Today in America, more and more of us are poverty-stricken like Ruth, outcasts like Ruth; some of us are prosperous, like Boaz. Boaz affirmed that in a decent society, everyone was entitled to decent work for a decent income. Everyone -- even, or especially, a despised immigrant from a despised nation. Everyone -- not just 94% of the people. Everyone had the right simply to walk onto a field and begin to work, begin to use the means-of-production of that era.
And Boaz could not order his regular workers to be economically "efficient." They could not harvest everything: not what grew in the corners of the field, not what they missed on the first go-round. Social compassion was more important than efficiency. No downsizing allowed.
Although Boaz was generous-hearted, Ruth's right to glean did not depend upon his generosity. It was the law.
Ruth was entitled not only to a job, but to respect. No name-calling, no sexual harassment.
And she, as well as Boaz, was entitled to Shabbat: time off for rest, reflection, celebration, love. She was entitled to "be" -- as well as to "do."
Because Ruth and Boaz, the outcast and the solid citizen, got together, they became the ancestors of King David ? and therefore of Messiah, the transformation that brings peace and justice to the world.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
What If Ruth the Moabite Came to America Today?
From Rabbi Arthur Waskow