In verses 1 and 2 we discussed ideas including the hidden dimension of ‘peace’ and aspects of the ‘kiss.’

  1. The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.
  2. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine.

The text now flows from the ‘kiss’ and ‘wine,’ into the next two verses, which feature a host of new elements:

  • concepts (fragrance, oil, chambers)
  • characters (maidens, the king)
  • actions (pouring, running, drawing, recalling)
  • themes (cause and effect, traversing time)

Each of these may carry multiple levels of meaning (in space and time) all woven together with, and toward, a common desire — the end of the exile.

Here we are, four verses in, and we can already feel how complex and comprehensive the text is. Out task is to figure out “what goes with what, and how?” and even, ‘why?’ For this we need to “go beyond the text.”

As mentioned in a previous post:

Kabbalah is the “science of correspondences.” This is its literal definition … Although the simplest usage of the root קָבַל (kuf, bet, lamed) is “to receive,” this form only appears in later prophets and biblical writings. It’s primary sense, as conveyed by the Torah itself, is “to parallel or correspond.” (i.e., Exodus 26:5, where the loops ‘correspond’ (קָבַל) to the other.) … Kabbalah is an old hand at “fuzzy logic.” It knows that the world is holographic. and that every piece contains aspects of the entire universe inside itself. … There is no statement in kabbalah that is absolutely, flatly, and simply true. There is always another context or angle of perspective where the relationship between elements shifts or even flips upside down. Every assertion has qualifications.
Sarah Yehudit Schneider

The things we read about in Shir Hashirim, are present in physical world as well as hinting at a spiritual aspect. While our ‘instinct’ may be to search in deep ‘mystical’ texts for understanding, we can learn of the spiritual attributes of something by studying its physical attributes. The reason is that the spiritual aspect of a thing preceded the physical in how it came to be. The latter is modelled upon the first.

For instance, there are two ‘substances’ in our current verses, said to be coming by way of the male figure — wine and oil:

Wine and oil … We need to present the basic law of spiritual gravity or kabbalistic gravity. … How does that work? What’s the law of regular gravity? What is up will come down or be drawn down. The same thing is true in kabbalah. Here’s how it works. Everything that’s down here, comes from up there. In other words, if it exists in this physical plane. If it exists here, on earth, you know one thing. It didn’t begin here. … It’s not that, “here it is and here it always was.” Rather we know that whatever is here, started in a spiritual place. Which is why when you study kabbalah, and study Chasidus, you encounter a lot of parallels. … You encounter a lot of teachings where it says, “This physical thing spiritually represents something else.” … It’s not that since it exists here, we’re trying to extrapolate it or apply it to something else. It works the other way around. … How does that work? Something here represents something else. If it’s here, it has to have a spiritual source. And that spiritual source is where it’s coming from. It’s like, if there is water at the bottom of the mountain in a lake, you know there’s water at the top of the mountain. It came from the top of the mountain. It’s not projection. We’re not going to project it on the spiritual realms. We are the projection. … We can look at ourselves and understand G-d. How? … How do we know that’s true? … Can we project ourselves onto G-d? … It doesn’t work that way. It works the other way around. G-d projects Himself upon us. We are the end of this gravitation, or this evolutionary process, where things begin on high and then come down below. Which means, that when you have something called wine, or when you have something called oil, each of them has a spiritual source. In other words, there is something called wine spiritually and something called oil spiritually. And the properties of spiritual wine and spiritual oil, not just reflect the physical properties of wine and oil. They are more than a reflection, they are the source of those very physical properties. Physical wine exists because there is a spiritual concept that is its source. It’s deriving from the spiritual place. If you want to know what wine is spiritually, we need to ask the question, “What is wine physically?” What are the properties of wine that we know, and then we can figure out what is wine spiritually?
On The Essence of Chasidus – 12 – The Secrets of Wine & Oil, Intown Jewish Academy

This lesson of the above text, along with our first four verses, present the ideas of:

  • Hierarchy: The oil is ‘greater’ than wine
  • Gravity/flow: The oil is ‘poured’ forth and the ‘maidens’ are on a receiving end
  • Timing: The sense of past, present and future, associated with these things

1:3 Because of the fragrance of your goodly oils, your name is ‘oil poured forth.’ Therefore, the maidens loved you.

Several new concepts present themselves, related to the male figure:

  • Fragrance
  • Goodly oils
  • His name is poured forth
  • Maidens

Those are the items that get your immediate attention. But as any good Torah student knows, sometimes there are other, and possibly bigger things, ‘hidden’ right before of our eyes.

Amidst the above five elements, is a mysterious “cause and effect,” which has a “past and present” aspect, expressed as,

“Because of … therefore …”

As mentioned in our Intro article: Some verses have simultaneous positive and negative connotations. For example, inasmuch as verse 3 relates to a ‘positive’ connection, it still reflects the current state of ‘disconnect.’

This not only impacts Israel, but also their present and future function toward the nations:

We ask God to transfer this lesser form of inspiration from us to the gentiles, just as a man who gets his son a new coat gives the old coat to one of his servants. This idea is reflected in the following verse (Deuteronomy 28:10): “And all the nations of the world shall see the Name of the Lord written upon you, and they shall be fearful on account of you.” The verse is saying that, in the future, we will be imbued with a new, higher level of God-fearingness — a fear of God so intense that its aura will radiate from us onto the gentiles. As Isaiah put it (Isaiah 60:3), the nations will be guided by our light.
Dubner Maggid Commentary on the Song of Songs, Rabbi David M. Zucker

What we can deduce from the verse, is that there is something originating from the male figure (in the past) that brings a (future) response from those called ‘maidens,’ that connects back to the desire for the union of the ‘kiss.’

