Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. My Name Is Ruth

 

When life tosses what looks like a barrier in our path, we are often stunned and confused. We duck, or try to move around it, or decide to retreat. But once we realize that the barrier cannot be avoided and is not really a barrier, but perhaps even a blessing, we discover that we can choose to move through it and take the path of the unknown and the potential blessings that might ensue.

That’s what I’m trying to do with my diagnosis of breast cancer. And already the blessings and good wishes are overwhelming; I can hardly believe that so many people care. Each person offers me an opportunity for gratitude, humility and the strength to move through what may be a difficult time, and will likely be a life-changing experience.

A few days ago, I had the good fortune of having one friend, @iwe, reach out to me in a deeply meaningful way. In the Jewish tradition, a child or convert is given a Hebrew or Yiddish name. In my case, I know that I was given a name, but I have no memory of it. (My mother mentioned it to me once and I didn’t make a note of it back in my barely Jewish days.)

It turns out, though, that a Hebrew name has significance. Here is an explanation :

Hebrew names are used in prayer in and out of synagogue and for other religious rituals. When a person is called up in synagogue for an aliyah (the honor of reciting a blessing over a Torah reading, he is called up by his Hebrew name. The names that appear on a ketubah (marriage contract) or on a get (writ of divorce) are Hebrew names. When people are ill and mi shebeirakh prayers are recited for their well-being, they are identified by Hebrew names. When a deceased person is remembered through the Yizkor prayers recited on certain holidays, the Hebrew name is used. Jewish tombstones sometimes carry the Hebrew name instead of or side-by-side with the secular name.

There is also this description :

Your Hebrew name is your spiritual call sign, embodying your unique character traits and G‑d-given gifts. Ideally, you should use it 24 hours a day, not just when you’re called to the Torah or when prayers are offered on your behalf. Your Hebrew name functions as a conduit, channeling spiritual energy from G‑d into your soul and your body. This is why, say the Chassidic masters, an unconscious person will often respond and be revived when his or her name is called. According to Jewish custom, a critically ill person is sometimes given an additional Hebrew name — somewhat like a spiritual bypass operation to funnel fresh spirituality around their existing name and into their bodies; with the influx of spirituality, the body is given renewed vigor to heal itself.

My friend, @iwe, was one Jew among several who had asked for my Jewish name, in vain. And he knew that G-d would accept prayers for me, regardless. But he asked his rabbi what could be done in a situation where I (who had the good fortune to meet the rabbi) essentially was without a Hebrew name. The rabbi had a simple answer for me: pick one. Of course, there are many female Hebrew names, so I was befuddled about whom to choose. Then Mrs. @iwe suggested that I pick the name of a woman from Torah whom I admired. That was easy: Ruth.

Ruth was a woman of courage, loyalty, devotion, faith, kindness and determination. As a non-Jew, she had married a Hebrew. Then her husband died, as did the husband of her mother-in-law, Naomi. And when Naomi wanted to return to her original home, Ruth insisted on leaving her people of origin, as well as her sister, to accompany Naomi. I only aspire to Ruth’s many attributes, but I knew instantly that I wanted to adopt her name. And the words, “daughter of Sarah,” also become part of my new Hebrew name. (Sarah was our first matriarch.) The rabbi also offered to pray for me on Shabbat as part of his aliyah. At that moment, I formally became Ruth.

So to most of you, I remain Susan Quinn.

To the Jews who wish to call me by my Hebrew name:

I am Root bat Sarah.

* * * * *

I’m unable to convey how deeply moved I am by this entire process. For so long, I was only barely connected to the Jewish people. Now, the connections are running deeply and plentifully. And with my name, Ruth, I feel my heart and soul are touching to G-d’s existence in a way I’ve never experienced.

So many blessings.

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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  1. Gary Robbins Reagan

    Thank you so much. Many, many prayers. Bless you Ruth.

