|Shirata Workshop for Jewish Praying, Singing & Being|
|Sha'alu sh'lom Yerushalayim - Pray for the peace of Jerusaelm|
|Number 11 - 20 Sh'vat 5767 - February 8, 2007|
|The 40-Day Song of Songs Segula Practice|
|4 of Adar, 5765, February 22, 2007|
Erev Pesach, 14 of Nissan, 5767, April 2, 2007
|During the forty days before the Passover Seder|
each of us recites the Song of Songs daily
|Please download an English translation of the Song of Songs here.|
|What is a Segula?|
The word Segula in Hebrew means a precious thing, a virtue hidden in someone, or a means to achieve something. We are using Segula as the realization of the potential to be a blessing. The Jews are called 'am segula, which means that they were endowed with the ability to realize their potential through Torah and its commandments. The vowel segol and the cantillation mark segol or segolta each constitutes of three dots in a triangle, representing the peace that comes through joining the left and the right columns. The term segula also refers at times to an amulet, talisman or other objects that hold the power of transforming potential into actual.
|Why Forty Days?|
Forty days represents the period in which nothing becomes something, e.g., an embryo, according to our sages, forms in forty days. Moses ascended to Mount Sinai to receive Torah and stayed there for forty days twice (some commentators say three times). The Jews were in the desert for forty years. Elijah the prophet spent forty days in the desert.
|The Song of Songs|
There is a Jewish folk tradition that reciting the Song of Songs is a segula for finding love. There is also a folk tradition that reciting the Song of Songs for forty days is a segula for making real your deepest desires.
The Song of Songs works as a segula by opening the heart. It is the story of redemption. It is at once a love song between two lovers, the history of all past and future redemption of the Jews, and the song of redemption of the soul captivated by the body and by material existence. All the blessings already exit. The softening of the heart, the circumcision of the heart, enables blessings to move from potential to actual. Our practice is an act of atonement from love.
|How did our practice start?|
I have been using 40-day segula practices for several years. Specifically, I have used the Song of Songs in times of difficulties in love; Parashat Haman, the story of the giving of manna and Shabbat, Exodus 16, in times of financial strife; and the struggle of Jacob with the angel, Genesis 32, at times of emotional distress.
A few years ago, Diana Afari asked me for a Biblical passage for one of her patients who was struggling. I did not have an answer at first, but then realized that the story of Jacob's struggle with the angel could work. It then came to me that it would be wonderful if our entire Song of Songs study Group could recite the Song together. The group agreed, and we were blessed with the awesome experiences as individuals and as a group.
This year we decided to practice the segula at the more appropriate time in the yearly cycle: between Purim and Pesach. Some traditions, such as the Hassidim and Sephardim, recite the Song of Songs before Shabbat. All Jews recite the Song of Songs on the Shabbat of Pesach. Pesach is the month of the first and, according to our tradition, the last redemption. Our practice coincides with the end of winter and the coming of springtime.
|There is a Creator, and I ...|
Our theme this year is faith. The focus of the segula practice is the Creator of the world, Blessed Be He. We would like to direct our ongoing attention to the question/statement: "There is a creator to the world, and I ..." . The starting point for this question/statement is momentary assessment of a relationship. From this base, a deeper penetration into truth is possible.
There are several types of approaches to this relationship between "God" and "I":
Atheism: A person might hold that there is no creator to the world, and so the entire question doesn't make any sense.
Idolatry: Alternatively, a person might hold that there are other imporant powers in their life, but the creator of the world is not one of them. The question does makes sense here either.
Within the Jewish faith, there are four levels of this relationship, each corresponding to their one of the four worlds:
King-Subject (Assiya): (The world of grabing): The Creator is King and I am his subject. He has all the power and I have none. I have to obey his commandment for fear of punishment.
Lovers-Partners (Yetzirah): (The world of exchanging): The Creator and I are partners, lovers, so to speak. We negotiate, we have a dialogue, we effect and affect each other. The Song of Song is mostly about this type of relationship.
Father-Son (Beriah): (The world of giving): The Creator is Father and I am his child. I obey him out of love, since I am part of him. My entire desire is to satisfy him.
Oneness (Atzilut): (The world as one): The Creator and my soul are one, always have been and always will be. No separation, no giving, no taking, no exchange. This is the ultimate level of closeness.
During the daily reciting, and throughout the period, we want to think about the Holy One Blessed Be He as often and intensly as possible throughout the day. There's only one objective to this practice: to open our hearts to His Truth, and become closer and closer to Him.
|Difficulties during practice|
At times during the practice, things change. It is not always fun. At first, you might feel that you increasingly understand the Song better and better, but as the practice continues, this clarity might evaporate. You might become confused, depressed, or agitated on some days, to be followed by days of calm, bliss, joy or indifference.
It is good to continue the practice even through difficulties, to keep moving. If you are really changing, there might be a need to mourn over your old self, even if you didn't like aspects of your old self. If you miss a day or two, please make up for it the following day or days.
It is good to set up a particular time and place, if possible. The practice takes around 20 minutes. Please spend some meditation or quiet time before and after. Silence and rest are essential. Try reading aloud, softly, with a melody, without, alone or with others. If you can read a little Hebrew, read just a few verses per day. If you can read the whole song in its original Hebrew, the power of the Song is infinite.
Some of us keep a journal to document the journey.
When you finish reciting, listen: you might hear us all say "Amen" to your deepest being. "We" are all the members of the group, everyone who has ever recited the Song, as well as everyone who will ever recite the Song in the future. On blessed days, the entire creation, past, present and future, will thank you for leading its prayer of salvation.
|We'd love to hear from you|
Please remember that you are not alone. Our Song of Songs Group, which meets every Wednesday, is around 15-18 strong. There are some 70 people on our mailing list. Some 15 have told us that they will be joining us. Everyone is welcome.
|Learning The Song of Songs|
The following file contains our translation, Malbim commentary and creative verse commentary on Song of Songs 1:1-2:9. The file size is about 450Kb.
|Email Subscription Information|
To subscribe to the group's email list, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Shirata 20, 29 Av 5771 - August 19, 2011