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Over their years of marriage, they had become attached to Judaism.
They wanted to become full-fledged Jewesses, observing the faith and living in the Land. 1:8, and ; the Talmud derives from her the number of times a potential convert is to be dissuaded).
As is clear from the Talmud (Yevamot 47b), they were not doing so as a mere courtesy.
They too wanted to enter and reside in the Land of Israel.
And Goliath fell to David in battle – in what was in essence a battle between two worldviews – physical versus spiritual.
As the Talmud (Sotah 42b) puts it, “The Holy One blessed be He said, ‘Let the sons of the kissed one (of Orpah, whom Naomi kissed goodbye) fall in the hands of the sons of the one who cleaved.’” The story of Ruth and Orpah is thus a tale of mankind’s enormous potential for accomplishment – and the incredibly high stakes involved depending how he uses that potential.
The commandments of the Torah are not simply acts to perform, ways of earning heavenly reward.
They are a means of developing ourselves, of directing our drive to achieve towards spirituality and perfecting the world.
The Book of Ruth begins with a tale of famine in the Holy Land.
Elimelech of Bethlehem departs the country for Moab, taking his wife Naomi and their two sons along. His wife and sons stay on, and the sons marry non-Jewish women – Moabite princesses by the names of Ruth and Orpah.
How did a woman with such potential greatness go to such wild extremes? She was willing to give her all for her beliefs, to follow Naomi no matter what the cost. If a person has the potential for greatness (as we all do) and misuses it, he can take those same enormous energies and use them for the bad. Instead of becoming a spiritual giant, she became a mother of physical giants.