The Book of Ruth—The True Love

“The Bible reflects the whole of life, speaking in moods cynical and doubting, as well as those of love and faith.”

In this sermon, Rabbi Olan discusses the different kinds of love…love between men and women, love between parents and children, love for the stranger in our midst, and love for God. He chooses as the example of perfect love between people the story of Ruth, a Jew, who leaves everything that she knows to follow her mother-in-law Naomi, a Moabite, who has lost her husband and her son.

Rabbi Olan describes the love of God and the love of our neighbor as the perfect loves. These are loves given without expectation of return, and Rabbi Olan warns us that without such love in our life we will suffer loneliness and isolation.

“When the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ it was not issuing a moral or theological commandment. It was speaking a basic psychological truth. Those who cannot love are sick, they suffer the terrible anxiety of separateness.”

Text link
Audio link
Video link

*Written by Elizabeth Olan Hirsch*

(Rabbi Olan quotes The Song of Songs, the Book of Ruth, and Leon Harrison. This sermon was originally broadcast on February 10, 1963.)