Ara of Judges

סדרת האוצרות האבודים

Ara of Judges

כרך 5


פרק לדוגמא: Bethlehem

“Look, we’ve almost arrived,” Naomi happily said to her daughter-in-law. “These are the fields of Bethlehem, where we used to live.” Ruth’s expression was a mixture of anticipation and trepidation as she considered what might come next. “Maybe we should change our clothes before we go into town,” she told Naomi. Naomi smiled bemusedly, realizing that she had forgotten that they were wearing men’s clothing. They quickly changed into their shabby mourning dresses. The two women entered the city. A strange silence reigned, un¬characteristic of the bustling city Naomi recalled. The main market was empty of buyers and sellers; the stalls were still there, fully stocked, but no human could be seen, as if the souk had been aban-doned in the middle of the workday. Naomi and Ruth walked through the alleys of the bazaar, look¬ing for someone to explain the emptiness. The intoxicating scents wafting from the stalls made the gnawing hunger in their stomachs unbearable. Suddenly, they heard women’s voices conversing in subdued tones. Naomi and Ruth hurried towards the voices, wanting to un¬derstand what was going on. A group of women turned the street corner, some sobbing and others trying to console their companions. “I beg your pardon,” Naomi turned to one of the mourners, “can you tell me what happened?” The woman looked at Naomi, blinking back tears, trying to calm herself before answering the destitute woman talking to her. “Boaz’s wife died suddenly today. The unfortunate Boaz buried all his sons and daughters, and now his last wife has also perished. Thirty sons and thirty daughters he married off, and all died soon after their weddings, leaving behind no children. Now he has lost his wife too, the last person he had on earth!” A burst of crying rose again from the mouths of the women stopped by Naomi and Ruth, in distress at the tragedy which had befallen their beloved leader. One of the women approached Naomi as she rubbed her teary eyes, trying to dispel the fog that obscured her vision. Her eyes wid¬ened in astonishment as she recognized the woman in rags. “Excuse me for asking... is it true that you are Naomi, wife of Elimelech?” she exclaimed in surprise and excitement. Naomi looked down, recognizing the old friend of hers, still re¬spectable. “I was… but I am his widow now. And the name Naomi? What no’am (pleasure) do I have left? Call me Marah (bitter) instead, because God has embittered me.” All the women gathered around Naomi and Ruth, forgetting for a moment that morning’s tragedy, focusing their amazement on the lady who had left the place ten years earlier only to return in abject poverty. The whispers ran through the crowd: “That’s Naomi...” “Her husband was very rich and left the country with his sons ten years ago when the famine began...” “It is almost impossible to identify her...” “I wonder what happened...” Naomi looked at the whispering women, realizing that her wor¬ries had been borne out. Her return raised many questions. She raised her voice to address them all. “Please, my sisters, don’t call me Naomi. Maybe I used to be Naomi, but I must have acted wickedly before God, abandoning His country to go to a foreign land. There¬fore, He punished me. I left here with a husband and two sons, and I was pregnant as well. We had so much wealth and property, but now God returned me home emptyhanded.” One of the women looked at her compassionately, realizing that her drawn face meant Naomi hadn’t had a decent meal in quite a while. The generous soul hurried to the stalls, whose proprietors had begun to return from the cemetery. She bought food for the broken woman who had once been the wealthiest in the land. “Please, Lady Naomi,” she sighed in pity. “Take these, until you get settled in the city,” the kind woman said, offering two baskets laden with food. Naomi was debating whether to take the food. She felt shame at taking charity on the one hand, the gnawing of hunger on the other. “If you want, you can pay me back later, Lady Naomi. Travelling such a distance, you must eat and rest first,” the woman said with a conciliatory smile to Naomi, remembering the days when Elimelech used to support her family. She pointed to a large abandoned house down the road. “Your husband’s house stands empty. Apparently, it is in some disrepair, but it’s a place for you to rest in the meantime.” “Thank you very much,” Naomi whispered in shame. “I hope to repay you soon...” The woman sighed. “It’s no trouble, Lady Naomi.” Her heart was glad, on the one hand, that she could repay a favor to the honorable woman whose fortunes had turned; but she