Last Updated 2.20.24


We recommend going back to our Intro articles if you haven’t reviewed those yet. (Links are found on the home page.) Through this “collective commentary” that we are building together, we will pose ideas, ask questions, link to related concepts, and more.

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

The Song of Songs: Elevated Status

The title gives a sense Shir Hashirim being ‘elevated.’ This is not just a ‘song,’ but one above other ‘songs,’ bringing down hidden wisdom from above:

Solomon, however, was gifted with a still greater knowledge of that song: he penetrated into the essence of wisdom, and so he wrote many proverbs and made a book of the song itself. This is the meaning of his words, “I gat me men singers (sharim) and women singers” (Ecclesiastes 2:8); that is to say, he acquired the knowledge of the hymn sung by heavenly and terrestrial beings. And on account of this he called his book “The Song of Songs”: the song of the supernal songs, the song containing all mysteries of the Torah and of Divine wisdom; the song wherein is power to penetrate into things that were and things that will be; the song sung by the supernal princes.
Zohar 2:18b

The great 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

There are ten sections of the Tanakh that are called ‘songs,’ including Shir Hashirm, which was the final one recorded in Scripture. (1) 

Rabbi Yaakov of Dubner (2) the “Dubner Maggid” (1741–1804) explains:

It is the last song recorded in Scripture — the last of the great songs until the end of time …  all the other songs relate to the past, whereas the Song of Songs relates to the future.
Dubner Maggid Commentary on the Song of Songs, Rabbi David M. Zucker

As such, Shir Hashirim, has a very ‘messianic’ aspect to it.

The author of the Targum translated this verse to mean that it is superior to the ten songs that had been uttered in the world … this song … is the song of the Messiah.
Midrash ha-Ne’lam al Shir Hashirim, Zohar: Pritzker Edition Vol 11

Solomon: ‘Proxy’ to Multiple Concepts

The plain meaning of the verse states that it is associated with Solomon, which itself is open to a number of interpretations. This includes the ideas that:

  • He wrote it
  • The book is about him
  • He himself metaphorically represents something in the text

The name “Shlomo” (Solomon) relates to the word “Shalom” which means peace, and Hashem is the One who “causes peace in the heavens.”

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.

This is referenced in the following:

“… the Sages teach that the name Solomon (“his peace”) in the Song of Songs refers to the One to Whom Peace Belongs (Shevuos 35b)
Dubner Maggid Commentary on the Song of Songs, Rabbi David M. Zucker

Any association made been a human and ‘G-d’ is of course, strictly in terms of the “Image of G-d” or G-dly ’emanations,’ that we interact with and relate to. The text of Shir Hashirim, with its focus on the relationship of the “groom and bride,” relates to the G-dly emanations of Tiferet (beauty in harmony) and Malkhut (kingship or kingdom). (See our Intro article on emanations)

Because Tiferet symbolizes the state of harmony among the Sefirot, it came to be associated with the traditional name for God in rabbinic literature — Ha-Kadosh Barukh Hu (The Holy One, Blessed be He). Tiferet was understood to be the subject of many traditional prayers. Prayers that emphasized God as father and king were usually prayers referring to Tiferet in particular or, through it, to the Sefirot in general. In this way, Tiferet was often portrayed as the representative of the other Sefirot. Tiferet came to symbolize the aspect of God that was known as the traditional God of Judaism, the God of the Hebrew Bible. Tiferet was the Sefirah that most closely symbolized the transcendent deity. It was the Sefirah that spoke at Sinai as the representative of the other Sefirot.
The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, David S. Ariel

Tiferet ia also seen as “standing in” for the set of six emanations that make up the groom, or “lower masculine” persona (called Ze’ir Anpin, “the lower countenance”).

Designating God as Solomon (Shelomo=Shalom) refers especially to Tiferet, the sixth of the ten sefirot, the central “male” element of the Godhead, the aspect of divinity understood by the kabbalists as the bridegroom of the Song of Songs.
Ezra ben Solomon of Gerona Commentary on the Song of Songs

We thus have a connection between Solomon and G-d, the emanation (sefirah) of Tiferet, the concept of the divine bridegroom, Jacob, and the male voice in Shir Hashirim. (And we’re only on the first verse!) All of this is important to keep in mind, going forward into the text.

Purpose in Peace

The simplicity of verse 1 and its reference to ‘peace’ offers a hint to 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,” (mentioned above) is the “unification of the Name” (Zechariah 14:9). A way this is expressed, is the reuniting of the daughter (the Shekinah) which is the ‘separated’ final letter Hey of the most holy 4-letter name (YHV-H) to the rest of the name (YHV) bringing ‘wholeness,’ which is the precise meaning of ‘shalom.’

This wholeness (singularity) of Solomon’s was established eternally with the Shema:

Here is the mystery of unification. Song — this is Israel (Deuteronomy 6:4), appointed as witness of unity. Songs–YHVH, Our God, YHVH, all one, in a single unification. We have established this unification and here is unification of all worlds. Which is Solomon’s: mystery of One (Deuteronomy 6:4) 
Midrash ha-Ne’lam al Shir Hashirim, Zohar: Pritzker Edition Vol 11

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, in his commentary on the Bahir, points to the relationship between Solomon and the feminine figure in the text in terms of the spiritual “father-daughter” relationship (Chokmah/Wisdom and Malkhut/Kingship):

In Hebrew, Solomon is Shlomoh, from the root ‘Shalom,’ meaning “peace” (see 1Chronicles 22:9) … Peace is the attribute of Daat-Knowledge, which is the concept of union and reconciliation, especially between male and female. The word ‘Shalom’ — peace — comes from the same root as ‘Shalem,’ which means perfect and complete. In particular, neither the male nor the female is complete without the other. ‘Shalom’ (ShaLOM) is spelled with a Vav, while Shlomoh (ShLoMoH) is spelled with a Heh … the Vav represents the Male, while the Heh is the Female. Shlomoh-Solomon is therefore the concept of “Peace” in Malkhut-Kingship, the Female. Shlomoh-Solomon is therefore said to be “The King to whom Peace belongs” (Shavuot 35b, Rashi on Song of Songs 1:1). God therefore told Solomon that his name was like the name of “My Glory,” since Glory always refers to the Sefirah of Malkhut-Kingship.

