Adrian A. Durlester

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Random Musing Before Shabbat
Intermediate Shabbat of Passover 5766

A Lily Among Thorns

I've little to say this week. I continue to plumb the depths of Ezekiel's valley of dry bones, of the second set of lukhot habrit (the tablets of the covenant) and of the 13 attributes G''d ascribes to G''d's self. All worthy topics of study, and I commend them to you. (You can read my earlier musings-see the list at the end of this musing.)

I'm spending my time reading and re-reading and plumbing the depths of Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs. Erotic love poetry? A metaphor for the relationship between Israel and G''d? All of the above? None of the above?

It's a text we often avoid. Even grown-ups grin and get odd looks on their faces when reading a verse out loud. Yet I recall one Seder many years ago using a haggadah that included many readings from Shir HaShirim. While many at the Seder table, as their turn came, read these passages from Shir HaShirim somewhat awkwardly, there were two grandparents at this Seder table who lovingly read their passages from Shir HaShirim when their turns came. No giggles, no awkwardness. You could feel the love passing between them. It mattered not that it may have been ages since either of them had the ability to run and leap like a gazelle. It was clear that, to each other, they still saw themselves as two young lovers, like the lovers in Shir HaShirim.

They had something that perhaps others in the room did not. Perhaps our distance, our awkwardness with Shir HaShirim stems from our inabilities, for whatever reasons, to identify with the young lovers of the text. Yet one needn't be young to delight in one's lover. One can capture another's heart at any age.

And true love--that is truly a love which cannot be quenched by many waters, or drowned by rivers. Yet even today, as Shir HaShirim suggests, if one offers all their wealth for love, they would be laughed at and ridiculed.

Now there's an idea you can turn upside down and inside out and play with its meaning. Is it that, as the Beatles said, "money can't buy me love" ? Or is it that true love is so priceless that one should willingly give up all their wealth for it?

And you thought there wasn't anything in Shir HaShirim worth debating.

Our sacred texts are indeed full of thorns that can sting us. They are also full of hidden groves and grottoes, beautiful fields of blossoms, trees ripe with fruit, lips dripping honey. Yet, amongst all the thorns and beauty in our Tanakh, none stands out as Shir HaShirim -- truly k'shoshanim bein hakhokhim. And like this lily, it sometimes escapes our notice because, unlike so much of Torah, which we find on mountain tops, Shir HaShirim is a shoshanat ha-amakim - a lily of the valleys. Come into the garden that is Shir HaShirim, and enjoy it's luscious fruits. L'cha, dodi.

Hag kasher v'sameakh, and Shabbat Shalom,

©2006 by Adrian A. Durlester

Some Previous Musings on the Same Parasha

Pesach VII 5761 (Revised 5765)
Hol HaMoed Pesach 5764-Dem Bones & Have We Left Gd behind? (5578-60)
Hol Hamoed Pesach 5763-No Empty Gestures (Redux 5762)
5761-Pesach VII-Redundant Anamnesis

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