The Song of Songs
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your goodly oils, your name is ‘oil poured forth.’ Therefore, the maidens loved you. Draw me, we will run after you…” (Song of Songs 1:2-4).
And people say the Bible is boring…
Shir Ha’shirim, (The Song Of Songs), the Biblical love song attributed to King Solomon, is understood by the rabbis to be a prophetic allegory about the relationship of God and the Jewish people.
The poetic work describes a beautiful maiden who loves, and is loved by, a handsome youth. When he pursues her, however, she sends him away with various excuses, only to realize too late that he was her true love. Devastated at the thought that she has alienated and probably lost him, she wanders through the city streets looking for her lost lover and, in the process, suffers shame and embarrassment. Finally, the lovers are reunited and are joined by their sincere love.
Shir Ha’shirim is one of the five megillot (scrolls of canonical works) from the Ketuvim (Writings) section of the Bible. On the Shabbat of Chol Ha’moed* Passover, it is customary for Shir Ha’shirim to be read in the synagogue.
Shir Ha’shirim was chosen as the Passover reading because the story of the Exodus demonstrates God’s patience with His beloved–the Jewish people, as represented by the maiden. Despite having witnessed the many miracles that God performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, the Jews strayed from their commitment to God. Eventually, God withdrew His favor from the Jews (Hester Panim), and they have since wandered the world trying to make amends for the damage caused to the relationship. The reunion of the lovers is a prophecy for the Messianic era, yet to be fulfilled.
*Passover is an 8 day holiday. The first two days and last two days are Yamim Tovim – days that are observed like Sabbath (except that one may cook on an existing flame, and carry in public areas). In Israel, Passover is only 7 days, and only the 1st and 7th day are Yamim Tovim. The in-between days are known as Chol Ha’moed – weekdays of the festival. If there is no Shabbat Chol Ha’moed, Shir Ha’shirim is read on the 7th day of Passover.
*This Treat was published on April 22, 2011. It is being re-Treated to help us better understand the holiday of Passover.
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