    • #1
    • January 10, 2021, at 10:47 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn: My friend, @iwe, was one Jew among several who had asked for my Jewish name, in vain. And he knew that G-d would accept prayers for me, regardless.

    I have no doubt He would.

    But he asked his rabbi what could be done in a situation where I (who had the good fortune to meet the rabbi) essentially was without a Hebrew name. The rabbi had a simple answer for me: pick one.

    We should all be so lucky to have such a spiritual advisor. You go, iWe’s rabbi!

    Of course, there are many female Hebrew names, so I was befuddled about whom to choose. Then Mrs. iwe suggested that I pick the name of a woman from Torah whom I admired. That was easy: Ruth.

    None of this surprises me. Smart women, all, from Torah days to the present. Ruth, Mrs. iWe, and you.

    I’m unable to convey how deeply moved I am by this entire process. For so long, I was only barely connected to the Jewish people. Now, the connections are running deeply and plentifully. And with my name, Ruth, I feel my heart and soul are touching to G-d’s existence in a way I’ve never experienced.

    So many blessings.

    Blessings indeed. And you are lovely and loved. God Bless, Susan/Ruth. “

     

    • #2
    • January 10, 2021, at 10:58 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  3. Full Size Tabby Member

    And even more relevant given how your thoughts and writings have benefitted those of us who believe that Jesus son of Mary is the prophesied Messiah: Ruth is one of the few females mentioned in the lineage from Abraham to Jesus (see Matthew’s account, chapter 1, verse 5). That she was not born Hebrew is also importance to us not born Hebrew as signaling the availability of a relationship with G-d to anyone willing to follow Him. Your thoughts and writings affect many, just as Ruth of old has affected many well beyond her immediate circle. 

    • #3
    • January 10, 2021, at 11:15 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  4. Allan Rutter Member
    Allan Rutter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    More in your corner: the advances in cancer treatment technology. More precise diagnoses and treatments catch smaller lumps and tailor radiation with fewer side effects. As a husband of a survivor, my prayers are also with you.

    • #4
    • January 10, 2021, at 11:16 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    She (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: My friend, @iwe, was one Jew among several who had asked for my Jewish name, in vain. And he knew that G-d would accept prayers for me, regardless.

    I have no doubt He would.

    But he asked his rabbi what could be done in a situation where I (who had the good fortune to meet the rabbi) essentially was without a Hebrew name. The rabbi had a simple answer for me: pick one.

    We should all be so lucky to have such a spiritual advisor. You go, iWe’s rabbi!

    Of course, there are many female Hebrew names, so I was befuddled about whom to choose. Then Mrs. iwe suggested that I pick the name of a woman from Torah whom I admired. That was easy: Ruth.

    None of this surprises me. Smart women, all, from Torah days to the present. Ruth, Mrs. iWe, and you.

    I’m unable to convey how deeply moved I am by this entire process. For so long, I was only barely connected to the Jewish people. Now, the connections are running deeply and plentifully. And with my name, Ruth, I feel my heart and soul are touching to G-d’s existence in a way I’ve never experienced.

    So many blessings.

    Blessings indeed. And you are lovely and loved. God Bless, Susan/Ruth. “

     

    Now you’re making me tear-up! Thanks, She. Your good wishes mean the world to me.

    • #5
    • January 10, 2021, at 11:17 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    And even more relevant given how your thoughts and writings have benefitted those of us who believe that Jesus son of Mary is the prophesied Messiah: Ruth is one of the few females mentioned in the lineage from Abraham to Jesus (see Matthew’s account, chapter 1, verse 5). That she was not born Hebrew is also importance to us not born Hebrew as signaling the availability of a relationship with G-d to anyone willing to follow Him. Your thoughts and writings affect many, just as Ruth of old has affected many well beyond her immediate circle.

    In Judaism, we believe that King David was in her lineage and of course we await the Messiah. And I feel a deep kinship to my Christian friends. Thank you for your kind words, Tabby.

