Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 3 (Book 4b): Shepherds' Dwellings

7. Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where do you feed, where do you rest [the flocks] at noon, for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?"
8. "If you do not know, O fairest of women, go your way in the footsteps of the flocks and pasture your kids beside the shepherds' dwellings.
9. At the gathering of the steeds of Pharaoh's chariots have I silenced you, my beloved.
Week 3 in the Jewish calendar is the week of Sukkot. In the Song of Songs, the Jewish people ask  Hashem where He feeds His flock, the Jewish people. This is a reference to the Sukkah, where we eat and rest during this holiday. The Sukkah is a reference to Divine protection in the desert and in all exiles. This reference again becomes much more clear in light of Rashi’s comment: “Tell me, You Whom my soul loves, where do You feed Your flock among these wolves in whose midst they are, and where do You rest them at noon, in this exile, which is a distressful time for them, like noon, which is a distressful time for the flock?” In the Sukkah, we are exposed to the elements, and feel the heat of the sun at noon. The “companions” is a reference to the other nations, for whom we also bring sacrifices on Sukkot.
In the second verse, it is G-d’s turn to speak to the Jewish people. Because we have been judged and have repented, He now call us the “fairest of women.” G-d also speaks of the “shepherds dwellings,” perhaps a reference to the seven shepherds that visit the Sukkah during Sukkot. The Sukkot are also built as a remembrance of the redemption from Egypt, and the third verse of this week is a reference to that, to how Pharaoh’s chariots were thrown in the sea. All we needed to do at that time was be silent and have faith. This is connected to the faith we demonstrate on Sukkot as well, remembering how we were kept safe for 40 years and rejoicing in the holiday.
Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the third mentioned is Pallu. Pallu is related to the word peleh, miracle. This is perhaps a reference to the miracles experienced by the Jews during their forty years in the desert: the clouds of glory, the mannah, etc.
Daf gimmel (Folio 3) of Shvuot discusses primarily oaths relating to eating, as well as the laws of bringing things in an out of a home, a primary domain. These are clearly related to eating in the sukkah, and making the sukkah a home. The daf also discusses laws of lashes for inactions. This is similar to the sukkah, in which even if we do not do anything, just stay inside a sukkah, we are fulfilling a mitzvah.
Chapter 3 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme as the above ones in Shir HaShirim:
14. Return, backsliding children, says the Lord, for I possessed you, and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.  
backsliding children: (Envasec in O.F.) That you perverted your way because of much good, that you enjoyed tranquility and pleasure, as Scripture states: They hum snatches of song to the tune of the lute (Amos 6:5), those who drink from bowls of wine (v. 6).   
for I possessed you: and you are called by My name, that I am your Master, and it is not honorable for Me to leave you in the hands of My enemies.   
15. And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, and they will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
The verse speaks of tranquility, as well as of shepherds.
Another verse of this chapter speaks of how the Jews are mingled among the nations:
19. And I said: How shall I place you among the sons? But I will give you a desirable land, an inheritance of the beauty of hosts of nations, and I said: Call Me 'my Father,' and do not turn away from following Me.  
How shall I place you among the sons?: i.e., how shall I place you, my congregation and My nation, among the other sons, mingled with the heathens. I, therefore, selected a handsome portion, and I gave you a desirable land.   
Here we see that all nations are called sons – we bring sacrifices for all of them as well.


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