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SONG OF SONGS: CHAPTER FIVE (end of Song Three, Song Four)

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Once, she was wholly awake to his advances, responsive and eager. Now, she remains in her state of repose, hesitant to acknowledge the knocking at her door, the memory of their union becoming a distant dream.

by Rabbi Boruch Merkur

In the enclosed garden, a serene oasis, he arrives – drawn by longing. The vibrant colors, fragrant aromas, and gentle hum of life surrounds him. The Beloved steps into the heart of this sanctuary, his garden, where the memories of shared moments with his bride linger.

"I have come to my garden," he declares, his voice filled with a mix of wonder and contentment. Every step he takes is a dance of reunion with the sacred space, with his own heart, and with the memory of his bride.

Picking up a sprig of myrrh, he feels its cool, fragrant resin. The scent transports him to moments of deep spiritual introspection and yearning. Alongside, the aroma of various spices wafts into the air – each one a testament to the richness of his inner experiences.

He tastes the honey, its sweetness an echo of past joys and love shared. With every bite of the honeycomb and every sip of the wine, he is reminded of the ebb and flow of their love – its intoxicating highs and its grounding moments.

Yet, despite the deep personal connection he feels to this space, the Beloved is not alone. He invites others, fellow seekers of love and truth, to partake in the garden's bounty. "Eat, lovers, and drink," he beckons, "Drink deep of love!" It's an open invitation to immerse oneself in the depths of divine love, to experience it fully, to let it transform one's being.

All this while, the maiden, deep in slumber within the chambers of Solomon, remains oblivious to the Beloved's presence. Days, perhaps even more, have passed since their last shared moment. A poignant realization sets in: the third song has reached its poignant conclusion.

The narrative underscores the profound intertwining of physical and spiritual worlds. The garden, more than a mere physical space, is a nexus of deeper meanings and insights. Through this garden, one glimpses the profound union of the Beloved and his cherished, an allegory of the divine and the soul. And as the narrative unfolds, it becomes evident that the garden's blessings aren't just for the Beloved but extend to all of creation, a testament to the boundless love and generosity of the Divine.


In the quiet of the night, she rests on her bed, gentle slumber embracing her form. Yet within her heart, an ember of memory glows, a faint recollection of her divine suitor who once fervently pursued her. As if responding to this internal yearning, the familiar voice of her Beloved echoes, knocking softly at her door. "Open to me, my sister, my dove, my flawless one," he whispers. "For my head is drenched with dew, my locks soaked with the night's moisture."

This is not their first such encounter. Once, she was wholly awake to his advances, responsive and eager. Now, she remains in her state of repose, hesitant to acknowledge the knocking, the memory of their union becoming a distant dream. His voice, filled with yearning and a touch of sorrow, brings to mind past moments of intimacy and connection.

Yet, this is a different chapter in their tale. This is the narrative of a celestial bride, the soul of Solomon, who was once deeply connected to her divine lover. Over time, however, she has been swayed by other pursuits, seduced by foreign loves, her heart turning away from the divine and being drawn into the allure of the material. The divine lover, witnessing this drift, approaches her now, knocking at her door, seeking reconnection. But she hesitates, reluctant to open up and renew their bond.

The divine Beloved, sensing her hesitation, once departed in disappointment and sorrow. This episode mirrors a moment in Solomon's life when he turned away from the divine path, leading to a period of estrangement from the Divine Presence. The repercussions of this distance are felt deeply by Solomon, and he yearns for reconciliation. But the journey back is not easy; the door to divine encounters remains shut for him.

And so, here they are again. The Divine Lover knocks once more at the door of the slumbering soul, hoping for a response, a rekindling of their once passionate bond. The night is silent, save for the gentle knocking and the whispered entreaties of the Beloved. The choice now rests with her: will she rise and open the door, or remain in her state of spiritual slumber? The story of their love, filled with moments of union and separation, continues to unfold.

In the cool evening, the gentle wind rustles through the open windows, causing the curtains to dance. She sits by her window, lost in thought, her robe lying beside her. She had only just taken it off, feeling the embrace of solitude. Would she need to wear it again so soon? Her feet, once washed and clean, rested delicately on the cool floor. Would she walk and soil them once more?

