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I heard in a shiur once that Rus' and her sister Orpa's conversion to Judaism was pending. Meaning, when they married Na'ami's sons, they converted. However, since they converted for marriage, it was dependant on their holding true to their religion. Once their husbands died and Na'ami returned to the land of Israel, Orpa decided to go back to her roots. This undid her conversion. Na'ami and Rus's whole dialogue about conversion (Yevamos 47b) was therefore to see if she'll stick to Judaism or leave it. Since she stuck with it, it was cemented forever. This was apparently the Tsafenas Paneach's understanding of the Rambam.

I have never been able to find this Tsafenas Paneach. Where does he say it?

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It seems to have been written in Tzofenat Pa'aneach by Rabbi Yosef de Trani, AKA the Maharit (not the one by Rabbi Yosef Ruzin), in his drush on Ruth Rabbati (emphasis mine):

"או תמצי לומר שכבר נכנסה בברית מתחילה:

ועוד יש לפרש, "ישלם ה' פעלך" בעולם הזה "ותהי משכורתך שלמה" בעולם הבא, דגמילות חסדים אדם אוכל משכרה בעולם הזה והקרן קיימת לו לעולם הבא. וכי תימא הא כיון דגרים מעונים בעולם הזה ויסורין באים עליהם היאך אתה אומר שיאכלו בעולם הזה, נמצא שאוכלים עולמם בחייהם; לכך נתן טעם ד"באת לחסות תחת כנפיו" ואתיא כהא דאמר בהחולץ: "מפני ששהו עצמן", וזו לא שהתה, ומייתי לה מהך קרא דכתיב "אשר באת לחסות" ופירש רש"י: "שמהרת ולא אחרת".

"וקשה דהא ודאי אחרה לבא כל זמן שהיתה נשואה למחלון, שהרי עכשיו היתה באה להתגייר שחמותה היתה דוחה אותה דכתיב: "שובנה בנותי לכנה וגו'", ובגמרא: "מאי אמרה לה, איכא תחום שבת וכו', 'באשר תלכי אלך' וכו'". ויש לפרש שבתחילה נתגיירו בשעת נישואין, אלא שלא סמכה דעתה של רות על זה - שמא על דעת הנישואין נתגיירה כמו שמצינו בשלמה ושמשון כדכתב הרמב"ם בפרק י"ב מהלכות מלכים, והרי ערפה הלכה לה אלא שרות דבקה בה; לכך אמר לה בועז, ידעתי כי מתחילתך בואך דהיינו שידעה טיבן של ישראל "באת לחסות" לשם שמים ולא לשם דבר אחר.

...ויראה דמחלון לא היה לו עוון כי אם שנתייאש מן הגאולה ויצא לחוץ לארץ ונעשה חולין, אבל עוון נישואין לא היה לו לפי שרות לשם שמים נתגיירה והוכיח סופה על תחילתה שנקבעה בבית לחם יהודה."

Translation:

"Or you might wish to say that she entered the covenant from the beginning.

So we must further explanation "May the LORD reward your deeds" in this world "May you have a full recompense" in the world to come, for in the case of charity, man enjoys its reward in this world, and the he principal remains for him in the world to come. And if you shall say that since converts suffer in this world, and sufferings come upon them, how can you say that they are rewarded in this world, for you would find that they are enjoying their reward during their lifetimes; for this reason he gave the reason of "under whose wings you have sought refuge", and he followed the direction of he who said in chapter Hacholetz "because they waited" and she didn't wait, and this can be seen from the verse "you have sought refuge" and Rashi explained: "That you hastened and were not late".

And this is difficult, for of course she was late, for all of the duration of time that she was married to Machlon, for only now she came to convert, for her mother-in-law tried to dismiss her, as it says: "Turn back, my daughters go etc", and in the gemara: "What did she tell her, there's a Shabbat boundary etc", 'Where you go, I shall go', etc". And so we must explain that at first they converted when they married, but Ruth did not put her faith in this, for perhaps it was due to the marriage that she converted, as we find by Shimshon and Shlomo, as the Rambam wrote in the 12th chapter of Hilchot Melachim, and after all, Orpah left but Ruth stuck to her; for this Boaz said to her I knew when you first came, meaning, that she knew the nature of Yisrael and "sought refuge" for the will of Heaven and not for any other reason.

...And it may be seen that Machlon did not have any sin but the sin of losing hope in the redemption and his leaving of the land and becoming profane, but he did not have a sin of [illegal] marriage, for Ruth converted for the will of Heaven, and what she did in the end proved what she did in the beginning, as she settled in Beit Lechem Yehudah."

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  • @robev thanks. For some reason I keep forgetting you can link Otzar Hachochmah.
    – Harel13
    Jan 10 at 13:24

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