1:1 The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.

We are introduced to a text, whose title gives a sense of being ‘elevated.’ A ‘song’ above other ‘songs.’ As mentioned in our background material, Rabbi Akiva stated:

Heaven forbid that any man in Israel ever disputed the sacredness of Shir HaShirim for the whole world is not worth the day on which Shir Hashirim was given to Israel, for all of the Writings are kodesh (holy) but Shir Hashirim is kodesh kedashim (holy of holies).
Mishnah Yadayim 3:5

The verse also states that it is associated with Solomon, which itself is open to a number of interpretations, similar to the entire text.
This includes the ideas that:
  • He wrote it
  • The book is about him
  • He metaphorically represents something in the text

The influential commentator, Rashi (1040-1105) states that where you see Solomon (Shlomo) mentioned in the text, it is a reference to him at one level, and to Hashem at another. The name “Shlomo” relates to the word “Shalom” which means peace, and Hashem is the One who “causes peace in the heavens.”

This Song is called the “holiest of all the Songs” that have been sung by human beings to HaShem, making it the most ‘perfect’ of all songs.

The simplicity of verse 1 holds a deep mystery, as it hints at the intent behind the giving of Shir Hashirim:

Chazal teaches that if you put the hey in front of shlomo you have hashalem which means completed perfection … which implies the intention of this song. The opening verse defines the intention of the entire song – to reach shelemut, to reach perfection … and that purpose is reflected also in 8:10 … “then I will be like one who found peace, who found perfection.” Rav Kook says, “the point is to recognize from everything, the Source of everything.” That is perfection. That is unifying the physical with the spiritual.
Yael Dworkin (Rosh Chodesh Nisan 5780 Women’s Learning Seminar, Orthodox Union)

The essence of “completed perfection,” is the “unification of the Name.” This is the reuniting of the daughter, (the Shekinah) the final letter Hey of the most holy 4-letter name, bringing ‘wholeness,’ which is the precise meaning of ‘shalom.’

1:2 “Let him kiss me with the kisses FROM his mouth, for your love is better than wine.


Right off, we run into the depth of Shir Hashirim and how a simple verse can have complex if not conflicting meaning. As the author seems to be Solomon, why is there such a strong female voice? Is he speaking ‘through’ this? Could it be a male-female dual voice?

As we will see, there is indeed a coordination between the two figures in the text. You could say they are looking at the same thing, from different perspectives. As mentioned in our background info, this dynamic is most often related to Hashem and Israel.

The great tragedy of Shir Ha-Shirim and the great misfortune of history is the lack of synchronicity between these partners; when one is ready, the other is not. Coordinating these two partners is the ongoing challenge of the Jewish historical experience, and its lyric was viewed by Chazal as the Holy of Holies – Kodesh Ha-Kodashim
Rabbi Moshe Taragin, Yeshivat Har Etzion 


There is an expressed desire, on the part of the woman in the story for this kiss.

As mentioned in an earlier article:

In all the places, the male chases the Nukva (female) and awakens the love toward her. But here it turns out that she awakens the love and chases him, as it is written, “Set me as a seal upon your heart.” (Song of Songs 8:6) Usually, however, it is not to the Nukva’s credit to chase the male. Indeed, this is an unclear matter and a sublime thing, hidden in the treasures of the King.
– Baal Sulam/Yehuda Ashlag

As we will see, the dialogue between the two parties in Shir Hashirim reflects a past state, the present one, and a future reality. Through the eight chapters, we have problems, chastisements, processes and corrections. The feminine character is not yet at a state of being able to fully experience this ‘kiss.’

Beyond the ‘kiss,’ in this first chapter we see the ‘spiritual’ expressed as embodiment of senses: taste, sight, sound, smell, touch. Just as physical ailments can cause issues with these, so can spiritual ailments cause us to not connect to seeing, tasting, Torah/Hashem.

The act of the kiss (a “mouth to mouth” experience) and its pleasantness, is one of the deepest expressions of connection between G-d and humans.

This is expressed in terms of the ‘spirit’ of man uniting with the ‘spirit’ of G-d:

His soul will spontaneously be kindled with love for G‑d, and it will clothe itself in a spirit of benevolence, willingly, to lay down and resolutely to abandon all he possesses, for it will no longer be of major importance to him, in order only to cleave unto Him and to be absorbed into His light with an attachment and longing and so forth, in a manner of “kissing” and with an attachment of spirit to Spirit.
Tanya, chapter 49

Why made King Solomon, who brought words of love between the upper world, Zeir Anpin, and the lower world, Malchut, and the beginning of the praise of the improvement of love that he introduced between them, “May he kiss me.” Indeed, there is love of Devekut [adhesion] of spirit to spirit only in a kiss, and a kiss on the mouth, the outlet of the spirit and its outlet. When they kiss each other, these spirits cleave to one another and become one, and then it is one love. The kiss of love spreads to the four directions, and the four directions cleave together, and they are inside the faith, Malchut.
Baal Sulam/Yehuda Ashlag

