web analytics
April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 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
PM Netanyahu
Netanyahu Attacks the Iran Nuclear Deal as “Unconscionable” [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
A still from recently unearthed FoxMovieTone Film

We are grateful to Hashem that we have been privileged to institute this program and that over the years we have experienced tremendous siyata d’shmaya, with the program spreading throughout the world and its membership rapidly rising.

.

Indifference to the pain of the many singles should require us to have our heart, not head, examined

hurva

The rededication of the Hurva caused international hysteria.Arabs called the action a “provocation”

Photo from President Barack Obama's past visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

{Originally posted to author’s website, FirstOne Through} TRUST Trust is the bedrock of a functional relationship. It enables one party to rely on the other. A trust that includes both intention and capability permits a sharing of responsibility and workload. The relationship between US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu started off badly and further […]

Jabotinsky said “Go To Hell” was a good retort to opponents of the Jewish people; fitting for Obama.

Obama pulled off one of US history’s greatest cons,twice fooling a gullible electorate and most Jews

While in Auschwitz I felt a tangible intensity. I could sense that I was in a place of sheer evil.

Obama needs to wake up. The real enemy is not Netanyahu but Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad,IS

My beliefs & actions have led to numerous death threats against me; my excommunication by my church

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

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: