V 1: "I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride." - With the completion of the Temple , God's presence enters, accepting the incense offerings and wine libations, and He invites the priests to eat their share of the sacrificial offerings.

V 2: "I am asleep." With the passage of time, even having the Temple , Israel became lax in God's service and began to sin. ".but my heart is awake." - The "heart" is the Holy One blessed be He, who is called "the rock of my heart" (Psalms 73:26). ".the voice of my Beloved is knocking." - God repeatedly sent His prophets to warn the people, asking His "bride" to open up and admit Him into her house just as a lover seeks to steal in to visit his beloved even at night despite getting wet from the rain or dew (Rashi).

V 3: The beloved bride replies like a faithless wife making excuses why she cannot admit her husband. "I have taken off my coat" - "I have already fallen into other habits (idolatry) and I can no longer return to You" (Rashi).

V 4: "My beloved put in his hand through the hole of the door." - God began to strike Israel , first sending the tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of Menasheh into exile some generations before the destruction of the Temple (Targum). This caused a stir of repentance among those who remained.

Vv 5-6: However, even this arousal of repentance in the last generations before the destruction was insufficient to revoke the decree and restore the divine Presence to the Temple (Rashi on v 7).

V 7: "The watchmen that go about the city found me." These are the Babylonians, who slaughtered and exiled Judah (Targum). "They took away my mantle from me" - the mantle alludes to Tzedekiah, the last king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar killed (Targum).

V 8: "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem , if you find my beloved, what will you tell him? That I am love-sick" - Israel adjures the Babylonians to bear witness on the future day of judgment how even in exile, she remained faithful, with Tzaddikim like Daniel, Hananiyah, Mishael and Azaria being willing to sacrifice their lives to sanctify God's name (Rashi).

V 9: The nations ask Israel how God is different from their gods such that she is willing to be burned and hanged for His sake.

This question of the nations elicits Israel 's praiseful description of God's attributes, which is in parallel with God's description of the attributes of Israel in ch 4 vv 1-5. Just as that description kabbalistically refers to the Partzuf of Malchus/Nukva/Shechinah, similarly the description here in chapter 5 vv 10-16 alludes kabbalistically to the Partzuf of Zeir Anpin/Kudsha Berich Hu. The commentary on the coming verses is mainly based on Rashi's lengthy comment on Ch 5 v 16 where he discusses the entire passage.

V 10: "My beloved is white and ruddy." God "whitens" and cleanses sins out of loving kindness (Chessed). He is "ruddy" in punishing His enemies (Gevurah). He is "pre-eminent above ten thousand" - many "troops"=angels surround Him.

V 11: "His head is like the finest gold" - the "head" is the first of the Ten Commandments, in which He asserts His kingship. Having done so, He then proceeds to make His decrees: "His locks are curled." - this alludes to the multitude of laws of the Torah. ".and black as a raven" - the primordial Torah was written with black fire on white fire.

V 12: "His eyes are like doves." Just as doves look to their cotes, so God's eyes are upon the synagogues and study halls, where the Torah, which is compared to water, is found. ".washed with milk." When God's eyes look in judgment, they clarify the true verdict, justifying the righteous and condemning the wicked, requiting each according to his ways.

V 13: "His cheeks." refers to His revelation at Sinai; ".his lips." refers to the Torah portions that He revealed out of the Tent of Meeting (the laws of sacrifices in Leviticus).

V 14: "His hands." refers to the Tablets of Stone. "His body.", lit. the torso, refers to the book of Leviticus, which is in the middle of the Five Books of Moses just as the torso is in the middle of the body.

V 15: ".his aspect is like Lebanon ." - one who studies and contemplates His words (in the Torah) finds them like a forest that is constantly in blossom, because they are always fresh.

V 16: "His mouth is most sweet." Could anything be sweeter than the Torah code, which even gives us a reward for fulfilling a mitzvah such as not causing ourselves injury (Leviticus 19:28) and which guarantees that if a wicked man repents his very sins are turned into merits? (Rashi).


V 1: "Where is your beloved gone.?" The nations taunt Israel , asking why He has left her as an abandoned widow. "Let us seek him with you!" When God restored Judah from exile to Jerusalem and they began to build the Second Temple , the surrounding nations asked to participate in the building in order to try to stall it.

V 3: "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." Israel replies to the nations that they have no share in the building of Jerusalem (cf. Ezra 4:3; Nehemiah 2:20).

V 4: "You are beautiful, O my love." God praises Israel for this reply to the nations. ".comely as Jerusalem ." - With the rebuilding of the Temple , Israel was restored to her former glory. ".terrible as an army with banners." God struck fear into the heart of the adversaries so that they were unable to stop the rebuilding.

V 5: "Turn away your eyes from me, for they have overcome me." God speaks to Israel like a lover so overwhelmed by his beloved that he has to ask her to turn her eyes away from him. This alludes to the fact that the Second Temple lacked the Ark of the Covenant etc. which in the First Temple caused such overwhelming passion that this in itself led Israel into betrayal (Rashi).

V 6: "Your teeth are like a flock of lambs." Every part of the lamb can be used for holy purposes: its wool is dyed TECHEILES (sky blue) for tzitzith, its flesh is offered as a sacrifice, its horns are used for shofars, its leg-bones for flutes, its innards for stringed instruments and its skin for drums, while the nations are compared to dogs (Psalms 22:17 etc.), no part of which is used for holy service (Rashi).

V 8: "Sixty are the queens and eighty are the concubines." The sixty queens allude to Abraham and his descendants as listed in Genesis, while the eighty concubines allude to Noah and all his other descendents as listed there. (See Rashi on this verse for the complete listings.) ".and maidens without number." - these are all the families into which the primordial souls later became divided (Rashi).

V 9: "My dove, my undefiled, is but one." Out of all of them, only one is God's choicest. Israel is compared to a dove because the dove is completely loyal to her spouse.

V 10: "Who is she that looks forth as the dawn.?" Israel in the time of the Second Temple are compared to the dawn, which little by little becomes lighter and lighter, in that initially they were subject to Persia and Greece but under the Hasmoneans became an independent kingdom.

V 11: "I went down into the garden of nuts." God sent His presence to dwell in the Second Temple . Israel is compared to a garden of nuts, because from the outside a nut appears to be all wood but when you crack it you find it to be full of compartments of edible food. Also, even when a nut falls into the mud (= exile), its contents are not spoiled.

V 12: "And since it is revealed before God that they are righteous and occupied with the Torah, God says, I shall strike them no more, nor shall I destroy them, but I shall set myself to show them beneficence." (Targum).



By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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