Wisdom was then given to Solomon through the “daughter” which is also the Sefirah of Malkhut-Kingship. It is an important Kabbalistic teaching that Malkhut-Kingship is the Sefirah through which all others are revealed. Since Solomon made himself a counterpart of Malkhut-Kingship, he could draw through it. Shlomoh is literally Shalom-Hey — peace of the female Heh, which is both Binah-Understanding and Malkhut-Kingship. Solomon was thus the one who brought the element of Daat-Knowledge, which is Peace, to the Female, which Malkhut-Kingship. Daat-Knowledge is the bond between Chokhmah-Wisdom and Binah-Understanding, and specifically, is the means through which Chokhmah-Wisdom influences Binah-Understanding. Hence, Solomon brings Chokhmah-Wisdom down to Malkhut-Kingship, and through it was in turn given wisdom.
Aryeh Kaplan, The Bahir Illuminator, comment #65

We Have One or More Mysteries on Our Hands

The Shekinah has a “dual relationship” — one being ‘downward’ with the people, and the other ‘upward’ with Hashem. This is an important point to keep in mind for any study on the topic.

Standing on the threshold to the earthly world, the Shekhina hands over the divine powers assembled within her to this world and at the same time directs them upwards. As the “crowned precious stone in which all is contained,” she is the foundation stone and yet strives to return back to the place whence she originated, the third Sefira: “‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’ (Psalm 118:22). And it ascends to the place from which it was hewn, as it is written: ‘From there is the shepherd, the stone of Israel’ (Genesis 49:24)”
Daughter, Sister Bride, and Mother: Images of the Femininity of God in the Early Kabbalah,
Peter Schäfer 

The Zohar presents the very first verse of Shir Hashirim as a “mystery” related to the two ‘connections’ the Shekinah maintains and how Solomon’s action relating to the “upper aspect” could not have been accomplished without Moses’ previous work relating to the ‘lower’:

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

“Shir hashirim asher lishlomoh.” (“The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.”) … Mark now. Solomon would not have been able to bring about the union above had not union of the Shekinah with the world below been already completed in Her union with Moses; one could not have been without the other. All this is a supreme mystery, which yet is revealed to those of a wise heart. (3)
Zohar 2:145a

What the Zohar states is the Shekinah (divine presence) was in a type of exile “between above’ and below.” Thus, two connections had to be made. That done by Moses, was between the Shekinah and the people. Solomon’s was between the Shekinah and the “King Above.”

Moses’ repair of the connection below had degraded in stages since the time of Adam:

Between the time of dwelling in the Garden and that of the Tabernacle, however, God removed the Shekinah from the world in seven stages, as a result of the sins of subsequent generations … these phases are known as “the Removal of the Shekinah.”
Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism

All Torah is about connection, but Shir Hashirim has unique and profound aspects to it. There remains a final step for us, which is to complete the connection “between the Shekinah and the one above,” through understanding of the text of Shir Hashirim. This is why a “new look” at Shir Hashirim is critical to our generation.

The double function of the tenth Sefira, her orientation towards above and below, is very graphically expressed in the Hebrew concept “daveq umeyuhad,” which most likely means “united [or connected] and [at the same time] separate. … Because the Shekhina is at one and the same time “united” with her divine origin and “separated” from it, she is the outstanding art of the Sefirotic system and, moreover, the power through which the divine sphere exerts influence on the earthly world, through which God communicates with humankind.
Daughter, Sister Bride, and Mother: Images of the Femininity of God in the Early Kabbalah,
Peter Schäfer 

The wicked of the world cause the Holy One Blessed be He to separate himself from the Shechina as we read in Proverbs 16:28. “אִישׁ תַּהְפֻּכוֹת יְשַׁלַּח מָדוֹן וְנִרְגָּן מַפְרִיד אַלּוּף” – “A perverse man sows strife, And a complainer separates the best of friends.” The ‘best of friends’ ‘אַלּוּף’ is the Holy One Blessed be He, that is forced to disconnect from Yesod because of the wicked that disrupts the peace that is Yesod and the connection to the Shechina in Malchut is lost.
Daily Zohar #3311 Tzav-Next Year in Jerusalem

Shir Hashirim, Shabbat, Passover and The Generation of Messiah

As has been discussed, the feminine character in Song of Songs is associated with the concept of the ‘bride’ and the attribute of Malkhut. The male, with that of ‘groom,’ and the six sefirot of “Ze’ir Anpin.

The long-awaited union of his “six attributes” to her “seventh one” will bring the redemption. This is reflected in the Jewish wedding ritual, where the bride circles the groom a total of seven times.

This 6+1 union reflects the six days of creation, and of our week, leading (and connecting) to the seventh, Shabbat, which is itself called the ‘bride.’

The six-day creation period thus serves a transitional function between the era of pure archetypes and the coarse materiality of our physical world.
Kabbalistic Writings on the Nature of Masculine & Feminine, Sarah Yehudit Schneider

It also correlates to the idea of six-thousand years since leaving Gan Edan, connecting to a 1,000-year messianic era — the desire and goal of the two figures in Shir Hashirim.