The late, great modern-era teacher, Aryeh Kaplan offered a fascinating insight into “four stages” of a kiss:

The Zohar states that a kiss is the merging of one breath with another. Love begins with physical attraction. Then, as lovers begin communication, they begin to speak. As they get closer, they stop speaking and are merely aware of each other’s breath.  Finally, they come still closer, and their communication becomes a kiss, at which point they are actually in physical contact. At this moment, in the kiss, they are aware of each other’s life force. Kissing is thus a natural consequence of increased intimacy in speech. The two mouths come closer and closer and progress from speech, to breath, to the kiss. Thus, “There are four levels in the intimacy of love: physical attraction, speech, breath, and the kiss.
From ‘Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide,’ Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

Note verses 1:15,16, 2:10, 7:9 and 8:3 where the above four stages are found in sequence. What is especially fascinating is that the ‘ascending levels’ of the kiss follow the levels of the soul: Nefesh is the physical attraction, Ruach the connection of speech, and the Neshama is the breath. The actual kiss at the soul level of Chaya corresponds to composite unity within existence (Atzilut), which is the Holy of Holies, the interface to Ein Sof above. (See Personalities, Tanya 45, below.)

Shir Hashirim Song of Songs chapter 1 kiss soul


As we mentioned, Rachel and Jacob are viewed as spiritual emanations with regard to the “divine bride and groom.” Here we find another interesting verse on the idea of the kiss:

And Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted up his voice and wept.”
Genesis 29:11

This connection, between the “lower male and female” (Ze’ir Anpin and Nukveh) extends to the level of the Light of the Unknowable (Ein Sof):

For Rachel is Knesset Israel, the community of Israel, the fount of all soulsRachel represents the supernal attribute of Malchut of Atzilut, the source of all Jewish souls. … “And he wept” — in order to awaken and draw from there, from the boundless Divine Mercies, abundant compassion upon all the souls and upon the fount of the community of Israel, to raise them from their exile and to unite them in the Yichud Elyon (Higher Unity) of the light of the blessed Ein Sof, at the level of “kisses,” which is “the attachment of spirit with spirit,” as it is written, “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth.”
Tanya 45

So, the question is: Why aren’t they kissing already? The kiss only returns at the end in chapter 8!

Why the exile? For us to desire. SEE SHAARE ORAH p49 (written and oral torah)

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

First 3 verses on wine, oil, love

Oil connected to the kiss. Relationship of love, oil and wine. Oil hint to chasidus and 5th world that permeate everything. This is why we have so many interpretations to this text yet they are woven together with a common ‘desire’

“Because of …” Inferior love based on receiving. (=Bread of Shame) Nations


As we are told of the Mashiach:

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

Listen to this lovely story from the Zohar related to this:

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

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.


An odd comparison of draw me versus we will run

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.”

There are verses on Hashem studying torah with us and the shekinah being between two or more doing such


This is a holy of holies reference – the place of ultimate connection/unification. This place is as far as you can get from the worldly desires depicted in verses ahead.


Rejoicing is limited in the exile. i.e., moedim are “appointed” times and disconnected – this sets up v. 5  See BOOK16



the time of the giving of the Torah “They beheld G-d and ate and drank” Sets up next verse on present inferior status due to lack of connection. (The verse switches from the past tense to the future, perhaps reflecting the desire for the future Redemption from our present Exile)

Chassidut 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.

Chambers = Holy of Holies. High priest had no other thoughts other than the connection to Hashem. We rejoice when G-d through Torah says we should (not as the nations do which is upon the temporal). 2Chronicles 20:12 – We do not know what we do. Our eyes are upon you.

BOOK p.13

Love & wine

Wine = intoxicated with Torah (Purim reference – discuss in chapter 2!)

1:5 I am dark and beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem! Like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.

1:6 Do not look upon me [disdainfully] because I am swarthy, for the sun has gazed upon me; my mother’s sons were incensed against me; they made me a keeper of the vineyards; my own vineyard I did not keep.

“So far, so good”.  We’ve seen aspects of connection and desire. Now we come to a concern.

Here we see aspects of the four states of decline mentioned in the Intro:

  1. Concealment – She is searching for him (the gazelle who runs and hides)
  2. Domination by other Nations – working the other vineyards
  3. Exile of the Shekinah –
  4. Y’Israel’s afflictions


How can she be BOTH dark and light? P13

55/57 = black THUS beautifull!!  See how G-d judges during exile and ho everything is connected

Interesting is that the root of the word Qadar (‘black’) is to darken or to mourn. You get a sense of both here.

