Is the Song of Songs "Happily Ever After"? --- Well, no

[One of the things I love about Rabbi Shefa Gold is that she loves the Song of Songs – as do I. I would guess she has loved the Song since before she knew it existed -- since she was born and opened her ears to the melodies and chants of the Song Beyond All Songs. Till. for her, when just this past year she led a year-long learning with the Song as text.

[In between her birth and those teachings, Rabbi Gold was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and again by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, and sang into being not only hundreds of Hebrew chants but a whole newway  of  prayer – chant services with few words but great depths. (You can hear many of them at

[Here is her latest song of love to the Song: -- AW, editor]

Happily Ever After? Well, no.

By Rabbi Shefa Gold

The Song of Songs is our great Love story. As with all great stories, you might wonder, “Well, how does it end?” I grew up with a bedtime story, a myth, a blueprint for how love was supposed to go, where it was supposed to take me, that can be summed up with the words, “And they lived happily ever after.”

The last note says, “Ta-da!” “The End.” And I’ve always been a sucker for those romantic comedies that warm my heart and lure me with their fantasies of “happily ever after.”

The Song of Songs ends on such a different note. The lover turns to her beloved in the Garden and says, “Go! Hurry, my Beloved! Flee! Be my gazelle, my young stag on the mountain of spices.” 

She turns to Love, Reality, God, the vastness of Being and says, “I will not domesticate you with my concepts; I will not limit you with my convenient definitions; I will not settle for comfort and ease and a small predictable Reality…. because I have glimpsed your vastness, your wild immensity, your unfathomable nature. “

I live at the edge of wilderness, and I’m always playing at that edge. I have a small container garden on my porch, a hummingbird feeder and a seed-block for the woodpeckers, jays, juncos, grossbeaks and finches that I count as family. A grateful tribe of chipmunks live under my wooden planter boxes. Bears sometime lumber onto my porch to do their mischief. The seeds from my chive’s flowers waft off my porch into the ground the surrounds my house, taking root as tufts of delicious food for the deer that wander by.

 The other day I stood on my porch and stared into the dark eyes of a doe who was leading her two young children into those between lands where my chives had spread. For a long timeless moment, we were lost in each other’s eyes. And then quite suddenly she must have heard those words, “Hurry, flee, be like a gazelle in your swiftness and wild beauty; run to the mountain of spices.” I was so grateful for those moments and sad to see her go, and happy for her wildness, for in those precious moments, she awakened the wild in me. 

And this is also how the Song of Songs ends -- leaving us playing at the edge- between our civilized, predictable, constructed, comfort-seeking world ... and the vast dangerous mystery that can’t be contained, defined or even fathomed. 

The Song of Songs asks, “What would it mean to live at that edge?”

[As for me, I’ve loved the Song of Songs since 1974 when Rabbi Max Ticktin, z’tz’l, led a group of Fabrangeners in an open exploration of its Eros-Spirit. Till when just this past year I wrote on Dancing in God's Earthquake and just this past week when I wrote in the Shalom Report  that the Song is Eden for a gown-up human race. That it will take the Song to teach us the Torah of the next seventy generations, the Torah of how Earth and human earthlings can live together – can keep living at all. -- AW, editor]      


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