These concepts are behind a Shabbat-custom:

It is an established custom to say the Song of Songs before Shabbos begins. This song is filled with Israel’s holy, passionate yearning for closeness with the Holy One, blessed is He. This is the perfect time to say the Song of Songs, for an illumination of Divine favor and holy, passionate yearning fill all the upper worlds. A great illumination of this favor enters the world at this time as well.
The Friday Afternoon Prayer: Song of Songs,

The Shekinah is at the heart of the traditions involving women on Shabbat, reflecting the forward-looking aspects of Shir Hashirim:

The rabbinic explanation for the two candles describes the lighting of the candles as an act of repentance for the sin of Eve. But some tkhines* dispute that, offering instead, positive reasons for the ritual — to honor the two souls of the Sabbath, to awaken Sabbath joy above and below, and to honor the Shekinah, who is said to be present during the Sabbath.
Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism

(* Tkhines were collections of prayers published in Yiddish, often specifically for women, across Europe from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.)

Through Shir Hashirim the female figure refers to “third parties” associated with her, who are either in need of change or desiring a future, better status. The connection to Shabbat is also one of ‘purpose’ on the part of the people, and the idea of the “arousal from below,” required for the union of “bride and groom.”

The Sabbath is transformed into a cosmic wedding between the masculine Tiferet and the feminine Shekinah of God. The role of the congregation is to bring the lovers together, for this cannot be accomplished without their assistance.
The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, David S. Ariel

The following text goes more extensively into the transformative and eternal aspects of Shabbat, and its association with the six days leading to it, the Shekinah, the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) and the people:

On Shabbat, those who are receptive experience the spirit of Shabbat known also as the “additional soul”—a holy soul that emanates from the higher theosophical Shabbat to man during the day of Shabbat. For a short while, a person may be elevated to the same rank that he will enjoy in “the world to come.” From the emergence of the kabbalah, we find that Shabbat is identified with the divine fountain of souls emanating influx onto the souls of Israel. During Shabbat, souls cleave to the Holy Spirit, which is identified as the spirit of Shabbat itself; emanating from the higher Shabbat, the spirit of Shabbat is identified as hypostatical time. In this way, divine time is the subject of mystical illumination. The important identification between the Holy Spirit, the Shabbat spirit and theosophical time is evident in many discussions in the Zohar and other thirteen century sources. From its creation, the seventh day has been invested with the Holy Spirit. Every Shabbat since the first Shabbat has borne this quality of time and divinity, and the spirit of Shabbat is re-experienced weekly by those who are receptive. The higher divine Shabbat emanates its life not only to the souls of Israel, but also to the lower sefirot, identified with mundane time—the six days of the week and the Shekhinah. Accordingly, secular time or history is not an empty form in which life unfolds, but rather a projection and an extension from the higher planes of time. Each day is a prism reflecting a specific quality of the higher time, and this quality changes throughout the day and night. It is on Shabbat that the time projected is of the highest quality, as it emanates through fewer filters and is experienced as a Holy Spirit dwelling in Israel. This projection during Shabbat is manifested in the form of spiritual energy known as the Holy Spirit; the higher state of harmony in the godhead allows the Shabbat spirit to descend directly through the different grades to the human realm. The additional soul allows those who keep Shabbat below to experience the three-fold Shabbat communion between the God of Israel, the assembly of Israel and the Shekhinah, which descends and cleaves to Israel during Shabbat. The Holy Spirit that descends upon Israel on Shabbat is itself an extension or an embodiment of the Shekhinah and of the higher Shabbat. In this way, Shabbat is experienced in all dimensions, both on the community level and on the personal level, through the spirit and joy that come through the embodiment of the divine Shabbat.
Time, Eternity and Mystical Experience in Kabbalah, Adam Afterman

It is also tradition in Judaism to read Song of Songs at Passover after the Seder. Shir Hashirim looks back to the first redemption from Egypt and connects it to the final redemption that brings in the messianic kingdom:

While the first night of Passover commemorates the redemption from exile in Egypt, the final day celebrates the future Redemption, which G‑d will bring about through Moshiach. The connection between the first and the last redemption is also gleaned from the verse: “As in the days when you left Egypt, I shall show you wonders [during the final Redemption].” Our Rabbis ask: Why does the verse say “As in the days when you left Egypt,” when the Exodus took place on one day, as the verse states: “Remember this day on which you left Egypt.”
The First and Final Redemption, (4)

There are many ‘hidden’ aspects to the above. Two, which we will look into later, are alluded to in this comment:

“The writings of the Arizal explain that the generation of the future Redemption is the reincarnation of the generation that went out of Egypt. Accordingly, the righteous women of our generation, in whose merit we will be redeemed, are the same righteous women in whose merit we left Egypt.”
“The Rebbe, Parshas Beshalach 5752” (5)

Shekinah, Torah and a Kiss

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov also discusses the Shekinah as being between two entities. One side he refers to as Ze’ir Anpin (the divine son/groom), and the other, the righteous person on earth (those of the ‘bride,’ the people of G-d).

This connection aligns with the story of Shir Hashirim as the female character is ‘between’ the male counterpart above, and the ‘people’ (of Israel) below, whom she is associated and struggles with.

The upper tzaddik refers to the Divine persona of Z’er Anpin. The lower tzaddik refers to the tzaddikim in this world who study the Torah. As is written in the Zohar (1:153b) “The Divine presence (shekinah) resides between two tzaddikim, as in (Psalms 37:29). “Tzaddikim will inherit the earth” – (the plural) tzaddikim, indicating two. These are the two tzaddikim: The tzaddik who originated this teaching or Oral Law is the upper tzaddik, and the lower tzaddik is the one who studies these original insights.
Likutey Moharan 12:1

Continuing below, from the same section of Likutey Moharan, the union that is sought in Shir Hashirim will come from the people turning to the Torah — specifically, a deeper understanding of Torah required to make a “spirit to spirit” connection. 

