Naomi and Ruth 36×18 Oil on canvas.
The Book of Ruth tells the story of Naomi and Ruth which is a story of great love and chesed (compassion, kindness) and embodies many key Jewish values. Ruth, a non-Jew and Moabite living in Moab at the time meets and marries a Jewish man named Mahlon. He dies and Ruth is left alone with her mother-in-law Naomi who is leaving Moab to go join the Jewish People in her old age. Ruth, having spent time with the Jewish people by way of her husband is clearly enchanted and attached to Judaism and Jewish life; indeed, she has a great love for it. Before Naomi departs, Ruth pleads with her to let her follow with the famous words: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried…”
Naomi finally concedes and Ruth thrives in Eretz Israel. She later marries Boaz from which union (their Great Grandson) King David was born. Converts to Judaism (gerim) have found inspiration and validation in this story for centuries. Gerim, in Jewish tradition are held higher than those born Jewish in that they have chosen to take on the 613 mitzvot.