Most rabbis do not allow conversion for ulterior motives (e.g to marry a Jew), because it is not for the sake of God.

Let us look at the words of the prototypal convert in the Tanach. What did she say?

And Ruth said, Do not entreat me to leave you, or to keep from following you; for wherever you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God; Where you die, will I die, and there will I be buried; the Lord do so to me, and more also, if even death parts me from you. (Ruth 1:16-17)

Does she talk about her love of God, of Israel, of Judaism, of monotheism, or such? No. She talks only about her love of Naomi. So why was she accepted and held up as an example?


1 Answer 1


The Gemora (Yevamos 47b) explains that Ruth was actually answering Naomi's unwritten questions

אמרה לה אסיר לן תחום שבת (רות א, טז) באשר תלכי אלך אסיר לן יחוד (רות א, טז) באשר תליני אלין

Naomi said to her: On Shabbat, it is prohibited for us to go beyond the Shabbat limit. Ruth responded: “Where you go, I shall go” (Ruth 1:16), and no further. Naomi said to her: It is forbidden for us to be alone together with a man with whom it is forbidden to engage in relations. Ruth responded: “Where you lodge, I shall lodge” (Ruth 1:16),

מפקדינן שש מאות וי"ג מצות (רות א, טז) עמך עמי אסיר לן עבודת כוכבים (רות א, טז) ואלהיך אלהי ארבע מיתות נמסרו לב"ד (רות א, יז) באשר תמותי אמות ב' קברים נמסרו לב"ד (רות א, יז) ושם אקבר

Naomi told her: We are commanded to observe six hundred and thirteen mitzvot. Ruth responded: “Your people are my people” (Ruth 1:16). Naomi said to her: Idolatrous worship is forbidden to us. Ruth responded: “Your God is my God” (Ruth 1:16). Naomi said to her: Four types of capital punishment were handed over to a court with which to punish those who transgress the mitzvos. Ruth responded: “Where you die, I shall die” (Ruth 1:17). Naomi said to her: Two burial grounds were handed over to the court, one for those executed for more severe crimes and another for those executed for less severe crimes. Ruth responded: “And there I shall be buried” (Ruth 1:17).

מיד ותרא כי מתאמצת היא וגו':‏

Immediately “And when she saw that she was steadfastly minded she left off speaking with her” (Ruth 1:18) i.e she let her remain because she was a genuine convert.

  • This does not answer the question. It only shows that Ruth responded to the teachings by expressing her attachment to Naomi. Dec 4, 2019 at 17:09

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