There are many ways to interpret the Book of Ruth. We focus on Ruth’s astonishing self-transformation, and how her story might inspire us to make courageous decisions in our own lives.
In the course of Ruth’s story, this young woman reinvents herself almost entirely: moving far from home, rethinking her relationships, and shifting her spiritual and cultural beliefs and practices. It would be easy to read this list of changes in Ruth’s life and assume that she is bold and fearless. But Ruth also seems vulnerable and complicated.
Ruth’s story, like most Torah stories, is writ large: she abandons her life entirely to dedicate herself to an unexpected family member, she crawls into a powerful man’s bed late at night uninvited. Her risks are extreme. But at its essence, Ruth’s journey reflects a process we all go through in our lives. And in fact, when we are faced with a major life transition, it often looms as large to us as the events in Ruth’s hugely dramatic story.
Ruth repeatedly risks failure, heartbreak, rejection, censure. Through her bold choices, she transforms her life entirely. What bold risks might we take in our own lives? What unimagined future might lie ahead of us if we are brave enough to leave the familiar and set out for parts unknown?