Thursday, May 10, 2012

the hint to Rus in our parsha

I was preparing a totally different post on the parsha (which I didn't have time to finish writing yet), but this Ta'ama D'Kra from R' Ch. Kanievsky caught my eye and is too sharp to not mention.  Smack in the middle of the parsha of the moados, after talking about the korban ha'omer, the mitzvah of sefirah, and then the shtei halechem, the Torah throws in a mention of the mitzvah of pe'ah and leket (23:22) and then goes back to the topic of the Yamim Tovim.  What are these mitzvos of leket and pe'ah doing here? 

R' Chaim suggests that perhaps the Torah here is hinting at the story of Rus.  Rus met Boaz when she went out to the field to gather leket.  The Torah here specifically mentions, "le'ani v'lager ta'azov osam," the need to leave over grain for the poor and the convert.  Rus came to Eretz Yisrael at the time of the barley harvest; the parsha of leket and pe'ah comes right after the discussion of the korban ha'omer, a barley offering.  "Le'ani v'lager ta'azov" -- take the last letter of "ani" and the first of "ta'azov" and put them together with "v'lager" and it spells "giyores."  "Ta'azov" has the same letters as "Boaz" with an additional letter "taf," which can be combined with the reish and vav of "v'lager" to spell Rus.  And the final icing on the cake: The gematriya of "l'ani v'lager ta'azov osam" = "zu Neomi v'Rus kalasa." 

Even if you don't like remazim, this is pretty impressive.


  1. > "perhaps the Torah here is hinting at the story of Rus"

    Alternatively, one could suggest that the author (Author?) of Rut is hinting at the pasuk of le'ani v'lager through the names of the main characters. It's been observed that many character names in Rut seem to be double entendres.

    Either way, I'm not sure I understand yet how this answers the question: "What are these mitzvos of leket and pe'ah doing here?" Is the suggestion really that these mitzvot were inserted into parshat ha-mo'adim simply as an opportunity to include code words that b'derech remez allude to one of our minhagim on Shavuos? That seems like quite a stretch. It would be much more satisfying to go with a more fundamental connection between the mitzvot of pe'ah etc. and shavuot or the omer period -- as others have suggested -- and that in turn can explain both why these mitzvot appear here in Emor and also why Rut is a meaningful reading for Shavuot. One can add the remez as extra icing, but it doesn't seem like a solid answer in itself to the original question.

  2. Anonymous11:21 PM

    >>> Smack in the middle of the parsha of the moados... What are these mitzvos...doing here?

    pe'ah & leket themselves mark a moad of a sort! a moad that is calendrically indefinite (whenever you harvest), with no addition of kedusha (mikra-kodesh), yet with cessation/avoidance of melacha: pe'ah must not be cropped, leket must not be gathered;
    a moad that complements the taking ("ais l'vakesh", Koheles 3:6) of lulav etc., by the letting go/leaving ("v'ais l'abeid") of pe'ah & leket...

  3. chaim b.9:20 AM

    What is the more fundamental connection you have in mind? The meforshim I have seen all seem to suggest the connection is coincidental -- Shavuos happens to be the season when leket etc. is done -- not that these are mitzvos that relate directly to the chag. R' Ch. K. I assume is trying to show that there is a more fundamental connection there, at least to the story of Rus.
    (You could of course ask what the fundamental connection between Rus and Shavuos is -- just because the story takes place during that time period of the harvest doesn't mean the two are related -- but that's an easy one to answer based on a bunch of thematic connections.)