When one studies this insight and brings the learning and insight into his mouth, the result is that the spirit of the tzaddik which originated this insight binds itself with the “speaking spirit” — with the words of the one who is now studying the insight. This binding of spirit with spirit is called neshikin. We find then that when a person studies (lishmah) a law which the Tannaim instituted, through this the spirit of the Tanna binds itself with the spirit of the one studying. It is as if he exchanges kisses with the Tanna. (6)

The aspect of oral Torah, which is ‘dressed’ in the written Torah, is critical. The oral Torah is associated with both Rachel and the Shekinah. Continuing from the above text:

Rachel alludes to the Oral Law (for she corresponds to speech, to the Divine Presence. She is as a rachel (lamb) before her shearers. (Isaiah 53:7). Everyone shears and extracts laws from her. (Tikkunei Zohar #21) The laws become ‘garments’ as is written (Proverbs 27:26) “Sheep shall provide your garments.” And as in (Isaiah 3:6).  “You have garments. You will be our leader.” … This is the meaning of, “Yaakov kissed (Rachel). He is the Tanna; Rachel, she is the Oral Law, which he originated. He kissed and bound his spirit with the holy spirit in the Divine Presence.

The “arousal from below” is required to stimulate the response from above. This is the message of the male to the female in Shir Hashirim.

From the notes to the Likutey Moharan text above:

Man’s actions in this physical world both mirror and give rise to corresponding spiritual ‘actions’ in the transcendent worlds above. Thus, when a person uses his mouth, the source of ruach (spirit, Zohar 2:224b), to study the “Oral Law” which the tanna or some other tzaddik initiated through his mouth, this is neshikin — the joining of spirit with spirit. Though he is here in this world, his spirit kisses the spirit of the tzaddik who has long since departed.

We find a similar reference to the oral Torah here, expressed in terms of ‘covenant’ between “above and below”:

So, one sees that a covenant was made on the written law when it is interpreted through the oral law, as the verse stipulates: “Write down these words, for by the mouth of these words I make a covenant. (Exodus 36:27) Now I will teach you a rule — the tablets of the covenant stand in the ark. This is alluded to in the verse, “and put them in the ark.” (Deut 10:2) So too, the written law is interpreted by the oral law, for the ark of the written law is the oral law, as this phrase would indicate: Adonay (Malkhut) is the ark for the name YHVH (Tiferet). Both the oral Torah and written Torah cleave together like twin fawns and about anyone who comes between them it is said, “A querulous man splits his friend. (Proverbs 16:28).  And the one who does this is like a person who has no relationship to G0d at all. Thus, wherever it is written, “vayedaber YHVH” (And God spoke) to Moses, laymor (saying)” … it alludes to the written Torah and the oral Torah. As it states: O give me the kisses from your mouth. So, when Israel sinned against the oral and written Torah, the Prophet began to rebuke them, saying, “For they have rejected the instruction of YHVH of Hosts (Isaiah 5:24). This refers to the written Torah, while the continuation of the verse refers to the oral Torah: “…and they have spurned the Amrat (word) of the Holy One of Israel. 
Sha’are Orah, 1st Gate/10th Sphere

All of this leads us to the kiss in verse 2, which is based on Hashem’s perfect and eternal ‘love’ (see “D. For your love is better…”, at the end of verse 2 comments):

What prompted King Solomon, when recording words of love between the Upper and the Lower world, to begin with the words, ‘Let him kiss me’? The reason is, as has been laid down, that no other love is like unto the ecstasy of the moment when spirit (ruah=breath) cleaves to spirit in a kiss, more especially a kiss on the mouth, which is the well of spirit (breath) and its medium. When mouth meets mouth, spirits unite the one with the other, and become one-one love. In the Book of the first R. Humnuna the Ancient it is said of this sentence, ‘the kiss of love expands in four directions (ruhoth), and these are unified in one, and this is part of the secret of Faith’. The Four spirits ascend in four letters, these being the letters from which depends the Holy Name, and with it all things that are, both above and below. Also the hymning of the Song of Songs derives its meaning therefrom. And what are these four letters? Alef, Hey, Bet, Hey (=Ahavah/Love), which form a supernal chariot. They constitute the linking of all things into a perfect whole. These four letters are the four directions of the love and joy of all the limbs of the Body without any sadness at all. Four directions are there in the kiss, each one fulfilling itself in union with the other. And when two spirits thus become mutually interlocked, they form two which are as one, and thus the four form one perfect whole.
Zohar 2:146b

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

We are two verses in, and several questions arise. Breaking this down into the four concepts introduced:

  • The Woman: Who is this first speaker in this song, which is said to be Solomon’s?
  • The Kiss: Is this a literal kiss? Does it mean something else? Why does she seem insistent upon this?
  • The Other Party: Who is she speaking about/to? Is ‘his’ kiss referring to the same person as ‘your’ love?
  • What is the connection between the kiss, his love and wine?

A.) The Woman

We are immediately introduced to a sexual component. How can this relate to G-d?

A key distinction between the Israelite and pagan portrayals of Divine love is that no pagan culture spoke of a god as a husband or a lover of his people. Israelite religion, in its radical monotheism, demanded the people’s absolute fidelity to the One God. In human terms, there was only one relationship that reflected that kind of fidelity and that was a woman’s vow of loyalty to her husband. From Amos to Ezekiel, the prophets described infidelity to God as adultery, promiscuity, sexual laxity, and prostitution. Israel, in its covenant with God made on Mt. Sinai, was “married” to God. God, as the husband, was explicidy jealous of any infidelity on the part of His wife. Religious fidelity is described in the terms of marital fidelity.
Why Do We Sing the Song of Songs on Passover? Benjamin Edidin Scolnic

We immediately 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 a female voice the first we hear – and a ‘strong’ one at that? There is what could be considered a proactive, even ‘imperative,’ declaration on the part of the mystery woman regarding this kiss.