A.) Fragrance

Shir Hashirim has many verses that relate to the physical senses of touch, sound, sight, taste, and smell. This in itself forms a bond between our “physical existence” and the spiritual worlds “beyond us.” The sense of smell is especially prevalent. We will encounter the smells of spikenard, myrrh, frankincense, flowers, orchards, cedars, cypresses, oils, spices, pomegranate, aromatic plants, apples and figs.

Tracking the aspect of ‘smell’ through the text is an adventure, with many avenues to explore:

“Your scented oils have a good fragrance, your name drips oils, and so the maidens love you.” (1:2) The megillah begins with the attractive scent of the Dod (male lover). We are then introduced to the smell of the Ra’ayah (female lover) in his absence: “While the king sat at his table my spikenard sent forth its scent.” (1:12) Later on we are told of the sweet smell of the Ra’ayah using the same language we originally used to describe the scent of the Dod: “How fair is your love, my sister, my bride; how much better is your love than wine, and the smell of your oils than all manner of spices.” Finally, we are told of the smells that envelop them as a couple: “The mandrakes give off a scent, and at our doors are all manner of precious fruit, new and old.” The fragrances develop and deepen along with the characters in the megillah.
Shir Hashirim: Your Scented Oils Have a Good Fragrance, Lincoln Square Synagogue

With regard to our fragrance in verse 3, this relates to the future situation depicted in verse 4. There is something in the oil from ‘above’ that relates to a response from ‘below.’

This is associated with those who are far off from the Creator:

“Your fragrant oils are pleasing to the smell … O draw me, and we will run after You!(Song of Songs 1:3-4). Rashi explains that this drawing close to God refers to converts and baaley teshuvah, those who are distant yet are somehow drawn to God. Reb Noson adds that the sweet smell of the spices alludes to God giving each person the chance to catch a whiff of the beauty of Judaism. Then, when they draw close, the converts and baaley teshuvah themselves give off a sweet smell.
HaRei’ach 5:2, cited in “The Friday Afternoon Prayer: Song of Songs,” Breslov.org

Related to any fragrance, is the sense of smell. Of the five senses, it is smell that is given an elevated status. The fragrance in our text emanates from the highest realm of “pre-existence,” passing through the four Worlds of Existence, extending to the lowest level of the ‘maidens.’

This is the aspect of ‘connection’ found throughout many Hebrew words.

Song of Songs Shir Hashirim Connection

As we see through the text of Shir Hashirim, certain fragrances come from above (related to the masculine), and others from below (related to the feminine).

In the Torah, we find the sense of smell/fragrance well established with regard to the offerings “from below,” rising up to Hashem.

Aside from all the details, there is a fairly common phrase in the Torah that expresses precisely what Hashem’s feelings are in regard to the offerings. The phrase, which interestingly is hardly ever found in the rest of the Tanakh, is re’ah niho’ah, or ‘a pleasant aroma’ to Hashem. This phrase comes up almost 40 times in the Torah, making it among the most common phrases in the text.
The Offerings: A Pleasant Aroma to Hashem, Four Questions of Judaism

As always, actions depicted in the Torah, have deeper, more personal, meaning for us:

The image of God accepting sacrifices with “a pleasing odor” was always meant to inspire a higher level of connection with the Divine. By exploring the meaning of this perplexing phrase, we not only gain insight into the minds of our ancestors, but also appreciate how Torah continually motivates us to look beyond ourselves to cultivate a spiritual life of purpose and connection within community.
The Pleasing Aroma of Sacrifuce, Rabbi Charlie Savenor, Jewish Telegraph Agency

The Talmud gets into detail regarding these sacrifices, with the ‘smell’ of these relating to a deep connection between Hashem and us — (much like the ‘kiss’ in verse 2).

The Talmud takes this terminology further, understanding “smell” in a less figurative way. The Mishnah (TB Zevahim 46b) explains that sacrifices must be brought to God for both their appeasing quality [le-shem ni-ho’ah] and their fragrance [le-shem re’ah]. Not only does the sacrifice appease God, because we are doing His will, but also because it literally emits a fragrance. R. Yehudah explains in the name of Rav that this is why the animal cannot be first roasted on a spit and then burned on the altar. The fragrance is emitted only during the roasting process, so it must be burned on the altar from the outset. It is crucial that the smell of the burning sacrifice be emitted when it is on the altar. Furthermore, the Talmud (TB Berakhot 43b) describes pleasant odors as a thing that the soul (neshamah) enjoys, but not the physical body. There is thus an implication that God derives some spiritual pleasure from the smell of the sacrifice.
A Soothing Savor, David J. Marwil

The sense of smell is directly related to the Mashiach (1)

He will smell of fear of the Lord; and he will not judge by the sight of his eyes and he will not decide by the hearing of his ears. But with righteousness he will judge the poor and decide with equity for the humble of the land and strike the land with the rod of his mouth and by the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Isaiah 11, 3-4

The translation of ‘smell’ (in Isaiah above) is from the root ‘reyach’ (רֵיחַ). This versatile term is applied in a variety of (metaphorical) ways, relating to both G-d and man. (2)

  • And the Lord smelled the pleasant aroma, and the Lord said to Himself…
    Genesis 8:21
  • And there you will worship gods, man’s handiwork, wood and stone, which neither see, hear, eat, nor smell.
    Deuteronomy 4:28
  • To many shofaroth he says, ‘Hurrah!’ He smells battle from afar, the thunder of princes and shouting.
    Job 39:25
  • They have ears but they do not hear; they have a nose, but they do not smell.
    Psalm 115:6

Mashiach and the Sence of Smell

The figure of the Messiah is associated with smell in terms of discernment:

The Mashiach is unique in that he is able to pass judgment based on smell. In the story of the blessings Yitzchak gave to his sons we find that Yaakov was able to deceive Yitzchak’s sense of touch by covering his arms, but his sense of smell remained ‘on the nose’: “The scent of my son is like the scent of the field that the Lord blessed.” Man cannot control the smells that come from him, he can’t twist them, and he can’t change them.
Shir Hashirim: Your Scented Oils Have a Good Fragrance, Lincoln Square Synagogue

