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  • Writer's pictureRabbi David Paskin

A Love Song

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From Rabbi David

Children riding bikes

Nearly every Jewish community from Ashkenazic to Sephardic, Israeli, Italian and American reads some or all of Shir Hashirim (The Song of Songs) at some point during Passover. Shir Hashirim is one of the five scrolls or "megillot" in Hebrew that make up the third section of the Bible.

The traditional reasoning for reading Shir Hashirim on Passover is that Song of Songs is set in springtime, just as Passover is. In addition, there is also one mention of Pharaoh in Song of Songs that connects it to the Passover story, though this connection is fairly incidental to the whole.

Beyond springtime and a this one reference to Pharaoh, there is a deeper connection between Song of Songs and Passover. Jews have never read Song of Songs simply as a love story. Since antiquity we have understood it, in religious terms, as an expression of the covenantal love between God and the Jewish people.

We don't often think about "love" in Judaism. Certainly not between God and people. This is in part because of the Christian framing of Judaism as a religion of law and Christianity as a religion of love. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our "love affair" with God and God's with us, is rooted deep in the Bible, most notably here in the Song of Songs.

Redeeming us from slavery in Egypt was God acting on God's love for us so what better time to sing the Song of Songs - our love song with God - than Passover.

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