Responding silently to the musings of her soul, she thinks of her past experiences. The journey of the soul is likened to the wearing of garments, particularly robes of light. These garments are symbols of the spiritual attainments one achieves, especially through the study and practice of the sacred texts. It's as if each piece of wisdom is woven into a fabric that cloaks the soul, protecting and illuminating it. Before her lapses, she wore these luminous garments. But now, because of her misdeeds, she feels she has shed this celestial attire. It's as if she's been stripped of that ethereal light that once clothed her.

Reflecting on her current state, she feels akin to one who has bathed their feet, symbolizing the body's connection to the soul. Just as feet are to a body, providing support and direction, the body is to the soul. In moments of prophecy, one must remove this earthly connection, shedding worldly attachments, much like removing one's shoes. But she feels she's already cleansed herself of these material ties. Would she now dirty them again by diving back into the tangible world?

She ponders deeply, grappling with her current reality. The idea of prophecy is one that once seemed within reach, but now feels distant. The memory of those lofty spiritual moments is fresh, but the weight of her actions and the challenges of the material world are ever-present. She longs for the days when her soul was enrobed in light and her feet danced in celestial realms. Yet she also acknowledges the undeniable pull of the tangible world and her place within it. The tension between these two realities plays out in her heart, a silent struggle filled with yearning and introspection.

In the quiet of the evening, she stands behind the closed door, anticipating the moment he might arrive. Times exist when they speak face to face, where the intimacy of their conversation feels as tangible as the surrounding air. But now, things are different.

The woman, absorbed in her daily affairs, inadvertently closes off the avenues to deeper communication. She feels distant, though her heart yearns for closeness. Yet, even in this state of isolation, her Beloved never truly leaves her side.

Without a direct entry, the Beloved, representing the Divine presence, reaches out. His hand, symbolic of prophecy, extends through the chink, not fully entering her room but making its presence known. This isn't the intimate, face-to-face interaction they often share, but a revelation of prophecy filled with both admonishments and consequences.

She senses the weight of the message, a potent blend of love and correction. As the wisdom flows through the gap, it's as if a river of enlightenment courses through her, filling her being with an awareness of past actions and choices. Profound regret for her deeds wells up, and a yearning takes over—a desire to return to the sacred closeness she once knows. She recalls the sacred shelter, the canopy of divine connection, where she feels the mystery and majesty of the Beloved's presence.

With his touch, even from a distance, her heart stirs. It pulses with longing, with remorse, and with hope. She recognizes the divine outreach: an invitation back to a time of greater unity and understanding. Even in his subtle approach, she senses the profound love of her Beloved, forever beckoning, always seeking reconnection.

The dim light of the evening casts a soft glow over the room. The woman, roused from her reverie, feels a stirring deep within. This feeling is familiar yet profoundly sacred. It is an undeniable pull, an internal beckoning to reconnect with something greater.

"I rose," she murmurs, her voice reflecting her determination, "to let in my Beloved."

As she nears the door, she notes a delicate sensation on her hands, reminiscent of the fragrant myrrh that signifies a spiritual ascent. Drops of myrrh, reflective of the elevation of the life force within her, glisten on her fingers. They are signs of her deepening connection to the divine, markers of her soul's attempt to elevate and purify itself from the mundane.

But this time is different. Her spiritual ascent isn't as powerful as before. The aromatic resin that flows from her signifies her efforts to elevate her soul, drawing from both the life and the plant kingdoms. In the past, whenever she'd felt the call of divinity, she could effortlessly elevate the entirety of her being, transforming her entire essence. Now, only her hands, symbolic of her actions, are imbued with this essence. Her fingers, which denote specific deeds, drip with myrrh, but the scent is fleeting, evaporating the moment it comes in contact with the bolt on her door.

This door, this barrier, represents the physical constraints and distractions she contends with. Every time she reaches out, attempting to break free from the confines of her material existence and open herself to the Divine, the myrrh, symbolic of her spiritual achievements, fades. Her previous ardor and intensity, that unyielding drive to connect with the Almighty, now wavers. The challenges and temptations are greater, overpowering her with increasing frequency, making it harder for her to maintain her spiritual heights.