Related to Mashiach’s sense of discernment is smell/breath of falsehood:

The breath of a liar gives rise to the evil inclination. When Mashiach comes, falsehood will no longer exist. There will therefore be no evil inclination in the world.
Sefer HaMidot, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

The fragrance and oil in our verse(s) thus relates to the function of the messiah, which originates from the highest realm of “pre-existence” (Ein Sof), permeates all four worlds of existence, and brings rectification to us (and all creation) via the Torah:

So, who is Mashiach? What kind of person would even think of undertaking the job of resolving all the differences within the Jewish People itself — let alone for all mankind? But Mashiach was created and prepared for his mission prior to the Creation of the world (Pesachim 54a) … Mashiach’s soul is rooted in the loftiest of levels, the level of Keter (Atik). This is absolutely necessary, for Mashiach must be able to transcend anything and everything in the world — even and especially all evil that was ever perpetrated — to rectify and perfect all mankind.

… Mashiach will “breath the fear of God,” since his soul is rooted in the place of breathing, the nose. Through the ‘nose,’ Mashiach obtains all his essential vitality. Conversely, anger is also expressed through the nose, as in (Numbers 25:4), “His nose flared with anger.” Thus, the deeds of Mashiach along with his prayers will restrain G0d’s anger at its source — the nose … Mashaich will “breathe the awe of G0d.” Using prayer as his main ‘weapon,’ Mashiach will develop the concept of “the nose” to its fullest. Being the breath of our nostrils, he will help us direct our very life-force to search for G0d, all the while abandoning sin and drawing ourselves towards his mitzvot. In Mashach’s time, each person will be filled with ‘breath’ that contains awe of G0d, hence a growth of that awe. And this awe will permeate all levels of Creation, so that everyone will have the chance to return to G0d. Then great kindness — and love — will reign.

… Remembering that Mashiach corresponds to the nose, we can understand that his ‘breathing’ will have a very positive effect on mankind. … The breath that Mashiach will breathe will emanate from the Torah and its 613 mitzvot. This is (Genesis 1:2) “The spirit of God that hovered over the waters.” The spirit is Mashiach and the waters are the Torah. Mashiach’s spirit is embedded in the Torah, and he will draw his breath, the awe of God, from it. With this spirit, he will be able to “breathe into others,” filling them with a feeling of awe and respect for God. (Likutey Moharan 1. 8:2)
“Mashiach: Who, What, Why, How, Where, When,” Chaim Kramer

So, here we are at the beginning of verse 3, and Shir Hashirim subtly introduces a strong messianic aspect, again, related to the end of the exile.


B.) Goodly Oils

A new component is introduced — ‘oil.’ We now have several elements associated with the male figure, that may be compared to each other:

  • Verse 2: Love and Wine
  • Verse 3: Fragrance, Oil and Love
  • Verse 4: Love, Fragrance and Wine

We can see that the concept of ‘fragrance’ in verse 3, reinforces the connection between the love and wine. (“Because of …”) We were also told that his love is ‘better’ than wine. As the fragrance ‘originates’ from the oil, we can say they are “at the same level,” which is above the wine.

The concept of ‘oil’ from the highest region would parallel the Torah itself ‘descending’ into the world:

Just as the inedible bitter olive turns into oil that is desirable and pleasant-tasting, the Torah’s message on earth is initially small but ultimately great: in slow but steady developmental steps, all of mankind gets ready to do its bidding. Other liquids pour noisily into a cup, raising froth through a seething, foaming stream. But if you pour oil into a cup, if flows quietly, without foaming up. … Just as oil never mixes with water … Torah rejects any synthesis with non-Torah.
Megillas Shir Ha-Shirim, Rav. Dr. Raphael Breuer

Specifically regarding Israel, we see a “cause and effect”:

Another matter, “your name is like poured oil,” just as this oil is bitter at its outset and sweet at its culmination, so too, “your beginning may be small, but your end will soar very high” (Job 8:7). Just as this oil improves only by means of crushing, so too, Israel repents only by means of crushing.
Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1:3

The main contrast in the elements we have seen thus far, is between oil and wine:

In the mystical imagination, wine and oil are not simply liquids. You see, everything that exists in the physical plane has a spiritual parallel, which constitutes its source and root On High. This is true of all things — including wine and oil. The amazing thing is that when you discover the spiritual source of a thing, suddenly its physical properties make so much sense. Like why wine intoxicates, and why oil stains are so difficult to get out. It’s an incredibly powerful “aha!” moment.
Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman. On The Essence of Chasidus – 12 – The Secrets of Wine & Oil

We will deep-dive into the wine and oil at the end of this post.

C.) His Name poured forth

Here we have a “divine action” in the form of the ‘Name’ being “poured forth.” How this ‘Name’ is being poured, and its destination, are not directly stated. However, the ‘maidens’ (associated with our world) express ‘love’ for this action, thus they are impacted by it. Therefore, we see that this action extends from the highest to lowest realms of reality.

The concept of ‘Name’ with regard to the Creator has to do with things such as His attributes, authority, power, function, etc. All of these are aspects of the Creator within the four Worlds of Existence.

There are many terms in the Tanakh and Torah literature that are considered ‘names’ of G-d. The Torah begins with Elohim in the first words of Genesis. We also find Shaddai, the name ‘known’ to the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Other names such as Yah, El, Adonai, El Chai, and others appear through the pages of the Tanakh. (3)

The most holy of these (appearing twice as much as all others combined in the Tanakh), is the four-letter name of Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey (henceforth, YHVH).

The 4-letter Name, called the “most holy Name.” is generally used with regard to Hashem ruling over existence.

