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SONG OF SONGS: CHAPTER TWO CONT. (Song Two)

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

Her Beloved was not confined by space or circumstance. His love reached her wherever she was, breaching the divisions between worlds. * The winter had passed and the confusing rains, the murky thoughts, have also moved on. * Inspired by the rich spiritual symbolism of the commentary of Malbim.

by Rabbi Boruch Merkur

In the secluded courtyard of the palace, time had stretched out languidly. The maiden had grown accustomed to the confined elegance of her surroundings. The seasons had shifted—autumn into a whisper of spring—and now, the month of splendor had arrived. It was during this significant time that she heard it: a voice echoing across vast distances, an unmistakable sound she knew to be of her Beloved.


"Listen! My beloved is coming, leaping over mountains, bounding over hills."


The words were not merely poetic but resonated with an esoteric wisdom. Her Beloved, it seemed, moved through different states of existence, from lofty peaks of unimaginable heights to rolling hills much closer to her current reality. This leaping and bounding were not just geographical but metaphysical shifts. It was as if he was demonstrating his omnipresence, making his way from the utmost transcendental spheres down to the tangible world.


In a moment, she grasped the underlying message: her Beloved was not confined by space or circumstance. His love reached her wherever she was, breaching the divisions between worlds. And just as he had bridged these metaphysical spaces, she felt an urge to transcend her own confines, to venture beyond the courtyard, to explore the vineyards that lay just outside the walls of her current existence.


The call of her Beloved filled her with an urge to journey out, to leave the familiar and go into what lay beyond, but not too far. After all, she still remained within the bounds of the royal city, even if she stepped out into its vineyards. Yet, in doing so, she sensed a temporary separation from her earthly guardians—the daughters of Jerusalem. These maidens, representatives of earthly constraints, remained focused on momentary tasks, their attention diverted.


Even as her feet touched the soil of the vineyards, the celestial maiden felt an inner union with her Beloved, a connection that lasted until the dawn light spread across the sky. As the sun ascended, the daughters of Jerusalem returned to their roles, and she sensed her Beloved withdraw, ascending back to his lofty realms. Yet the love remained, filling her existence with both an enduring warmth and the promise of future unity. And so, despite the departure, the wisdom imparted in their brief encounter remained, teaching her about the limitless reaches of love and the sacred interplay between the earthly and the divine.


The maiden feels a presence, elusive yet palpable, like the mysterious allure of a gazelle or a young stag glimpsed fleetingly between trees. She knows her Beloved is near, just beyond the wall that surrounds her home. Though she cannot see Him, she senses Him, standing steadfast like a guardian ensuring that the very stones of her abode remain in place.


As the light shifts and the day deepens, she feels a change. She's drawn to her window, where the sunlight filters through, casting a warm glow on the wooden floor. It’s as if eyes are upon her—not in scrutiny but in gentle watchfulness. Her soul tingles with a newfound understanding, as if distant yet profound insights have been silently whispered into her innermost being.


Then, almost imperceptible, a closer gaze. As if the window glass has thinned into a sheer lattice, she feels her Beloved's attention pierce through even finer barriers. She imagines His gaze extending, leaning through the very lattice, reaching into her inner sanctum. A rush of warmth envelops her. It's more than wisdom or enlightenment; it's a sacred union of souls, as if His essence has blended with hers in an indescribable communion.


The maiden realizes that her Beloved has always been near, but in different shades of closeness. First as a protector of her physical world, then as a beacon illuminating her mind, and now, most intimately, as the harmonious chord that vibrates in the same frequency as her innermost soul. Each stage, an invitation to draw nearer, to know and be known more deeply, until all barriers dissolve into irrelevance.


At first, her senses stir as if touched by a far-off melody. The presence of her Beloved wafts toward her like a gentle breeze, subtle yet unmistakable. His voice first reaches her from a distance, not yet sharp, but a soft vibration that rouses her soul. "Arise," he calls out as if inviting her from afar. His summons is a herald for her to prepare herself, to ascend to a state of being worthy of divine dialogue.


Then, the tenor of his voice changes, growing more intimate, clearer. "Come away, my darling, my fair one," he says, no longer distant but directly speaking to her. The words penetrate her core, inviting her to break free from the mundane chamber she finds herself confined within—her corporeal existence.


