Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/FLASH90
Loving couple next to the Old City Walls in Jerusalem, prior to their wedding. August 13, 2013.

Love is the perfect metaphor for teaching a people about the struggles of life. A life of freedom is a life in constant struggle. This is what love teaches us. We read Shir HaShirim to remind us how to live and love as free people.

Freedom is exhilarating. But what do we do with freedom? We cannot be satisfied with freedom simply because it is an absence of slavery. To live just as a non-slave is hardly living at all. We are free. We can love. We have time to cultivate relationships with our families, significant others, friends, even God. But all those relationships are struggles. None are simple like the distinction between slavery and freedom. We went from avdus l’cheirus. It’s a transition that has clear lines of demarcation. One can go from being a slave to being free. But real life is not so simple. Real life invites lifetime struggles whose challenges give us a long path of never ending tension. That is what we learn from love.


The Israelites had freedom. Now they had to learn how to live the life of freedom. The life that has time for pursuits like the arts, philosophy, wisdom, discipline, and above all, love.

There is no song that tells the story of freedom like Shir HaShirim. Free people can love. Free people must love. Free people will struggle with love for their entire lives. That is freedom. The freedom to engage in life’s struggles that give life its beauty.

Identify your struggles. Seek out life’s challenges. Feel the tension. When you’ve done that, you know exactly where your life happens. It’s in those areas. Engage in it. Don’t look for the switch that turns those struggle off. Find the strength to live up to those challenges and live the life of freedom.

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Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, J.D. is the rabbi at the famous Pacific Jewish Center | The Shul on the Beach in Venice CA. He blogs at Connect with Rabbi Fink on Facebook and Twitter.