Every single pasuk except 8 in megillat Ruth starts with the letter vav. Is there any reason for this or is it just a quirk of how it was written? If there is a reason, what about the 8 pesukim which do not start with a vav?

  • 5
    Most p'sukim in Tana"ch start with a vav. The overwhelming majority of p'sukim in the Torah start with a vav, with the numbers declining overall from beginning to end. Additionally, the presence of opening vav_s is often explained by association with the presence of narratives. _M'gilas Rus is largely narrative. But see the comment of Rada"k on the first word of Y'hoshu'a.
    – WAF
    Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 2:10
  • @WAF is there any other book in tanach where 91% of the pesukim start with a vav? I can't find any that are even close to that. Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 2:16
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    There is not. But there is a good paper about the distribution of pasuk-initial-וs, which I am having trouble locating. In direct answer to your question, someone suggests that the letter ו stands for אמת and its abundance in Rus owes to that trait's prominence therein.
    – WAF
    Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 2:19
  • 1
    @WAF, it sounds as though you have an answer or two to post, below.
    – msh210
    Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 6:14
  • @DannySchoemann - betemunah.org/conundrum.html Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 15:59

3 Answers 3


The Yalkut Shimoni (Ruth, 608) makes the same observation: (translation mine)

Rabbi Chiyya says "All the starts of verses in Ruth have "Vav"s except for 8, since she cleaved to the Covenant that was given on the eighth day (circumcision). The justifcation for the "vav"s is : Woe ("Vai") to the generation that judges their judges. Woe to the generation whose strong ones are low.

See also Tosfos Hashalem (4:24 note 4) and Chida in Simchas Haregel (beginning note 7) who discuss this and some midrashic / mystical interpretations.

Text of Yalku Shimoni Text of Yalku Shimoni


Chida: every single Passuk begins with a vov aside for 8 pesukim, the eight verses begin with 8 letters YUD SHIN AYIN YUD BEIS ALEPH HEH LAMED. His students explained that the letters can be read as YISH’I B’OHEL. All the pesukim begin with a vov, a link, but my salvation comes from the ohel (tent), that Moavite males were responsible and not the females comes from (in one answer of the gemara) the fact that Sarah was B’OHEL. As the story of Rus is the story of Dovid's lineage and as many meforshim point out that the backdrop to the story is whether a Moavite can become Jewish, and as we know Moavi v'lo Moavis (male converts from Moav cannot marry into the Jewish congregation, but females can) the reason being, as the Gemara says (Kedushin I think) that the women were not blamed for not going out to help the Yidden because Kol Kevuda Bas Melech Penima, that women are meant to be modest and not mingle with people outside the community. This is what is alluded to by Yishi BeOhel that Sarah did not come outside and mingle with the guests rather she stayed inside the tent.

  • Moabites are considered Benei Melech?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 5:51

Rabbi Allen Schwartz points out this phenomenon and states that the same pattern of every verse except 8 beginning with a vav also exists in parshat Vayeishev. He explains that this is done to show that every detail of the story is woven together and is included in the finale of the story.

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    Also, all 8 exceptions are in the middle of speech, so are not really exceptions to this approach.
    – magicker72
    Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 23:13

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