As discussed in our intro article, Holy of Holies, the relationship between the male and female characters in Shir Hashirim can be interpreted in a few ways within the allegory, the most obvious of which is G-d and Israel. In most cases within Torah literature, when there is such a masculine-feminine dynamic, the masculine is the proactive element, and the feminine, the reactive. Typically (but not always) G-d in in the masculine role, and humans in the feminine:

Receiver and Vessel: The conventions of gender in kabbalah echo the physical differences between men and women. Bestowing is a masculine role; receiving is a feminine one. Consequently, since a vessel receives the lights of bounty and influence, it serves a feminine function. This is the most primary definition of the feminine in kabbalah: she receives and contains, he bestows and fills.

Below (as opposed to above): This is a direct result of the Shekinah’s correspondence to ‘vessel.’ Since gravity causes materials to flow downward, the giver (masculine) is depicted above the receiver (feminine). In kabbalistic writings there is no inherent superiority associated with the higher position (in fact, sometimes the opposite.)
Kabbalistic Writings on the Nature of Masculine & Feminine, Sarah Yehudit Schneider

Having said that, Shir Hashirim “throws a curve ball” at us right away, letting us know that we’re heading into very deep waters:

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

We will soon see that 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 find problems, chastisements, discussion, processes and corrections.

The feminine character is not yet at a state of being able to fully experience this ‘kiss.’ She must show a ‘proactive’ desire to unite with her partner under the proper conditions. As it relates to Israel/humanity, this is the concept of the “arousal from below” (Aramaic: itaruta d’ltata).

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’ or ‘tasting,’ Torah/Hashem.

B.) The Kiss

Through Torah literature, the act of the kiss (a “mouth to mouth” experience) and its pleasantness, is one of the deepest expressions of spiritual connection.

This is expressed in terms of our ‘spirit’ uniting with the ‘spirit’ of G-d.

The kiss symbolizes the joy attained by the soul in its adhesion to the source of life and the additional infusion of the holy spirit. Thus, the verse specifies ‘kisses.’” In the kiss between God and the soul there is a dual exchange: the desire and joy of the soul as it cleaves upwards and the soul’s reception of holy spirit progressing downwards.
Kissing Kabbalists: Hierarchy, Reciprocity, and Equality, Joel Hecker

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

This unification parallels that of the divine groom (Zeir Anpin) and bride (Malkhut).

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 kiss in our text, like everything else in Shir Hashirim, reflects the desire for the two to become one and the bringing of the final redemption:

In this passage, the poetic redundancy of yishaqeni [Let Him kiss me] in conjunction mi-neshiqot ihu [with the kisses of His mouth] troubles Rabbi Isaac; “Let Him love me” would have sufficed, he suggests. He contends that the doubled reference to kissing indicates that the Community of Israel asks for a kiss on the mouth because it is only through a kiss that the Community of Israel can attain the full union that She desires. It is the embodied quality and experience of the kiss that enables the kiss between human beings to teach directly and explicitly about kisses from God. When the text says that “the mouth is the point of egress and the source of the spirit,” it is referring to both the human mouth, the site at which human spirits meet, and the divine mouth from which human spirits emerge. In this way, the text mobilizes erotic energies in the service of divine worship and human love.
Kissing Kabbalists: Hierarchy, Reciprocity, and Equality, Joel Hecker

Messianic Implications of the Kiss

Volume 11 of the Pritzker Zohar opens with what is called the “hidden midrash” of Shir Hashirim. A discussion around the four spirits (‘ru’ah,’ plural: ‘ruhot’) of messiah, as mentioned in Isaiah, and how this corresponds to the one ru’ah in Ezekiel, and how the four unite into one by way of a ‘kiss,’ via the redeeming power of love:

Rabbi Rehumai opened, The ru’ah, spirit of YHVH will alight upon him, ru’ah of wisdom and understanding, ru’ah of counsel and power, ru’ah of knowledge and awe of YHVH (Isaiah 11:2). Here are four ruhot, spirits, and none has attained them other than King Messiah alone. But, look, it is written, “From four ruhot come, O ru’ah” (Ezekiel 37:9) — it is not written four! Actually from four ruhot — this is a complete ru’ah. He said to him, “How does this happen?” He replied, “This is the one born of love in a kiss. How? Love’s kiss occurs solely with the mouth. Ru’ah joins with ru’ah, each comprising two ruhot: his ru’ah and his friend’s ru’ah — both present in four ruhot. All the more so with a man and woman: when joined, four ruhot together. The son who proceeds from them — ru’ah coming from four ruhot. This is as is said, “From four ruhot come, O ru’ah — this is a complete ru’ah. 
Midrash ha-Ne’lam al Shir Hashirim, Zohar: Pritzker Edition Vol 11

The following Q&A is from a Chabad forum on the mystical aspects of Passover, including the messiah and wine (another aspect of our verse):

Question 11: A festive meal is usually based on “meat and fish and all kinds of delicacies.” Why does this festive meal (apart from its basic component, matzah) focus on wine?

