The Book of Ruth

The story of Biblical Ruth told in five paintings

Title: Ruth Gleaning.

Title: Ruth Gleaning. Artist: Chana Helen. Painting featured in the Chabad Calendar 5777, California.

The Book of Ruth is read on Shavuot, the holiday when Jews celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai

These are some of the reasons to explain the custom:

  • Ruth, a Moabite Princess, was the model of Torah acceptance
  • Without Ruth Jewish history could not continue. Ruth and her husband Boaz were King David’s great-grand parents
  • Shavuot is the birthday and yahrtzeit (anniversary of passing) of King David
  • The scenes of harvesting described in the book of Ruth are appropriate to the Festival of Harvest

It describes the acceptance of the Torah by a single individual, Ruth, through an act of conversion.

Since all Jews were converts at Mt. Sinai, Ruth’s conversion is a reminder to Jews that they are Jews only thanks to their own act of Torah acceptance.

All paintings are in coloured inks and acrylics.

Ruth clings to Naomi, her Mother-in-law

Title: Ruth and Naomi

 

Naomi and  Ruth

Ruth was so dedicated to her mother in law, Naomi, and to G-d, that she did not want to go back to Moab, rather to go with Naomi to Bethlehem, as shown in this famous passage (which is the inspiration for my painting)

I have depicted Ruth clinging to Naomi, her Mother-in-law, in the desert, on the way to Bethlehem. Ruth says to Naomi, ‘Do not urge me to leave you. Wherever you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people are my people, and your God is my God’. (Ruth 1:16)

In the painting Ruth is gleaning (collecting left over barley) in order to provide for herself and Naomi.

Ruth is gathering leftover grain

Title: Ruth Gleaning

Ruth Gleaning

I have painted Ruth collecting left-over barley at harvest time in order to provide for herself and Naomi, her Mother-in-law, with whom she lived in Bethlehem.

Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been  harvested.

According to the of the Torah farmers should leave the corners of their fields unharvested, and they should not attempt to pick up that which was dropped or harvest any left-overs that had been forgotten when they had harvested the majority of a field. These things should be left for the poor, for strangers, widows  and orphans.

Ruth at the feet of Boaz at harvest time, Bethlehem

Title: Ruth and Boaz

 

Ruth and Boaz

 ‘Boaz ate and drank and his heart was merry. He went to lie down at the end of the grain pile, and she (Ruth) came stealthily, uncovered his feet, and lay down’. (Ruth 3:7)

Boaz redeems Ruth and all of her deceased husband's properrty

Title: The Sandal Ceremony

 

 

The Sandal Ceremony

‘So when the redeemer said to Boaz, ‘Buy it for yourself,’ he (Boaz) drew off his shoe’.  (Ruth 4:8) And Boaz said to the elders, and to all the people, ‘You are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s ….. (Ruth 4:9)

Boaz is holding up his sandal for the minyan (the ten men) at the gates of Bethlehem to see is the focus of the painting. The Redeemer is preparing to accept Boaz’s sandal.  There are other onlookers, too.  I have tried to capture the heat at the time of the barley harvest, some of which has been harvested and tied into bundles in the field behind.

Title: Naomi and Oved

Title: Naomi and Oved

 

 

 

 

    ‘So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife …..Hashem let her conceive and she bore a son’. (Ruth 4:13) ‘Naomi took the child and held him in her bosom …’. (Ruth 4:16) He was named Oved; he was the father of Jesse,the father of David HaMelech.
    October 2016 – Ruth Gleaning featured in the Chabad Calendar for 5777, California.
    Prints for sale in The Artist’s House, Be’er Sheva.
Prints for sale in  chanahelen’s Jewish Art Store online.  Please visit if you are interested in purchasing museum quality prints of the Ruth Series.

 

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