To the conductor, on the gittith, a song of David. Hashem, our Master, how mighty is Your Name in all the earth, for which You should bestow Your majesty upon the heavens.
Psalm 8:1,2

The fragrance of the oil, when it reaches Malkhut/the Shekinah (the Glory) >>>Fragrance noticed only/patially depeneding on status of shekinah — 

Until the building of the Temple, the nourishment that reached the world was minimal and in degraded from. When Solomon arrived and the Temple was built, Shekhinah received Her appropriate rectification; the stopped-up springs above coursed into Her, and then from Shekhinah down to the world.
Midrash ha-Ne’lam al Shir Hashirim, Zohar: Pritzker Edition Vol 11

Above sets this up …

Your oils are of fine aroma: He calls the effulgent flow from the Glory, the gateway to the entities, “aroma.” From there it increases and flows down into the seventy branches that surround the central column. Counting it, there are seventy-one. Because of this, the text says: “from the kisses of his mouth”: from that very light. … Your name is like oil poured forth: Your name is like fine oil, poured from one vessel into another. The seventy names are emanated from the seven sefirot. Tiferet and the Crown are for Israel, the singular people, for Israel nurse from the trunk of the tree, Tiferet and Crown, all joined as one. But its aroma travels a great distance. So too Your name increases and is poured forth as pure light to shekhinah, which is contained and sealed into all. Counting her they are seventy-two. This is the meaning of “therefore the maidens love you.”
Ezra ben Solomon of Gerona Commentary on the Song of Songs

 

In our text, the fragrance originates before the four Worlds of Existence. Following “spiritual gravity,” it descends to the lowest realm, our world — that of the ‘maidens.’ Thus, it is because the fragrance (detected by the maidens here in Malkhut) originated at source of it (with the oil at Keter) that the name YHVH is poured forth. SO … It is because of Malchut coming from Keter, that the ‘name’ YHVH (the 4 worlds) is Keter poured forth,

D.) The Maidens

There are many ideas as to the specifics of the “young women,” that include Israel as well as the gentile nations. The key point is that it is those waiting to benefit from the one being spoken of.

Another matter, “therefore, the young women love you, “because You gave us the plunder of Egypt, the plunder of the sea, the plunder of Siḥon and Og, and the plunder of the thirty-one kings. Alternatively, “therefore, the young women [alamot] love you,” because You obscured [shehe’elamta] from them the day of death and the day of consolation, they love You. Alternatively, “therefore, the young women love you,” with youthfulness and alacrity. Alternatively, “therefore, the young women love you,” these are the penitents. Alternatively, “therefore, the young women love you,” this is the third group, as it is stated: “I will bring the third through the fire, and I will refine them like the refining of [silver]” (Zechariah 13:9). Alternatively, “therefore, the young women love you,” these are the proselytes; that is what is written: “Lord, I heard Your renown; I was afraid, Lord; your deeds are in the midst of the years…” (Habakkuk 3:2). Alternatively, “therefore, the young women love you,” this is the generation of persecution, as it is stated: “For we are killed all day long for You; we are considered as sheep for slaughter” (Psalms 44:23). Alternatively, “therefore, the young women love you,” this is Israel, as it is stated: “Rather, it is from the Lord’s love of you, and from His observance of the oath…” (Deuteronomy 7:8). Alternatively, “therefore, the young women love you,” because you obscured from them the reward of the righteous.
Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1:3

Regarding Israel … (USE BELOW IN CHAMBER NOTES?)

The expression “fragrance of Your fine oils” refers to the reward for performing mitzvos. We say that love of God on account of the fragrance of His fine oils, is a form of love that is fitting for immature young maidensL That is, serving God for reward — a lesser form of service — is fitting for the gentiles. But we, God’s special people, are suited to serving God in the true sense — not for reward, but rather for its own sake, out of a sense for the intrinsic sweetness of His Torah. Thus we say: “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.
Dubner Maggid Commentary on the Song of Songs, Rabbi David M. Zucker

Sense of Inferior love based on receiving.

Comparing these two comments on the maidens, we see both a form of immaturity, as well as an innate understanding of what their purpose is:

At present, since we fail to sense the Torah’s sweetness, we serve God in an inferior way — either out of desire or reward or out of simple belief in Torah’s value without actually sensing it.
Dubner Maggid Commentary on the Song of Songs, Rabbi David M. Zucker

ALSO MAY USE ABOVE ^^ EARLIER WITH EZRA QUOTE

The goal of their desire and intention is to ascend and adhere to the place from which they draw nourishment. 
Ezra ben Solomon of Gerona Commentary on the Song of Songs


Where to use this? …

Midrash Rabbah Shir Hashirim connects the ‘kiss’ in the previous verse to the end of days and coming of the Olam Haba (the World to Come). This is when Hashem will fully end all forms of exile, and there will be complete singularity between Him, His people, and the Torah, which will be written on their hearts. (Jeremiah 31)

Like the Biblical text of Shir Hashirim itself, there is the element of “longing for once was,” in this case, expressed as the moment at Sinai with its intimate connection to the revelation of Torah:

At the moment that Israel heard: “I am the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:2), Torah study was affixed in their heart and they would study and would not forget. They came to Moses and said: ‘Moses our master, you become an intermediary between us, as it is stated: “You speak to us and we will hear” (Exodus 20:16), “Now, why shall we die? (Deuteronomy 5:22). What benefit would there be in our demise?’ They reverted to studying and forgetting. They said: ‘Just as Moses is flesh and blood and transient, so, too, his teaching is transient.’ Immediately, they returned and came to Moses and said to him: ‘Moses our master, if only He would appear to us a second time. If only “let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.” If only Torah study will be affixed in our heart as it was.’ He said to them: ‘This will not happen now, but it will occur in the future, as it is written: “I will place My Torah within them and on their heart I will write it”’ (Jeremiah 31:32).
Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1:2

The Torah is at the center of this relationship and our story, in terms of how violating it led to exile, just as clinging to it brings redemption.