Yet, she doesn't despair. The very act of rising and attempting to let in her Beloved, despite the barriers, showcases her relentless spirit. She remains hopeful, knowing that the journey of spirituality is filled with peaks and troughs, and every effort, no matter how small, brings her one step closer to the Divine.

In the courtyard of a grand palace, the maiden's voice resonates with the lament, "I opened the door for my beloved." The walls laden in gold and precious stones glisten in response, reflecting the luminance of dawn. Each echo carries the weight of her anticipation, a hope to find her Beloved on the other side of the door. This act of opening is not just the physical movement of doors; it symbolizes her intent to transcend the material barriers, to unveil the essence of her spirit, yearning to connect with her Beloved.

But her heart sinks as she realizes, "But my beloved had turned and gone." The place where he once stood, promising shared moments of intimacy, now lay empty and desolate. A haunting silence envelops her as she recalls the intensity of his parting words, making her confess, "I was faint because of what he said."

With hope still burning, she searches every corner of the palace, her footsteps echoing in the vast corridors. She longs to find him, to feel the warmth of his embrace, and in her yearning, she admits, "I sought, but found him not." Her voice, filled with desperation, permeates the hallways as she calls out to him. Yet, every echo returns with the painful acknowledgment, "I called, but he did not answer."

Her heart, once alight with passion and understanding, now grapples with the profound silence, the emptiness left by his departure. Yet, amidst the echoing corridors and the haunting stillness, a glimmer of hope remains. She believes in a reunion, in a moment when the barriers will dissolve, and she will once again be united with her Beloved.

In the shadowed alleyways of the city, her footsteps echo softly. With each step, she seeks solace and yearns for her Beloved's presence. The city's vastness, previously a beacon of hope and splendor, now stands as a labyrinthine maze of despair and longing. The walls, once symbols of protection, now seem to close in on her.

Suddenly, she encounters the watchmen patrolling the town. Their presence is overpowering, representing the forces that confine and bind the spirit to the material world. "I met the watchmen who patrol the town; they struck me, they bruised me," her voice quivers, revealing the profound conflict between her spiritual aspiration and the worldly forces that resist her transcendence.

They represent not just mere guards but the formidable energies that tether the soul to its corporeal confines. These watchmen, embodiments of earthly desires and limitations, brutally remind her of the struggle the soul faces when attempting to rise above. Their aggression isn't just physical, but a deep affliction to her very essence, forcing her spirit to remain intertwined with her bodily desires, pains, and limitations.

The guards of the walls stripped me of my mantle, she whispers, reflecting on her loss. This isn't just an outer garment; it's the elevated consciousness she once wore proudly. The watchmen have deprived her of her prophetic insights, the ability to perceive without barriers, boundlessly. It's as though her very thoughts, previously expansive and unconfined, are now trapped, limited by the material constraints that surround her.

In this harrowing moment, she realizes the true challenge: her spirit, aiming to soar freely in the realm of prophecy, is constantly pulled down, shackled by the corporeal. It's a battle between the spiritual yearning for transcendence and the earthly forces that relentlessly pull her back to the tangible realm.

In the heart of Jerusalem, where the cobbled streets echo with ancient tales and whispered prayers, a lone woman stands, her gaze fervent, her heart ablaze. Her voice, though soft, carries a weight that the very stones seem to heed. "Maidens of Jerusalem," she beseeches, her eyes scanning the crowd, "I adjure you, if you encounter my Beloved in your wanderings, convey to him but a single message: that I am faint with love."

The news of her search travels fast, a wildfire of whispers. The maidens, intrigued and moved by her plea, feel the gravity of her words. But beneath the surface of this plea lies a deeper allegory. The soul of Solomon perceives a truth: it can no longer find its Beloved, meaning it cannot attain this level of understanding and connection in its current state of life. The only time it might truly encounter its Divine counterpart is at the brink of life's transition - at the moment of passing.

This revelation is drawn from profound wisdoms, suggesting that only in the precipice between life and the beyond does the soul experience a revelation of the Divine, as if the curtain separating the earthly and heavenly realms momentarily lifts. It is then that the Divine manifests to the righteous, revealing Himself in a way that mirrors their earthly connection to Him. This fleeting union allows the soul to merge back into its source, like a droplet returning to the ocean.

