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Shir ha-Shirim X: Part One: Different Songs Print E-mail

Shir HashirimAnother explanation: “The Song of Songs.” Rabbi Aibu and Rabbi Yehuda debated the following: Rabbi Aibu said, “Song,” indicates one song, “Songs,” two songs, making three songs in all. Rabbi Yehuda ben Simón said, the entire Song of Songs is just one of the songs, and the two extra songs implied in the word “Songs,” are different. How do you specify them? One is, “a song of ascents of Solomon (Psalms 127),” and the other, “A Psalm, a song at the dedication of the House of David (Psalms 30).” You would naturally think that David composed this, but in reality is only ascribed to David in the same way as it says, “Like the Tower of David (the Temple) is your neck (Song of Songs 4:4).” So too, here, Psalm 30, Solomon composed it and ascribed it to David. (Shir haShirim Rabbah 1.1:10, part one)

 

Rabbi Aibu understands the Song of Songs as being composed of three strands, referring respectively to God, to Israel, and to himself, all of whom are indicated by the name “Solomon.” There are those who understand the three strands as referring respectively to the redemptions from Egypt, Babylon, and Rome.

Rabbi Aibu wants us to read the Song of Songs on three levels; either referring to God, or Israel, or Solomon, or perhaps, as a song about three redemptions. There is one text that can be read in at least three different ways. It is not a single song, but multiple strands of a song.

We can study the Pesach story as a song about God, a song about the Jews who left Egypt, and a song about our own search for personal redemption. This may be why we stack three matzos, to remind us of the different levels included in this single text.

Rabbi Yehuda teaches us that when Solomon sang the Song of Songs he sang the  single song that led to his singing more songs. One song changed his perspective. The one song inspired him to sing more. His song changed the way he understood what his father, David, had taught and done, and he was able to sing his father's song in an entirely new way.

If we sing the Haggadah properly, we will find ourselves singing more songs. And being able to seeing what we have learned from our fathers and teachers in an entirely new way. This is why many people have a custom to sing the Song of Songs immediately after the Seder: the song of the Haggadah inspires them to sing more. This is why it is so important to spend time after the conclusion of the Seder continuing our discussion of the Pesach story, because we are taking the song of the Haggadah and singing it in an entirely new way.

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