1:4 Draw me, we will run after you; the king brought me to his chambers. We will rejoice and be glad in you. We will recall your love more fragrant than wine; they have loved you sincerely.

Whereas verse 3 was more focused on ‘things,’ the 4th verse is centered on a series of ‘actions,’ some are looking back, while others are in the present and future.

  • Present: Draw me…
  • Future: We will run…
  • Past: Brought me…
  • Future: We will rejoice …
  • Future and Past: We will recall…
  • Past: They have loved you…

Verse 4 is an example of how Shir Hashirim transverses through time in a one verse, indicative of the ‘singularity’ the text is pointing toward.

DRAW ME, WE WILL RUN

We also have another “cause and effect,” in her request for action on the part of the male figure (“draw me”) followed by a proactive response (“we will run”).

“O draw me, and we will run after You!” (Song of Songs 1:4). As soon as You call me, I run to You (Rashi, loc. cit.). God is always calling us to Him, trying to draw us closer. But then He hides Himself, as it were, to see if we really want to find Him. Then we must strengthen ourselves with faith and good deeds, and we will find Him
Nefilat Apayim 4:13, cited in The Friday Afternoon Prayer: Song of Songs, Breslov.org

 

Note the intimate connection between the singular and plural pronouns. This runs through the entire text – the singular referring to the Shekinah and the plural to the people of God ‘attached to her (regardless of any problematic ‘status.’)

For Israel is like the leaves and the Shekinah is like the trunk of the tree.
Sha’are Orah, 1st Gate/10th Sphere

(See section “We Have One or More Mysteries on Our Hands” in notes to verse 1.)

Even more than the previous two verses, this one brings a strong sense of desire on the part of the female character. This is the essence of the Shema prayer (Deuteronomy 6:4) which ‘declares’ the “past, present and future” oneness of all things in Hashem.

The longing is overwhelming and relates to a concept called the “expiry of the soul,” that ties back to the idea of “la petite mort” in verse 2 as discussed in the Tanya:

Until this point, it has been explained that as a result of the blessings preceding the Shema and of the Shema itself, “the intelligent person will reflect on these matters in the depth of his heart and brain” and then “his soul will be kindled” and he will desire to cleave to G‑d. The direction taken by this form of divine service is elevation “from below to above,” i.e., the individual desires to leave the bounds and limitations of the world and become one with G‑d. This feeling can find expression in the “expiry of the soul” (kelot hanefesh) in its love for G‑d. (This surely does not result in any obligation to study Torah or the like in order to draw G‑dliness down below. On the contrary, a person in this situation is in a state of longing and “expiry of his soul” in order to become united with G‑d as He is Above.)
Likutei Amarim (Tanya) 49

This “unity with G-d” in our present existence extends to the idea of Torah learning,

But two who are sitting together and there are words of Torah spoken between them, the Divine Presence [Shekhinah] rests with them.
Avot 3:2

Not only are we connected through the Shekinah during study, it is said that Hashem (metaphorically) “sets example” for our own behaviors that we should imitate:

The day consists of twelve hours; during the first three hours the Holy One, blessed be He, is occupying Himself with the Torah. 
Avodah Zara 3b  (4)

0———————————

To summarize this part briefly: The Shekhina is God’s female force and, as such, the lowest and, to a certain extent, weakest of the divine forces in their dynamic interplay with one another, but at the same time she is the most important and strongest, because she unites within herself the flow of all the other energies. She forms a bridge over the heavenly and the earthly realms, not only because of her position on the borderline between the divinity and the human world but above all because she is God’s embodiment in the world. Through her, God enters the world, and her only task is to unite Israel with God. If she succeeds in this, she will not only lead Israel to God but will herself return to her divine origin. By taking up residence amid the people of Israel, she has made Israel’s destiny her own. She is responsible for Israel and Israel likewise for her. Only through her does Israel have access to God, just as her (re-)union with her divine spouse depends in the end on Israel. Because she alone belongs to both worlds, it is only through her that the earthly world can be reconciled with the heavenly one and only through her that humans can find their way to God. The female force is the key to both worlds. Without her the heavenly world would be incomplete, and the earthly world would neither have been created nor be able to find its way back to its creator.
Daughter, Sister Bride, and Mother: Images of the Femininity of God in the Early Kabbalah,
Peter Schäfer 

“God is your shadow …” (Psalm 121:5) … God is our shadow, and like every shadow, He follows our lead. As the Ramchal says, (Daas Tvunos chelek bet, p. 22-23), “Therefore, the actions of the Creator change based on their (Am Yisroel) desire. For He always aligns Himself with their will and desire.” …  This breathtaking picture of our potential to shape the unfolding geula is an expression of a profound principle found in the Zohar and the sefarim ha’kedoshim. It’s known as itaruta d’ltatah and itaruta d’layla, the relationship between an “Awakening from below,” and an “Awakening from Above.” This dynamic relationship between our will, choices, and actions, and God’s shadow-like response, is the great determinant on which the hinges of history, and geula shleima, swing. “There is no itaruta d’layla, no Awakening from Above, until there is first an itaruta d’ltata; for the itaruta d’layla requires a yearning from below.” (Zohar 1:86b) … “Please arrive and have mercy on Zion, for it is time to mercifully favor her; for the destined time has come. Because your servants lovingly desire her very stones, and cherish her dust.” (Tehillim, 102:14-5) Reflecting on these verses, Rabbi Yehudi Halevi says at the end of the Kuzari, “The only way Jerusalem will be rebuilt is if the children of Israel intensely long for it, so much so that they express their love for her stones and dust.”
Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf, “Covid Ha’atzmaut: The Shofar in Our Hearts,” 

BROUGHT ME TO HIS CHAMBERS

This is a holy of holies reference – the highest place of connection/unification in our present reality. This is as far as you can get from worldly desires, which turn exclusively to desire between us and Him.

