Treasures of the Heart is a unique rendition
of stories in the Hebrew Bible that are part of the foundation of
Judaism and Western literature. Structured according to the Jewish
calendar, Diane Wolkstein retells various stories that are traditionally
read on each holliday. Below is the story of Ruth, which is read on
Shavuot as an example of committment and devotion.
Where You Go, I Will Go
the judges ruled Israel, there was chaos and terrible corruption in the
land. There was no king and the people did as they wished. During this
time, there was a famine, and a wealthy man named Elimelech left
Bethlehem with his wife, Naomi and their two sons. They might have
stayed to help their own people, but the husband, Elimelech, chose to go
to the land of Moab, even though the Moabites had been enemies of
Soon after they settled in Moab, Elimelech died, and his
wife, Naomi, was left alone with her two sons. The sons married Ruth and
Orpah, daughters of Eglon, the king of Moab. Naomi welcomed her
daughters-in-law. She rejoiced and danced at their weddings, but then
misfortune struck the family--ten years of misfortune. Their horses
died; their donkeys died; their camels died. They had no children. Then
Naomi's sons both died, and she was left poor and bereft, a widow in a
One day when Naomi was working in the fields, she
overheard a wandering peddler telling the workers that God had
remembered Judah. There was bread again in Bethlehem, and the famine was
over. At once, Naomi left the fields where she had been working and the
place where she had been living and set out barefoot for Judah. Her two
daughters-in-law accompanied her.
After they had gone a short
distance, Naomi stopped. She turned to her daughters-in-law, Ruth and
Orpah. She embraced them and said, "Thank you for accompanying me on my
way, but now, each of you return to your own mother's house. How can I
thank you? When your husbands died, you might have run after other men,
but you stayed and comforted me, you fed and supported me. May God care
for you with as much hesed, kindness, as you have shown to me. And may
you be blessed with comfort and peace in the homes of new husbands."
Naomi kissed them. Standing on the road, the three women raised their
voices and wept loudly, realizing that if Naomi went on to Judah and the
younger women went back to Moab, they would never see one another
again. Suddenly, the two younger women protested, saying, "No. We will
go with you to your people."
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