"Darling," he had always called her, an endearing term that evoked the bond of friendship they shared. Now, he adds, "my fair one," marking a transformation. The additional term speaks volumes, indicating that his love for her isn't just about companionship; it is also about her intrinsic beauty, her true essence. She comprehends that being fair in his eyes is not superficial; it represents her spiritual worth, the beauty of her soul that has now become visible to him. She feels it; she is not just a companion to him but someone whose internal grace complements his own.


For her, these words are a signal of a nuanced progression—from preparation to engagement, from distance to closeness, and from companionship to a deeper, more intimate love. This shift symbolizes a new chapter in her spiritual journey, where her Beloved not only guards her but recognizes her innate beauty, inviting her to come away from her mundane confinements.


Awakened by his beckoning voice and enthralled by his intimate words, she understands that he is guiding her out of her limitations, urging her to step into the fullness of her spiritual identity. Her Beloved sees her—truly sees her—and in doing so, invites her to see herself anew.


And so, with a heart pounding from both trepidation and excitement, she prepares to rise, to heed his intimate call, and to step beyond the familiar walls that have confined her. She readies herself to enter a state where her soul will touch the Divine in a manner that neither distance nor barriers can diminish.


The season of dormancy is over; the rains that often follow have also receded, leaving the field ripe for cultivation. The Soul, likened to this fertile ground, is ready to awaken. Her season of winter, where her spiritual faculties rested under a blanket of snow, is behind her. She endured a spiritual winter, a period of internal retreat where her capacities seemed frozen, only to regenerate and prepare for the season of growth.


Her Beloved, the Divine, whispers to her, "For now the winter is past, the rains are over and gone." He assures her that the period of spiritual dormancy is over, and now is the time for her to blossom anew. The same field that seemed barren is now ready to yield fruit.


But this isn't an immediate leap from winter to spring, from unknowing to knowing. The rains that follow winter serve as a transitional period. They muddy the terrain, mixing clarity and confusion, much like the stage where her imagination, not yet fully refined, clouds the light of her higher understanding. In the natural world, rain nourishes but also clouds; likewise, her intellectual faculties are waking up but are not yet clear.


Then the clouds disperse. The rains have done their part, nurturing the seeds deep within the soil and within her soul. The atmosphere clears, and the sun — representing Divine illumination — shines its light more potently on the field, causing the well-rested seeds to sprout. Her thoughts purify, and she reaches a moment where her internal climate is conducive for spiritual revelations.


The Master of the Universe tells her that not only has her winter passed, but the confusing rains, the murky thoughts, have also moved on. Her season for growth, both within and without, has come. She's in her spiritual spring, a time for blossoming, for showing the fruits of what was once hidden.


Like the great prophets, there may be moments when the light shines continually, or there may be flashes of insight separated by intervals. But her winter and rains have passed; she is now open to the skies.


Her Beloved, the Divine, nods with affirmation. Her time for harvest approaches. She hears the call not with her ears but with her soul, as if every fiber of her being resounds with the eternal words, "For now the winter is past, the rains are over and gone." And so, she readies herself, sensing that the next chapter of her spiritual journey is about to unfold.


In the land, the scene has transformed. Blossoms unfurl their petals, breaking free from the cold earth. No longer do the trees stand barren; they now don the robes of spring. The air, once crisp and still, now carries the melody of birds who had remained silent throughout winter. Among these is the turtledove, its song distinct, filling the air with a promise of change.


The changes in the land mirror deeper shifts within. The woman, whose spirit had long been lying dormant, awakens. Her soul, forever bound to her body, has now entered a phase of singing—of manifesting the Divine wisdom she holds within. A higher form of her soul, which often takes its leave during life's colder seasons, now finds its way back, lured by her newly resonant spiritual melody. The land and the soul are both in a state of bloom; one reflects the other, both a canvas and a mirror of heavenly artistry.


Her Beloved observes this transformation with delight. To him, her emerging spiritual beauty reflects the blossoms in the fields. He appreciates the nuanced symphony of her soul, now vocal, echoing the return of the turtledove to their land. The dormant seeds of Divine attributes, sown in the garden of her soul, have not only sprouted but are now in full bloom. He senses the presence of her higher soul returning, akin to the turtledove resuming its song, and knows that the season of their unity and mutual growth has dawned.


It's a time of singing, both for the birds and for the souls. The song of the turtledove, a celestial tune, is now in harmony with her own soul’s melody. As the turtledove heralds a season of warmth and renewal, her newly awakened spiritual wisdom announces a golden period of enlightenment, a rekindling of heavenly love.