    • #6
    • January 10, 2021, at 11:19 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  7. Rodin Member

    Of all words, names are the most powerful. They carry with them history and stories that provide color and inspiration. It is why expectant parents spend so much time considering what name to give their child(ren). It is why in societies with primogenitor there is a tendency to numerate heirs (e.g. Henry VIII), to pass along the power and qualities of the ancestors. And it is why when we want to diminish someone we refuse to use their name.

    You have picked a good name. 

    • #7
    • January 10, 2021, at 11:19 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Allan Rutter (View Comment):

    More in your corner: the advances in cancer treatment technology. More precise diagnoses and treatments catch smaller lumps and tailor radiation with fewer side effects. As a husband of a survivor, my prayers are also with you.

    Thanks, Allan. In fact, the tumors were so small that I wouldn’t have detected them myself, according to the surgeon. I’m so glad that your wife came through. Many blessings to both of you for a long life!

    • #8
    • January 10, 2021, at 11:20 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Of all words, names are the most powerful. They carry with them history and stories that provide color and inspiration. It is why expectant parents spend so much time considering what name to give their child(ren). It is why in societies with primogenitor there is a tendency to numerate heirs (e.g. Henry VIII), to pass along the power and qualities of the ancestors. And it is why when we want to diminish someone we refuse to use their name.

    You have picked a good name.

    Always insightful, Rodin. Thanks!

    • #9
    • January 10, 2021, at 11:21 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  10. iWe Coolidge
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aww… you made my screen go all blurry.

    • #10
    • January 10, 2021, at 11:26 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    • #11
    • January 10, 2021, at 12:26 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    How the heck did you create that one, Percival?? No sweat–just be sure to call me to dinner!

    • #12
    • January 10, 2021, at 12:28 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  13. MarciN Member

    Susan Ruth, I will keep you in my prayers. My husband had a diagnosis of prostate cancer two years ago, and the treatments were tolerable, and we made a lot of friends in the cancer care treatment department at the Lahey Clinic. 

    Lots of love to you on your journey, :-) 

    • #13
    • January 10, 2021, at 12:45 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Susan Ruth, I will keep you in my prayers. My husband had a diagnosis of prostate cancer two years ago, and the treatments were tolerable, and we made a lot of friends in the cancer care treatment department at the Lahey Clinic.

    Lots of love to you on your journey, :-)

    Thank you, Marci. It’s become quite the journey already! Love to you and your family

    • #14
    • January 10, 2021, at 12:53 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Welcome Ruth!

    Better than the name I would take from the OT. 

    Let’s just say my limp in 2018 was fitting

    • #15
    • January 10, 2021, at 12:54 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Welcome Ruth!

    Better than the name I would take from the OT.

    Let’s just say my limp in 2018 was fitting

    Should I call you Jacob? A great patriarch, indeed!

    • #16
    • January 10, 2021, at 12:55 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    How the heck did you create that one, Percival?? No sweat–just be sure to call me to dinner!

    Mystic hand moves.

    • #17
    • January 10, 2021, at 12:57 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  18. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Welcome Ruth!

    Better than the name I would take from the OT.

    Let’s just say my limp in 2018 was fitting

    Should I call you Jacob? A great patriarch, indeed!

    I lair, a cheat, who acted against the proper order. And someone who wrestled with God. I identify with the schemer that Jacob was, and the man who wrestled with God. 

    Still maybe:

    https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=303431130641953

     

    • #18
    • January 10, 2021, at 1:01 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. JoelB Member

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Ruth+honeytree&iax=videos&ia=videos&iai=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Ds3dsztZjAbs

    A favorite from years ago

    • #19
    • January 10, 2021, at 1:28 PM PST
    • 1 like
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    JoelB (View Comment):

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Ruth+honeytree&iax=videos&ia=videos&iai=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Ds3dsztZjAbs

    A favorite from years ago

    That was really lovely, JoelB. Thanks so much.

