Thursday, June 12, 2008

Clue by four

So I was leining Ruth the other day in shul, and the same question occurred to me that does every year, and every year I forget the various good answers that people offer - so maybe they don't impress me so much.

I asked D___ my lovely wife, who has also learned it in depth, and she came up with a good answer.

The problem is, what was so great about Boaz and Ruth in the barn?

I mean, they get to Bethlehem, and Ruth goes out to glean barley in the fields. Naomi already thinks Boaz would be a good guy for her, in both the field-redemption and husband categories, but doesn't say anything, although she does let him know through the rumor-mill.

Ruth goes out gathering, and meets Boaz, and they hit it off right away.

Naomi tells her "OK, now you have to force him to marry you - sneak into the barn under cover of darkness, and fall asleep on his legs [family jewels? I don't know if that was a biblical usage]."

She does so, Boaz wakes up to find this nice girl in his lap, then gives her instructions how things will be arranged so they can get married. Which they do.

So why does Ruth have to force him to redeem the field and marry her, if they hit it off anyway? Is it a class thing? She puts him in a deliberately embarrassing situation - yichud, isolation together for more than 20 minutes, forcing him to marry her, although he takes care to make sure she isn't seen leaving (Wake up little Ruthie!)

D__'s answer: because some guys, even if they like you, you have to hit them over the head with a two-by-four to get them to do something about it. As it was with us. And even more extremely with her Uncle Charlie and Aunt Rose - they had been dating, but he hadn't done anything towards marriage, so she arranged the wedding and sent him an invitation. And out of that family came several children, including two rabbis, most of whom had good marriages themselves.

So Ruth/Naomi had to hit Boaz over the head with a clue-by-four to convince him to actually marry Ruth and redeem the field and increase in both happiness and wealth.


micha said...

I thought it demonstrated mind-boggling self-control on Boaz's part.

Here's this girl, a generation younger than him, climbing into his bed and offering herself. He had no wife. I don't think I need to spell things out further.


thanbo said...

Why spoil the moment when he could, with just a few days' wait, get both the girl and the land?

And not every guy is the same.

Joe in Australia said...

I think it was because Ruth's background was bad for shidduchim. She was previously married, and a convert, and her family didn't have any money. Nobody would redd him this shidduch. And he couldn't approach her himself because the power imbalance would make it awkward. So, she was the only one who could approach him.

On the other hand, the text implies that Boaz thought he was too old for her. If she made a formal offer it would look as through she was making a marriage of convenience. She had to show that she was romantically open to his advances and do so in an informal setting to avoid the whole power imbalance thing. That's why she approached him when he was alone and in déshabillé. Then Boaz goes and arranges the legal side of things, knowing that she is genuinely happy to marry him.