Article Discussion: The Book of Ruth: an Interfaith Tale

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May 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm #5800


Click here to read the article: The Book of Ruth: an Interfaith Tale

May 24, 2011 at 7:29 am #5808


Ruth very likely did think of the family she had left behind in Moab. However, it’s important not to impose current values too much on the story, lest we see what we want to see in the story rather than what’s there.

It is true, as you said that “today, most contemporary interfaith couples, even when a conversion takes place, don’t have a complete split with the past.” However, this sentence, by lumping everyone together as “interfaith,” does not appear to acknowledge the reality that the convert stands in a different relation to Judaism, to their family and to the world than a non-Jew in an interfaith family. When someone has converted, they are no longer, by definition, part of an “interfaith couple.” They are a Jewish couple, albeit with non-Jewish relatives. The difference between Ruth and Orpah (whom you mention, and who did not convert) makes this clear. Orpah was married to a Jew, had good relations with her mother-in-law, and may likely have participated in some of the Jewish practices of her husband (much more likely even than today, given the dynamics of marriage at that time). But in the end, she clung to her own beliefs. Ruth, did the opposite – she could easily have returned to Moab like Orpah, but made the choice not to. Anyway, it is important, out of respect for the convert, that they not be equated with interfaith even after they have done so much to become Jewish.

June 4, 2014 at 6:07 am #20270


I wonder if the rabbi means that while Ruth is Jewish, as is any convert, if a person still has contact with and participates with their extended non-Jewish family then they are an interfaith family, just not an interfaith nuclear family.

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