Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not failed in His kindness to the living or to the dead! For,” Naomi explained to her, “the man is related to us; he is one of our redeeming kinsmen.” Ruth 2:20 JPS
Failed – “Hebrew words suggest each other,” says Eskenazi. What she implies is not limited to common phrases. It’s true that we need to pay attention to the connections between similar Hebrew words. For example, it is no accident that the same word is used to describe both Adam’s unconscious state when Havvah is formed and Abraham’s deep sleep when God establishes the covenant. The phrase “listened to voice of your wife” in the story of Adam and the story of Abraham is deliberate. But common occurrences are not the only way Hebrew draws connections. Some ways are much more subtle.
Tikva Frymer-Kensky points out that the name “Boaz” (b-‘z) is the reverse of the consonants found in the word “abandon” (‘ –z-b). The author of Ruth loves word games, and this is truly one of the most subtle of them. Obviously, it can only be seen in Hebrew. It makes the story about Boaz’ actions even more delightful.
Boaz is the kinsman redeemer. You might ask yourself why Naomi never bothers to mention this to Ruth prior to Ruth’s encounter with him. Nevertheless, at this point in the story Naomi confesses that there is in fact a man who can assist them. The meaning of his name isn’t clear. It might mean “there is strength in him” or it might refer to one of the two pillars in the Great Hall of the Temple. But if the character of a man is revealed in his name, then the actions of a man display that character, and in the case of Boaz, we see a man of faith, compassion and strength. More than anything else in the story of Ruth, we see a man who brings about the blessing of God. He is the exact opposite of azav (to abandon). This is the point of the anagram. Boaz and “abandon” don’t go together.
With this anagram in mind, it might be necessary to re-read the story. Ask yourself if Boaz doesn’t fulfill each requirement in the chain of hesed while all along crediting YHWH with the actions. Boaz is the model of a man who does all that he can without thinking he is doing anything more than what is required. He is the picture of hesed. And that picture demonstrates what it means to reflect the character of the Most High God in a setting that hardly ever mentions God at all. The anagram is more than a clever trick. It is a call to become the living display of hesed in the lives of those around us. It is turning failure into blessing.
Do you think that God might mix up the letters of your name and produce a demonstration of His character? There’s only one way to find out. Do hesed and see what happens.
Topical Index: abandon, fail, azav, Boaz, hesed, Ruth 2:20
 Tamara Eskenazi and Tikva Frymer-Kensky, Ruth: The JPS Bible Commentary, p. 44.