God’s Standard of judgment is harsh BOOK p45-47 (moses, aaron’s sons) but also fair when in exile

Midrash Rabbah Shir Hashirim 1:37 Are we to say that just as the tents of Kedar cannot be cleaned,1 so Israel also? Not so, because it says, AS THE CURTAINS OF SOLOMON: just as a curtain after becoming dirty can be washed, and can again become dirty and be washed, so although Israel are defiled with sin all the rest of the year, yet the Day of Atonement comes and makes atonement for them, as it says,  For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you (Lev. XVI, 30), and it is written, Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow (Isa. I, 10).

SEE BOOK p. 26,28


The moon is the luminary that is connected to the Jewish nation and to redemption. The text connects the moon to the Shekinah, while the sun is related to the wicked people.
The Privileged Divine Feminine in Kabbalah, Moshe Idel (Citing The Book of Illumination, Abrams)

New …

MY MOTHER’S SONS, the sons of my nation, namely the spies, WERE INCENSED AGAINST ME: they attacked me, they filled the Judge with wrath against me. THEY MADE ME KEEPER OF THE VINEYARDS: because I stayed in the wilderness journeying forty-two stages, I was not able to enter the land of Israel. Hence, MY OWN VINEYARD I DID NOT KEEP.
Midrash Rabbah – Song of Songs 1:41

(The 42 returns in chapter 3)

This is stated an unnatural and temporary condition. The lack of connection causes her (Israel) to serve in an inferior way. In the future Israel will be the light to the world – we are seeing a precursor now with gentiles learning from Jewish sources via the internet.

SEE BOOK p.39,54,

YET, there is always a purpose to what G-d does (Ein Od Milvado) including obstacles and situations. (Even if she/Israel falter.) In the end, everything comes together according to Hashem’s will and desire.

Good and bad in the same place – all part of process. They are TOGETHER from Hashem’s perspective:

I was black in Egypt and yet comely in Egypt. I was black in Egypt, as it says, But they rebelled against Me and would not hearken unto Me  (Ezek. XX, 8). And I was comely in Egypt, with the blood of the Passover and the blood of circumcision, as it is written, And when I passed by thee, and saw thee wallowing in thy blood, I said unto thee: In thy blood live-this is the blood of the Passover–and I said unto thee, in thy blood live  (Ezek. XVI,6)-this is the blood of circumcision. Another explanation: I was black by the Red Sea, as it says,  They were rebellious at the sea, even the Red Sea (Ps. CVI, 7), and I was comely at the Red Sea, as it says,  This is my God, and I will be comely for Him4 (Ex. XV, 2). I was black at Marah, as it says,  And the people murmured against Moses, saying: What shall we drink (ib. 24), and I was comely at Marah, as it says,  And he cried unto the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree and he cast it into the waters and the waters were made sweet (ib. 25).5 I was black at Rephidim, as it says, And the name of the place was called Massah and Meribah (ib. XVII, 7), and I was comely at Rephidim, as it says,  And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Adonai-nissi2 (ib. 15). I was black at Horeb, as it says,  They made a calf in Horeb  (Ps. CVI, 19), and I was comely at Horeb, as it says,  And they said:,All that the Lord hath spoken will we do, and obey (Ex. XXIV, 7). I was black in the wilderness, as it says,  How oft did they rebel against Him in the wilderness (Ps. LXXVIII, 40), comely in the wilderness at the setting-up of the Tabernacle, as it says,  And on the day that the Tabernacle was reared up, etc. (Num. IX, 15). I was black in the action of the spies, as it says,  And they spread an evil report of the land (ib. XIII, 32), and I was comely in the action of Joshua and Caleb, as it says,  Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, etc. (ib. XXXII 2). I was black at Shittim, as it says,  And Israel abode in Shittim and the people began to commit harlotry with the daughters of Moab (ib. XXV, 1), and I was comely in Shittim, as it says,  Then stood up Phinehas and wrought judgment (Ps. CVI, 30). I was black through Achan, as it says,  But the children of Israel committed a trespass concerning the devoted thing  (Josh. VII, 1), and I was comely through Joshua, as it says,  And Joshua said unto Achan: My son, give, I pray thee, glory (ib. 19). I was black through the kings of Israel and comely through the kings of Judah. If even with my black ones3 I was so comely, how much more so with my prophets!
Midrash Rabbah Shir Hashirim 1:34

SEE BOOK p.40,44


See Kramer 227 for messiah and keter/atik

BINDING HIS FOAL UNTO THE VINE (Genesis 49:11). The vine is the Community of Israel, so called also in the verse: “Thou didst remove a vine from Egypt” (Psalm 80:9). By “his foal” is meant the Messiah, who is destined to rule over all the hosts of the peoples, that is to say, the heavenly hosts who have charge of the Gentiles, and from whom they derive their strength. The Messiah will prevail over them, because this vine dominates all those lower crowns through which the Gentiles have dominion. This will be the victory above. Israel, who are “a choice vine”, will conquer and destroy other hosts below; and the Messiah will prevail over all … The vine represented the Community of Israel, which was called by the psalmist “this vine” (Psalm 80:15). The three branches have the same reference as the three flocks of sheep which Jacob saw by the well. (Genesis 29:2). Its blossoming typifies the time of Solomon, when the moon was illumined. The buds represent the lower Jerusalem, or, according to another explanation, the grade which is over it and gives sustenance to it … Simeon said: “There are two kinds of vine. There is the holy celestial vine, and there is the vine which is called “the vine of Sodom, the strange vine”; and therefore Israel is called “this vine”. And when Israel sinned and abandoned “this vine”, then it was said of them: “For from the vine of Sodom is their vine” (Deuteronomy 33:32).
Zohar 1:238a,b


see share orah p. 31,22,19 on Malkhut having to draw from something!