was distressed by the state to which the gentlewoman had been reduced. “Thank you all,” Naomi told the women around her. “I’m really very tired. I’ll go to my husband’s house to rest a bit.” Naomi began to walk towards the neglected house. Ruth walked beside her, sup¬porting her and helping her carry the baskets full of comestibles. Behind her back, the scuttlebutt began again, even before they were out of earshot. “Poor thing...” “From the highest heights to the lowest lows…” “I wonder who the beautiful girl with her is; she does not look Israelite...” “Maybe a Moabite girl...?” one of the women suggested. “A Moabitess?! Can’t be! Did you see how modestly she’s dressed? Even though she’s all in rags, she’s wrapped from head to toe, not a single hair protrudes from her veil…” her companion objected. “How right you are! Did you see her face? So diffident, afraid to look up from the ground. She could not be a Moabitess! The Moabites are as shameless as they come,” another woman muttered. “Still, I’m sure she’s a Moabite girl...” the first woman maintained. “Well... well... well... we heard you! A Moabitess in Bethlehem, who heard of such a thing?...” The voices, the questions, the rumors, the insinuations, and the assumptions faded behind them as Ruth and Naomi approached the looming ruin which had once been the mansion of Elimelech, firstborn son of Prince Nahshon of Judah. The rusty hinges shrieked as the two women forced the heavy wooden door open after a decade of it being sealed. Mice squeaked in protest and alarm at the humans invading their domain. Their droppings, along with mold and mildew, created a miasma inside. Naomi and Ruth grinned ruefully at each other. “Let’s open the windows to ventilate the house a little, and then sit down to eat,” Naomi said with a smile. The two women went to open the windows and doors, as noisily as possible — to send the rodents and reptiles in every corner scurrying back to the fields. Naomi walked through the home as if in a trance, memories emerging from every nook and cranny, bringing tears to her eyes. Ruth looked at her mother-in-law, feeling pain in her heart as she realized what was going on inside Naomi. She approached her mother-in-law, hugging the fragile body as if trying to imbue it with her own strength. Naomi could not help but break into tears, remembering her salad days, now long gone, never to return. Ruth hugged her tight, holding her, trying to console and encourage the hopeless woman, even as she too wept. For a long while they cried together, embrac¬ing, finding comfort in each other. “Come on Mother, let’s go out a bit. You must sit down to eat. Better to have a picnic outside, in the fresh air.” They ate their fill, sitting on the stone fence in front of the house, thoughts of the future occupying their minds. “Please, rest a bit,” Ruth begged her. “I’ll go into the house and get started cleaning and organizing.” Naomi nodded her head stiffly, thanking God that her daughter-in-law Ruth was with her. Ruth began to clean the rooms, restoring order, seeing objects that had been abandoned in the distant past as new treasures. She imag¬ined what life must have been like in this house for Mahlon and Chilion as children, for Naomi as a young mother. Naomi joined her an hour later, a bit recovered, helping her daughter-in-law prepare the house to be a suitable place to live again. Her hands caressed the furniture and objects that evoked memories, tears welling up in her eyes as she saw her boys’ old clothes, left over from the glorious past. Every object had the past engraved in it, every item of clothing had love stitched in it. The two labored for many hours, clearing the desolation, reviving the dead house. Finally, Naomi and Ruth relaxed on the threadbare armchairs, sipping some hot drinks they’d prepared now that the fireplace was usable again. They shared a smile of satisfaction at the welcome changes. The burning fire cast a soft light over the salon, as the aroma of baking bread filled the house. A week had passed since their return to Bethlehem, and the supplies handed to them by the kind woman in the souk were almost gone. Naomi had put Elimelech’s estate on the market, but since there was a lien on it to pay off her hefty marriage contract as well as Ruth’s, no one seemed interested. What could the pair of widows do? Ruth brightened as an idea struck her. “Mother, you explained to me that there are gifts for the poor at harvesttime: the corner of the field, the dropped stalks, and the forgotten sheaf.” She quoted from the Torah: “‘And when you reap the harvest of your land, you will not wholly reap the corner of your field, neither will you pick up the stalks which fall during harvest. When you reap your harvest in the field, and have forgotten a sheaf, you will not go back to fetch it; it will be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.’ I believe now is supposed to be the time to harvest the barley.” Naomi smiled at Ruth, taking pride in her clever companion. Ruth added, “I think it would be good if I went out tomorrow morning to look for a field where barley is harvested, then I can collect the corners, the dropped, and the forgotten.” Ruth looked at Naomi, seeing a spot of sadness rising over her face. “Mother, I’ll go alone. You ought to stay here; you shouldn’t go to the fields. I believe I can collect enough barley that there will be enough for both of us to eat. I just need you to review the de¬tails of the laws, what I am allowed to take and what not, what is included and what is not included in the corner, the dropped, and the forgotten.” Naomi smiled at Ruth, a wave of love for her son’s wife flooding her heart. It was as if a great weight had been removed from her heart about her inability to face the shame of collecting the gifts for the poor in the field. She felt safe, knowing that Ruth would prevent her from facing such disgrace. She was full of admiration for her daughter-in-law for being from a privileged royal family, yet not preventing herself from going to collect poor gifts as long as she remained true to her faith. Naomi repeated to her daughter-in-law the details of the laws, resolving all her doubts. “Like you once told me,” Ruth said to Naomi after a while, “if there is a doubt, there is no doubt! You just do not touch what is dubious...” Through the window, thin rays of light stretched and lit up the ves¬tibule of the house. Ruth, who had risen and dressed quickly and quietly, so as not to wake her aged mother-in-law, turned around, one hand on the door. She reflected before she set off. “Poor thing, she must still be completely drained. You can see that the memories still make it difficult for her to sleep.” She hurried to the fields, committing landmarks to memory so she’d be able to find her way back to her mother-in-law’s house. “The Lord be with you!” The familiar but unexpected voice made the fieldhands look up. Judge Ibzan of Bethlehem, known to everyone as Boaz, had returned to the field to oversee the harvest. “May the Lord bless you,” they answered their revered master with one voice. One of the reapers hurried towards his master, serv¬ing him cold water. The boy was amazed to see him in the field on the day his week of bereavement for his revered wife ended. During all seven days of mourning, the reapers had not gone out to harvest in honor of his late wife. Boaz took a sip of water, patting the boy affectionately on the shoulder. “Is everything all right, my friend? Did you set aside the corner this morning?” The boy smiled at Boaz, realizing that the reason he had come was to see if they were careful to leave the share for the poor. “Cer¬tainly my lord,” the boy replied, “just as my lord ordered, we divided the field into three parts. In a few minutes, the harvesters will be finished with the first part, and then the new mothers can collect the corner; then we will reap the second part, and the youths can collect the corner in the afternoon; finally, we’ll reap the last third, so that the old people, who arrive late, can collect the corner at the end of the day.” Boaz looked at the harvesters finishing the first third of the field; he noticed one young woman walking after the harvesters slowly, bending over and gathering the dropped and the forgotten. The reapers, according to Boaz’s command, left behind far more than the amount required by the letter of the law. He nodded his head to the women sitting at the edge of the field waiting for the owner’s approval so they could come in and collect the corner. The women ran pell-mell, pushing each other in an attempt to gather as much grain from the corner as possible. However, the lone young woman collecting the dropped and the forgotten continued to gather the stalks and sheaves one by one, not running with the other women to collect the corner. Boaz looked on in amazement. The amount of grain to collect at the corner far exceeded the amount of dropped stalks and forgot¬ten sheaves. He watched as the young woman sat modestly on the ground to collect, noting how she would only pick up one or two but never three stalks or sheaves, in accordance with the law. She always made sure that her legs were covered by her dress. In amazement, Boaz asked the boy in charge of the reapers, “Where is this girl from?” “Ahhh... Moab, of all places! She came back from the field of Moab