Kate Middleton & a Shavuos Dvar Torah

By R. Yair Hoffman


Chazal Darshan on this posuk, (Midrash Rabbah Rus 2:14) that these two daughters in law performed two things:  The first – a true Chessed shel emes in regard to their deceased husbands.  They placed them in their tachrichim, burial shrouds. They acted as the Chevra kadisha.

Apparently, Naomi, so grief-stricken at the loss her sons, could not do this.  The daughters in law, witnessing this, did it themselves — without the assistance of Naomi — notwithstanding their own grief.

But they did not stop there.  They went further.  They forgave the Kesuvah, the monetary debt that was owed to them by the house of their husbands.  Naomi would be financially absolved of support for these two widows.  This too, was a genuine act of chessed.  They saw and took compassion upon their mother-in-law, who had lost her husband and two sons.  They forgave all debts owed to them.

This is the meaning of the words, “May Hashem perform chessed with you as you have done with the deceased and with me.”

Chazal tell us that the entire Megilas Rus was on account of this Chessed. Rabbi Zeirah explains that this Megillah (Rus) has neither halachos that deal with impurity nor with purity.  Nor does it contain laws of that which is forbidden nor that which is permitted.  Why then was it written?  To teach us the great merit earned by those who perform Chessed.

רות רבה (וילנא) פרשה ב יד

יעשה ×”’ עמכם חסד, ר’ חנינא בר אדא אמר יעשה כתיב כאשר עשיתם עם המתים שנטפלתם בתכריכיהון ועמדי שויתרו לה כתובותיהן, א”ר זעירא מגלה זו אין בה לא טומאה ולא טהרה ולא איסור ולא היתר ולמה נכתבה ללמדך כמה שכר טוב לגומלי חסדים.

Rus merited to join with Boaz — the head of the Sanhedrin and to become the progenitor of Dovid HaMelech.  But more than this, the zerah of David HaMelech, the future Mashiach Ben Dovid.  The salvation of all of Israel, indeed, the entire world will come from this.

How so?  How could it be?  We see from here the power of Lishma, in the performance of a Mitzvah — no matter what the source.  The salvation of the world can come from one act.

It does not have to be a Chassidish Rebbe or a Litvish Rosh Yeshiva performing that act.  Nor does the act have to come from a student of RAYS or BJJ.  It can come from a young woman — a non-Jewish one at that.

But still, we need explanation as to how this works.  We should also be aware that there is no limit to the heights and growth we can accomplish in our ruchniyus — indeed in any Mitzvah.  This can be seen from a passage of the Targum Yonasan on Sefer Rus (3:10).

וַיֹּאמֶר בְּרוּכָה אַתְּ לַיקֹוָק בִּתִּי הֵיטַבְתְּ חַסְדֵּךְ הָאַחֲרוֹן מִן הָרִאשׁוֹן לְבִלְתִּי לֶכֶת אַחֲרֵי הַבַּחוּרִים אִם דַּל וְאִם עָשִׁיר:

Boaz tells Rus that he is aware of both how she came and joined up the nation of Israel, and also of all the Chessed that she had performed with her mother-in-law.  The Targum Yonasan on this Pasuk explains that the second Mitzvah of Chessed with her mother-in-law outweighed the first Mitzvah.

This is somewhat mind-boggling.

Imagine for a moment that Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge, decides to leave it all, and become.. a Lakewood Kollel wife.  The world would turn upside down in sheer shock.

Yet this is exactly what transpired.  Rus was a princess of Moav, a very powerful nation.  It is a remarkable notion that one of the top women in society would give it all up to become a lowly member of the Jewish nation that must take Tzedakah.  Is this lofty Mitzvah less than or equal to the mere Chessed that she does with her mother-in-law?

The answer is that there is no spiritual limit to any Mitzvah that we perform.  If we do a Chessed, any Chessed, with the right intentions and Kavannah — it can be equal to or surpass even the greatest of Mitzvos.

But more than this.  It can be the reason an entire sefer is included in Tanach.  It can cause someone to spawn a king.  And a King of Israel too.  Even further, it can be the source or cause of the redemption of Israel itself.  The redemption of Israel and the world.

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