By Rabbi Shloime Lindenbaum
ותאמר רות אל תפגעי בי לעזבך…כי אל אשר תלכי אלך ובאשר תליני אלין עמך עמי ואלקיך אלקי (רות א,טז)
Rus and her mother-in-law, Naami, traveled away from בית לחם after losing their husbands and Naami insisted that Rus should go her own way, as she had nothing more to gain from staying with an old woman. Rus refused to part and stressed in numerous expressions her desire to stay with Naami, which חז”ל tell us was really her declaration that she wants to convert to Judaism. חז”ל deduce from Rus’s choice of expressions which Torah laws Naami had informed her of. The Medrash says that Naami had told her, “We do not participate in the theaters and stadiums of the non-Jews”, to which Rus responded, “Where you will go, I will go”. Naami then told her, “We do not sleep in a house that does not have a Mezuzah”, and she insisted, “Where you will sleep, I will sleep.” R’ Shimon Shwab asks, why did she tell her these laws that seem to be merely מנהגים? He quotes his son, Meir Yerucham, who answered based on the second ברכה of ברכת התורה. We praise Hashem who chose us from all the nations to give us the Torah. He explains that this “choosing” happened before we received the Torah. In Parshas Yisro, Hashem said that we will be for Him a “treasure amongst the nations, a kingdom of priest and a holy people.” This was selecting us as being special and elevated even prior to קבלת התורה. This selection demands of us exalted conduct. Even in areas that are not specifically commanded about in the Torah, we must act in a way that befits our position as Hashem’s Chosen People. This is what Naami was impressing on Rus, that aside from the basic commandments in the Torah, as the Jewish nation we must conduct ourselves in a holy way. This is why the Medrash says she chose examples of מנהגים- things not required by the letter of the law, but rather chosen by us as extra special conduct.
Various Halachos Pertaining to Shavuos
- There is a מנהג to decorate houses and shuls with flowers. If one removes opened flowers from water, they can return them to the water on Yom Tov. Closed flowers that will open from being in water may not be returned to the water on Yom Tov. No flowers may be newly placed in water on Yom Tov.
- There is a מנהג to eat dairy foods. One can fulfill this מנהג by eating dairy foods even when not part of a meal. One who eats cheesecake that the crust is merely intended to hold the cheese, should break off a piece of the crust to make מזונות and make שהכל on the cheese part. Assuming they do not eat a כזית of the cake in כדי אכילת פרס, one should not make על המחיה nor use the cheesecake to fulfill קידוש במקום סעודה.
- The מנהג is to stand for the reading of the עשרת הדברות.
(All הלכות are taken from ספר קובץ הלכות)