Newsletter            April 1, 2010 - 17 Nissan 5770




 As Explorers
I love reading Shir Hashirim, the Song of Songs. I am moved by its poetry and magic. The powerful expressions of love and intimacy between God and Israel give voice to myriads of feelings that arise whenever I pray, study, and serve my Creator.  I can walk inside the poem's room and feel the walls for a light switch. I want to place my ear against it and listen for its hum. This is a song of discovery.

The Song of Songs, which we will sing this Shabbat, is for me the focal point of the choice between first exploring Torah on my own or waiting for the commentaries to guide me by the hand, instructing me in where to look. I love to study Torah's wisdom on my own and only after my individual exploration examine my insights through the prism of the commentaries. They will always point out what I missed or did not understand. They train me to be a better explorer.

There are times when I feel as if all we do is tie the text to a chair with rope and begin beating it with a hose to find out what it really means. I love the commentaries. I treasure their wisdom and guidance because I sense that they too first entered the text as explorers, allowing the words to directly address them before they entered with a guide. I do not want to ever lose the excitement of exploration and discovery. This for me is the freedom expressed in the Haggadah of, "Go out and learn," as opposed to the usual, "Come and hear," of the Talmud, and the, "Come and see," of the Zohar, which I suspect may actually be invitations to "see, or hear WITH the speaker.It is not surprising that it is only while we celebrate the holiday of freedom that we sing the Song of Songs; its words demand that we begin to probe its mysteries with the freedom of an explorer.

I invite you to explore this holiest of texts on your own before looking for the illuminations of the commentaries. Savor its words and messages. It will train you to be a better explorer of all of Torah and life. It will be as explorers that we will join in this Song of Songs.

Shabbat Shalom & Moadim L'Simcha

Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg
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