In this season of renewal, the time for pruning has arrived. Like the branches that need cutting back to produce lush, abundant fruit, the woman understands that refinement is necessary for spiritual elevation. It is a conscious surrender to facilitate blossoming. She willingly trims away her limitations, making room for virtues to flourish.


They both understand that this isn't mere happenstance; it's a divinely ordained cycle, as reliable as the seasons but as miraculous as the first bloom. It is the natural result of their devotion, their holy work during the colder, silent months that now yields its radiant fruits. And in the sounds of the turtledove, in the blossoms that enrich the earth, and in the love that draws them ever closer, they find the poetry of a shared existence, a life in spiritual harmony.


Amidst blossoming branches and fragrant leaves, the fig tree emerges into a new phase of life, its green figs nearing ripeness. The vineyards too share in this awakening, their tendrils heavy with a sweet aroma. This is a decisive moment, a cusp of transformation, a call for a fresh chapter from nature itself.


"Arise, my darling; my fair one, come away!"


Her Beloved, the embodiment of wisdom, beckons her. Until now, her intellectual and spiritual capacities have been like hidden treasures, waiting for the right moment to emerge. In the renewed world around her, these inner gifts can no longer remain concealed.


The vines symbolize her deeper wisdom, akin to prophecy, also ready to flourish. Her Beloved assures her that the obstacles have cleared; winter's chill and inertia are behind them. Now is the time to seize the blessings of spring and summer, to bring forth the harvest of her internal landscape.


He whispers, "The season for your flourishing has arrived."


Feeling the stirrings within, she rises. The air is thick with promise, and she cannot help but move toward it. Together, they step into a world rich with opportunity, where what was once hidden comes to light, and a fresh season of spiritual and intellectual fruitfulness begins.


Nestled among rocks and protected by the cliffs, she finds herself in a concealed alcove—a sanctuary in the wilderness. In this secluded space, she is like a dove in a rocky haven, invisible and unheard, her voice lost to the sounds of nature


"O my dove, in the cranny of the rocks, hidden by the cliff," her Beloved's voice seems to echo through the hidden corners of her soul. "Let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is comely."


Her Beloved is not merely speaking of physical beauty or auditory sweetness. No, the face he yearns to see is the reflection of her analytical intellect—a treasure that offers insight into the true nature of reality. And the voice? It is the ethical wisdom that guides her actions, whispering ever so softly what ought to be done. The sweetness and comeliness of which he speaks refer to a soul refined by both discernment and virtue.


She pauses, feeling his call penetrate her sanctuary. In this pivotal moment, she finds herself at the intersection of two distinct but interrelated faculties—the analytical and the practical. On one hand, she holds the intellectual wisdom previously bestowed upon her, akin to the glistening facets of a crystal. On the other, she carries the practical wisdom to apply this knowledge authentically, guiding her through the labyrinth of moral choices.


It's as if her Beloved pleads, "Come forth from your hidden alcove. Show me your intellectual face, that true self imbued with discerning wisdom. Let me hear your moral voice, steering your actions with righteous intent."


Emerging from her secluded sanctuary, she becomes acutely aware of her surroundings—the hustle and bustle of city life, the blend of righteousness and waywardness, wisdom and folly. Yet, it is precisely here, in the heart of complexity and clamor, that her wisdom and virtue find their greatest test and their most compelling expression.


As she steps forth, she feels her intellect sharpen, her ethical voice resonate. She is now ready to navigate through the city’s cacophony, guided by an intellect refined and a virtue fortified, seeking to bring a sense of sacredness into the mundane, of ethical integrity into a world often lacking it.


Her face, unseen in the hidden alcove, now shines with clarity. Her voice, once muted, now rings with unmistakable sweetness. And her Beloved, witnessing this transformation, finds her more comely and her voice more sweet than ever before. They understand that it is in the realm of action, amid the noise and challenges of life, that true beauty and sweetness are not only revealed but also fulfilled.


In a secluded space between vineyards, she finds herself alone with her Beloved. The vineyards serve not just as a sanctuary for their love but also as an open chamber, allowing their companionship to flourish. Yet, the Daughter of Jerusalem remains ever watchful. She is aware of the little foxes that ruin vineyards, the small disruptions that could break the harmony of their shared moments.


The woman, attuned to the potential hazards that may threaten their blooming love, orchestrates a plan. She turns to the Daughters of Jerusalem who keep watch over the area. "Catch us the foxes," she urges, "the little foxes that ruin the vineyards—for our vineyard is in blossom." She does not only speak for herself or her Beloved; she speaks for the unity they have found, a unity that has now blossomed into something sacred.


