Tuesday, September 13, 2016
The Song of Songs: The Love Story of God and Israel (IV)
“A bundle of myrrh is My beloved to Me, lodging between My breasts. A cluster of henna is My beloved to Me, in the vineyards of Ein Gedi!” (1:13-14)
God responds in delight by again calling Israel His beloved as the offering itself that touches and kisses His heart (“between My breasts”). Israel's love ascending like a bundle of burnt myrrh, and kissing God's love. Myrrh, nard, henna and other spices burnt in the Temple represent traits and qualities in human consciousness directed by love's ways and attributes for the sake of God's ways and attributes.
Ein Gedi is presented here as a sacred place from where fine flowers and herbs provided sublime perfumes and fragrances, as well as a special soil for fruits, grapes and wines.
Lo, You are fair, my Beloved. Lo, You are beautiful, Your eyes are [like] doves! Lo, You are beautiful, my Beloved. Yea, pleasant. Yea, our couch is fresh. The beams of our house are [like] cedars, our rafters are [like] cypresses.” (1:15-17)
Beauty is the reflection of goodness. God's ways, attributes, and actions of goodness are indeed beautiful. Likewise, Israel's goodness is her beauty in the “eyes” (knowledge) of God. Hence she's His beloved. The beauty Israel praises in God's love also refers to His loving kindness, power, holiness and majesty, among His other exalted attributes that are certainly beautiful and faithful to His creation.
Dove's eyes gaze for her mate, and our sages highlight this metaphor as eyes of loyalty. This verse evokes the mutual loyalty and fidelity between those who share the same principles and values for the sake of their goodness. These constitute a common bond that is the foundation of the relationship between God and Israel.
The realization of this bond takes place in the Temple of Jerusalem's inner chamber, the “fresh couch” shared by the two spiritual lovers. Always flourishing and vigorous, always lively and vital, and strong as its foundation made of cedar (strength) and cypress (righteousness), standing strong, uplifted and high.
These two kind of trees represent traits and qualities of righteousness, rectitude and strength, as necessary foundations for our connection with the Creator. The Temple is sustained by these foundations. Our sages say that they also represent the wise and righteous among Israel, whose guidance is fundamental for the unity, harmony and peace among the people.
Our sages also say that when Israel agrees on a single plan (a harmonically unified and unifying expression of goodness as the purpose of God's creation, including our world) down to earth, God's great name is praised on high, as it is said, “And He shall be King in Yeshurun (Israel).” When is that? “when the heads of the nation [have] united the tribes of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 33:5).
This unity is achieved when the diverse qualities of Israel's goodness (the twelve tribes) live together in harmony, accepting each other, lifting and enhancing each other toward the higher purpose of serving God's plan.
This higher purpose is manifest as each tribe expresses its qualities in righteousness (one of the synonyms of yeshurun) to make goodness prevail, for goodness is inherently righteous. Thus God reigns in Israel's righteousness. The heads of the tribes represent the commanding and leading vital force of each quality, as the ability to encompass and integrate the creative potentials of their expressions.
As our sages pointed out, Israel's diversity must agree on a common purpose and destiny, which is God's plan for the material world. This common agreement is what invites God to dwell among (in) us. Together with Him, Israel fulfills her destiny to be God's partner in His plan. God's dwelling in us is the realized connection represented by Jerusalem and its Temple, as king David reminds us.
“(...) Jerusalem, Jerusalem, built as city [in which Israel is] assembled together. For there the tribes went up, the tribes of God; as a testimony for Israel to thank the name of God.” (Psalms 122:2-4)
“I am a rose of the sharon [a large, sandy field], a lily [lit. a rose bud] of the valleys!” (Song of Songs 2:1)
The metaphors invite diverse interpretations. If the translations suggest two kinds of flowers, these may imply two traits or qualities. A sandy field (sharon) and a valley are also different landscapes. In a simple meaning, we may say that Israel has a two-fold quality. She can dwell in diverse places and circumstances, and say, “I am a rose as well as a lily, I dwell in a sandy field as well as in a valley. Still, I am a flower. I don't lose my essential identity as a flower.” These qualities are not necessarily opposite but complementary.
Likewise, they also mean that Israel has her spiritual identity as a rose, and her material expression as a lily. Both beautiful and delicate as the goodness of love's ways and attributes. No matter where she dwells, her beauty remains in the appearance she shows.
The verse is a statement of identity. Israel poetically introduces herself as a flower with the meanings this implies.
From the Book's Foreword
Let's reexamine our ancestral memory, intellect, feelings, emotions and passions. Let's wake them up to our true Essence. Let us engage in the delightful awareness of Love as the Essence of G-d. The way this book is written is to reaffirm and reiterate its purpose, so it presents its message and content in a recurrent way. This is exactly its purpose, to restate the same Truth originally proclaimed by our Holy Scriptures, Prophets and Sages. Our purpose is to firmly enthrone G-d's Love in all dimensions of our consciousness, and by doing it we will fulfill His Promise that He may dwell with us on Earth forever. Let's discover together the hidden message of our ancient Scriptures and Sages. In that journey, let's realize Love as our Divine Essence, what we call in this book the revealed Light of Redemption in the Messianic era.