The Book of Ruth
This story of Ruth is another artistic rendition of Mr. Ramon Abajo’s group to produce an ancient Biblical story in a rich and sumptuous fashion. The font, the illustrations, the printing on vellum and custom binding all done in keeping with ancient skills prevalent in book production of the middle ages Spain.

The Story of Ruth


A group of talented artist gathered a few months before Passover of 2012 and decided to create an illustrated Passover Haggadah to be produced on vellum. The outcome was a beautiful and unique virtual Haggadah, which was published ‘online’. The second phase of this unique project was motivated by Mr. Ramon Abajo who became obsessed with the desire to produce a book in the antique Spanish illuminated and ornamental style of the Middle Ages. Ms. Esther Pinto, an architect by profession and a gifted artist, together with her colleagues Alberto Fernandez and Antonio J. Gallo, two extraordinary computer design experts, embarked on an extensive research of antique books’ decoration. The result was the creation of decorative font in each page, and in addition the artist opted to illustrate some ten scenes as she envisioned them artistically.

There are ten illustrations depicted by the artist Esther Pinto as she understood the events in the scroll. As a sensitive woman-artist she became full of empathy for the heroine and her mother in-law in their struggle to regain a foothold in the new country for one and a renewed status for the other. The result was an explosion of tenderness, fine lines full of gentleness, love and compassion which loudly proclaim the travail of these two women. Each illustration projects the sorrow of discarding a glorious past for a “greener pasture” for the older woman. The younger experienced the agony of losing a husband, a royal status and friends yet full resolve and conviction in their newly found love for their adopted faith. These two women who decided to tie their destiny evoked tender feelings in the artist. Her already accomplished skills became more acute adding an extra measure of delicate treatment of her subjects.

The border frames around the text were delicately decorated with flowers and grain-sheaves as befits the season the story takes place and the time when the book is traditionally recited. The vivid colors universalize the words elevating their message to lofty abstract heights. The capitalized first letters are created in a unique font created by the artist and are encased in a delicate and intricate filigree lines.

Esther decided to pick on some of the most critical yet delicate events in the plot and draw them. The illustrations help the reader gain deep feelings for the heroine. There were numerous sketches made for each one presented in this book. Each was discussed with the editors and the other artists in the studio, when the combined feelings of the group was refined into a final drawing the artist endeavor to polish and refine the chosen sketch into a final illustration chosen to be incorporated into the book. The group hoped that their extensive discussion and artistic rendition will suit the readers’ impression of the story.
The artistic drama takes the reader through the agony of migration of the scion of his tribe with wife and children to a strange land. The boys are probably in their late teens; one can imagine the inner trauma that these children are experiencing. After ten years the father and children, who by then were married, passed away. The loss of dear ones is an incomprehensible pain. It brings about an inconsolable grief, particularly when the women, who were left behind, find themselves powerless and poor in a hostile environment. The next illustration depicts the three women, Naomi, Orpah and Ruth projecting the pain of separation. The hurt is so pronounced that each in her own way expresses her pain. The arrival to Bethlehem causes uproar of disbelief. Naomi, who only ten years ago was a pillar of her society, returned poor and shamefully with a Moabite for a daughter in-law, the town´s people pitied her or may be mocked her. Ruth, determined to live and support her beloved mother in-law, goes behind the harvesting workers in the field collecting a few forgotten sheaves of barley. The artist wishing to capture the charitable nature of the harvesting people drew the giving hands of a man poring roasted grains into Ruth’s hands. In keeping with the modesty and humility of Ruth, the artist interpreted the way Ruth slept in the granary at the feet of Boaz.

In the rite of “Halitzah” we do not really know who drew whose shoes from whom, the artist interpreted for the reader the scene. She recognized that the action has a shade of embarrassment for the person, Peloni-Almoni, who refused to redeem Naomi’s field, thus it is Boaz who draws the sandal and with that action effectuated the transaction. The net result of that transaction is depicted in the last illustration with the birth of a baby, both to Ruth the natural mother and Naomi the adopting mother. Ms. Pinto captured the drama in the story and illustrated it with tenderness and delicacy. Her figures are all good none are evil. They are living a simple pastoral life, tackling life’s adversities with simple and pure belief in the divine protection.

Bentsi Cohen
New York, 201

Thanks to:
Bentsi Cohen
A retired economist who has published numerous books on various Jewish topics, including Kabbalah, Biblical commentaries and more.

Esther Pinto
An architect by profession and a gifted artist who presented her works in various galleries, here in the US and in Spain.
She has illuminated a Passover Haggadah which was enthusiastically received and is currently engaged in the production of two other Biblical theme books.