Ruth, the heroine of the biblical book that bears her name, was the first convert to Judaism. Painting by James Tissot, ca. 1900
Ruth, the heroine of the biblical book that bears her name, was the first convert to Judaism. Painting by James Tissot, ca. 1900

A letter from Ruth the Moabite to King Donald of America

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King Donald,

I am an immigrant to your country. The last time I was an immigrant, I was called a Moabite. I think in your country, this is now called “Mexican.”

The last time I was an immigrant, I was greeted with great generosity by a farmer named Boaz. When he realized I needed work, he offered me the open job of gleaning in the corners and even in the main parts of the fields he owned.

The laws of God in that country required this, but he went beyond them. I understand in your country there has been great concern about sexual harassment of workers; Boaz explicitly warned his workmen not to harass me. I never had to join the #MeToo movement.

Even more surprising, Boaz discovered that my husband — who died in Moab (or Mexico) while we were living there — was a distant cousin of his, and he realized that in his country there was an obscure law that if a husband dies without a child, his widow is entitled to marry his brother or another person who is kin. So Boaz asked me to marry him, and I said yes!

I had one child, and then I decided that was enough for me. So I made sure to have no other children; my mother-in-law Naomi taught me how. Even once when I became pregnant again.

The people I have met in my few days here have described your country in very puzzling terms. Some of them claim it is “America,” a land of open possibility and inclusion, one that welcomes immigrants and refugees and honors women.

Others say that it, and in particular you, really come from a community that is pronounced in very similar ways but has a very different reputation: Amalek, or maybe “Amalek-ah.”

In that country,  so I’m told, there is great hatred for immigrants, especially those called “Mexicans.” There is great fear that they — I should say “we” — are taking jobs away from Amalek-ans if we do jobs like gleaning in the fields. And in that country, harassment of women workers is rampant.

I do not see how this can be the same country, but many people claim it is.

My friends tell me that America/Amalek-ah is hoping to go to war with a country named Iran. When I lived in Moab, it was called Persia. Then I had, and I still have, many friends and relatives there.

I am writing to tell you that I hope you will not do this.

The people there believe in one God, just as people here do, and it would be terribly unjust if you were to bomb them or starve them by refusing to let them trade with all the world. Especially terrible because they agreed to give up the weapons you were so afraid of, and agreed to let inspectors from many countries poke under every barn and building to make sure they are not cheating. And they are not!

I also hear that some in your country — I think the part called Amalek-ah — want to insist that the king gets to decide how many children any woman gets to have. I think this is unjust.

My friends tell me that there is a whole book about my life that many people in your country read and study on the day you celebrate the coming of Great Wisdom. That very much surprises me, since I am just a simple country woman.

They even say that this book about me was written as a result of the Persian king letting my descendants go home from a long exile. So that makes me even sadder if you are planning to make war or starvation against those people.

My friends say there is a prophecy in the book about me that my great-grandchildren will include a just and kindly king, and that his great-great-great-great-grandchildren will bring in an era of great peace and justice.

Since you seem to be a king, I imagined that in this country you might be the just and kindly king they talked — my descendant, how exciting that would be! But I cannot see how that is possible if you bomb and starve my relatives, if you hate immigrants like me, if you yourself harass women and order us to have more children even if we do not want to.

So please explain to me whether you are King of America or Amalek-ah, and in any case please do not make war or starvation upon Iran.

Blessing of peace, Shalom, Salaam and sohl be upon you and both your countries!

Signed,
Ruth of Moab
(Forwarded by her scribe, Rabbi Arthur Waskow)

Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Rabbi Arthur Waskow is the founding director of The Shalom Center in Philadelphia.  A leader in the Jewish Renewal movement, he has taught at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, is a prolific author, and created the original Freedom Seder” in 1969.