It was summer 2014, and Israel was at war. Tourists were sparse and so were volunteers. I was in a field outside Rehovot, picking daloriyot (butternut squash) alongside a dozen other visitors. And I was thinking of Ruth the Moabite.
In the Book of Ruth, which is read on Shavuot, Ruth and Naomi return to Bethlehem from their tragic sojourn in Moab, and Ruth goes to the fields to collect grain for herself and her mother-in-law. Leviticus (19:9-10 and 23:22) and Deuteronomy (24:19) state that the gleanings of the field belong to people who are poor, immigrants, orphans, or widows – and Ruth belongs to at least three of these categories. As a Moabite woman, whose husband died and who has arrived empty-handed in Bethlehem, Ruth is among the most vulnerable people in the land.