The parsha begins with the words אם בחוקותי תלכו if you will walk in my statutes. Why did the Torah use an ambiguous word to walk instead of to fulfill or to keep, thereby clarifying exactly what is demanded from us?

In Megillas Rus we find that Boaz after seeing her tzidkus and tznius approaches her and says הגד הגד לי כל אשר עשית את חמותך Please tell me about everything you did on behalf of your mother in law. The Medrash questions why did Boaz use a double term of הגד? The Medrash answers that he requested that she should inform him about her conduct in the house and her conduct in the field.

Many a time one’s behavior in the house is quite different than the manner how he or she acts in public. One can easily feel comfortable with his Yiddishkeitbehind closed doors however in public he feels intimidated as he worries how he looks in the eyes of others even amongst his own people. The Chofetz Chayim was known to say that if a person is a complete Jew in his home, he will be a half Jew on the outside. If he is a half Jew in his house he will be a quarter Yid in public.

Rus was seen as an individual who was careful in Halacha even in the public eye. The Halacha dictates that a poor person is only allowed to take for himself two sheaves of grain that was left and not three. Even though she might have been amongst a group of the poor who were not so makpid in this prohibition, after all a poor person in his own mind can justify taking more, she did not use that prejudiced permission. The sheaves that were standing upright she took them standing upright. The sheaves that were lying on the ground she did not bend over to take them but rather took them as she sat stooped to the ground always preserving her posture of tzenius. In the work place when individuals might compromise the tzenius of their talk, behavior, and dress or else their job might be at stake, it is a challenge to preserve the emunah and thereby hold tightly to one’s dignity as a Ben and Bas Yisrael to the fullest degree.

Dovid Hamelech writes (Tehillim 116) אתהלך לפני ה’ בארצות החיים May I walk with Hashem in the land of the living. Rashi comments that the land of the living is Eretz Yisrael. The Medrash however interprets the land of the living as the market place where one makes a living. Dovid Hamelech who was the fourth leg of the Kisay Hakavod davens to Hashem that when he is in the public light and goes to work for Klal Yisrael he should not be intimidated by others concerning his religiosity. For the two explanations above together state that even in the work and market places in Eretz Yisrael, in Yerushalyim, one must tenaciously cherish his Torah and mitzvos even when confronted by the mockers who claim your style of life embarrasses us. Therefore in order for Rus to merit being the great grandmother of Dovid, she too had to be an individual who was not threatened by the public cynics or by fellow Jews who feel uncomfortable around Torah observant Yidden.

When Avraham was pleading to save the city of Sodom from destruction he asked from Hashem that the inhabitants should be spared if it contains fifty tzadikim in the middle of the city. “In the middle of the city” definitely does not mean in the middle neighborhood for what difference would that make. Rather, the implication of such a description is to send the message that there is no kuntz to be Torah observant in private. The real demonstration of dedication to Hashem is when one refuses to compromise on something that he holds dear to him when there is public pressure of how one will look in the eyes of others. The merit to save cities from destruction must come from the strength of such a moral follower of Hashem who removes himself from acting immoral whether concerning business ethics, tznius, or nivul peh.

This is what the Torah describes in the first passuk of the parsha. אם בחוקתי תלכו If you will keep my mitzvos even when you are on the go, at work, during vacation, Bain Hazmanim, together at a simcha, then you will be rewarded with the following berachos listed.

The opposite is also true. There are people, that because of public opinion, will be embarrassed for themselves and their families if they do not present themselves in the conduct that is expected in his particular neighborhood. However, behind closed doors they will not be so observant and will live in compromised lifestyle of Torah and Yiddishkeit. Rabban Gamliel was also worried of such a deception and incongruities and that is why he posted at the entrance to the Bais Medrash a watchman to check whether the outside wholesome yiras shamayim appearance of the new bachur was actually parallel to his insides.

Boaz wanted to inquire concerning both conducts of Rus, in the house and in the public arena to know for sure that Rus is total Torah observant in both areas. When Rus came to see Boaz at night in the silo, she wore her Shabbos clothes (Rus Rabbah 5,12). A person who is truly Shabbisdik ensures a parallel behavior of his or her insides to the outside. As the letters ofשבת  spell בשת which means that the body (field) is embarrassed to crave worldly pleasures in the presence of the neshamah yesairah (house). On Shabbos, the Shabbosdik person aligns his house and field so that he will observe the mitzvos both in his house and outside comfortably with menuchas ahavahmenuchas emesve’ehmunahshalom veshalvah. This is hinted in the letters of שבת which is the acronym of שדה בית תורה Because of kedushas Shabbos, one has the ability to align his fulfillment of the Torah equally in both at home and in the public and attain the level of אמת through and through. That is why we find that the double usage of הגד, one for the house and one for the field, add up to 24 which corresponds to the 24 perakim of Mishnayos Shabbos which parallels the 24 adornments that the Kallah (Shabbos) wears for her chasson (Yisrael) on Shabbos. On this special day of the week one can easily dismantle his self made boundaries typical of a Geographic Jew who established for himself a different set of rules and standards to apply for the public and private images. אתה אחד ושמך אחד ומי כעמך ישראל גוי אחד בארץ On Shabbos one can attain total oneness, oneness with Hashem, oneness with himself, oneness between body and soul, and oneness between the life he lives inside his house and the life he lives under the public scrutiny.

Gut Shabbos
Rav Brazil