This refers to what the Kohen Gadol experienced when he entered the Holy of Holies … 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 for even a second, far be it, he would be instantly struck down … his attachment to worldly delights was completely obliterated. The 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. 
Dubner Maggid Commentary on the Song of Songs, Rabbi David M. Zucker

The same theme is found here. Notice the reference to the the ‘maidservant’ as it relates to the ‘maidens’ in verses 2 and 3.

Know, that in the future, when YHVH, may He be Blessed, comes to redeem Israel, and to receive the community of Israel in His arms, He will remove all His garments and Cognomens and He will then receive the community of Israel. When He receives Israel they will unite together as One. He will turn and dress both of them in all the garments and Cognomens, and they will be like one on the inside, like one inseparable entity with all the other garments and Cognomens, hovering around them on the outside, like servants who minister to their masters. This is the essence of the verse: “And You will spread your wings on your maidservant, for You are the redeemer.” (Ruth 3:9) That is to say that whenever You spread Your wings and Your clothing upon the community of Israel, at the time of the redemption, all the princes will be hovering on the outside, and then this verse will be fulfilled: “And YHVH will be King over the whole earth and on that day YHVH will be One and His Name One. (Zechariah 14:9)
Sha’are Orah, 5th Gate/6th Sphere (5)

The futuristic aspect of the verse:

The building of the Temple is the earthly manifestation of the utter banishment of Samael from the divine world above.
Midrash ha-Ne’lam al Shir Hashirim, Zohar: Pritzker Edition Vol 11

As mentioned in our Intro article on the Shekinah, there’s always this issue regarding conflicting objectives:

The serpent, who lurks beneath the Shekinah, craving the rich nourishment of emanation.”
Zohar, Pritzker Edition, Vol 1. p.329

WE WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN YOU

Why are we not rejoicing now? We certainly do from time to time. In fact we’re commanded to at certain times. However, all rejoicing is limited while in the exile. The moedim are “appointed” times and ‘disconnected.’

This aspect of past, present and future, carries with it the concept of what is appropriate at what time. We cannot fully rejoice, until the day of unification comes.

This is mentioned in the Talmud in an interesting manner:

It is forbidden to a man to fill his mouth with laughter in this world, because it says, “Then will our mouth be filled with laughter and our tongue with singing” (Psalm 126:2). When will that be? At the time when “they shall say among the nations, The Lord hath done great things with these.” (Psalm 126:3)
Berachoth 31a

The sense of “proper timing” is alluded to in the dialogue between the male and female in the text. Verses 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4, all warn “not to awaken love before its time.”

This idea of ‘separation’ is only within the exile, as ‘above’ all things are intimately connected:

R. Simeon also connected the words, ‘Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement’ (Leviticus 23:27), with the words, ‘In the tenth day of this month’ (Exodus 12:3), used in regard to the Passover lamb; for the one ‘tenth day’ is dependent on the other.
Zohar 2:40b

WE WILL RECALL

(SEE at 10:30 mark of On The Essence of Chasidus – 12 – The Secrets of Wine & Oil by Intown Jewish Academy (soundcloud.com) for wine and recalling secrets etc

As mentioned in one of our Introductory Articles, the text of Shir Hashirim, “…moves back & forth along the longing of the past, to the exile of the present, to the hope of an even better future.”

The reference to ‘recall’ is a direct connection back to the experience at Sinai:

“We recall Your love as better than wine.” We use the term ‘recall’ to rule out the notion that we never before experienced this exalted level. We did experience it — at the time of the giving of the Torah … indeed, in regard to this event it si written (Exodus 24:11): They beheld G0d, 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 God’s love as better than wine — more delightful than all the delicacies of the world, which are represented bu the term wine.
Dubner Maggid Commentary on the Song of Songs, Rabbi David M. Zucker

Verse 4 sets up next one on our present inferior status due to lack of connection. The verse switches from the past tense to the future, reflecting the desire for the future Redemption from our present Exile:

Chassidus explains that the preparations for a revelation must foreshadow the revelation itself. Since, in the era of the redemption, the revelation of G‑dliness will find expression even in the physical world, it is fitting that our preparation for these revelations be associated with physical activities such as eating and drinking.
The Eighth Day of Pesach: The Feast of Moshiach

The aspect of ‘recalling,’ includes the promise made as to what the future holds:

Even if Israel is poor, rejected by God, humiliated and like prey to the nations after the loss of its political independence, it knows that the days of exile will come to an end. The certainty, vouched for by God, that the Sanctuary which was twice destroyed will be rebuilt is the significant pledge of God’s eternal love for His people, which always awakens in this people intense longing for God’s nearness. … The Torah identifies with Shir Hashirim. For the Torah is the pledge for the love around which the Song revolves. If the pledge is violated, the Torah itself stands before God’s Throne as an accuser.
‘Megillas Shir Ha-Shirim,’ Rav. Dr. Raphael Breuer

YOUR LOVE MORE GRAGRANT THAN WINE

We previousy established that the oil and its fragrance were both ‘above’ the ‘level’ of wine. We can now add ‘love’ to the former, thus placing oil, fragrance and love, at the same source.


OIL AND WINE

3 aspects to oil – getting the spiritual meaning from the physical as mentioned earlier above.

Physical OIL

  • absorbs into what it is poured into
  • It does not mix with the other
  • Also stays on top

Kabbalah is light. Chasidus is higher than light. It is essence. It is higher than the binary construct of light and darkness. It can be both light and darkness.
Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman. On The Essence of Chasidus – 12 – The Secrets of Wine & Oil

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

In the footnotes to our article on the Temple, we introduced the idea of a ‘template’ consisting of the “Four Worlds of Existence” with a fifth realm of ‘pre-existence,’ and how the Temple setup reflected this pattern.

