Shavuot Harvesting Compassion

The Talmud (Shavuot 39a) teaches that members of the Jewish community are responsible for each other. In simple terms, we are interconnected and must be invested in the mental wellness and overall well-being of everyone. We must be willing, informed and prepared to help one another, because we all benefit. Ruth was committed to caring for Naomi; recognizing that Naomi was facing hardship, Ruth dedicated herself to her care, honoring the web of interdependence woven between them and, in a similar way, among Jews everywhere. Beyond the idea that all Jews are responsible for one another (kol Yisrael arevim zeh la zeh), the rabbis teach the value of supporting another person (Pirkei Avot 6:6).

The story of Ruth and Naomi’s special friendship illustrates this. When faced with struggles, Naomi urges her daughter-in-law to turn back to their own land, their own people and their own gods. But Ruth refuses to leave her. 

Together, Ruth and Naomi confront many difficulties but are able to overcome them, because they support each other – exemplifying the middah nosei b’ol im chaveiro.

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