Overcoming the Inevitable

Or: Could Ruth Have Saved Moshe?

Rabbi Matthew Anisfeld

There are many moments in our lives where we feel driven not by choice or careful planning, but by sheer inevitability. While we might ascribe these experiences to serendipity or fate, they are so often borne of acculturation, habit, or lack of imagination. At times, this can feel paralyzing: How can we claim agency over our choices when they are shaped so deeply by unconscious expectations or ingrained patterns of behavior? The Book of Ruth, which is read each year on Shavuot, raises this very question, as its characters navigate their own conflicting senses of what is and is not possible. Upon close reading, Ruth can offer us compelling models for responding to these moments of paralysis, and reclaiming agency over our lives.