Her words serve a dual purpose. As the women set off on their quest to catch the foxes, the disturbance to the vineyard is prevented, maintaining the sanctity of their love. It also offers her and her Beloved a brief interlude alone, enveloped in the now peaceful vineyard.


The woman recognizes that these little foxes are not merely nuisances; they are agents of chaos that could tarnish what is pure. The little foxes are like minor transgressions, almost imperceptible but capable of causing irreparable damage to something beautiful and flourishing. These foxes, these little disruptions, are like those moments of doubt or small betrayals that can creep into the hearts and break them from the inside. She knows that their love, symbolized by the blossoming vineyard, needs to be shielded from such diminutive yet destructive elements.


In ancient times, the ruin of a vineyard could serve as an act of vengeance or retaliation. Just as Samson once unleashed foxes to destroy Philistine vineyards, the loss of her former betrothal could have been a motive for these little foxes—these trifles—to appear and wreak havoc. She knows they must be caught and dealt with before they spoil the sanctity of their love.


While the Daughters of Jerusalem venture out, their absence provides her and her Beloved with a secluded space. Yet, even in their solitude, they are never entirely alone; the vineyard, full of life, reflects their love and the divine harmony that suffuses it. As they stand amidst the vines, her eyes meeting those of her Beloved, they both understand that their love, like a vineyard in full bloom, is both fragile and resilient, vulnerable yet strong, constantly threatened yet eternally hopeful.


Through her actions, she has not only preserved the physical space around them but also safeguarded their emotional and spiritual realms. Both know that their love, encapsulated in the metaphor of a vineyard in blossom, must be cherished, nurtured, and most importantly, protected from the little foxes that seek to destroy it.


In a secluded space between vineyards, she finds herself alone with her Beloved. The vineyards serve not just as a sanctuary for their love but also as an open chamber, allowing their companionship to flourish. Yet, the Daughter of Jerusalem remains ever watchful. She is aware of the little foxes that ruin vineyards, the small disruptions that could break the harmony of their shared moments. Her attention to the vineyard is reminiscent of an ancient poem from the Song of Songs, a biblical narrative that encapsulates love in the very environment that surrounds her. Just as the woman in the biblical text is vigilant about the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, so too is the Daughter of Jerusalem.


The woman, attuned to the potential hazards that may threaten their blooming love, orchestrates a plan. She turns to the Daughters of Jerusalem who keep watch over the area. "Catch us the foxes," she urges, "the little foxes that ruin the vineyards—for our vineyard is in blossom." She does not only speak for herself or her Beloved; she speaks for the unity they have found, a unity that has now blossomed into something sacred.


Her words serve a dual purpose. As the women set off on their quest to catch the foxes, the disturbance to the vineyard is prevented, maintaining the sanctity of their love. It also offers her and her Beloved a brief interlude alone, enveloped in the now peaceful vineyard.


The woman recognizes that these little foxes are not merely nuisances; they are agents of chaos that could tarnish what is pure. The little foxes are like minor transgressions, almost imperceptible but capable of causing irreparable damage to something beautiful and flourishing. These foxes, these little disruptions, are like those moments of doubt or small betrayals that can creep into the hearts and break them from the inside. She knows that their love, symbolized by the blossoming vineyard, needs to be shielded from such diminutive yet destructive elements.


In ancient times, the ruin of a vineyard could serve as an act of vengeance or retaliation. Just as Samson once unleashed foxes to destroy Philistine vineyards, the loss of her former betrothal could have been a motive for these little foxes—these trifles—to appear and wreak havoc. She knows they must be caught and dealt with before they spoil the sanctity of their love.


While the Daughters of Jerusalem venture out, their absence provides her and her Beloved with a secluded space. Yet, even in their solitude, they are never entirely alone; the vineyard, full of life, reflects their love and the divine harmony that suffuses it. As they stand amidst the vines, her eyes meeting those of her Beloved, they both understand that their love, like a vineyard in full bloom, is both fragile and resilient, vulnerable yet strong, constantly threatened yet eternally hopeful.


Through her actions, she has not only preserved the physical space around them but also safeguarded their emotional and spiritual realms. Both know that their love, encapsulated in the metaphor of a vineyard in blossom, must be cherished, nurtured, and most importantly, protected from the little foxes that seek to destroy it. Like the woman in the Song of Songs, her watchfulness becomes a testament to their enduring love. She is not just a Daughter of Jerusalem; she is the epitome of love's guardian, vigilantly keeping at bay the threats that could unravel the fabric of their sacred unity.


