50 is coming. I can feel it.
Yesterday, in services we read Shir Hashirim, The Song of Songs, yesterday. The presence of this text in the Tanach seems an ongoing mystery. Arguably, the greatest, most epic love poem ever written, we traditionally pass it off as a metaphor for our loving relationship with God. I don’t doubt that this was NOT the intent of the author, but I have no problem with passing it off as such.
Where has your beloved gone, O you most beautiful among women? where has your beloved turned? that we may seek him with you.
My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to pasture his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine; he pastures his flock among the lilies.
You are beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners.
Turn away your eyes from me, for they have overcome me; your hair is like a flock of goats sliding down from Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep which have come up from the washing, all of them bear twins, and there is not one bereaved among them.
Like a piece of a pomegranate are your cheeks behind our veil.
There are sixty queens, and eighty concubines, and maidens without number.
My dove, my perfect one, is only one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bore her. The maidens saw her, and called her happy; the queens and the concubines praised her.
Who is she that looks forth like the dawn, beautiful like the moon, bright like the sun, and awesome like an army with banners?I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see if the vine had blossomed, to see if the pomegranates were in bloom.
Without my knowing it, my soul set me among the chariots of a princely people.
Another mystery: Why do we read this during Pesach? I have an idea. We are now, in this annual cycle of reliving history, a people recently reclaimed by our God. Our love, like the spring, is renewed. We are in a 50-day approach to Har Sinai, where we will sign our Ketubah with God in the giving of Torah. This love poetry is all part of our courtship of God and God’s courtship of us.