Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
How and why do people change? I heard the following thought from Rebbetzin Esther Wein of New York.
“There were three people in history who succeeded in changing who they were and became Jews in the process, each by a different path. Avraham Avinu investigated the world, saw all of creation, arrived at faith in God, and became the father of the Jewish nation. He reached this status through scientific analysis, research, logic, use of his mind. The second person to change himself while becoming a Jew was Yitro (Jethro), a pagan priest, who joined the Jewish nation by way of an examination of history, an appreciation of miracles, and an understanding of God’s involvement in world events. He saw the Exodus from Egypt, the splitting of the Red Sea – and converted to the faith of his son-in-law.
On Shavuot we read the story of Ruth whose path was entirely different. Ruth joined our nation after meeting a good and pleasant person. Naomi, true to her name (Naomi is derived from na’im or pleasant), was pleasant above all. She was a straightforward woman who was full of kindness and compassion. Her pleasantness, day in and day out, found favor in the eyes of Ruth who simply wanted to stay by her side. During that time, Naomi became a widow, impoverished and alone, yet despite all this – the fact that she was a wonderful person with values was enough to change Ruth. This pleasantness attracted Ruth, caused her to join our people, and from her descendants King David was born.”
Have a happy Shavuot!