Shavuot

Saturn-Day 11 June 2016

alexander-the-great- quote

323 – Deathday of Alexander The Great

1184 BC – Trojan War: Troy is sacked and burned

1194 – Fire at Chartres Cathedral

1346 – Birthday of Charles IV (the last initiate to become Holy Roman Emperor

1364 – Deathday of Agnes of Hungary, patroness of Konigsfelden monastery

1924 – Rudolf Steiner sends Ita Wegman a letter speaking about her incarnation as Alexander The Great.

1963 – Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức burns himself with gasoline in a busy Saigon intersection to protest the lack of religious freedom in South Vietnam

1963 – John F. Kennedy addresses Americans from the Oval Office proposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that would revolutionize American society. Proposing equal access to public facilities, end segregation in education and guarantee federal protection for voting right

1994 – End of Soviet occupation of East Germany

~   ~   ~

bird girl

~Birthed by a bird song

Fixed in the stars

All that I am

Released in a Whitsun wind

Said I should fly

~hag

~   ~  ~

ruthgleaning

Today begins: Shavuot, an ancient Jewish Festival that celebrates the giving of the Torah, the first harvest, & the ripening of the first fruits. In the bible, Shavuot is called by various other names: Feast of Weeks, Feast of The First Fruits& Feast of the Giving of the Law.

This year it begins at sunset tonight & goes till June 15, 2016.

The farmers of Israel would begin their spring harvests with the barley crop at Passover. The harvest continued for seven weeks as the other crops & fruits began to ripen.

As each fruit matured, the farmer would tie a ribbon around the branch. This ribbon signified that these fruits were Bikkurim, or the first fruits.

At Shavuot the farmers would gather the Bikkurim into baskets & bring them to the city of Jerusalem.The farmers living close would bring fresh fruits, while those who had to travel a long distance carried dried raisins, figs, etc.

This joyful journey was celebrated with the music of fifes, timbres, & drums. As the pilgrims approached the city walls they were greeted by the inhabitants of the city.

Along with being a Harvest holiday & celebrating the Revelation of Torah; Shavuot honors the spiritual journey of Ruth:

The Scroll of Ruth is sung & celebrated as an integral part of the Jewish & Christian liturgical years; sections of it are also recited as part of the Protestant wedding ceremony.

A number of biblical scholars, have speculated that the Book of Ruth may have been written by a woman – its story is not only expressed entirely from a woman’s point of view, but the grammar of the original Hebrew shows an unusual content of gender equality, & only in Ruth do we find the unique feminine dual Hebrew endings. In fact the name “Ruth” literally means, “woman friend.”

There is also a hidden teaching in Ruth, a kind of women’s mysteries, & an allegory of the spiritual marriage.

The tender friendship between Ruth & Naomi, so unusual with a mother-in-law, has been celebrated in poetry, in prose & in art the world round. The scene between Naomi & her daughters in parting is bittersweet. As soon as Naomi decided to return to her own country, her 2 daughters in-law, whose husbands had died, assisted her in making the necessary preparations. Ruth secretly made her own, having decided to go with Naomi to the land of Judea.

When the appointed day arrived, mounted on three gray donkeys, they departed. A few miles out Naomi proposed to rest by the roadside to say farewell, &, after thanking them for all the love & kindness they had shown her, advised them to go no farther, but return to their home in that land of plenty. She told them frankly that life with her in a new strange land, would be hard, & she didn’t want them to sacrifice all the pleasures of their young lives for her.

Sad & lonely with the loss of their husbands, parting with Naomi seemed to intensify their grief. United in a common sorrow, the three women stood gazing in silence into each other’s faces, until Naomi, with her usual self-control & common sense, again pointed out to them all the hardships involved. Her words made a deep impression on Orpah. She hesitated & at last decided to abide by Naomi’s advice; but not Ruth.

Naomi had a peculiar magnetic attraction for Ruth, a charm stronger than kindred, country or ease. Her expressions of steadfast friendship in making her decision were so tender & sincere that they have become household words. She said: “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”

Having bade farewell to Orpah, they journeyed together & made a home for themselves in Bethlehem. Naomi owned a small house, on the outskirts of town. After a few days of rest, Ruth said to Naomi, I must not sit here with folded hands, or spend my time in visiting neighbors, or in search of amusement, but I must go to work, to provide food & clothes.

Since it was the season for the wheat & barley harvests, Ruth heard that laborers were needed in the fields. It was evident that Ruth believed in the dignity of labor & of self-support. She threw her whole soul into her work & proved a blessing to her mother.

Naomi remembered that she had a rich kinsman, Boaz, whose name means strength. Ruth was employed in the field of Boaz; & in due time he took note of the fair maiden from Moab.

In harvest time he needed many extra hands, & he came often among the reapers to see how the work went. He heard such good accounts of Ruth’s industry, dignity & discretion that he ordered his men to make her work as easy as possible, to leave plenty for her to glean & to carry home in the evening. This she often sold on the way, & bought something which Naomi needed.

Naomi & Ruth enjoyed their evenings together. Naomi did not spend the day in idleness either. She had her spinning-wheel & loom to make their garments; she worked also in her garden, raising vegetables, herbs & chickens; & they talked over their day’s labor as they enjoyed their simple supper of herb tea, bread & watercress. Their menu was often made more tempting, thanks to Ruth’s generous purchases on her way home.

Boaz was the son of Salmon & Rahab, & according to the Chaldee, was not only a mighty man in wealth but also in wisdom, a most rare & excellent conjunction. Boaz was of the family of Elimelech, of which Ruth, by marriage, was a part also. Since Ruth had adopted the country of Naomi & was a proselyte to her faith, her marriage with Boaz was in accordance with Jewish custom. Boaz prized Ruth for her virtues, for her great moral qualities of head & heart.

Naomi was told by the spirit of prophecy, that from Ruth’s line should descend the most righteous men of the age, namely, David, Daniel, & the King Messiah.

In due time the prayer was answered, & Ruth bore a son. Naomi loved the child & shared in its care. But Ruth said: “The love of Naomi is more to me than that of seven sons could be.” Naomi was a part of Ruth’s household to the day of her death & shared all of her luxuries & happiness.

The child’s name was Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. The name Obed signifies one who serves. (The motto of the Prince of Wales is ich dien – “I serve.” )

On Shavuot, folks light candles, decorate with greenery, eat dairy food, study Torah, attend prayer services, & read the Book of Ruth.

Tomorrow we return to our study of St. John’s Tide

Until soon

Blessings and Peace ~Hazel Archer Ginsberg

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