Ruth – Compensation and Reward

In Ruth 2:11-2:12, it is written as follows:
Boaz answered, saying to her: “It has been well told to me all that you did for your mother-in-law after your husband’s death – that you left your father and mother, and your birthplace, and went to a people you did not know the day before. Hashem shall compensate you for your deed, and you shall obtain full reward from Hashem, the God of Israel, as you have come to take shelter under His wings.”
The Maggid asks: Why did Boaz have to promise/bless Ruth that Hashem would reward her for her deed? We know that Hashem faithfully rewards us for our good deeds, and does not deprive anyone of reward. We can assume Ruth knew this and believed it, for Naomi had already told her about the reward for keeping the mitzvos and the penalty for violating them, as we know (cf. Ruth Rabbah 2:22-24). What, then, did Boaz mean to tell her?
The Maggid adds a further question. The Midrash says Boaz told Ruth that she would be rewarded by having King Solomon descend from her. But we know that the reward for doing mitzvos comes in the next world rather than this one (except for the wicked, whom Hashem pays right away in order to cut them off from a share in the next world). How, then, could having King Solomon in her lineage be Ruth’s reward?
The Maggid answers by analogy to a scenario described in Mishnah Bava Kamma 10:4. David and Jonathan are walking down the street. David is carrying a barrel of wine, while Jonathan is carrying a jar of honey, which is more expensive. The jar of honey breaks, and David spills out his wine to catch Jonathan’s honey.
Under the strict letter of the law, David is entitled to be paid only for the time and effort he expended in saving Jonathan’s honey. He is not halachically entitled to be compensated for the loss of wine that he incurred, for Jonathan did not agree to bear the loss of David’s wine. But if Jonathan wants to be fair and right, he should compensate David for the wine as well.
The same idea applies to Ruth. Generally speaking, doing mitzvos entitles a person to reward in the next world, but not in this one. This is the basic rule that Hashem has set down. But with Ruth it was different. Ruth originally had all the good things of this world. She grew up in the royal household of King Eglon of Moab, who was her father. But, as Boaz notes here, Ruth abandoned her royal family and opulent lifestyle in order to join the Jewish People. She spilled her wine, so to speak, for the sake of a greater good. For this deed she deserved to be compensated in this world, while still receiving her full due reward in the World to Come. This is what Boaz was telling her. “Hashem shall compensate you for your deed” – in this world, by granting you King Solomon as a descendant. “And you shall have full reward from Hashem” – in the World to Come, as is your due.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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