Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What If Ruth the Moabite Came to America Today?

From Rabbi Arthur Waskow

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.

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