With this insight, the woman's plea to the maidens takes on new depths. The "maidens of Jerusalem" represent the various facets of her own being. She entreats these parts of herself to recognize and embrace the presence of her Beloved when they encounter Him during the transition of life's end. They are the first to sense Him, and when they do, they should communicate to Him the depth of her longing, her overwhelming love that has rendered her faint.

The streets of Jerusalem seem to shimmer with a new light. The woman's quest, her passionate plea, is not just a search for an earthly beloved but a profound spiritual journey, seeking union with the Divine.

As the sun casts long shadows across the cobblestone streets, the women of the city, their eyes filled with curiosity, surround her, the one they deem the fairest among them.

How, they inquire with a hint of envy, "is your Beloved superior to any other? What makes him so special that your love for him seems unparalleled? You speak of him with such fervor; it feels almost as if you are swearing us to a sacred bond. What is it about this love that you hold so dear?"

In a parallel realm, the nations, symbolic of the physical world, echo a similar sentiment as they approach the soul. They cannot fathom the depth of the spiritual love the soul harbors for the Divine. "Explain to us," they beckon, "the distinction between this spiritual yearning you have for God and the worldly passions we know. To us, these earthly loves are tangible, but we struggle to grasp the essence of this celestial affection you describe."

The soul, reflecting the mystery in her eyes, replies, "My love for the Divine is not just about His hidden essence or the nature of His being. It's about an eternal connection, a bond that transcends the physical and the spiritual. This love is why I search for Him relentlessly, as if my very existence depends on it."

The city's women listen intently, sensing that her relationship with her Beloved is more profound than any they know. The nations, too, stand in silence, attempting to grasp the profound bond the soul describes, a love so vast and deep that it seems to reach the very heavens.

In the shimmering streets of Jerusalem, where the play of light and shadow forms a dance of its own, the women remain gathered, their attention unwavering. Their faces mirror a combination of envy, curiosity, and genuine desire to understand the unparalleled affection she feels for her Beloved.

My Beloved, she begins, her voice as serene as the calm after a storm, "is clear-skinned and ruddy, his complexion a perfect blend of grace and strength. Such a combination isn't just a measure of physical attributes but symbolizes the intricate balance of compassion and judgment, representing both the clarity and hue of red."

The gathered women exchange glances, trying to grasp the depth of her words. The soul continues, articulating her emotions and the insights she has garnered over time.

When I speak of him as being 'clear-skinned', it isn't just about his physical appearance. It's about the Divine attribute of boundless kindness, represented by clarity. And 'ruddy' doesn't merely denote a color; it speaks of Divine justice, as fierce and passionate as the color red itself. These traits, seemingly opposing, emanate from the same source. He isn't just a combination of two forces, but the very origin of both good and evil, life and death, benevolence and strictness. They spring forth from a single root, challenging the belief of some who argue they stem from separate origins.

She takes a breath, allowing her words to sink in, before adding, "Furthermore, he is preeminent among ten thousand. His essence gathers myriad powers, acting as the fountainhead for them all. This is why he is often termed 'God' – a union of all cosmic forces, an existence where nothing exists outside of Him."

The words linger in the air, resonating with the whispers of prophecy. The women, deeply affected by the profound wisdom she imparts, are left in a state of contemplation, realizing that the love she shares with her Beloved isn't just earthly or physical; it's a bond carved out of eternal truths, celestial insights, and timeless revelations.

In a land where golden palaces crowned the horizon, she gazes upon Him, captivated by the aura of His being. The majesty of His countenance shines before her.

His head, a symbol of His concealed thoughts and supreme desires, stands as an enigma. Before they were revealed, His thoughts were like the most intricate of mysteries. She likens it to the finest gold, not the soft malleable kind, but to hard gold, signifying something profoundly valuable yet completely concealed. It's as though there's nothing within, yet it's the most treasured element in the lower world. This represents something incredibly precious, yet utterly hidden and beyond comprehension.

As she looks further, she notes His locks, extensions of the mind that manifest its innermost depths. These tendrils signify the initial revelation of His concealed thoughts, through which the hidden lights of cognition emerge. These locks, like waves upon waves, hold entire universes, endless in their vastness. But their color, black as a raven, speaks of a profound enigma. The deep blackness absorbs all light, symbolizing the vast concealment within. Their luminance is hidden, cloaked within, revealing nothing. They are so enigmatic, like a raven, that it's nearly impossible to discern any differentiation or characteristic within them.

The ongoing prophecy continues to unravel as the land itself seems to listen, resonating with the depth of the allegorical meanings that flow with each verse, bridging the gap between the divine and the mundane. Her journey with her Beloved, in this mystic land, is an eternal testament to love, longing, and profound wisdom.

Amidst the vast and profound canvas of creation, a focus sharpens on His gaze, resonant with profound wisdom and understanding. These eyes, shimmering with the depth of celestial knowledge, behold the world, assessing and shaping it with care. It is reminiscent of that divine moment when God beheld His work and saw its innate goodness.

The comparison of His eyes to doves by watercourses paints an evocative image. Water, reflective in nature, shows a clear and polished image of one's own visage when peered upon. Just as the water holds a mirror to one's physical countenance, so too does the universe reflect the grandeur of the Divine. The cosmos, in its myriad hues and shades, is akin to the rainbow in the cloud on a rainy day - a manifestation of divine splendor. Just as the colors of the rainbow are the refractions of sunlight through the clouds, all of existence is but the radiance of the Almighty, revealing itself in various facets. His observing eyes, peering upon this tapestry of existence, see a reflection of His own exalted wisdom and glory.

This allegory likens the entirety of the universes to the reflection seen in the waters, representing them as embodiments of His majestic glory and sublime wisdom. They are images of His grandeur, products of His exalted wisdom that originate from the primal source, the fountainhead of all things. His eyes, symbols of divine wisdom and understanding, are drawn to these nascent realities like doves overseeing their offspring.

Water here symbolizes the entirety of existence, a nod to the divine spirit that hovers over the waters during the genesis of the world. The watercourses, or the beginnings and hidden sources of these existences, are where His eyes of providence and discernment rest. These eyes are described as bathed in milk, evoking a transformation where chaos gives way to order, much like blood turns to milk, a process brought about by divine eyes that comprehend the profound depths of understanding.

Lastly, His eyes sit by a brimming pool, signifying the completion and fulfillment of creation. Everything in its entirety and perfection, reinforcing the sentiment when God observed all that He had made and found it exceedingly good. The narrative emphasizes that the divine orchestration of the cosmos is an ongoing process, one where His eyes, resplendent with wisdom, continuously oversee, shaping and refining the world with every passing moment.

In the serene gardens of creation, the harmony of nature resonates with an allegorical tale of divine communication and prophecy. Amidst this tranquility, he stands, the emblem of the divine utterance that shapes the universe.

His cheeks, the internal source of his words, gleam like beds of spices—fragrant and potent. These cheeks represent the overarching and foundational utterance, analogous to the moment of initial creation. Within this bed, multiple seeds of potential lie dormant, awaiting their moment to flourish, just as the universe once lay in potential, wrapped in the mysteries of creation.

In contrast, his lips, external and articulate, are likened to lilies, delicate and vibrant in their bloom. These lips epitomize the detailed utterances that brought forth the particularities of creation, day by day. Every word is a bloom, a manifestation of the intended design. As lilies bud and flower, so did the days of creation unfurl, each with its purpose and splendor.

From these lips, there is a dripping of flowing myrrh, symbolic of the life that springs forth. This myrrh, embodying the essence of life, signifies the culmination of creation with the emergence of flora and fauna, each according to its kind. As the essence seeps from his lips, it serves as a reminder that every whisper, every proclamation, plays a part in the entirety of existence.

In this harmonious environment, the interplay between his cheeks and lips reveals a profound wisdom, a reflection on the nature of creation and prophecy. The journey from the internal realm of potential to the external realization of that potential mirrors the divine process, whereby the universe transitioned from abstract thought to tangible reality. Every element, from the spices to the lilies, and the flowing myrrh, serves as an allegorical lesson on the power of the divine word and the unfolding of prophecy.

In the resplendent garden, the sun bathes the world in gold, and every detail reflects the meticulous design of the Divine. Amidst the lush scenery, her gaze settles upon Him, the representation of the cosmos and its divine guidance.

