Song of Songs

The Rabbis taught: All the writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies.

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In the Zohar and the early Kabbalah the dialogue of love is between the two Sefirot, Tiferet, the male principle in the Godhead, and Malkhut, the Shekhinah, the female principle. In the opening passage of the Zohar, in current editions, the lily among the thorns is Malkhut attacked by the demonic forces but strengthened against these evil forces by the five strong leaves surrounding the lily, the other lower Sefirot.

The sixteenth-century mystic, Moses Cordovero, interprets the book as a dialogue between the individual soul and God. Even in an earlier period, Maimonides (Teshuvah 10:3) writes in the same vein, when discussing the love of God:

'What is the proper form of the love (of God)? It is that he should love the Lord with great, overpowering, fierce love to the extent that his soul is bound to the love of God and he dwells on it constantly, as if he were love-sick for a woman and dwells on this constantly, whether he is sitting or standing, eating or drinking.'

'Even more than this should be the love of God in the heart of those who love him, dwelling on it constantly, as it is said: "with all thy heart and with all thy soul" (Deuteronomy 6:5). And it is to this that Solomon refers allegorically when he says: "For I am love-sick" (Song of Songs 2:5) and the whole of Song of Songs is a parable on this topic.'

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Rabbi Louis Jacobs

Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) was a Masorti rabbi, the first leader of Masorti Judaism (also known as Conservative Judaism) in the United Kingdom, and a leading writer and thinker on Judaism.