By Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director, United with Israel

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director, United with Israel

It is customary to read the Book of Ruth during the festival of Shavuot, when Jews celebrate receiving the Torah. Ruth, a Moabite who joined the Jewish nation and accepted the laws of the Torah, married Boaz, and they merited to be the great-grandparents of King David. In honor of Shavuot, here is a life lesson taught by Boaz.

The Talmud teaches that Boaz – the great grandfather of King David – made 120 celebrations for his various children. Boaz had 60 children (30 sons and 30 daughters) and made an elaborate celebration for each one of them when they got engaged, and later when they got married. The whole town was invited to each of these events, except for one man: Manoach, who would be the father of Samson.

The Talmud explains that since Manoach was still childless at the time, it was assumed that he would ever have children. As such, Boaz didn’t invite him to any wedding-related celebrations because he figured that Manoach would never make any such celebrations in his life, and by extension, would be unable to reciprocate. Apparently, God was not happy with Boaz’s approach, and as a result, all of Boaz’s children died in his lifetime.

This is certainly a very disturbing narrative. Boaz was a righteous person, a judge and a leader of the Jewish people. He even merited to be the great-grandfather of King David! Could Boaz have been so petty as to not invite someone to his celebrations for such a reason?

It is explained that in those days people were hesitant to accept gifts if they knew that they would be unable to reciprocate. This is because they did not want to feel indebted to others or ,worse, to be known as freeloaders. Since Boaz knew – to the best of his knowledge – that Manoach would be unable to reciprocate engagement and wedding invitations, he did not invite him. His intention was to spare Manoach any social stigma, guilt or insecurity. It was in fact a noble reason not to invite him. Nevertheless, it is clear from the story that Manoach was terribly pained and insulted, being the only one in town not invited to Boaz’s celebrations – and God sided with Manoach.

The story of Boaz’s life gets worse: After the last of Boaz’s children died, he lost his wife.

At this point, most people would give up on life. What is there to live for after going through such unspeakable tragedy?

Boaz, however, did not give up. What did he do? He tried to rebuild. He remarried a woman named Ruth. He had a child whom he named Oved. Oved eventually married and had a son named Yishai. Yishai married and had David. And the rest is history.

This story needs no further elaboration or commentary. The message is clear. Never give up! There is always so much more that we can accomplish in life. We must never let anything get us down or prevent us from succeeding. Fortunately for the Jewish people, Boaz did not let anything stop him.