Ruth and Orpah teach us that you can’t achieve anything without setbacks

Ruth and Orpah – there is nothing without setbacks

Continuing the series of translations of Rabbi Eliezer Berland’s words from the You will succeed! book. Click HERE to buy the book in Hebrew.


It’s explained that when a goy (non-Jew) came to Shammai the Elder, and asked him to let him convert when standing on one leg, Shammai pushed him away. This goy wanted to convert on one leg!

The explanation of this, is that he wanted the Torah, without any setbacks.

And there is no such thing, to have no failures!


This is what Orpah wanted, to not have any setbacks.

Orpah wanted to have no ‘downs’. She mourned and wailed, she cried, but she said promise me, that I will not have any failures.

Naomi said, this I can’t promise you. You need to gather ears of grain. You want things without any ‘downs’, that you will just be wealthy, and a millionaires. No! You need to gather ears of grain.

She said to her, you know what, don’t convert. You are going to experience setbacks! There will be zigzags. Sometimes you’ll feel it, and sometimes you won’t. Sometimes you’ll see Hashem, and sometimes you won’t see Hashem.

And so, only Ruth went the distance.


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A person has setbacks, he has things he’s missing, he’s in mochin de’katnut (small mindedness).

But if he would see the light, so then it would all be finished.

Today, you’re not seeing it. But tomorrow, you’re going to see it again.


Orpah wanted [to convert], she cried, she really wept, how can I leave such noam[1]? Where am I going to go? Back to Moav? To the Philistines?

Ruth said to her, you know, there are many setbacks, and this is not a simple matter. This is not ‘on one foot’. It can’t progress, just on one leg. Only if you are prepared to endure all of this, and to go and collect ears of grain in the fields.

And she said to her – this I don’t want! To gather ears of grain?! I’m a princess! How can I go and gather ears of grain?!

But Ruth said, wherever you die, I will die, and wherever you go I will go, and there I will be buried. I don’t care about collecting ears of grain. I don’t care to die of hunger.

I saw such a light, I don’t care about anything else.



[1] The Rav is making a play on words. In Hebrew, ‘noam’ means pleasantness, and of course it’s almost the name of Naomi.


For the first time in English: Tefilla L’Ani for Shavuot

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