WHEN A MAN SHALL HAVE IN THE SKIN OF HIS FLESH A RISING OR A SCAB OR A BRIGHT SPOT, ETC. R.Judah here cited the verse: Look not upon me because I am swarthy, because the sun hath scorched me, etc. (S.S. 1, 6). When the Moon was hidden in the exile and she saw the yearning of Israel for her, she said, Look not on me, meaning, You cannot see me, because I am in darkness-for one thing because the sun has withdrawn his light from me, and for another because the sons of my mother were incensed against me (Ibid.), these being the emissaries of the side of severity. They made me keeper of the vineyards, that is, of other nations, whereas my own vineyard-Israel-I cannot keep. Formerly I kept my own vineyard and through it the others were also kept; now I have to keep the others that my own may be kept among them. As R. Hiya and R. Jose were once going along, they came to a field where there was a balsam tree on the right. Said R. Jose: A pall of smoke must come before our eyes; it is forbidden us to look upon any glad sight since the day when the Temple was destroyed. He then expounded the verse: The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein (Ps. XXIV, 1). This earth, he said, is the holy earth which is called the land of the living, while the world refers to other lands. R. Hiya said: The earth is as you said; the fulness thereof is the souls of the righteous; the world is this earth, and they that dwell therein are mankind. Said R. Jose: If so, what do you make of the next verse: For he hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters? He replied: Assuredly that land of the living is established upon the seas and rivers which issue from that supernal River that proceeds from Eden.
Zohar 3:46a

See book p41 – the blackness is part of the same mission! – this ties to awaken not love …

The Holy One, blessed be He, gave Israel three precious gifts, and all of them were given only through sufferings. These are: The Torah, the Land of Israel and the world to come. Whence do we know this of the Torah? — Because it is said: Happy is the man whom Thou chastenest, o Lord, and teachest him out of Thy law.34 Whence of the Land of Israel? — Because it is written: As a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee,35 and after that it is written: For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land.36 Whence of the world to come? — Because it is written: For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light, and reproofs of sufferings are the way of life.
Berachot 5a

Another explanation of EVERY WISE – HEARTED MAN. It is written, I am black, but comely (S.S. I, 5). If ’black’, then how ’comely’? Can one be both black and comely? No, but this is what the Community of Israel said: ‘”I am black” in my own deeds, “but comely” with the deeds of my ancestors; I was black in Egypt,4 ” but comely ” when I said at Sinai: ” All that the Lord hath spoken will we do, and obey” ’ (Ex. XXIV, 7). ‘ I was black’ at the Red Sea, as it says, But were rebellious at the sea, even at the Red Sea (Ps. CVI, 7)5; but ‘ I am comely’ because I said: ’ This is my God, and I will glorify Him’ (Ex. XV, 2). ‘I am black’ on account of having made the Golden Calf, ’but comely’ because I made the Tabernacle. ‘I am black’ because of the ox, as it says, Thus they exchanged their glory for the likeness of an ox that eateth grass  (Ps. CVI, 20), but ‘I am comely’ on account of another kind of ox, namely, What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, etc. (Lev. XVII, 3).1 ‘I am black’ on account of the Tabernacle, because it says, They have defiled My sanctuary  (Ezek. XXIII, 38), yet ‘ I am comely’ on account of His Tabernacle for it says, AND EVERY WISE-HEARTED MAN AMONG THEM THAT WROUGHT THE WORK MADE THE TABERNACLE. What was the work which they wrought? If you would know, see what is written: And this is the offering which ye shall take of them, etc. (Ex. XXV, 3). This refers to the Community of Israel which is called ‘an offering’, for it says, Israel is the Lord’s hallowed portion, His first-fruits of the increase (Jer. II, 3). ’Gold, and silver’ also refers to Israel, as it says, The wings of the dove are covered with silver, and her pinions with the shimmer of gold (Ps. LXVIII, 14). ’And brass’-this refers to Eretz Israel, for it says, A land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills, thou mayest dig brass  (Deut. VIII, 9). ’And blue’-this applies to Israel, because it says, And that they put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue (Num. XV, 38). ’And purple, and scarlet’-this also applies to Israel, because it says, Fear not, thou worm2 Jacob  (Isa. XLI, 14), and also Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet  (S.S IV, 3), and The princes of Judah their purple  (Ps. LXVIII, 28).3 Another explanation of ’gold’ is that it refers to Abraham who was tried in the fiery furnace like gold; ’And silver’ refers to Isaac, who was refined like silver on the altar; ’And brass’-this is Jacob, of whom it says, I have observed the signs,4 and the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake (Gen. XXX, 27)
Shemot Rabbah 49:2

See book .43 – compare to sin leading to a stronger bond – (required for the kiss!)

