OVER THE festival of Shavuot, we read the Book of Ruth. There is so much to be learnt from this story and from such a great and inspirational woman. We learn much about loyalty and dedication even in the face of adversity. Ruth had to give up so much for what she believed in, refusing to leave her mother-in-law’s side and giving up her high position as a Moabite princess to become part of the Jewish people.
Ruth clearly knew what she believed in strongly and was willing to do whatever it took to attain it. This was at the expense of not having an easy life and one fraught with challenges, but is it still considered a successful life?
How many times are we told that we’re only truly living if we’re having a good time? Or for us to attain true greatness we need to change the world? We no longer accept just living a peaceful life, we want to be exceptional or celebrities and nothing else will do.
However, the majority of us feel that we are just part of the rat race and that we have no real purpose or meaning. At times, we may become despondent and feel that the minutiae of life that are considered tedious, such as going to work, community life and even building a family, are ultimately uninspiring activities and may even be seen as underachieving.
Ruth would have had every right to feel the same way. She had lost everything and was reduced to the life of a pauper.
Let’s fast forward to the end of the story. We’re told that Ruth and Boaz had a son who became the grandfather of one of our greatest leaders, King David.
Life, a real life, is precisely made up of the mundane everyday events, such as earning a living and raising children. In the same way that a cheesecake is made of ingredients that on their own are unpalatable but the combined result is something creamy and delicious so, too, our lives are made of many struggles and challenges as we experience the highs of success and the lows of failure, which all come together to make a meaningful life worth living.
The most that any one of us can do is make as many right choices as we can and live as significant a life as possible. Not always will we direct success from our hard work, but it is specifically at these moments that we should remember Ruth and have faith that the choices we make today will have a great and far reaching impact on the world of tomorrow.
• Josh Zaitschek is a rabbi with Young US & Finchley US