The Laziness of Lovers

קוֹל דּוֹדִי דוֹפֵק

At first blush the Song of Songs is an unlikely candidate for inclusion in the biblical canon. An apparently secular narrative poem, it describes the love between a man and a young woman living in ancient Judea, in and around Jerusalem. The language is sensual and boldly erotic, while the story-line mingles moments of passionate yearning and tender consummation with episodes of sharp grief at loss and separation. There is no explicit mention of God, Torah, or of religious rituals, Jewish or other.

Nevertheless it was recognized as a sacred text, and interpreted as an allegory of the mutual love between the seeker (either the group, Israel, or the individual) and the Divine. Some mystically inclined commentators understood the depiction of physical desire as a metaphor, a guidebook for the Journey to the ultimate Encounter, that of soul with Spirit. The surges of enthusiasm and the unexplained hesitations of the protagonists thus serve as warning markers and  good signposts.

Look, for example, at Chapter Five. The female character is lying on her couch, half asleep, day-dreaming about her most recent tryst, and wondering about the next, when she is awakened by a call.

“The voice of my beloved beckons … His hand is at the door latch… But I have already disrobed, should I put on my gown again? And I have taken off my sandals, should I soil my feet.”

She lingers lazily, and by the time she reaches the door, the loved one has disappeared into the night.

O H’, if ever again we hear that beckoning voice, if ever again you do call, may we break free from the sloth of self involvement and rush joyously into Your embrace.

@2012 Jonathan Omer-Man