1/7 Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where do you feed, where do you rest [the flocks] at noon, for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?”

1:8 “If you do not know, O fairest of women, go your way in the footsteps of the flocks and pasture your kids beside the shepherds’ dwellings.

Verses 7 and 8 are a sharp transition. She appeals to him as to where to go, and his response is implying she should know … (Hint of sarcasm? Or perhaps ‘Tough love!’)  Modern vernacular: “Seriously??”

Proverbs 3:12 – For those who G-d loves, He chastises

This is the response of HaShem to the People of Israel asking for direction – where to go and what to do, in the darkness of the Exile.

RASHI: “If you do not know, My assembly and My congregation, O fairest of women, among the other nations, where you should pasture and be saved from the hands of those who oppress you; if you wish to survive among them and not have your children lost, then reflect upon the ways of your early forefathers. They accepted My Torah and observed My ordinances and My commandments, and followed in My ways.”

The end of the matter, everything having been heard, fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the entire man. Ecclesiastes 12:13

1/9 “To a horse of the Pharo’s chariot, I have likened you, my beloved”

Beginning of a mild ‘rebuke/reminder’

Allusion to Egypt/Sinai. He then goes on to praise his beloved’s beauty. The horses of Egypt represented a forbidden treasure! The horses of Pharo are another pitfall that a king is enjoined to avoid. Another approach is that Pharo’s horses are obedient to Egypt.  Ultimately they drown in the waves of the sea.

1/10 Your cheeks are comely with rows, your neck with necklaces

1/11 We will make you rows of gold with studs of silver.”

RASHI: “The Assembly of Israel replies and says, ‘All this is true; You bestowed goodness upon me, and I repaid You with evil, for while the King was still at the table of His wedding feast (that is, at Sinai

1/12 “While the king was still at his table, my spikenard gave forth its fragrance.


Allusion to Sinai. Follows up on the previous three verses of reminder

And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand, and they perceived God, and they ate and drank.
Exodus 24;11


Negative connotation ‘RAY-akh” See Exodus 5:21 (made us a stink to pharaoh) and Jeremiah 48:11 (Moab)

RASHI: ‘…its fragrance left and turned to stench, because while the Divine Presence was still at Sinai, I sinned with the Golden Calf.’ But Scripture wrote an expression of affection, ‘gave forth its fragrance,’ and it did not write ‘stank’ or ‘became putrid’ since Scripture speaks in refined language.”

Even so … the old spice (nard) will be replaced with myhrr … (through G-d’s forgiveness):

1:13 A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me; between my breasts he shall lie.

1:14 A cluster of henna-flowers is my beloved to me, in the vineyards of Ein-Gedi.

1:15 “Behold, you are comely, my beloved; behold, you are comely; your eyes are like doves

A ‘limited’ acceptance of the rebuke but beginning of unification

Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1:11 –  In all other songs either God praises Israel or they praise Him. In the Song of Moses [at the Red Sea] they praise Him, saying, This is my God, and I will glorify Him (Ex. XV, 2). In the Song of Moses [before his death] He praises them, as we read, He made him ride on the high places of the earth  (Deut. XXXII, 13). Here, however, they praise Him and He praises them. He praises them: Behold thou art beautiful, my beloved (I, 16), and they praise Him: Behold thou art beautiful, my beloved, verily pleasant (I, 17)

RASHI: “I (Israel) was ashamed of my misdeeds, and He strengthened me with words of appeasement, saying (BaMidbar 14:20), ‘I have forgiven, according to your words.’ And behold you are most fair, for your eyes are like doves… And this is the allegory:…”

1:16 “Behold, you are comely, my beloved, yea pleasant; also our couch is leafy.

Equivalency to the temple.

SHIR HASHIRIM 1:68 – ALSO OUR COUCH IS LEAFY. This refers tothe Temple, as it says, With his nurse in the bed-chamber (II Kings XI, 2).

