On Shavuos, which starts this evening, we read Megillath Ruth. Among the many lessons the Scroll of Ruth teaches us, aside from King David‘s genealogy, one particularly stands out in my mind… We read: U’Boaz alah hasha’ar vayeshev sham. Vehinei hago’el over, asher diber Boaz, vayomer, ‘sura shva po Ploni Almoni’ vayosar vayeshev. – Boaz, meanwhile, had gone up to the gate and sat down there. Just then, the redeemer of whom Boaz spoke passed by. He said, “Come over, sit down here, Ploni Almoni.” (Ruth 4:1).
Undoubtedly, as a relative, Boaz knew the name of the man he had just addressed, why then is he referred to here as Ploni Almony (Unnamed, or Anonymous One)? It is obvious that the author of the scroll meant this anonymity as a rebuke. What was the Unnamed One’s grievous sin, that caused such a castigation? He certainly had every right to refuse to marry Ruth, besides, he broke no halachic ruling by doing so, but… was he right?
He refused to marry Ruth “lest I imperil my inheritance (Ruth 4:5).” He refuses to marry her out of purely selfish reasons, as the Midrash explains, “Machlon and Chilion died only because they married Moabite women, shall I then go and take her?” Ruth, had not only converted to Judaism, she did forsake her land and her royal family to follow Naomi and became a poor gatherer of sheaves, but to Ploni Almoni she was still a “Moabite.”
Ruth, the convert, was destined to become the ancestress of King David and the Royal House of Israel, the ancestress of Moschiach, but Ploni Almoni was too blind, too wrapped up with himself to understand what was the right thing to do. Sometimes one must go above and beyond the minimum required by law; in Ploni Almoni‘s case, though he didn’t break any laws, though he was within his right… he was, nevertheless, wrong. He was wrong to the point where Rabbeinu Yoel Sirkis in his commentary – Be’er Mayim – brings down that the Unnamed One forfeited his p0rtion of olam haba, the world to come!
The lesson that must be learned, therefore, is that when an occasion presents itself to perform a good deed, one must not think of just him/herself; the individual must rise to the occasion and step outside the area of personal comfort and attend to the other’s needs as if they were his/her own. Then and only then, will one cease to be a Nameless Nobody, then and only then will one truly honor Hakadosh Baruch Hu, he/she will then honor the Creator far more than with all one’s prayers and fasts. By helping another with all one’s heart and without a shred of selfishness, not only will one actually become a Somebody, not only will one sincerely serve the Almighty, but he/she will accelerate the coming of Moschiach Tzidkeinu bimheiro vyomeinu!
At this time of receiving the Torah, may each one of us cease to be a Nobody, may each one of us become a Somebody worthy of one’s name!