with Naomi, widow of Elimelech,” the boy replied, marveling at Boaz’s question. Boaz sank into contemplation. “My poor cousin Naomi. Such a tragic story. She followed my uncle Elimelech to the field of Moab with her sons and all they had, and there she lost everything — her husband, her sons, and all her property. Now she has returned, destitute. There is a lien on the house and the lands to pay off her marriage contract, but the ravages of time have left the house a ruin and the fields nothing but weeds and thorns.” He sighed from the bottom of his heart, pondering how to help his cousin and her daughter-in-law. “As far as I understand,” said the boy, interrupting Boaz’s thoughts, “this woman is Mahlon’s widow. He married her in Moab. I do not know how he did such a thing, to take a Moabite woman. After all, he was a great man, and the Torah says, ‘An Ammonite or Moabite may not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation they may not enter into the congregation of the Lord for¬ever.’ Not that I am a scholar, but it seems odd to me. The stranger thing is that she returned with Naomi at all. I’ve heard she’s part of the royal family in Moab. Why would she not go back to her family? No Israelite can marry her!” Boaz smiled at the boy and told him: “A common misconception. Moabites and Ammonites are forbidden, but just the men, not the women. The truth is that the law is not publicized, for fear that people will start taking women from Ammon and Moab without taking care that they undergo genuine conversion. They are likely to marry women who convert due to their own interests and not be¬cause they want to take refuge in the shadow of the Divine Presence.” Boaz rubbed his forehead in thought. “If she is from a royal family in Moab and still clings to Naomi, surely her desire to take refuge in the shadow of the Divine Presence is real and absolute.” Boaz continued to look at the girl in astonishment, seeing her meticulous observance of the laws. The boy looked at his master in surprise and said, “Thank God I gave her to take from the dropped and the forgotten. At first, when she came to ask me to pick up after the reapers, I thought of reject¬ing her because she wasn’t really a convert, but then I remembered that you said once that if a foreigner comes, they should be allowed to collect due to the ways of peace. So I told her she could take from the corner too, but she told me she did not want from the corner. I think she was scared at the thought of the fierce competition among the gleaners at the corner, which often comes to blows. The truth is I’ve never seen someone so modest; she hasn’t raised her eyes from the ground since that moment when she came to ask to collect.” The boy smiled at Boaz and continued. “You know, they usually try to flatter you a little, give you a smile or something, maybe they’ll get some preference or something. But she just asked, shamefaced; and when I agreed, she started walking far behind the reapers. She did not exchange a word or a look with anyone; she just picked quietly and modestly.” Boaz looked at the purposeful girl. He thought, “Apparently, she picks for Naomi and for herself. Naomi is my aunt by marriage and my cousin by blood; and this young woman is my cousin by marriage. I have to support them. It is unbecoming to ignore one’s poor relations.” He began to walk towards the girl in the middle of the harvested field in the heart of the golden expanse. In the distance, at the end of the field, the women at the corner could be heard quarreling with each other. Boaz was mesmerized by the abysmal difference between the behavior of the convert and that of the other women. Boaz stood a few yards away from the woman, afraid of startling her. Ruth noticed the shadow he cast and got up. She kept her eyes downcast, fearing that the man would drive her out of the field. At her feet was a roll of cloth into which she had been depositing the day’s gleanings. Boaz cleared his throat, trying to find the words. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” he apologized. “I just wanted to ask you something...” The alarm on Ruth’s face was clear: fear of this dignified man of authority, unexplained anxiety. “Why am I afraid? He speaks gently, not forcefully,” the thought arose in her heart. “I wanted to ask you not to go to other people’s fields. I have a lot of fields. At the end of the day, you will ask my girls where to harvest the next day, and go there,” said Boaz compassionately, seeing the woman’s expression of fear becoming a look of gratitude. “I will also inform the boys that you may collect in the rest of my fields; you need not ask their permission. When you are thirsty, go to the vessels filled by the water drawers. Don’t drink from the water in the nearby pit; it’s a bit musty. Just go to the utensils and drink. I’ll tell the boys that I have authorized you to drink as much as you want.” Ruth fell on her face, bowing to the man who was so kind to her. “Why have you favored me when I am a foreign-born woman, a Moabitess, who cannot come into the congregation of the Lord?” she asked with tears streaming down her face at the man’s miracu¬lous grace. Boaz looked at the girl in growing amazement. He thought, “She’s sure she can’t get married and still has not left her mother-in-law! What charity! What wonderful qualities!” “First of all, my lady, I want to tell you that you are wrong, that you can come into the congregation of the Lord. The law says that those who are forbidden to enter the congregation are only the Ammonite and the Moabite, but not the Ammonitess and the Moabitess…” Ruth looked up in amazement, staring at the man whose decla¬ration could turn her life around. Boaz looked at Ruth with a smile, understanding the upheaval that was taking place in her. “Second, I have heard of the kindness you did with your mother-in-law after the death of your husband. You have left the home of your father and mother, the royal house, and your homeland. You have gone with your mother-in-law to a land whose people are unfamiliar to you. May the Lord, under Whose wings you have sought shelter, reward your righteousness with all the good in this world and in the next. You deserve to be with Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah,” Boaz said to the wonderful woman. Tears burst forth from Ruth’s eyes. “I am not even as worthy as one of your maidservants, my lord, neither in this world nor the next, but I thank you for comforting me!” Boaz felt his heart flutter, pitying the girl who viewed herself as despised and undeserving. “Soon the reapers will sit down to eat. I ask you to come and eat with us as well...” Boaz mumbled and said goodbye to the woman. The encounter left him ill at ease. He hurried to give his boy the orders he’d promised the Moabitess. When noon arrived, the reapers at the end of the golden field, sitting on large haystacks, ate their fill. The poor youths had come to gather from the corner at the edge of the field. Boaz looked at the middle of his field, seeing the Moabitess continuing to gather sheaf after sheaf. He sent one of the girls working in the field to ask the woman to join them. The girl happily ran to do this. A few minutes passed and the girl returned with the woman walking after her timidly. The woman settled away from the boys, sitting still on a large rock. Boaz got up, serving her bread and stew to satisfy her hunger. “Thank you very much,” Ruth whispered, sorry for bothering her benefactor, the lord of the field. Boaz watched her, observing that she ate only half of what was offered her, putting the rest away for later. He sighed, thinking, “Ap¬parently, she is leaving half the food for Cousin Naomi.” The reapers got up, encouraging one another to continue their work. “We have already finished two thirds of the day’s work; one more push, and we can go home,” one said to the other happily. Boaz approached his boy. “Make sure the lads do not embarrass this woman. Let her pick from wherever she wants, and also tell the lads to deliberately drop more barley than usual so that she has enough food,” he whispered in his ear. The boy nodded to Boaz with understanding. After all, the new¬comer was kinswoman to his master, as was her mother-in-law. “Certainly, my lord. I’ll take care of that.” Ruth continued to gather, happily collecting stalk after stalk, sheaf after sheaf. The sun was about to set, shades of crimson and cerulean in the sky as the elderly poor came to collect from the corner of the field in the third section. Ruth looked at her large pile of barley. She deftly began to pound the barley in order to separate the grains from the straw and chaff. The work lasted a short time. Ruth marveled at the large amount of barley she had collected. Happily she bundled the barley into the large cloth, carrying the burden on her shoulder. Using the land¬marks she’d memorized, she made her way back to Naomi’s house. Naomi looked anxiously at the setting sun, awaiting Ruth’s return, fearing that she would not find her way home in the dark. The large gate to the stone fence in front of the house was wide open. Naomi stared at the fence, longing to see Ruth. Her eyes opened happily when she saw Ruth deftly approaching the gate. She ran towards her daughter-in-law, hugging her lovingly. “Look, Mother, how much I’ve collected,” Ruth exclaimed