Are you ready to see what the genetic code looks like for someone capable of saving humanity?
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This weekend we will be celebrating the holiday of Shavuot, when we recall the Revelation at Mount Sinai and the receiving of the Torah. It is a one-day holiday in Israel and a two-day holiday everywhere else. So, get yourself ready for a 3-day weekend (Shabbat + Shavuot x 2)!
One of the customs of Shavuot is to read the book of Ruth. There are a number of reasons for this. One reason is because Ruth was a convert to Judaism who accepted Judaism upon herself. This is reminiscent of the Jewish people who received the Torah on Shavuot and “accepted” it upon themselves, as well.
Another reason Ruth is read is because Ruth was the great-grandmother of King David. And since the Messiah will come from King David, that means that Ruth, the Moabite convert, is the matriarch of the Messiah!
It should also be noted that King David died on the holiday of Shavuot giving us yet another reason why it is fitting to read the book of Ruth on Shavuot.
But the Moabites were evil people, enemies of the Jewish people. In fact, male Moabites are banned from even converting to Judaism if they wanted to! They’re bad. They’re out.
As such, the commentators ask: Why is it that the Jewish Messiah is going to come from such a “problematic” Moabite lineage?
It is explained that the Messiah must come from Ruth because Ruth’s personality contained “essential ingredients” needed in the DNA of the Messiah. Ruth a was very devoted and committed woman. Ruth was a princess, the daughter of the King of Moab. Yet, Ruth was willing to give it all up and immigrate with her mother-in-law to the land of Israel.
Devotion to other people, courage to make difficult choices, and capacity for self-sacrifice are all ingredients that the Messiah needs in order to be the leader of the entire world.
But it gets better.
Not only is the Messiah a descendant of “problematic” Ruth, he will also be a descendant of two other “problematic” figures!
The Messiah will also be a descendant of Lot’s daughter who had relations with her father and bore him a son. Although the act of having relations with one’s father is despicable, her intention was actually noble. Lot and his two daughters escaped the destruction of Sodom and Amorah which was wiped out due to the immoral lifestyle of the people.
However, Lot and family thought that the entire world was being destroyed at that moment and not merely Sodom and Amorah. Hence, Lot’s daughter figured that she had to have relations with her father in order to ensure the continuity of humanity. This attitude of Lot’s daughter to save the world is also a necessary ingredient in the DNA of the future Messiah.
And finally, the Messiah will also be a descendant of Tamar who was married to Yehuda’s two sons, who died one after the other, leaving her a barren widow. Tamar desperately wanted to have children from Yehuda, but waited very patiently until the time was right. Eventually, she disguised herself as a prostitute in order to have relations with her father-in-law. Another despicable act, but her calculations were considered to be noble, a topic that is beyond the scope of this article. Like Tamar, the Messiah needs to have the DNA of patience as well. He has been waiting two thousand years to arrive!
The attributes of Ruth, Tamar, and the family of Lot are all ingredients that are needed in the future leader of the world.
It is also explained that the Messiah’s lineage will be “problematic” in order to serve as lesson that everyone is welcome to join the congregation of God no matter what your background may be. May we merit to see this Messiah speedily in our days!
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