Rabbi Kim Ettlinger’s Farewell
Painting the Song was a collaboration project between Deborah Masel’s words and Victor Majzner’s images.
Our forebears thought that the mystery of the Song of Songs was in the subject matter – that is, in how physical love could serve as a mirror to understand the human relation to God. They resisted any merely erotic reading of the book. However, the continued reverence and spiritual importance with which this poem/Song has been regarded up to today is precisely due to the depth of mystical meaning (understanding God) as well as erotic (human/earthy) symbolism contained within it.
From the Zohar, Terumah 143a & b: “…Rabbi Jose said ‘This song King Solomon poured forth when the Temple was erected and all the worlds, above and below, had reached their perfect consummation… The day on which this hymn was revealed on earth was perfect in all things, and therefore the song is holy of holies…The Holy One, blessed be He, then experienced such joy as He had not known since the creation of the world…This song comprises the whole Torah: it is a song in which those that are above and those that are below participate; a song formed in the likeness of the world above, which is the supernal Shabbat, a song through which the supernal Holy Name is crowned. Therefore, it is holy of holies. Why so? Because all its words are instinct with love and joy. This is because the “cup of blessing” was given with the Right Hand (Chesed); and when this is so…all the words of the Song of Songs are perfect with love and with joy…”
8:11-14 Listening so Deep
This painting is the final image in my Song of Songs interpretation. It represents a conclusion to the poetic yearning and longing for a connection to the Divine. A sense of closure/acceptance of the poetic cycle is implied. A prophecy intimated about the ‘end of exile’, both internal and external. The final redemption of the Jewish people as well as the creation of the third Temple in Jerusalem – the place where the physical and the spiritual world will (again) meet.
Amongst a starlit night are the sun and the moon – of equal size who act as ‘witnesses’ to the cosmic drama of these final verses of the Song. Out of the braking chains (bottom of painting) metaphors for exile and oppression of the Jewish people throughout history, emerges a miraculous Jerusalem with the third Temple fully installed and its altar at work. A golden beam of light illuminates the Temple. It seems to come from the crown of the Sefirot (Godly attributes) that are implied by the dotted, circular pattern. An enduring peace has descended upon Jerusalem and the Jewish people.