Try as I might, I still harbor that childish conviction that Rus and I are one and the same, that the megillah is referencing me in its depiction of dedication and complete subservience to the ultimate King
I've always thought Shavuos was my Yom Tov.
With a name like Rus, it was only natural.
I was born on chaf Sivan, just shortly after Shavuos, and my parents chose to name me for Rus Hamoaviah. And as a young child, I was absolutely convinced that I was Rus.
I remember learning about Megillas Rus in kindergarten. We sat on the floor in a circle as our morah shared the fascinating story with us.
“We have our very own Rus right here,” Morah Dena proclaimed, pointing to me. I smiled and felt myself shining.
“I even have a brother named Dovid,” I replied proudly, “another name about malchus.” Morah Dena was suitably impressed.
“Wow! It’s like the real Rus is sitting with us now,” she said, and I swelled with delight.
This inner pride lasted for a while. I remember second, third, fourth grade… willing myself not to blush when we learned Megillas Rus, as if the teacher were discussing me and my own greatness when referencing Rus, Ima shel Malchus.
Eventually, I began to grow out of this childish yet powerful view of my name and by extension, my internal identity. I began to separate myself from the “real” Rus.
I still felt the connection, I couldn’t deny that, but I knew better than to equate myself with her. I wasn’t really her, I didn’t really have her level of acceptance and strength inside of me… or did I?
I’ve still not managed to squander those last bits of wistful dreams, the ones that convince me I hold within myself the lineage of royalty, of tzniyus, of kiddush Hashem. Try as I might, I still harbor that childish conviction that Rus and I are one and the same, that the megillah is referencing me in its depiction of dedication and complete subservience to the ultimate King.
Somehow, as I grow older and approach my “double chai” post-Shavuos birthday, I seem to be reverting back to my kindergarten belief.
Yes, I stand for Rus, Ima shel Malchus, royal in my responsibility and powerful in my link to the roots of our nation. I’m beginning to realize that perhaps this belief isn’t so foolish, after all.
Don’t we all hold within us the strengths of our mothers and fathers before us, bits and pieces of their toil and dedication weaved into our very makeup as Jewish women and men? Is it really all that silly to blush in response to the praise of our people, to hold the shame and modesty while recognizing the all-encompassing nature of our glory and goodness as a nation?
As Shavuos approaches this year, I’ve decided to grant myself permission to become Rus once again. To morph my vision of self with my understanding of who she was. Her royalty, her tzniyus, her dedication, are all markers on the roadmap for who I can become.
So if I magically manage to make it to shul to listen to the story of my namesake, don’t be surprised if you see me blushing there in the back row. Because in the end, her story is my story; her struggle is my struggle, her journey is my journey. And in truth, we are all links in the chain of our People as we meld together to joyfully proclaim the purpose of our existence — that her service is our service, and her G-d is our G-d.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 844)
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