Through your pleasantness, behold our couch is leafy with our sons and with our daughters, all of whom gather to You here, as it is said (ibid. 8: 4): “and the congregation gathered [to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting].” The Tabernacle is called a bed, as it is said (below 3: 7): “Behold, the litter of Solomon,” and the Temple is called a bed, as it is said concerning Joash “in the bed chamber” which was in the “House of the Lord” (ibid. 3), because they [the Sanctuaries] are the source of Israel’s fruitfulness and procreation.(Chabad)

The “couch” is an allusion to the Shekinah, and “Solomon” refers to the “King to whom peace (shalom) belongs”: “threescore mighty men are about it”-these are the sixty myriads of exalted angels, part of the army of the Shekinah which accompanied Jacob into Egypt.’
Zohar, Shemoth 5a

 “AND ISRAEL BOWED HIMSELF DOWN UPON THE BED’S HEAD. The bed stands for the Shekinah, as in the verse, “Behold, it is the litter of Solomon” (Song of Songs 3:7). The “head of the bed” is the Foundation of the World who is the head of the sacred couch; and “that which is upon the head” is (the supernal) Israel who is established at the head of the bed.
Zohar, Bereshith 225b

1:17 The beams of our houses are cedars; our corridors are cypresses.”

Who testifies against me? The stones of a man’s home and the beams of his house testify against him, for it is said: For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
Chaigah 16a

MASCULINE AND FEMININE TOGETHER (KETER) RELATING TO 1:6 (move this to 1:17 temple reference?)

Zohar 2:4a – R. Eleazar and R. Jose were once walking together. Said R. Eleazar to R. Jose: ‘Open thy mouth,.and let thy words flow forth!’ R. Jose replied: ‘Will it please the master if I ask him to solve a certain difficulty for me? I have heard from the mouth of the “holy lamp” (R. Simeon b. Yohai) this interpretation of the words: “and these are the names of the children of Israel”-that they refer to the “Ancient Israel” (God)and to all the heavenly hosts and chariots who went into captivity with Jacob. I am, however, puzzled how to fit the words “a man and his household” in this verse into this interpretation.’ R. Eleazar replied: ‘What R. Simeon said is certainly correct. We have an esoteric doctrine that the receiver is, as it were, a “house” to the giver. This may be illustrated from the following verse: “And it came to pass when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord and the king’s house” (I K. IX, I). “The house of the Lord” is, of course, the Temple, which includes the outer courts, the porch, the antechambers, and the Temple itself: but the “king’s house” is not, as you might think, the palace of Solomon, but the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctum, the word “King” being here used in its absolute sense. For this King, although supreme, is, in relation to the Highest Point, the most hidden One, feminine, or receptive; but at the same time He is masculine, or active, in relation to the lower King; and this double relationship, to that which is above and that which is below, appertains to the whole supramundane world. It is in this symbolic sense that the angels are here called “his house”.’ AND THESE ARE THE NAMES. R. Jose connected these words with the words from the Song of Songs (IV, I2): “A closed garden is my sister bride, a closed spring, a sealed fountain.” ‘ “A closed garden” refers to the Community of Israel, for,’ said R. Eleazar, ‘as the garden has to be tended, ploughed, watered, and trimmed, so has the Community of Israel to be tended, nurtured, and trimmed. She is called “garden” and she is called “vineyard”: “for the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is Israel… and he fenced it and gathered out the stones thereof” (Isa. v, I-7).’


1. What is a ‘song’ from the Tenakh? There are ten great Shirot (“songs”) sung to Hashem. Nine have occurred already. The tenth one is the final one that is associated with the coming of mashiach. These ten Shirot may be seen as corresponding to the ten Sefirot and in the same ‘ascending’ order.

