Learning Group—for Shabbat Chol Hamoed Pesach
(Shir Hashirim [Song of Songs])
1. [Shmot 33:20-23]: “…you are not able to see my face…and you will see my back…” This is obviously a metaphor, since God does not have a body. What does it mean to see God’s face and what does it mean to see God’s back?
2. The midrash tells us that the angels started singing praises to God when the Egyptians were being drowned in the sea. God told them to stop singing because it wasn’t right to sing while His creations were dying. Because of this midrash, we sing only part of the Hallel—the song of praise—all the week of Pesach after the first days. Does Pesach have a universal theme or is it specifically a Jewish national festival?
3. [Chol Hamoed Pesach] Chol Hamoed Pesach celebrates the crossing of the Red Sea, when God split the sea for us. Our mystical texts tell us that at that time, God made the miracles happen even though we had not earned them–we didn’t deserve them. At others times, however, we get miracles because we deserve them. Which miracles are preferable–those that we deserve, or those that are pure kindness from God without us deserving them?
4. For the Chassidim, each day of the 49 days of the omer—the days between Pesach and Shavuot—has a personal characteristic attached to it. One tries to correct that quality on that day as a preparation for accepting the Torah on Shavuot. How does becoming a better person prepare one for accepting the Torah?
5. [Shir Hashirim] Shir Hashirim is a love song between a man and a woman that represents the love between Israel and God, or the love between a person and God, and every pure love. The Rambam says that, “Just like a man who loves a particular woman cannot remove her from his thoughts, a person should love God with that same intensity”. If that is true, why is there such an emphasis in the Torah on the fear and the awe of God?
R. Akiva said, “…all the holy books are holy, but that the “Song of Songs” is the holy of holies”.
For Rabbi Akiba and for Judaism, love is one flame expressing itself on many different levels. To diminish the flame on any one level is to weaken the capacity of love on all levels.
R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer
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