web analytics
March 3, 2015 / 12 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Shir HaShirim: The Love Between God And Israel

Sprecher-032213

We have a custom of reciting Shir HaShirim (the Song of Songs) on the Shabbat during Pesach. Many reasons have been offered to explain why.

One reason is that Pesach takes place in the month of spring (chodesh ha’aviv) and Shir HaShirim is a song about spring and renewal.

The Brisker Rav says Nissan did not become the season of freedom because the events of Pesach occurred during that month but rather that these events happened in Nissan because it was the time God ordained for the manifestation of freedom. This phenomenon extends beyond the spiritual. During Nissan nature itself undergoes renewal, bursting out in new bloom. Thus it is also the time of our spiritual renewal and rejuvenation:

“My Beloved called out and said to me, ‘Arise, My love, My beautiful one, and go forth. For the winter [of bondage] has passed. The rains are over and gone, and the blossoms have appeared in the land’ ” (Shir HaShirim 2:10-12).

It is most probable, however, that the reason for reading Shir HaShirim on Pesach is to be found not so much in the text of the Song, i.e. in its simple meaning, but rather in its midrashic interpretation.

Rabbi Akiva was the most outspoken advocate of the view that Shir HaShirim is a parable of the passionate love between God, the lover, and Israel, the beloved. As he said, “All of creation does not compare in worth to the day when Shir HaShirim was given to Israel. For all of Tanach is holy, but Shir HaShirim is the holiest of the holy” (Mishnah Yadayim 3:5).

The specific connection to Pesach is that this interpretation sees in Shir HaShirim a depiction of God coming to redeem Israel from slavery, not only in the past in Egypt but also in the redemption yet to come.

For example, the verse “With me from Lebanon, with me from Lebanon – come!” (Shir Hashirim 4:8) is read not as “from Levanon” but “from levaynim” – bricks. “While you were still working with mud and bricks [i.e. – enslaved in Egypt], I, the Holy One Blessed Be He, jumped in and redeemed you” (Midrash Shir HaShirim 4:17).

Similarly, verse 2:8 – “Hark! My beloved! There he comes” – is interpreted both as Moshe telling the enslaved Jews that God will come to redeem them soon and also to Mashiach, who will announce the future redemption at Pesach time (Midrash Shir HaShirim 2:19). Therefore, reading Shir HaShirim on the Festival of Redemption, the time when, according to the Midrash, the coming redemption is also to take place, makes perfect sense.

Regarding the midrashic interpretation of Shir HaShirim, Rabbi Akiva saw the passionate love relationship of man and woman as the best and highest expression of the love that should exist between God and Israel. The Torah consistently utilizes the language of love, fidelity, infidelity and marriage with regard to God and Israel. The Rambam states in Hilchot Teshuvah (Chapter 10) that a Jew’s highest purpose and goal in life is to be madly in love with the One Above.

Therefore the first mitzvah of the Torah is to marry and raise a family. The Zohar explains that only the passionate love between husband and wife teaches us how to passionately love God. Thus, according to the Zohar, in order to love God properly and fully, a person must first experience passionate love for his or her spouse.

About the Author: Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher is dean of students at the Diaspora Yeshiva in Jerusalem.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Shir HaShirim: The Love Between God And Israel”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, 2015.
‘Alliance Between Israel & US Must Always Remain Above Politics’
Latest Indepth Stories
Red Line Obama

UN inspectors were flabbergasted when Iran allowed them full unfettered access to All nuclear sites

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressing Congress.

Obama’s real problem is that he knows Netanyahu has more credibility on the Iran issue than he does.

Silwan, in the eastern part of Jerusalem, founded by Yemenite Jews in 1881

Kristof’s op-ed “The Human Stain” was flawed and wrong; more than anti-Israel, it was anti-Semitic.

Hur and Aharon holding up Moshe's hands as Joshua battled Amalek.

“Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey after you left Egypt-how undeterred by fear of G-d”

Stalin’s plan for the Soviet’s “final solution of the Jewish question” was totally assimilating them

Many Jews oppose the speech fearing it will further erode relations between Israel & US. I disagree.

The University of Georgia Student Government Association called for more investment in Israel.

Without an alliance comparable to ISIS, Al Qaida & Iran, militant Islam will conquer the Middle East

Ultimately, Esther, Netanyahu, and we, the Jewish people, must and will rely on the true King, God, for our salvation from this genocidal threat.

Netanyahu addresses a clear, present & lethal threat to the US/Israel/WORLD; NOT political bickering

Buried in the tax-returns of the JCF is millions of dollars funneled to NIF in the last few years.

Bibi’s speech to Congress will bring respect and honor to the Jewish Nation from the US & the world

Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life

It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident

“GETT’s” being screened for Israeli Rabbinical Court judges at their annual convention.

If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism

More Articles from Rabbi Ephraim S. Sprecher
Sprecher-121914

The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.

Agunot-Shackled and bound women

Rambam: Regarding a husband who refuses to give a Get: “He is beaten until he says, ‘I agree.’ ”

Increased education about the land, the people, and the Torah of Israel is the antidote to today’s confusion.

Why not tell us that Purim is to be commemorated with reading the megillah, dispensing mishloach manot, giving gifts to the poor, and partaking in a Purim feast?

It all comes down to our state of mind.

The Talmud (Berachot 26b) says, “tefillot avot tiknum” – “prayer was established by the avot.” The Talmud then uses the following verse (Bereshit 19:27) to prove how Avraham established prayer: “Vayaskem Avraham baboker el hamakom asher amad sham et pnei Hashem” – “And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before God.”

We have a custom of reciting Shir HaShirim (the Song of Songs) on the Shabbat during Pesach. Many reasons have been offered to explain why.

The festival of Chanukah celebrates two miracles – the military victory over the Syrian Greeks and that one small cruse of oil, good for one day, providing light for eight days. The miracle of the light, however, is the main focus and central theme of this festival.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/shir-hashirim-the-love-between-god-and-israel/2013/03/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: