© 2020 Drew T. Noll

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Stairway from Heaven and the Orpah Freewin Show




Moab is in Utah. I love to mountain bike there. Moab is also known for its ancient history in the Middle East and is the source of the name Moab in Utah. Moab is near Eilat, Israel near or in a place called Petra, Jordan. The ancient people that lived there carved the amazing petroglyphs in the rocks that you see today and as well, a tribe lived there from the Biblical character, Lot. Moab in Hebrew means From-Father and Lot’s daughter named her son Moab after her father. You remember the story of Lot and his daughters don’t you? The Talmud actually excuses the daughters, because after Sodom and Gomorrah, the daughters thought that they were the last people on Earth and needed to repopulate the planet. Lot, on the other hand, was reluctantly excused only for sleeping with his first daughter because of his drunken state at the time. The second time around, with his other daughter, set the stage for a vast spectrum of debasement and debauchery for the Moabites and produced a surprise ending as well with one of the highest highs that the world has or will ever see.

Ruth and Orpah were princesses of Moab. When the judges ruled in Judea and Samaria (Israel today) there was a famine and Elimelech from Bethlehem and Naomi went to stay in Moab. They brought their sons, Machlon and Kilyon, who married Ruth and Orpah. Then all the men in the family died...

Naomi and her daughters in law rose to return to the land of Judah and to Hashem. Naomi told her daughters not to come and to return to their own land, with their own mothers and in that moment, one that we all experience, Ruth clung to Naomi and to Hashem, and Orpah fell into the abyss of finite reality. This is the moment when we make our path and set our future, forever. It is possible to change our minds, but only immediately. If we wait, we lose our chance to climb as high as we can, as high as we were meant to.

“And they lifted up their voice, and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth held fast to her.”

And Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you. Wherever you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your G-d my G-d. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried; G-d do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part you and me."

Orpah joined her people and their animals and became the ancestor of Goliath, the mightiest warrior of the time. Ruth, whose name in Hebrew gematria equals 606, became a Jew. She added the 7 Noachide laws to the 606 of her name and became responsible for 613 Mitzvote (laws) of the Jews, and the Holy ancestor of King David, the progenitor of the Mashiach, may he come soon.

In that crucial moment, when we think about who is the Ruler of the World, we are helped by Hashem via Koach (Forces), Malachim (Angels), and Shadim (Demons), to move along whichever path we take. When Adam Ha’Rishon, in the Garden of Eden, chose to go the path of Orpah and to be a master of finite reality, he set in motion the shadows to blur the truth. Now we are only left with subjective opinion. (Do you ever wonder why there is so much hate and absurdity in the world?) So how do we know the truth when we see it? How did Ruth get the truth so right and Orpah get it so wrong? I think that it must have something to do with how we view our role in the world. Are we the ruler, or is Hashem? Orpah’s self was afraid and in that split second she won, for free, the idea of the comfort of princess-hood. Ruth chose to return to Hashem and in that split second, she felt the weight of her decision and her self multiplied beyond understanding. We sometimes call this faith now-a-days, but it is more than that. Faith is a label that helps us commoners to understand the idea a little. This is how the physical and the spiritual collide and combine, producing the tikkun (fix) that both we and the world need. When we take the ‘me’ out of the picture and include Hashem as a partner in the building of ourselves, we start to sew the gaps in the world.

One of the biggest tikkunim (fixes) that we can do is tomorrow evening on Shavuot. We slept in when Hashem came down the stairway from heaven to give us the Map of the Universe (the Torah or Five Books of Moses) and we try to stay up all night studying Torah to fix the gap that was created. We also read the Book of Ruth on Shavuot because returning to Hashem and sewing closed the gaps in the world is what Ruth did when she left Moab with Naomi. For Shavuot, we invite Hashem into our hearts and minds and try the best that we can to listen.

Torah is life and if we deny or ignore this, we only end up grunting on the battle field, waiting for a little red haired boy named David to sling a pebble and hit us square in the third eye, the spiritual eye, with the hope of waking us up.

Chag Sumeach!