  1. Shirat Adam – The song Adam sang after Creation was completed: Mizmor shir l’yom hashabbat. (Psalm 92)
    MALKHUT: The Sefirah associated with Shabbat (and the Shekinah and female in Shir Hashirim. First in thought, last in completion with the end wedged into the beginning and beginning in the end.
  2. Shirat HaYam – The song at Yam Suf [Parsha Beshalach – Exodus 14:30-15:19]
    YESOD: The ‘connection’ for Israel and ‘disconnect’ for Egypt occurred at the point. Yesod is associated with both Mayim Cahyim (Living Waters) and Mayim Maytim (waters of the dead). See: Sha’are Orah, Section II.
  3. Shirat Ha’Be’er – Song of the Well in the desert [Numbers 21:16-18] When the Emorim were killed after plotting an ambush and the mountains crushed them. Their blood came up through the well revealing the miracle to Bnei Yisroel.
    HOD: From the left side of judgment/restriction. In this case, against the Amorites. The Sefirah of Hod is associated with “Elohim Tzvaot,” (from the left side) which ‘wages the wars of the Lord, above and below.’ See Sha’are Orah, Section III/IV.
  4. Shirat Haazinu [Deuteronomy 32:1 – 32:52]
    NETZACH: From the right side of mercy/expansion. Netzach is the ‘spark’ that initiates the cycle. It is the Sefirah of proactive hearing with understanding. This great song was from Moses, who is the 4th of the Ushpizin at Sukkot, which is associated with the sefirah of Netzach.
  5. Shirat Ha’Givon [Joshua 10:12-15] When the sun remained up through the night to help Yehoshua in his battle.
    TIFERET is associated with the ‘sun’ in kabbalistic metaphor. The Giv’on had allied themselves with B’nei Yisra’el, and received the same benefit from the sun above them as the Israelites did.
  6. Shirat Devorah in Sefer Shoftim [Judges 4:4-5:31] When Bnei Yisroel defeated the mighty Sisra’s and Yael killed Sisra.
    GEVURAH: From the left side of judgment/restriction. Devorah was judge over Israel. In this shir, Sisra receives unmitigated judgment from Yael, who drives a tent peg into his head.
  7. Shirat Chana [I Samuel 2:1-10] HESED: From the right side of mercy/expansion. In this case, what Chana received for her faithfulness.
  8. Shirat David [Psalm 18] when David was saved from Shaul.
    BINAH: From the left side of judgment/restriction. In this case, the latter, against Saul who restricted David (1 Chronicles 12:1). Binah is the ‘upper feminine’ and Malkhut, which is associated with David and the Kingdom, is the ‘lower feminine.’
  9. Shir Ha’Shirim of Shlomo Ha’Melech [Songs of Songs chapter 1-8]
    CHOKMAH: From the right side of mercy/expansion. Shlomo was known for his Chokmah/Wisdom. Chokhmah is the point of unity of souls (and all things) first emanating out of nothingness (Keter). (See Intro article, Before the Beginning.)
  10. Shir HaGeulah – [Isaiah 9:1-7]
    This is the song that will be sung in the times of Moshiach, as it says in the Book of Isaiah, “On that day there will be sung this song in the land of Yehuda…. [26:1]”
    KETER: The crown which is separate from the body (of the other nine Sefirot). It is beyond our understanding at this time, thus it is known as the ‘Sod within the Sod’ and the ‘Torah of Mashiach.’


Now the Zoharic author unearths a fresh layer of our story from Tractate Hullin, wherein the Almighty sees the moon, understands her problem, and provides a wise and gentle solution. Grafting poetry onto myth, this reading places amorous verses from the biblical Song of Songs (1:7-8) into the mouths of the protagonists, God and the moon:

Said the moon before the blessed Holy One: “Can one king use two crowns as one? For each of them stands in and of itself?” … He told her: I see that you wish to be “leader of the foxes” [i.e., the “small fry.”] Go diminish yourself, for although you will be a head to them, you shall be smaller than you used to be.  … And the moon said as follows: “Tell me, O one whom my soul loveth, where will thou feedest thy flocks” – how can the world be led with two crowns as one?! … Where thou liest in midday– for the moon cannot provide sufficient light, and it is impossible to lead with two crowns as one – the sun and the moon – for what light can the moon provide at midday?! Therefore, it is impossible to use two crowns as one. … “For why should I be as one that veileth herself’”– how shall I be veiled at midday when the sun’s light and brightness grows stronger. For I am veiled with shame before [the sun], and cannot serve You. And You, how can you lead and use two crowns as one?! … The blessed Holy One told her: I understand you, go and diminish yourself. … ”If thou know not, O thou fairest among women” – since you have said that I cannot lead the world with two crowns as one, go diminish yourself and be a head to the foxes… “Go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, [and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents]” – go and be a head to those earthly crowds and forces. Shepherd them, lead them, and be sovereign to all the [beings of the] realm below, and lead each and every one as he deserves, and rule the night. … Certainly, leave, diminish yourself, as you deserve.(Zohar Hadash 70d)

In the Song of Songs, the young woman wishes to know where her lover will be at midday, so that she can find him without the embarrassment of having to ask other shepherds of his whereabouts. The lover replies, telling her exactly where she should graze her lambs.

In the Zohar Hadash, the erotic conversation is transposed to the moon and the Almighty: How can you lead and shepherd the world, my love, says the moon, while the sun and I are conjoined as one? For I cannot fulfill my destiny to illumine your face when I am dull and pale, as I am cleaved to the bright sunlight.

I understand your position, says God. And you, the fairest among women, since you correctly recognized that the world cannot be led by two identical powers, diminish yourself and go with the flock; be queen and lead justly the whole of the mundane world. I accept your advice: detach yourself from the sun, reduce yourself from your primordial state, embark on your independent quest and lead the world.

The moon and the sun may be the male-female pairing in the luminary dimension, but the ultimate object of the moon’s love is the divine power from which she emanated. The moon, perhaps like the human soul, longs for her worldly partners but deep down yearns to ascend to the Godhead. The original Talmudic myth, abounding with misunderstanding and mis-communication, is now immersed in love, mutual appreciation, concord and willful action. The Almighty acknowledges the moon, her heart and her wish. The moon also acknowledges God, and can lay out her troubles before Him. And the problem has a solution. The moon is not at all punished in this story. She embarks on her journey with God’s blessing.

