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.
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
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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