Answer 11: Our Sages taught that in time to come “the Holy One, blessed be He, will make a festive meal for the righteous…. After they have eaten and drunk they will offer Avraham Avinu a cup of wine over which to recite the Grace After Meals, but he will reply, ‘I will not lead the Grace….’ …He will say to David HaMelech, ‘Take the cup of wine and lead the Grace.’ And David HaMelech will reply, ‘I shall lead the blessing, and it is fitting that I lead the blessing, for it is written, “I raise the cup of deliverance and call upon the Name of G‑d.’” From this we see that what distinguishes David, the King Mashiach, from the other tzaddikim named, is related to wine. Significantly, it is our righteous Mashiach, a scion of the House of David, who will reveal and explain the Torah’s secrets — and wine alludes to this inner, mystical dimension of the Torah. As our Sages taught,24 נכנס יין, יצא סוד — “When wine enters, the secret comes out.”
Moshiach 101 – On the Way to Redemption, Chapter 2: The Festive Meal of Mashiach

We will return to the “messianic aspects” of Shir Hashirim, later in this commentary.

The (good) Kiss of Death

The intimate expression of connectivity extends to the moment of death, in the form of a divine kiss from the mouth of Hashem:

When a perfect man is stricken with years and approaches death, this apprehension increases very powerfully, joy over this apprehension and a great love for the object of apprehension become stronger, until the soul is separated from the body at that moment in this state of pleasure. Because of this the Sages have indicated with reference to the deaths of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam that the three of them died by a kiss … their purpose was to indicate that the three of them died in the pleasure of this apprehension due to the intensity of passionate love. In this dictum the Sages, may their memory be blessed, followed the generally accepted poetical way of expression that calls the apprehension that is achieved in a state of intense and passionate love for Him, may He be exalted, and a kiss, in accordance with its dictum: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,” and so on. The Sages, may their memory be blessed, mention the occurrence of this kind of death, which in true reality is salvation from death, only with regard to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. The other prophets and excellent men are beneath this degree; but it holds good for all of them that the apprehension of their intellects becomes stronger at the separation.
Moses Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed

We also find this kiss connected to the first three patriarchs, in the Talmud:

Six there were over whom the Angel of Death had no dominion, namely, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we know because it is written in connection with them, in all, of all, all; Moses, Aaron and Miriam because it is written in connection with them [that they died] “By the mouth of the Lord.”
Baba Bathra 17a

This concept is also found regarding the death of the Ari (Isaac Luria):

Before he (the Ari) crossed the threshold, he opened his mouth, and his soul left him by a kiss, may his memory be a blessing.
Sha’ar haGilgulim, Haqdamah 39, Hayyim Vital

La Petite Mort (The lesser death)

The history of that French term is very interesting. It has to do with a separation from consciousness. The concept as it relates to Torah is that the “kiss of death” may be experienced in life in the form of moments when the extreme desire of the soul to be united with Hashem:

The essence of perfected hitbodedut with one’s Maker is when a person speaks to God so extensively that his soul is close to departing, God forbid; until he just about expires, God forbid; until, because of the intensity of his genuine pain and longing and yearning for God, his soul is tied to his body by no more than a hair-like thread. This is clarified in the teachings of our Sages, of blessed memory, who said: A person’s prayer is not accepted unless he puts his life in his hands (Taanit 8a), as mentioned above. And the Rebbe said: Indeed, when God assists one’s hitbodedut, hitbodedut is like a conversation between friends.
Likutei Moharan Part 2, 99

This is why [the rabbis have taught] that the Shekhinah does not rest [upon a person] who is lazy (and so forth) but rather from joy. Sometimes this joy will overcome him until a great and wondrous crying befalls him, and his neshamah and his nefesh will seek to separate from his body and this is death by a kiss. his teaches about the joining of the one who kisses to that which is beloved to him, for then his soul (nefesh) will cleave to the Shekhinah.
Rabbi Menahem Recanati (Recanati on the Torah)

Kabbalistic Connections

The late, great modern-era teacher, Aryeh Kaplan offered a fascinating insight into “four stages” of a kiss, which relates to the two characters in Shir Hashirim and the “four world of existence” and “levels of the soul.”

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

With a little imagination, we can find these verses resembling the four stages of intimacy:

  • 1:15 “Behold, you are comely, my beloved; behold, you are comely; your eyes are like doves.”
  • 2:10 “My beloved raised his voice and said to me, ‘Arise, my beloved, my fair one, and come away.”
  • 7:9 “… your breath is like the fragrance of apples.”
  • 8:1 “…I would kiss you, and they would not despise me.”

These levels of the kiss ascend along the path of 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 interface to the infinite, above. (See “The Other Party,” Tanya 45, below.) Thus, the “elevation of the feminine” in Shir Hashirim reflects our own journey of the soul from Nefesh to its Source.

Shir Hashirim Song of Songs chapter 1 kiss soul

This idea of elevating from the lowest to the highest realms, is also expressed regarding the Shekinah (the woman in Shir Hashirim, Israel, all of us, etc.) moving from “crown to crown,” which is a term for the sefirot/emanations, from the present in Malkhut to the Olam Haba (world to come):

When the Shekhinah ascends, it ascends from gradation to gradation, and from crown to crown, until everything is united above. And this is the secret of “The Song of Songs of Solomon.” The Song of Songs was decreed by the mouth of Elijah by means of the supernal authority. The “Song of Songs,” the praise of praises to the King to whom peace belongs, for this is the place that desires joy, for no anger or judgment is there. The world-to-come is entirely joyous, and it gladdens everyone, and thus it dispenses joy and happiness to all the gradations. Just as the joy must be aroused from this world above, so the happiness and joy must be aroused from the world of the moon in relation to the supernal world. Consequently, the worlds exist in one pattern, and the arousal ascends only from below to above.
Zohar Hadash, 62b

Other aspects of connectivity relating to the mouth, are expressed in terms of taste:

The fear of the Lord is pure, existing forever; the judgments of the Lord are true, altogether just. They are to be desired more than gold, yea more than much fine gold, and are sweeter than honey and drippings of honeycombs.
Psalm 19:11

Taste and see that the Lord is good; praiseworthy is the man who takes shelter in Him.
Psalm 34:9

Interestingly, other translations have “Comprehend and see…” at the beginning of the verse. The reason for this sheds light on the concept being reflected, as the Hebrew term here is טָעַם which can mean to taste or comprehend.