The Zoharic reading is echoed in Jewish praxis in Seder Kiddush Halevana, the monthly ritual that sanctifies the waxing of the new moon. In its liturgy we again find the Song of Songs: the familiar verse, “Kol dodi hineh zeh ba”(“The voice of my beloved, here he comes”) from Chapter 2. The concluding passage of the ceremony captures best the quest and prayer for a time in which two great powers, two lights, may coexist in their true size, without hurting or diminishing each other, shining face to face in a reality where God’s creations may enjoy their original splendor.

May it be thy will, Lord my God and God of my fathers, to readjust the deficiency of the moon, so that it may no longer be reduced in size; may the light of the moon again be like the light of the sun, as it was during the first seven days of creation, before its size was reduced, for it is said: “The two great lights.”

The moon cannot be blamed because she is us, and we are her. Like the Jewish people, she does not acquire power in this world. By asking for an offering to be brought on His behalf, God participates in the sorrow of His people. Implicit in this national reading of our myth is the wish for the correction of this flawed condition in the world to come or at the end of days.


The moon, unable to rule along with the sun, and feeling its loss of dignity in becoming disjoined from the sun, said: “Where feedest thou” (Cant. 1, 7), or “whence derivest thou thy light and glory?” The sun answered and said: “Where thou restest thyself at midday.” The light of the moon was therefore diminished in order that the light of the sun might be greater and more manifest at noon, and accordingly the scripture further adds, “that I may not be as one that turneth aside from following in the path of the flocks.” Constrained to be similar to the sun, the moon humbled herself, diminished her light at midday, as it is written. “Go thy way in the footsteps of the flocks” (Cant. 1, 8). The Holy One said to the moon: “Go and humble thyself,” after which she lost her own light and now reflects only that of the sun though at first she was the same in rank and dignity with it, thus intimating occultly that the female can never fulfil her destiny and discharge her function except in joint union with her husband. The greater light designates Jehovah; the lesser light, Alhim; the one being a reflection and manifestation of the other as a word is of thought.

“My mother’s children were angry with me” (Cant. i., 6), the esoteric meaning of which is: the light of the moon became diminished on that day and the enveloping worlds were established in their relative positions around the glittering and resplendent orbs of light in the firmament, in order to support the throne of David.

When King Solomon went down into the garden of nuts, as saith the scripture: “I went down into the garden of nuts” (Cant. vi. 11) he took up a nutshell, that gave rise to reflections and ideas that enabled him to understand the reason and cause why anything that is pure and holy becomes environed by what is evil, as the nut enclosed within a shell. He perceived that evil spirits attach themselves to the pure and good, environing them similar to shells by exciting and producing certain kinds of pleasing emotions and feelings, the tending of which is to defile and corrupt, as it is written: “The pleasures of man produce and bring forth evil spirits” (sadah and sadoth) (Eccle. ii. 8) which occurs during the hours of sleep. It was necessary that the Holy One should create them in the world in order that it might be completeNG TO KETER

SHEKINAH TEXTS: http://cojs.org/all_shekhinah_texts/

The Rebbe Rashab explains that true unity is not a homogeneous mass of virtually identical elements, like a pile of sand. On the contrary, true unity occurs when there is a collection of potentially disharmonious elements, and these disharmonious elements are synthesized so that their real underlying compatibility is revealed. The task of revealing potential underlying unity may be applied directly to the development of an intellectual concept. Initially, the concept is in a state of hokhmah (wisdom), undeveloped, just a simple point of a concept. Later, when the concept is analyzed and sub-concepts are broken down into sub-facets and implications and so on, then, at a certain stage of analysis, the sub-concepts start to look as if they are conflicting with one another. These are the words of the Rebbe Rashab.

When further analysis proceeds, however, and each sub-concept is seen as a detail or as a sub-goal of the major goal, and each sub-goal recognizes that the other sub-goals are necessary for it to fulfill its proper role, as a sub-concept of the major concept, then there is harmony among the sub-concepts and they reveal their true unity. This framework fit our planning problem perfectly. The sub-goals to deliver on time and to reduce the work force are only sub-goals. If left unchallenged, each would negatively impact Boeing’s profits, and only when the strength of each sub-goal would be moderated by the other, could they work together, each expressing itself in the proper measure and context for the benefit of the greater primary goal.

Without going into detail, this is a metaphor for everything, in a certain sense. It was very meaningful to me at that time to find something in Hasidism that helped me in my scientific work. I’ve thought a lot about this and searched the Web, and was surprised that almost no one is even suggesting tests that would validate human-level intelligence in a program. As a preliminary proposal, I suggest adopting the explanation of the Rebbe Rashab in his Maamar Heihaltsu. That is to say, if a program can conceive of a concept–and there are programs that can do this–and then break the concept down into sub-concepts and facets, and so on, and recognize conflicts between them, and then proceed with the development to recognize a deeper, broader framework in which the sub-concepts mold together in a truly unified way, that would certainly be an intelligent program.

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