Shir HaShirim

On Pesach we read Shir HaShirim. As the Midrash explains, Shir HaShirim is a dialogue between Knesses Yisrael and Hashem about their unique relationship. It is thus a fitting reading for Pesach, for it was at the time of the Exodus that this relationship was formed.
The dialogue begins with Knesses Yisrael making the following exclamation:
Kiss me with the kisses of Your [literally, His] mouth, for Your love is more pleasing than wine. Because of the fragrance of Your fine oils, Your name is like oil poured forth; therefore young maidens fell in love with You. Draw me along, and we shall run after You. Let the King bring me into His inner chamber. We shall jubilate and rejoice in You; we recall Your love as better than wine – we love You devoutly.
I present here a few points from the Maggid’s extensive commentary on this passage.
When we ask Hashem to kiss us with the kisses of His mouth, we are asking Him transplant from His mouth to ours a true sense of taste for the sweetness of the Torah’s ways, for He is the One with a full sense of this sweetness. We then will serve Hashem with the proper spirit, rather than just for reward or out of an inchoate belief in the Torah’s value.
When we say to Hashem that if He will draw us along we will run after Him, we are saying that if He will give us an initial pull to get us out of the clutches of our evil inclincation, we will then run after Him. Our true inner desire is to serve Him, but our evil inclination holds us back. Once Hashem gives us a pull towards Him, we will serve him with joy and zest.
We then say: “We recall Your love as better than wine.” We use the term recall to rule out the notion that we never before experienced the sweetness of Hashem’s Torah. We did experience it – at the time the Torah was first given. Indeed, in regard to the Giving of the Torah, it is written (Shemos 24:11): “They beheld God, and they ate and drank.” The simple meaning of this statement is that we imbibed the radiance of the Divine Presence as if we were partaking of the finest delicacies. We thus describe Hashem’s love as better than wine – more delightful than all the delicacies of the world, which are represented by the term wine.
We also say: “Let the King bring me into His inner chamber.” This refers to what the Kohen Gadol experienced when he entered the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was a place of captivating splendor; one could stare on and on at the glorious sights there and not tire. Yet the Kohen Gadol would pay no regard to all this splendor. Indeed, if he diverted his attention from his holy duties for even a second, far be it, he would be instantly struck down. It must be, then, that he was so captivated by the sublimity of the Divine Presence that his attachment to worldly delights was completely obliterated. This is the experience we plead for: “Let the King bring me into His inner chamber; we shall jubilate and rejoice in You” – in You alone. We yearn for the day when our joy in Hashem will eclipse all worldly joy, as it did in days of yore.
PS: Over Pesach, I will not be connected to the Internet, and therefore will not be posting. I hope that the extra posts this week will make up for the hiatus. IYH I will resume posting after Pesach. I wish everyone a chag kasher v’sameach.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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