For example:

See now that my eyes have brightened, for I have tasted a little of this honey.
1Samuel 14:29

The kiss (and the desire for intimacy with G-d) is associated with the sweetness of accepting the path of Torah:

“Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us to be involved with words of Torah. And please, Lord, our God, make the words of Your Torah pleasant in our mouths and in the mouths of all of Your people, the House of Israel…”
Birkot HaTorah: The Essence of Torah

This connection is far from ‘casual’:

“Kiss me with the kisses from your mouth.” Note that it is written … literally from your mouth, rather than … the more natural way to say, “with your mouth.” The difference is as follows. Suppose someone is asking another person to give them a ring. If he says “with your hand” he is asking the other person simply and literally to hand the ring to him. But if he says, “from your hand,” he is asking the other person to take the ring from his own hand and give it to him. Similarly, when we approach God with the request, “Kiss me with the kisses from your mouth,” we are asking Him to transplant from His mouth into ours a true sense of taste for the sweetness of the Torah’s ways, for He is the One with a full sense of how sublimely sweet the Torah is. 
Dubner Maggid Commentary on the Song of Songs, Rabbi David M. Zucker

To fully experience and ‘taste’ the totality of blessing from Hashem requires preparation — change within us — the same required of the ‘woman’ in Shir Hashirim, who represents the people. This relates to the “arousal from below” mentioned earlier.

A fair question to ask here might be; Why isn’t he kissing her? Why does she have to wait for this kiss?

This is one of the mysteries of Shir Hashirim. For Hashem to bestow the fullness of blessings upon us in an unrectified state would cause great harm. Think of it as turning the main water on into a home (a ‘good’ thing we desire to have) BEFORE the pipes were all connected. This will be addressed when we get to verses 2:7, 3:5 and 8:4 of the text.

What has to change goes back to the original promise related to observance of the Torah, which was “sealed with a kiss”:

AND THIS IS THE HEAVE-OFFERING. We have been told that at the revelation on Mount Sinai, when the Torah was given to Israel in Ten Words, each Word became a voice, and every voice was divided into seventy voices, all of which shone and sparkled before the eyes of all Israel, so that they saw eye to eye the splendor of His Glory, as it is written: ‘And all the people saw the voices’ (Exodus 20:18). Yea verily, they saw. The voice so formed warned each individual Israelite, saying: ‘Wilt thou accept me with all the commandments implicit in me?’ To which the reply came: ‘Yes’. Then the voice circled round his head once more, asking: ‘Wilt thou accept me with all the penalties attached to me in the Law?’ And again, he answered ‘Yes’. Then the voice turned and kissed him on the mouth, as it is written: ‘Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth’ (Shir Hashirim 1:2). And all that the Israelites saw then they beheld in one Light (the Shekinah) in which were focused all the other lights, and they yearned to possess it. Said the Holy One, blessed be He, unto them: ‘This light which ye have seen on Mount Sinai, in which all the colors of the other lights are combined, and which ye so desire, shall be yours: have it, take it unto yourselves!’
Zohar 2:146a

C.) The Other Party

As we will see further into the text, there is ‘coordination’ between the woman are introduced to in Verse 2, and another male figure in the text. We can say they are they are looking at the same situation from different perspectives. As mentioned in our background info on relationship, 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 

Though this concept is seen as being present in all Biblical texts, Shir Hashirim offers something distinct:

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 (Exodus 15:2). 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 (Deuteronomy 32:13). Here, however, they praise Him and He praises them. He praises them: Behold thou art beautiful, my beloved (Shir Hashirim 1:16), and they praise Him: Behold thou art beautiful, my beloved, verily pleasant (Shir Hashirim 1:17).
Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1:11

This “shared connection” expressed through the dialogue between the male and female in Shir Hashirim, is even seen as unique when compared to other similar forms of literature:

The Egyptian poets … did not choose to portray interaction that requires dialogue. In sharp contrast, the Song of Songs makes extensive use of dialogue. None of the speech is interior: the speakers never address their hearts or an indefinite audience, but rather speak to each other and respond to each other. In some passages, to be sure, it is difficult to identify the listener, but for the most part, it is clear that some listener is intended and it is generally obvious who this is … Unlike the lovers in the Egyptian songs, the lovers in Canticles (Shir Hashirim) communicate with each other: they speak to each other, hear each other’s words, and respond to them.
The Song of Songs and the Ancient Egyptian Love Songs, Michael V. Fox

An example of interaction found as a literary device through Shir Hashirim, is ‘echoing,’ where one recalls the other’s words and reciprocates:

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

4:10 How fair is your love, my sister, my bride; how much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than all spices!

Rachel and Jacob

As we briefly mentioned in our Intro articles, Rachel and Jacob are viewed as spiritual emanations with regard to the “divine bride and groom.” Their very first interaction also centered around a kiss:

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

Jacob’s strong feelings form Rachel, to the point of weeping, reflect the male character in Shir Hashirim.

