In Megillas Rus, we see the account of Rus gathering the stalks of grain in order to keep herself and her mother-in-law alive. The first day of work was done, and the Megillah tells us: “Va’tachbot es Asher Leekaytah” she beat out what she had gathered (Chapter 2, verse 17). Bearing in mind that Torah never contains a superfluous word or sentence and that each line has a meaning for our lives, we must ask ourselves, ‘what do we learn from Rus sitting there threshing out her day’s haul?’
Many are the hours of our life, crammed with many experiences. Much is the knowledge we pick up, from formal teachers and from society around us. Many are the things we hear and see. Some of what we gather is pure gold. Some of it is just trash, plain and simple.
My father, may he be well, taught me that verse from Rus when I was at the point of graduation from elementary school, and he instructed me I must sit there, reflect on past years, and thresh it all out, separate the good from the bad. Let the chaff fall away so I’d be left with only nutritious kernels. Sift through the teachings I’d recieved. Leave behind those which didn’t ring true to G-d. Retain that which would help me become a better person. Do my work of sorting and categorizing, deciding what of the past years was important to take along on my journey in life.
There would be no reason for Rus to exhaust herself hauling home chaff with the kernels. It would be foolish to carry the weight of garbage. So, too, must we, as we go through life, divest ourselves of garbage. Look back upon your life, separate out good from bad, leave bad behind and carry only the small parcel of good with you.
This is especially helpful for those who have gone through trauma. No, I’m not saying to ignore the trauma – those who repress and ignore trauma cause themselves huge emotional repercussions. I AM saying sit and thresh it out. Take the time to separate out the parts of trauma from the other parts of your life. Then leave the trauma behind, just as one would leave the chaff behind. No need to haul huge amounts of emotional garbage throughout our lives. Deal with it, beat it out, then move on past it.
We learn from Rus how our obligation is to take the time to sit down and do our work of sorting out good from bad, leave bad behind and move on with only good.
May we merit to be wise enough to carry only the nutritious emotional baggage in our souls and hearts.