Ketubah by Laya Crust with quotations from Shir haShirim
Ahhh, springtime. A beautiful time of the year. The flowers are blooming and we are surrounded by the sweet smells of blossoming trees.
Last week during the Shabbat of Passover we read Shir haShirim, or The Song of Songs. There are two interpretations of Shir haShirim. Throughout history many Rabbis and scholars have opined that Shir haShirim is an allegory for the love between God and the people of Israel. The other interpretation is that it is a love poem written by King Solomon for the Queen of Sheba.
It is an amazingly beautiful piece – poetic and lyrical. Within this poem of two lovers seeking and dreaming of each other are nestled gems describing nature and springtime.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle dove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
I decided to write some of my favourite phrases from Shir haShirim in a triangular accordion fold book. There are some lovely handmade papers infused with flower petals and grasses, so I chose one of those papers and wrote the text in a deep but subdued green, beckoning springtime into the letters themselves.
The poetry continues. In chapter 4 King Solomon describes aromatic breezes wafting through an enclosed garden. The night winds are scented with the perfumes of exotic spices. “Nard and saffron, fragrant reed and cinnamon,with all aromatic woods, myrrh and aloes- all the choice perfumes. A garden spring, a well of fresh water, and streams from Lebanon.”
The poetry is wrapped up and enclosed, ready to be opened and shared with the world.
Coincidently, William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564 . (I wonder if he was a Pesach baby?) He died almost exactly 400 years ago, on May 3, 1616. He is known for his romantic writings, his plays and his sonnets. Sonnet 98 refers to both the flowers of spring and to love. But, I have to say it, Shir haShirim is a better read!
Take care. Feel the breeze on your face. Breathe in the beautiful scents of young blossoms. Enjoy the spring.