There are many other examples from the Tanakh, that follow this template, which is based on the most holy 4-letter name of G-d (Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey). This Name itself has a mystical 5th aspect, that being the ‘cusp’ hidden within the Yud. (When you put your quill or pen down, you make ‘point’ before continuing to make the letter Yud. This point (the ‘cusp’) then ‘vanishes.’

Below is a table showing an example of several things plotted along this template. What makes a chart like this interesting is when we consider how the terms from the different concepts ‘align’ with each other, within the vertical columns. When we plot more examples from the Tanakh we begin to see new correspondences — the ‘kabbalah’ behind these. (See Schneider quote, above.)

The idea of 4+1 is because anything in the column under “Cusp of the Yud” is seen as outside of any existence other than the ‘Creator.’ This is not a ‘level’ like the four within existence. This ‘fifth’ is the realm of the ‘essence’ of things. Everything here ‘encompasses’ and ‘saturates’ all that is within the ‘lower’ levels of existence but does not ‘mix’ with them (as they do between themselves). Oil is the most ‘physical’ example, and highly relevant to Shir Hashirim. What we know of this ‘hidden’ realm, we determine from the level below it.

Song of Songs Shir Hashirim chart wine oil chasidus

Take note of how things in the same columns might correspond to one another and how this impacts our understanding of the text.

  • The four-letter Name of Yud-HeyVav-Hey (including the hidden ‘cusp’ of the Yud)
    • The template of 4+1 originates from the 4-letter name, which is considered the “trunk of the tree.” The hidden 5th realm (the cusp of the Yud) is associated with its “roots.” In the physical realm, the roots are the “hidden origin” of a tree. In kabbalah, the spiritual source of ‘roots,’ are “hidden beyond/before existence.”
    • The aspect of Hashem’s ‘Name’ being ‘One’ with the coming of mashiach (Zechariah 14:9, thus not being One at this time), relates to the final letter hey (the shekinah/bride) being ‘separated’ – a main theme of Shir Hashirim. The term ‘teshuvah’ (return) is kabbalistically understood/pronounced as “tashuv-hey” – the “return of the hey” (i.e., return of the shekinah).
  • Shir Hashirim 1:2-4
    • The concept of ‘spiritual gravity’ (as mentioned above) is present in our text in terms of the decent of wine, oil and fragrance, from the upper worlds to the lowest (toward the ‘maidens’)
    • The aspects of oil and wine take on an interpretive dimension, which is addressed below.
  • An aspect of the Genesis account that resembles the ‘flow’ of Shir Hashirim 1:2-4
    • Compare the points of concealment, origin in “creation, decent and reception,” to Shir Hashirim 1:2-4 (above), and consider the following:
      “… the second chapter of Genesis is the “chronicle” of creation, fleshing out in detail the original story sketched out in chapter one. Perhaps the narrative of the river flowing from Eden to irrigate the garden may be viewed as a metaphor for the cosmology of the universe. Indeed, as discussed above, Eden as the point-like wellspring feeding the river on a literal level and as point-like Chokhmah feeding the seminal idea to Binah on a mystical level is very much like the initial singularity that is the origin point of our universe. Just as Binah develops and expands the seminal idea it receives from Chokhmah, the river (which, in Kabbalah, represents Binah) flowing from Eden expands and widens as it gets further from its source, the wellspring. This river lends itself as a metaphor for the expanding universe. Finally, the only habitable location in this story is the garden which, in fact, was inhabited by the first humans, Adam and Eve. This garden may be viewed as a metaphor for our planet Earth—the only celestial body inhabited by humans. This parallel is even starker in the Kabbalah, where both the garden and the planet Earth are the physical embodiments of the sefirah of Malchut.”
      Singularity and Paradise, Alexander Poltorak, Quantum Torah
  • Isaiah 43:7 as connected to the Worlds of Existence
    • This follows the pattern of the spiritual worlds of existence (below) including three of the direct names; Creating/Beriah, Forming/Yetzirah and Making/Asiyah.
    • The clause, “by my name,” being the 4-letter name, beginning with the Yud (and world of Atzilut). This aligns with “the Name” mentioned in Shir Hashirim (in the same column) and “image of G-d” in Creation.
    • “Everyone that is called,” is the mystery, originating in the “desire and will” of Hashem.
  • The Worlds of Existence
    • This is the first application of the template, as it is the series of spiritual worlds that came into existence. These same worlds are depicted in Jacob’s ladder dream in Genesis 28 (the world, angelic realm, heavenly realm, and G-d above).
  • Corresponding Soul Levels
    • As the worlds of existence depict the flow ‘down’ from Hashem to us, our “path of return” follows the same steps back to the Source of all.
  • Sefirot: the ‘dominant’ sefirah/attribute associated with each world
    • Each letter, world, etc., is associated with one of the sefirot, with the exception of the vav (world of Yetzirah), which has a group of 6 Sefirot called ‘Ze’ir Anpin’ (lesser countenance). This level is also associated with the masculine figure of Shir Hashirim (Malkhut with the feminine in the story.)
    • With regard to Shir Hashirim 1:2-4 the wine is ‘hidden’ within Chokhmah, emerges at Binah, pours out through Ze’ir Anpin, down to the maidens at Malkhut.
  • The “levels of interpretation” in learning torah (PRDS+1)
    • The four levels of interpretation are the p’shat/basic, remez/hint, drash/interpretive, and sod/kabbalistic. The first three remain “within the text” whereas the fourth goes beyond. Chasidus is the 5th, which is not a level. This will be examined further below.

