What Happened to Ruth

From the text, it is clear that Ruth was a believer: "Your God will be my God," she said. But who did not believe back then, when God was young and involved?

Nevertheless, she did not leave her fate to God; she took responsibility for it. The megillah named after her is a feminist tract; there is nothing like it for extolling women.

Ruth and Naomi are assertive and opinionated, as we would say today. Have you ever heard of an "opinionated" man? It is understood that all of them are like that, and only women, whose minds are usually weak, deserve special mention when they are otherwise.

The men in this megillah are fairly weak, with a tendency to fall ill and even die. After all, what can be expected from those born of women, who are given names like Mahlon (from the Hebrew root for illness ) and Kilyon ("annihilation" )?

Only Boaz is apparently different: a veritable hero. But the two women will wind even this hero around their little fingers. Ruth, a heathen, disturbs him by coming secretly, at night, to the threshing floor, where she uncovers his feet and lies down by him. Instead of filing a complaint with the police, he proposes marriage: In modern-day language, Will you marry me? Would she have been able to entice him had she covered herself from head to toe like the so-called Taliban mother?

Women spin the threads of this plot, and the man falls into their net.

Ruth never went to a different field, but to this day, she continues to glean behind the young men. The gaps have not diminished since then; they have only gotten bigger. In their long journey through history, Ruth and Naomi have been left behind.

Today, they are kept isolated, imprisoned in their own separate compound, pushed to the rear of the bus, made to study in segregated classrooms. They were even kept separate during this year's Jerusalem Day parade. They must not sing or dance in public, lest a modern-day Boaz feel lust. Even Religious Zionism is now more afraid of its own urges than of its Maker.

Only Madonna - that utterly righteous woman and recognized convert - is today allowed to approach the Western Wall and pour out her tears on its boiling stones.

The Ruth of myth and legend obtained her revenge: Her status was enshrined for all eternity as the great-grandmother of the house of David, and also of Eli Yishai. She no longer has to beg at the minister's gates and uncover his feet. But the modern Ruth, in contrast, is a despised woman: Who can know what she goes through? She does not set events in motion or move the plot forward in conjunction with her mother-in-law.

When their husbands, those yeshiva students for life, deem Torah study their profession, the wives' profession consists, at times, of earning the family living, and always of stirring their cooking pots and changing the children's diapers. Her honor is within - deep, deep within.

In every state where religion was not separated from it at birth, women - religious and secular alike - suffer discrimination. For religion in its Orthodox form is woman's great enemy. Every religion, and every woman.

There is no substantive difference between Judaism, Christianity and Islam: All remove woman from the sacred, and none includes her in its rituals, as if God himself kept his distance from them. This exclusion is the root of oppression in all areas of life, at the personal level and at the public level. Only when it is uprooted will the oppression end.

When a female priest prays to Jesus, a female imam to Mohammed and a female rabbi - not a rebbetzin - to her father in heaven, only then will there be complete equality on earth. And Ruth will live again.