Kinah 10: The Rose of Sharon
“O how the Rose of Sharon sits alone and joy has been silenced from the mouths of those who carried the Ark; And the Kohanim, the sons of Aaron were removed from their watches.”
Shir Hashirim Rabbah II.1: “I am the Rose of Sharon.” The Community of Israel said, “I am the one, and beloved – ‘habibah’ as in Habazeleth – am I. I am she whom the Holy One, Blessed is He, loved more than the seventy nations.”
“A Rose of Sharon,” so called because I made Him a shade – ‘zel’ – by the hand of Betzalel, as it is written, “And Betzalel made the ark.” (Exodus 37:1)
“Of Sharon,” so called because I chanted to Him a song – ‘shirah’ – together with Moses, as it is written, “Then sang Moses and the Children of Israel.” (Exodus 15:1)
This Kinah takes all three stages of this Midrash to remark on how the Rose of Sharon has fallen. ‘I am she whom the Holy One, Blessed is He, loved more than the seventy nations,’ but now, I, the beloved, sits alone. ‘I made Him a shade,’ the Ark, but now ‘joy has been silenced from the mouths of those who carried the Ark.’ “I chanted a song,’ but now my joy has been silenced, and I weep.
We contrast what we ‘are’ in our essence and lament that we are unable to live as we truly are. We still aspire to be the beloved of God, the ones who create a place for Him, the ones who sing His song. But we will first have to recapture our essence before we can again lay claim to being the Rose of Sharon.
The Midrash continues: Another explanation: “I am the Rose of Sharon,” I am the one, and beloved am I. I am she who was hidden – ‘habuyah’ – in the shadow – ‘bezel’ – of Egypt, and in a brief space the Holy One, Blessed is He, brought me to Ramses, and I blossomed forth in good deeds like a rose, and I chanted before Him the song, as it says, “You shall have a song in the night when a feast is hallowed.” (Isaiah 30:29)
We were “hidden” in the shadow of Egypt, waiting for the opportunity to blossom, and to then sing. We are again “hidden” in exile waiting to bloom and sing in joy when we can.
All this serves as the introduction to a Kinah that focuses on the twenty-four Priestly Watches and the cities in which they were based.
The Kohanim would serve on a one week basis and return home. Each of the twenty-four areas would have regular reminders of people preparing and sanctifying themselves to serve in Jerusalem. They would return with tales of, and lessons from, the Beit Hamikdash, which was a regular part of the lives of all the people in the area. That connection with the Beit Hamikdash was a constant reminder that we are the Rose of Sharon.