    • #20
    • January 10, 2021, at 1:38 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    I sent my Hebrew name to my Torah study partner in Israel. Not knowing my choice, she had requested that someone make aliyah and say a prayer for me–for Ruth. Funny how those things happen . . . 

    • #21
    • January 10, 2021, at 1:40 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  22. Front Seat Cat Member

    God bless you Susan a.k.a. Ruth. I was hoping for an all clear. You said you have yearly mammograms, so this alone is a wake up call to those sitting on the bench. God works in mysterious ways and He holds you in the palm of His hand. Thank you for all that you share with us, including this. I will add prayers for your full recovery to my daily prayers and offerings.

    • #22
    • January 10, 2021, at 2:36 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  23. Shauna Hunt Coolidge

    I will PM you. You’re in my prayers!

    • #23
    • January 10, 2021, at 3:07 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    God bless you Susan a.k.a. Ruth. I was hoping for an all clear. You said you have yearly mammograms, so this alone is a wake up call to those sitting on the bench. God works in mysterious ways and He holds you in the palm of His hand. Thank you for all that you share with us, including this. I will add prayers for your full recovery to my daily prayers and offerings.

    Thanks, FSC. I didn’t think I’d get an all clear. I’m just hoping that the follow-up treatment will be minimal. We’ll see. Thank you for your prayers!

    • #24
    • January 10, 2021, at 3:12 PM PST
    • 1 like
  25. Southern Pessimist Member

    Ruth as a name was a wise choice that will serve you well in your journey. The Book of Ruth is the shortest book in the Bible. The message of it has transcended numerous generations through all time:“Where you will go, I will go.”

     

     

    • #25
    • January 10, 2021, at 5:13 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Southern Pessimist (View Comment):

    Ruth as a name was a wise choice that will serve you well in your journey. The Book of Ruth is the shortest book in the Bible. The message of it has transcended numerous generations through all time:“Where you will go, I will go.”

     

     

    Thank you, SP.

    • #26
    • January 10, 2021, at 5:17 PM PST
    • Like
  27. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    She (View Comment):
    Blessings indeed. And you are lovely and loved. God Bless, Susan/Ruth. “

    As usual, @She and I can easily agree only she usually says it better. My prayers are with you.

    • #27
    • January 10, 2021, at 5:38 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    Blessings indeed. And you are lovely and loved. God Bless, Susan/Ruth. “

    As usual, @She and I can easily agree only she usually says it better. My prayers are with you.

    Thanks so very much, GWW.

    • #28
    • January 10, 2021, at 6:10 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  29. Manny Member

    Susan Quinn: In the Jewish tradition, a child or convert is given a Hebrew or Yiddish name. In my case, I know that I was given a name, but I have no memory of it. (My mother mentioned it to me once and I didn’t make a note of it back in my barely Jewish days.)

    We have something analogous (perhaps derived from Judaism, I don’t know) in Catholicism. At the sacrament of confirmation we select a confirmation name, usually of a saint we most admire and supposed to bond with. My confirmation name – selected some 45 years ago!! – is Francis, from St. Francis of Assisi, who I deeply admired as a kid. If I had to do it today I may have a few others I would pick ahead of him, but that’s another story. Also analogous is that when person enters a religious order, they take on a new name. So if you ever meet a nun named Sr. Catherine, it’s highly probable she took on the name of St. Catherine.

    All that is preface to saying how wonderful for you! Ruth is one of my favorite Biblical women. You have chosen well. May your bond with her grow deep.

    • #29
    • January 10, 2021, at 6:59 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. Cow Girl Thatcher

    God bless you Ruth/Susan. I love the story of Ruth, too. She is loyal and kind to her in-laws and that is a good quality. Prayers for your complete recovery.

    • #30
    • January 10, 2021, at 9:16 PM PST
    • 2 likes