One of the issues that always seems to pique the interest and curiosity of
my students in the introductory level at Ohr Somayach is the subject of
gilgulim, the transmigration of souls. Whenever the subject is broached,
even on a peripheral level, it inevitably triggers an avalanche of queries.
Why the need for gilgul? Is it true that some sinners are reincarnated into
animals? How many times are our souls recycled? If one marries a second
time, which soul is one destined to live with for eternity in the next world?
I immediately put out a disclaimer, telling my students that these esoteric
matters are beyond our comprehension and it is preferable not to delve into
them too deeply. Yet it is too difficult to steer the discussion away from
such a thought-provoking subject.
In Megilas Rus however, we do get a faint glimpse of the sublime heavenly
pathway that Hashem prepares for all souls, enabling them to realize their
ultimate mission and destiny.
On its simplest level, Megilas Rus is a gripping and inspiring narrative.
The nation's leader Elimelech, a grandson of Nachson and a scion of the
kingly tribe of Judah, had abandoned his coreligionists in their hour of
need. During a famine in the holy land, he moved with his wife, Naomi, and
sons, Machlon and Kilyon, to neighboring Moav, to protect his wealth. He was
punished severely fort his grievous sin. The two daughters of Eglon, King of
Moav, Rus and Orpah, were attracted to his sons' noble bearing and good
character and in short order they married. Tragedy strikes the family,
however, with the demise of Elimelech, the loss of his wealth and the tragic
passing of both of his sons. It seems that Elimelech's illustrious family's
lineage had been abruptly aborted, with the souls of Machlon and Kilyon
unable to perpetuate their rich legacy for eternity.
The narrative continues with the Moabite women accompanying Naomi, their
righteous mother-in-law, towards the border of Israel. When Naomi exhorts
them to return, Rus cannot bring herself to part from her. Her unconditional
brace of Naomi is in effect an unconditional embrace of Torah and Mitzvos,
and the nascent spark of spirituality that had lain dormant in her ancestor
Lot was thus ignited.
We know that with every union between man and woman, a bonding of souls
takes place. Machlon's neshama is embedded deep within Rus and it falls to
Boaz, the redeemer, to perform the mitzvah of yibum and provide solace and
tikun to Machlon's soul. Elimelech's legacy and that of his family, is thus
redeemed. From the union of Boaz and Rus emerge the soul of King David and
the ultimate redeemer, the Melech Hamoshiach.
Perhaps, the most inspiring part of the entire narrative is its underlying
message: No Jew Shall be Left Behind. Even those who have wandered far away
from their ancestral moorings will be redeemed by the Melech Hamoshiach, a
scion of Judah who will unite us as one and re-bond us together to out
Father in heaven.
The means Dovid Hamelech used to achieve were often cryptic and seemingly
controversial. The Talmud tells us that we should not be deluded into
reading the narrative of Dovid and his seemingly illicit encounter with
Bassheva on a superficial level. "Whoever says Dovid sinned," explains the
Gemora "is in completely error." King David consorted with Bassheva in order
to teach future generations the power of Teshuva. Similarly, the Talmud in
Sanhedrin teaches us that King David wished to serve idols, in order to got
through the process of repentance and to redeem even those souls that have
strayed from G-d, denying his existence and rebelling against His very being.
Like Elimelech and Machlon, we all trace our lineage back to our Patriarch
Jacob; we all have royal blood flowing in our veins. It will only be a mater
of time before our souls will also experience their elevation and
reconnection at the end of time, to be suffused with the light of the
Shecihna and bonded forever with our Divine source.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos and an inspiring Kabbolas HaTorah,
Rabbi Naftali Reich
Text Copyright © 2013 by Rabbi Naftali Reich and Torah.org.
Rabbi Reich is on the faculty of the Ohr Somayach Tanenbaum Education Center.