with a radiant smile, lowering the large package over her shoulder. “It can be enough for many days. Maybe we can even sell some and buy some vegetables with the money,” she eagerly told her mother-in-law. “Come in, come in, my daughter, you must be very tired,” Naomi said with concern for the well-being of her daughter-in-law, who had worked from dawn to dusk. Naomi went to stoke the fireplace while rejecting Ruth’s attempts to help. “Sit down, rest a little, you worked all day... I’m not that old,” Naomi said with a smile. “I can still do something...” The pleasant heat began to fill the room, spreading the flickering light from the dance of the flames. “Wow...” Naomi said in surprise as she opened the large bundle of barley, “there must be a bushel of barley here.” “And this is for you, mother...” Ruth surprised her mother-in-law by taking out of a bundle the bread and stew that Boaz had given her. “Where is it from???” she asked in astonishment. “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” Ruth began to tell her mother-in-law in detail what had happened to her that day, about the benefactor who had allowed her to gather in his field and had even told her that she ought to collect in the rest of his fields, about the water he allowed her to drink, and the food he gave her. “Do you know what the man’s name is?” Naomi asked. “Boaz is his name. That’s what I heard one of the boys call him,” Ruth replied as she recalled the man’s compassionate smile. Naomi smiled with satisfaction. “Boaz the righteous! Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not left off His kindness to the living or the dead.” “Do you know him?” Ruth asked in surprise. “Certainly. Prince Nahshon of Judah had four sons: Elimelech, Salmon, my father, and Tob. Salmon was Boaz’s father. So I am doubly related to him, by blood and by marriage. You would be related to him by marriage too, since you married his cousin…” A cloud passed over Naomi’s face. “If only your marriage to Mahlon were valid by the law of Israel…” she said in a whisper. “But it is!” cried Ruth with a big smile. “I forgot to tell you that he told me that when the Torah says that Ammonites and Moabites are not allowed to come into the congregation of God, the refer¬ence is only to men and not women. I don’t know if he knows what he’s talking about, but he seems scholarly and well-versed in the Torah…” she sighed hopefully. Naomi laughed happily. “If he knows what’s he’s talking about? He understands more Torah than anyone! Boaz is the greatest of the generation! Chief justice of our supreme court, premiere sage in Israel! I would say he is a walking Torah scroll, but he is more than that; he is the very embodiment of the Torah. He proved that today by how he treated you. If he says it, you may rely on him.” “Really?” Ruth wondered. “God bless him,” Naomi said generously. She turned to Ruth, em¬bracing her to her bosom with utter love. “Do you understand the meaning of this? Your marriage to Mahlon was legitimate! You are my true daughter, my true daughter-in-law!” The two cried happily in each other’s arms. The thin screen that had always separated the women shattered to pieces at Boaz’s welcome revelation. “Best of all, my daughter, keep going to the fields of Boaz through¬out the harvest season. You will certainly find no one who will give you as good treatment as the righteous Boaz.” The barley and wheat harvest lasted three months. Every morn¬ing Ruth went out to her work, picking up the dropped stalks and the forgotten sheaves, eschewing the quarrelsome corner.

תיאור מלא של המוצר

הספר "ימי השופטים" מתורגם לאנגלית.

לאחר 210 שנים של גלות מצרים, שמתוכן 86 שנות עבדות פיסית ומנטלית שרוצצה את רוח העם, הופיע כמשום מקום משה, והוא בישר את הגאולה הקרובה. עם ישראל יצא ממצרים לאחר שהמצרים קיבלו את עשר המכות, שבאחרונה שבהן, מכת בכורות, מתו כל בכורי מצרים. עם ישראל חגג את חג הפסח ויצא מכור הברזל. המצרים התעשתו מעט מהמכה האחרונה והחלו רודפים אחר עם ישראל. משה קרע את הים והעביר בתוכו את עם ישראל, והמצרים שנכנסו אחריהם לים, טבעו. למרגלות הר סיני, קיבל העם את התורה במעמד התגלות אדיר ויחיד מסוגו אי פעם. זמן קצר לאחר מכן, עשו העם את עגל הזהב והחלו להתמרד. המסע לארץ
ישראל, שהיה אמור לקחת ימים ספורים, נמשך ל-40 שנה בגלל חטא המרגלים. משה החל כובש את עבר הירדן המזרחי, מכניע את העמים המונעים בעד העם להיכנס לארץ המובטחת. מרים, אהרון ומשה, שלושת הרועים שהנהיגו את העם, מתים בטרם נכנס העם לגבולות הארץ המובטחת.
הספר "ימי השופטים", השלישי בסדרת "האוצרות האבודים", מספר על כיבוש הארץ בידי יהושע ומלחמותיהם של שאר מנהיגי העם שקמו עד ימי שמואל הנביא.
מאחל לכם קריאה נעימה ומרגשת, מלמדת ומחכימה.

    עגלת הקניות שלך
    העגלה שלך ריקהחזרה לחנות
      חשב משלוח
      Apply Coupon
      דילוג לתוכן