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Shir ha-Shirim VIII: The Maze

Another explanation: “The Song of Songs,” this bears out what the verse says, “And more so because Kohelet was wise (Ecclesiastes 12:9).” Had any other man composed them, it would have been incumbent on you to incline your ear and to listen to them; all the more so since Solomon composed them!


Had Solomon composed them out of his own mind, it would have been incumbent on you to incline your ear and listen to them; all the more so since he composed them with Divine Inspiration.

“And more so because Kohelet was wise, he also talked the people knowledge; he pondered and sought out and said in order many proverbs.” Solomon pondered the words of the Torah and investigated their meaning. It was as if he made handles to the Torah, allowing us access. You find that until Solomon came there was no parable. Rabbi Nachman gave two illustrations: imagine a large palace with many doors, so that who ever entered could not find his way back to the main door, until one clever person came and took a coil of string and hunted up on the way back to the main door, so that all went in and out by means of the string. So to, until Solomon arose no one was able to properly understand the words of the Torah, but as soon as Solomon arose all began to comprehend the Torah.(Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 1:1.8, part one)

“To what is this analogous? To a garden maze, a type of garden common among the ruling classes, which is planted for the sake of amusement. The plants there are arranged in walls between which are found many confusing and interlacing paths, all similar to one another, the purpose of the whole being to challenge one to reach a portico in their midst. Some of the paths are straight ones which lead directly to the portico, but some cause one to stray, and to wander from it. The walker between the paths has no way of seeing or knowing whether he is on the true or the false path; for they all are similar, presenting no difference whatsoever to the observing eye. He will not reach his goal unless he has perfect familiarity and visual acquaintance with the paths through his having traversed them and reached the portico.

“He who occupies a commanding position in the portico, however, sees all of the paths before him and can discriminate between the true and the false ones. He is in a position to warn those who walk upon them and to tell them, “This is the path; take it!” He who is willing to believe him will reach the designated spot; but he who is not willing to believe him, but would rather trust his own eyes, will certainly remain lost and fail to reach it.

“So too in relation to the idea under discussion: He who has not yet achieved dominion over his evil inclination is in the midst of the paths and cannot distinguish between them. But those who rule their evil inclination, those who have reached the portico, who have already left the paths and clearly see all of the ways before their eyes, they can advise him who is willing to listen, and it is to them that we must trust. (The Path of the Just; Chapter 3: Concerning the Divisions of Watchfulness)

Solomon, the wisest of all men, who taught with Divine Inspiration, is the one who occupied the commanding position in the portico, the one who sees all the paths before him and he can discriminate between the true and the false ones. It is Solomon who can lead us into the Palace with infinite doors before us, each door leading to another and yet another, who can direct our paths, guide us safely through the palace, and connecting all of it by this string he draws to the opening; his parables that allow us to connect all the doors, and understanding how all of Torah is a unity, is connected to a single Truth.

Yes, we seek the Pesach Divine Inspiration to articulate our own wisdom. Yes, we approach the Pesach story as explorers. Yes, we approach the Pesach story with this constant awareness of there being “more.” However, we must take direction from those who have the perspective to connect all the different aspects of the stories and the Pesach mitzvot, so that our Song is not just another Song, but a Song that connects with all the other Songs; a Song of Songs.

We seek direction from those with the perspective of wisdom. We seek the ability to connect all we learn, all our discoveries, all our explorations, all the “more,” so that our insights become part of the Ultimate Song, the Song of Songs, the Torah.

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