web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The Port of Oakland, without any docked cargo ships. Is this its future?
Port of Oakland Loses as ZIM Moves to Friendlier Shores
Latest Indepth Stories
FE_PR_100112_22Learning_CableTV425x282

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

Narendra Modi

Washington remains ignorant of the need to dismantle alliances with various Muslim countries.

ISIS terrorist

Defeating IS requires bombing its strongholds and recognizing the violent nature of Islam.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas speaking in Ramallah, July 1, 2014.

Abbas again used the UN to attack Israel, distort history, and undermine prospects for peace.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot even agree to move their clocks back on the same day.

Shemita is about relating to each other by temporarily eliminating gaps of wealth power & status

David transcended adversity to become a leader; Who are we to make excuses for a lack of greatness?

sympathy: Feeling sorrow or pity for another’s tribulations; Empathy:sharing an emotional experience

Last week the president announced a four-point plan. Unfortunately, there’s little buy-in from our European and Middle Eastern allies. Here’s my own four-point plan that may be more palatable to our allies.

Rosh Hashanah has an obvious connection to God’s Kingship. We constantly refer to Him during the Asseres Yemei Teshuvah as Melech/King. The nusach of the tefillah, referring to Rosh Hashanah as “a remembrance of the first day” (of Creation), implies a certain dimension of divine kingship operating at the time of Creation and replicated every […]

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

Home is Milwaukee where their congregation, Beth Jehudah, and community always await their return.

A murderous uprising is taking place in Israel; On the roads, In the mixed Jewish-Arab cities.

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

More Articles from Rabbi Ephraim S. Sprecher
chain.jpg

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

Raindrops on a lemon tree in Eretz Yisrael.

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.

The number four seems to play a major role in the Pesach Seder. We have four questions, four sons, four terms of endearment and, of course, one of the major features we soon will be enjoying – the drinking of four cups of wine.

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: