

1- אלימלך was the גדול הדור; it was his job to try to be מפרנס the כלל. Why did running away from that make him חיב מיתה? It wasn't like he was running away from the עול of תורה- he was just running away from his responsibility to the כלל.

The answer to this is a very scary thought. Every person has a תכלית in this world. We are only here to achieve our תכלית. If a person runs away from it, why does he still need to be here? Elimelech's תכלית was to try to be מפרנס the כלל. When he ran away to מואב, he wasn't just running away from his responsibility; he was running away from the very purpose of his existence. And if he wasn't going to be striving toward that goal, there was no need for him to be in this world. So he died. Not as a punishment for the sin of being overwhelmed by the multitudes of people who needed his help during the famine, but as a consequence of running away from his תכלית.

Related to this is the concept expressed in the mishna in avos - לא עליך המלאכה לגמר ולא אתה בן חורין להבטל ממנה Although we have to constantly be working on whatever we are doing, we can't measure success by the achievement of the task. We just do what we have to do, and if it's supposed to happen, Hashem will make it happen.

2- מסורה is an important theme of the Megillah. The day after רות stayed with בועז in the גורן, the בית דין paskined that it was OK to marry a מואבי-ה. When בועז asked טוב, the rightful גואל, if he wanted to redeem רות, he said he didn't want to. He decided to be מחמיר and not marry her. In this case, however, we see that it wasn't right to do so. He was also from the זרע of נחשון, and so could have been the great-grandfather of דוד instead of בועז. Instead, he chose to ignore the decision of the בית דין.

We see that this wasn't really a place that he could be מחמיר. The בית דין made a decision, and everyone had to hold by it. To ignore their decision is to be like a זקן ממרה, a תלמיד חכם who rejects the ruling of the בית דין and is חיב מיתה for it. Why is the punishment so harsh? When someone respected takes a stance against what the כלל is expected to follow, it not only sets a bad example, but ruins the path of מסורה. The מסורה was that it was OK to marry a מואבי-ה but not a מואבי. Ignoring that פסק would have destroyed the whole fabric upon which the תורה שבעל פה is founded upon.
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