Why Was Ruth Allowed To Convert?

In Parshat Ki Tetze (Dvarim 23:4) We are told “lo yavo amoni umoavi bikhal Hahsem”, “An Ammonite or Moavite should not enter into the congregation of God”. The reason that they are not allowed to convert to Jusaism is given in the next verse, “Because they did not meet you with bread and water when you came out of Egypt”.

If Ammonites and Moavites are not allowed to convert, then how was Ruth, a Moaviah able to convert? The Gemara in Yevamot 76b teaches that the verse is only referring to the men. Therefore, a female Moavitess would be allowed to convert since the women were not the ones who were cruel. It was only the men who withheld the food and water.

Despite this fact, many in Ruth’s generation believed that the rule applied to all Moavites, both men and women. Many believed that Ruth’s conversion was not legitimate.

Boaz, the most important person at the time, married Ruth in order to show that her conversion was in fact legitimate. For those who still didn’t accept her conversion, a few generations later her grandson King David was born. At that point there was no more denying it.

The Torah says over and over “veahavta et hager”, “you shall love the convert”.

Unfortunately in Israel today people with legitimate conversions are being discriminated against and told that they are not really Jewish.

We must stand up and help these converts in the spirit of the mitzvah of “veahavta et hager”.