As the Daughters of Jerusalem scatter into the vineyard on their fox-hunting mission, the Daughter of Jerusalem is enveloped by a newfound sense of tranquility. The vineyard, previously a place of potential disruption, has transformed into an open chamber for love, punctuated by the scent of blooming flora. The atmosphere seems to crystallize around them, capturing the essence of their unity.


"My Beloved is mine, and I am his," she thinks, "who browses among the lilies."


In this moment, her connection with her Beloved isn't just affirmed; it deepens. He had been the Shepherd among the lilies, bringing her blossoms that emit a fragrance, leaving an indelible mark on her memory. Just as the Shepherd tends to his flock, providing sustenance and ensuring their well-being, her Beloved tends to her emotional and spiritual nourishment. He is the Shepherd, not of simple sustenance, but of wisdom and understanding.


For the Daughter of Jerusalem, the sequence is crucial. "My Beloved is mine," she first asserts. Her soul had not been ready for this depth of union, this profound revelation. It was her Beloved who first reached out, who initiated the connection. Once her heart opens to receive his love, then, and only then, could she affirm, "And I am his." Her commitment is now as sure as the lilies that bloom around them. It's a love that operates on multiple levels—physical, emotional, and spiritual.


The term "who browses among the lilies" holds a world of symbolism. When her Beloved is described as a Shepherd in this manner, it transcends the literal notion of pastoral care. In periods when the Shepherd nourishes the nations, ensuring their material welfare, he is referred to as the sustainer of bread and water. However, in times when he nourishes souls, illuminating them with prophecy and imbuing them with wisdom, he is a Shepherd among the lilies—those fragrant blossoms that signify a sustenance of a higher order. Lilies, with their intoxicating scent, stand for a spiritual nourishment that feeds the intellect and the soul. It is this form of sustenance, more elusive but far more enduring, that her Beloved provides.


And so, as they stand together in the vineyard, now devoid of the little foxes that once threatened their love, the Daughter of Jerusalem and her Shepherd, her Beloved, bask in the ineffable connection that unites them. Even as their physical forms occupy this temporal space, their souls are nourished in an eternal meadow, bathed in a fragrance that neither time nor circumstance can erase. Their love, resilient yet fragile like a lily in bloom, remains unthreatened, yet ever watchful for the little foxes that lurk on the peripheries of their bliss.


In a fragrant grove, perfumed by a myriad of spices and adorned with the most dazzling of lilies, she finds herself lost in the intoxicating aura of their shared love. "My Beloved is mine, and I am his," she whispers softly to herself, her soul recognizing its profound connection with him, "He who browses among the lilies."


While the daughters of Jerusalem venture into the vineyards to protect them, she knows their efforts are but a fleeting responsibility, bound by the limitations of earthly concerns. They offer her flowers, yes, but it's her Shepherd among the lilies who brings her the kind of sustenance that feeds not just the body but also the soul. In him, she finds the spiritual fragrance that elevates the intellect and stirs the very core of her being.


As she murmurs these affirmations, a subtle shift in the atmosphere alerts her senses. The gentle wind carries a new promise, whispering, "When the day blows gently, and the shadows flee, set out, my Beloved."


She knows then that the earthly commitments, those daughters of the material world who preoccupy themselves with temporal matters, will soon wane in the heat of the day. And when they do, the illusions—the shadows—will flee as well, lifting the veil that separates the corporeal from the spiritual. That's when her Divine Companion would set out, swift as a gazelle or a young stag, and return to her, vanishing and reappearing like a deer that always finds its way back to its familiar abode.


She knows that the hills of spices await them, a realm far removed from the mundane. It will be a return to a heightened state of being, a realm where wisdom flows unimpeded by the distractions of the material world. And so, in the fragrance of the lilies, amidst the spices that imbue the air with their heavenly aroma, they prepare for the next leg of their eternal journey. "For the hills of spices," she echoes the wind, yearning for the moment her Shepherd will return, reinvigorating their spiritual quest, until once again they find themselves enveloped in a love that transcends all understanding.


With her gaze fixed on the hills of spices, the location for their next rendezvous, she feels an overwhelming sense of completeness. It's as if the hills themselves are a sacred sanctuary, inviting them to deepen their eternal love. Just as the spices hold an array of mysteries yet to be revealed, so too does their love promise untold layers of wisdom and spiritual connection. Thus closes the second song in their divine narrative, a fitting finale that sets the stage for more revelations to come.

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