Their connection relates to the characters of Shir Hashirim, the “lower male and female” (Called Ze’ir Anpin and Nukveh, as mentioned in all four Intro articles). This extends to the level of the Light of the Unknowable (Ein Sof) as in the chart above:

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

The desired kiss of verse 1:2, only returns at the end in chapter 8.  So, the question is: Why aren’t they kissing at this time? It’s a secret. But as we know, when wine enters, secrets come out, so …

D.) The Wine

The Zohar connects the concepts of the kiss between “above and below” with the wine used in offerings, which connects “above and below.” It goes further regarding our present ‘disconnect,’ which is a main theme in the discussion between the male and female in the text of Shir Hashirim:

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.” (S.S. 1:2). ‘This,’ he said, ‘is a more burning desire, in which affection issues from the mouth with a fire unlike that which issues from the nostrils. For when mouth is joined with mouth to kiss, fire issues from the strength of affection, accompanied by radiance of the countenance, by rejoicing on both sides and by gladsome union. “For thy love is better than wine” (Ibid.), to wit, than that wine which exhilarates and brightens the countenance, which makes the eyes sparkle and induces good feeling; not the wine that intoxicates, induces rage, beclouds the countenance, and inflames the eyes, the wine of rage. It is because this wine is exhilarating and cheering and induces love and affection that a libation of it is offered every day on the altar, of just such a quantity as would induce in him who drinks it a cheerful mood and a spirit of contentment, as it is written, “And the drink offering thereof shall be a fourth part of a hin” (Numbers 28:7). “For thy love is better than wine” alludes thus to the wine that induces love and desire. And as here below, so is love awakened on high. For there are two lamps, and when the light of the one on high is extinguished, by the smoke that rises from the one below it is relit.’ Said R. Hizkiah: ‘Assuredly it is so, the lower and the upper world are interdependent; and since the destruction of the Temple there are no blessings, either on high or below, which proves their interdependence.’ R. Jose said: ‘Not only are there no blessings, but there are everywhere curses, as the supply of sustenance is now drawn from the “sinister side”. Why so? Because Israel do not dwell now in the land, and thus do not perform the holy service which is required for lighting the (celestial) lamps and so obtaining blessings. Hence they are to be found neither on high nor here below, and the world is out of gear.’
Zohar 1:70b

For your love is better …

While the wine established a ‘sporadic’ or temporary connection as related to the offerings, the kiss is ‘better’ than wine, as it is permanent, with the aspect of ‘love’ related to Keter and eternity (both “long ago” and the Olam Haba, the World to Come), which is the subject of this chapter in Tanakh:

From long ago, the Lord appeared to me; With everlasting love have I loved you.
Jeremiah 31:2

Another hint at a higher, all-encompassing level, is found in a specific term embedded in our verse:

For your love is better [TOVIM] than wine: This emanated light expands over me because it comes from You, that is to say, it is derived from “wine,” from divine Wisdom called “I,” the rung of supernal luminescence. All desire and will is to ascend and adhere to Wisdom. The phrase “is better” (tovim) refers to the outpouring and amplification of that clear light, which divides and shines in all directions. As it says: “when Aaron lights (behetivo) the lamps” (Exodus 30:8) which the Aramaic translation renders as “kindles.”
Ezra ben Solomon of Gerona Commentary on the Song of Songs

We will end this verse (for now!) with a summary section from the Zohar, then continue with other aspects of the ‘oil’ in verse 3. Note the mention of how the kiss of Esau is marked as being insincere:

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (Shir Hashirim 1:2) … ‘It is the Community of Israel who says this (to God). Why does say ‘Let Him kiss me’ instead of ‘Let Him love me’? Because, as we have been taught, kissing expresses the cleaving of spirit to spirit; therefore, the mouth is the medium of kissing, for it is the organ of the spirit (breath). Hence, he who dies by the kiss of God is so united with another Spirit, with a Spirit which never separates from him. Therefore, the Community of Israel prays: ‘Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth’, that His Spirit may be united with mine and never separate from it. The verse continues: ‘For thy love is better than wine’. Why is the love of the Holy One compared with wine, which was the cause of Ephraim’s degradation (Isaiah 18:27), and was prohibited to the priests at the time of service (Leviticus 10:9)? Said R. Hiya: ‘It is better even than the ‘wine of the Torah’. ‘R. Hezekiah said: ‘It is better than the wine of which the Psalmist said that it ‘maketh glad the heart of man’ (Psalm 104:15).’ R. Judah referred to the verse: ‘And Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted up his voice and wept’ (Genesis 29:11). Why did he weep? Because the intensity of his attachment to her overpowered him, and he found relief in tears. It is true, it also says of Esau that ‘he kissed him (Jacob) and they wept’ (Genesis 34:4); but as has been said, the word wa-yishakehu (and he kissed him) has (masoretic) dots on it, to indicate the insincerity of Esau’s kisses, for there was no union of spirit with spirit there and concerning him it is written: ‘The kisses of an enemy are abundant’ (Proverbs 27:6; i.e., superfluous, burdensome); they are windy and betoken no attachment of spirit. As long as the Holy One was dwelling and moving in the midst of Israel there was a perfect union between Spirit and spirit; concerning which it is written: ‘And ye who cleave to the Lord your God, ye are all alive to-day’ (Deuteronomy 4:4); they clave to one another in every possible manner and were not separated.
Zohar 2:124b


(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.’

(2) For more examples of the Dubner Maggid’s methods of teaching, see 7 Parables of the Maggid of Dubno.

(3) The beginning of this Zohar passage is very cryptic and beyond the scope of this — study at this time. It reads as follows:

Shir hashirim asher lishlomoh. Here are five grades which shall unite in the world to come: shir (song) is one; hashirim (songs) are two, which together make three; asher (which) is four; lishlomoh (Solomon’s) is five. ‘Solomon’ is in the fifth; for the fiftieth day is the mystery of the Jubilee. Mark now. Solomon would not have been able to bring about the union above had not union of the Shekinah with the world below been already completed in Her union with Moses; one could not have been without the other. All this is a supreme mystery, which yet is revealed to those of a wise heart. (Zohar 2:145a)

(4) See

(5) See

(6) Tannaim (singular: Tanna) are the rabbinic sages whose views are recorded in the Mishnah.

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The Shekinah and the SefirotMatrix Shir Hashirim Song of Songs