His hands, she notices with awe, gleam like rods of gold. These are not just any hands. They are the very hands that sustain the fabric of existence, guiding it along predetermined orbits and cycles. They function like the purest golden cylinders, intricately designed, constantly in motion, governing the realities of the world. Through these hands, the ethereal spheres in the heavens above revolve, driven by celestial beings that gleam like beryl. Some of these hands guide the spheres through forces unknown to mortal eyes, while others are led by the angels, His faithful servants, who carry out His will with undying devotion.

Shifting her attention, she marvels at His core, described as a tablet of ivory. It symbolizes His revealed will through the Torah—a gift of compassion and mercy, given out of His boundless love for His creations. Just as pieces of ivory can be bound to form a single entity, so too does the Torah weave words, verses, and chapters into a unified tapestry of divine wisdom. Hidden within this ivory tablet is a deep, concealed wisdom, much like the inner mysteries of the ivory itself.

This tablet, despite its dense composition, is adorned with sapphires. To her, sapphires represent the clarity through which the deeper meanings of the Torah can be perceived. Just as one can glimpse distant scenes through the transparent depth of a sapphire, so too can the secrets and wonders of the Torah be discerned through its stories and narratives.

Feeling a profound connection to this divinely orchestrated world, she realizes that every detail—every leaf, every ray of light—holds profound meaning and purpose. The garden, the universe, and the beings within it are all part of a divine song, harmoniously orchestrated by Him.

In the heart of a vast, pristine forest, his presence is as commanding as the towering trees that blanket the land. Majestic, with an air of regal composure, he stands tall and unwavering.

His legs, the foundation of his being, are reminiscent of sturdy marble pillars, each finely crafted and grounded, demonstrating both strength and refinement. These pillars of marble represent the six endpoints of the tangible world, rooted and upheld by the brilliance of fine gold. This golden base signifies the divine support that surrounds and fills him, embodying the watchful guidance from above. This radiant golden support extends from his crown, encompassing him down to his very foundation, reminiscent of the interconnectedness of the world, where the divine essence touches every facet of creation.

Amidst the vastness, one cannot help but be reminded of the grandeur of Lebanon, a land of countless thriving plants, an ecosystem teeming with diverse life. In much the same way, he is a source for countless entities, both celestial and terrestrial, providing sustenance and life to them all. His role as a foundation for such varied life reflects his importance and centrality in this spiritual tapestry.

Highlighting his capability, wisdom, and unyielding will, he is likened to the tallest cedar among the trees of Lebanon. The cedar, standing tall and undeterred amidst its peers, symbolizes his unmatched strength and prowess among his legions.

As the narrative unfolds, one is left with an image of a figure both grounded in his role in the tangible world, yet deeply interconnected with the divine. The tapestry of his existence is woven with threads of strength, guidance, and purpose, painting a picture of profound harmony and purpose.

In the tranquil streets of Jerusalem, the gentle buzz of chatter fills the air as the maidens gather, their eyes drawn to a particular woman who seems lost in thought. Her voice carries a note of longing as she speaks.

His mouth is delicious, and all of him is delightful. Such is my beloved, such is my darling, O maidens of Jerusalem! she exclaims, casting her gaze to the distance. Every word that flows from his lips carries with it the taste of wisdom, inviting all who listen to savor the depths of knowledge. Such is the way one discerns true wisdom, not just through the ears but also by feeling its essence on the palate, much like discerning fine foods.

The maidens, sensing the profound connection she holds, lean in closer. Every aspect of his being is desired and cherished by those who truly know him. For his will is solely bent on kindness and goodness. Not just for the beauty that he presents to the world but for the actions that define him. Her love for him deepens each time she recognizes his virtues, his wisdom, and his wholeness. He is also her darling, for they share a spiritual essence, a fragment of divinity that binds them together. Like two souls, one celestial and the other earthly, reflecting the qualities of the Divine.

For a moment, a hush falls over the gathering, the weight of her words sinking in. The celestial soul, akin to King Solomon's spirit, once felt the profound connection with the Divine, hearing His holy words throughout Solomon's life. But as all things, this bond too had its seasons, and there came a time when the prophetic connection grew distant until Solomon's final days.

A gentle sigh escapes her lips as she concludes. With this, the fourth song of their tale is complete. The maidens, profoundly moved, continue their day, but with hearts touched by a story that speaks of love, wisdom, and the intricate dance of the soul with the Divine.

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