According to the commentary at the bottom of the Artscroll TaNa"Ch, in the beginning of the book of Ruth, Na'omi attempted to dissuade her daughters-in-law from following and staying connected to her because she was being punished severely for her sins, and they'd only suffer by their association with her. The commentary states (1:13):

Realizing that they wanted to go with her, Na'omi said, "I cannot bear to see you suffer on my account, for you are sinless; it was for my sins that [G-d] has been punishing me."

This does not seem to be the plain meaning of the verse. In fact, even the Artscroll's own translation renders it:

...I am very embittered on account of you, for the hand of Hashem has gone forth against me.

1: Where does Artscroll get that she is stating that her life is bitter because of her sins and that it would harm her daughters-in-law to stay with her?

2: What were her sins? According to a plain reading of the first few verses, Elimelech is the one who took the family out of Eretz Yisrael. The Alshich* and the sources he cites explain why Elimelech's actions were so bad as to deserve death. But nowhere do I see (yet) anything making the case that Na'omi was his co-equal sinner. The closest I've seen so far is that she is kept alive so that she can be a mentor and guide to Ruth, whose family tree will eventually yield David and the royal family. So what exactly did she do wrong?

*(I've only looked in the Alshich so far, because Artscroll quotes him quite a bit in its commentary, and it also happens to be the only other commentary I have handy.)

  • And yeah, I know. How do I just happen to have ספרי רבינו האלשיך הקדוש באור חמש מגלות, but not a single edition of Ruth or a complete TaNa"Ch with Rashi?! I just noticed this today!
    – Seth J
    Dec 8, 2013 at 4:02
  • 1
    Here's Rashi. Couldn't it just be something like ishto kegufo?
    – Isaac Moses
    Dec 8, 2013 at 4:25
  • @Isaac, thanks. Forgot to check Chabad.org before posting. Doesn't seem to add much, though. And yes, it could be, but it emphasizes in the verses that everything was being driven by Elimelech. In fact, Alshich says this emphasis in the verses is deliberate, and shows that it was mostly his doing, which partly explains his punishment.
    – Seth J
    Dec 8, 2013 at 4:33
  • @Isaac, check out Rashi on 1:3, where he says that as Elimelech's wife, Naomi is subordinate to him, and therefore his he bears the full brunt of Divine justice. But I'm not sure if that strengthens or helps answer the question.
    – Seth J
    Dec 8, 2013 at 4:42

1 Answer 1


The Malbim (Rus 1:3 s.v. ותשאר האשה) infers from the words ותשאר היא, Na'omi remained [in S'dei Mo'av] that even though the primary sin of leaving was on Elimelech (Malbim s.v. איש נעמי) she did not take the lesson from his death that she should go back to Israel, rather she continued to remain in Mo'av.

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