OIL & WINE: Note the oil is the “source” in this verse. (KISS=OIL=LOVE)
Wine = intoxicated with Torah (Purim reference – discuss in chapter 2!) Wine is kabbalah and beyond that is the unity (of Mordechai and Haman) Now substitute words in the Purim statement. MORE SO!! The word for ‘drunk’ is livsumei — which is PERFUMED/FRAGRANCED

SEE The Metaphor of Oil – Soulwords

The Metaphor of Oil

Everyone that is called by My name, and whom I created for My glory, I formed him, yea I made him.
Isaiah 43:7

Rashi associates this verse with the exile, and that which was given (e.g., “the oil poured forth”) ff

“Everyone that is called by My name, and whom I created for My glory. All the righteous, who are called by My name and everyone who was made for My glory, I formed him, yea, I made him. fixed him with all that is necessary for him, and I prepared everything.” That is to say, that although they experienced exile and trouble, I prepared for them all the necessities of their redemption.
Rashi on Isaiah 43:7

USE THIS FOR EIN SOF

As we discussed in the essay “Big Bang,” Nachmanides describes the creation in terms that today we would call the Big Bang. Indeed, the similarity between Nachmanides’s description of the creation and the modern concept of the Big Bang is uncanny. Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître, who along with Alexander Friedmann proposed that the universe was expanding, reasoned that if we reverse the direction of time, the process of the expansion of the universe would look very much like the gravitational collapse leading to the formation of a black hole. Just as a black hole has at its center a singularity—a point where the curvature of spacetime is infinite and the laws of physics break down—so too the universe must have been born out of a singularity. Indeed, the universe immediately before the Big Bang is predicted by General Relativity to have been a singularity, the so-called initial singularity. Extrapolating backward in time through the history of the expanding universe, we come to an area with infinite density and temperature—the singularity.

 

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden.
Genesis 2:8-10

This verse positions Eden as the wellspring feeding the river that waters the garden. In the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah, the wellspring-river metaphor is used to illustrate the relationship between the two sefirot Chokhmah and Binah. In this analogy, the spring is a metaphor for the sefirah of Chokhmah, because it is the source of water, just as Chokhmah is the source of wisdom. Furthermore, a wellspring is a pointlike opening, just as Chokhmah is traditionally depicted as a dot—the seminal flash of inspiration. Indeed, yud, which is essentially a dot and is the first letter of the four-letter ineffable name of G‑d, the Tetragrammaton, is identified with Chokhmah. The river, on the other hand, serves as the metaphor for the sefirah of Binah. Fed by a pointlike wellspring, the river expands in all directions, in that the river has a depth, a width, and a length. Similarly, Binah takes the initial idea from Chokhmah and deliberates, explores, and fleshes it out in all directions. Thus, the second letter of the Tetragrammaton—heh, which is graphically an expansion of the letter yud in two directions—is identified with Binah. Thus, in Kabbalah, on a mystical level, Eden and the river flowing from it represent Chokhmah and Binah, respectively. We see, therefore, that both on a literal level—as the wellspring feeding the river—and on a mystical level—as a metaphor for Chokhmah that inspires and feeds Binah—Eden represents a pointlike concept: a singularity.
Quantum Torah: Singularity and Paradise, Alexander Poltorak

SIDEBAR:

Ten Sefirot-Without-What: Ten and not nine, ten and not eleven. Understand with wisdom and be wise with understanding, examine them and glean from them. Render the matter to one’s Creator, and return the Maker to [the Maker’s] site.

Ten Sefirot-Without-What: Their end is attached to their beginning, and their beginning to their end, like how the flame-tongue is bound to the coal. For the Lord is One and has no second; before one, what do you count?
Sefer Yetzirah 1:4-7

 


NOTES

(1) Regarding Isaiah 11 and the messiah, see: The Jewish Messiah: Who Is The Messiah In Judaism? from Aish HaTorah.

(2) The Zohar offers an interesting story related to the mystical sense of smell:

Once, when R. Isaac and R. Judah were on a journey, they came to a place called Kfar Sachnin, where Rab Hamnuna the Elder used to live. They put up at the house of his wife. She had a young son who was still at school, and when he came from school and saw the strangers his mother said to him: Go up to these distinguished gentlemen that you may obtain a blessing from them. He began to approach, but suddenly turned back, saying to his mother: I don’t want to go near them, because they have not recited the Shema this day, and I have been taught that if one does not recite the Shema at the proper time, he is under a ban the whole of that day. When the others heard him they were amazed, and they lifted up their hands and blessed him. They said: Indeed this is so; to-day we were busy looking after an engaged couple who had no means of their own and were therefore delaying their marriage. There was no one to provide for them, so we did so, and so omitted to say the Shema at the proper time, since if a man is engaged on one mizvah (religious precept) he is exempt from performing another (which might interfere with it). They then asked him how he knew. He replied: I knew by the smell of your clothes when I came near you.
Zohar 3:186a

(3) One name, ‘Ehyeh’ (from “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh,” in Exodus 3:14) is associated with the ‘unknowable,’ transcendent aspect of G-d prior to anything ‘else’ existing. The preeminent text for study of the names of the Creator and their association with His emanations (Sefirot) is Sha’are Orah (Gates of Light) by Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla (13th century).

(4) For other examples and discussion of Hashem performing mitzvot, see https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/30485/hashem-studies-torah

(5) Sha’are Orah uses ‘cognomen’ for terms in the Tanakh that are associated with G-d. The various names of G-d have their own. For instance, YHVH has Nora (awesome), Noseh Avan (remover of sin). Cognomens for El are Gadol (great), Rachum (merciful), Chanun (pardoning).  For Elohim, they include terms like Adir (mighty), Shofet (judge).


HELPFUL KEYWORDS TO SEARCH WITH FOR THIS SECTION: fragrance, oil, chambers, maidens, king, pouring, running, drawing, recalling, exile, smell, mashiach, messiah,


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