ישלם ה' פעלך ותהי משכרתך שלימה מעם ה' אשר באת לחסות תחת כנפיו.
“May Hashem reward your deeds and may your reward be complete from Hashem, under whose wings you came to be sheltered.” (Megillas Rus).
In this verse, Boaz is blessing Rus (Ruth) for her kindness towards her widowed mother-in-law Naomi. The Midrash comments on these words: “For you came to be sheltered.” What is the meaning of this puzzling comment? What is the Midrash adding to the verse that the verse itself is not telling us?
Another obvious question is why the verse repeats itself by saying again that her reward should be complete from Hashem. The commentators answer that the first part of the verse, “May Hashem reward your deeds,” refers to reward given in this world, and the second part of the verse, “May your reward be complete from Hashem,” is a blessing for the world to come.
The Gemara tells us that “there is no reward for mitzvos in this world.” How then could Boaz bless Rus that she should be rewarded in this world?
Our sages tell us that the reward of the mitzvah depends on the difficulty involved in performing it. According to how much the person extended himself and was willing to suffer or be inconvenienced for the mitzvah, that’s how his reward will be determined. If a person performed a mitzvah at great personal sacrifice by inconveniencing his physical self, then he will receive some reward in this world as well. This is because in the World to come the body cannot receive its well-deserved reward, so it has to be given in this world.
Rus came from the royal family of Moav. She was a princess who grew up amidst tremendous riches and pleasures. She left all of that behind to accompany her lonely mother-in-law to Eretz Yisroel at great personal sacrifice. She did all this out of the kindness of her heart. Naomi urged her to go home to her father’s palace, but Rus insisted on converting to Judaism. Due to the physical hardships that she took upon herself for the sake of Heaven, she deserved to be rewarded in this world.
This is the meaning of the verse: “May Hashem reward your deeds” – in this world. How is this possible when mitzvos are not usually rewarded in this world? The Midrash answers this unspoken question by reiterating: “For you came to be sheltered,” you threw away royalty and riches despite the personal hardships involved, and therefore you deserve to be rewarded in this world too.
We can say the same thing about other mitzvos as well. The holy Baal Shem Tov instituted the practice of gathering on Friday night. It isn’t always easy to do this; often the Chassidim gather at great personal discomfort. It is important to remember that according to the discomfort one suffers for the sake of Heaven that is how great the reward will be – even in this world, because the person is suffering physically.
The two words in the verse “אשר באת – for you came,” spell out the words “שבת, שבת – sitting together on Shabbos.” The remaining letter share the numerical value of the word “רב –great.” It is indeed a great thing to gather together on Shabbos,and for that, the reward from Hashem will be complete, in both worlds.