Jeffrey Levine
CFO | Seeking a just world I Author

In praise of Eternal Wisdom

There is a timeless treasure in the realm of spirituality and poetry: the Song of Songs, Shir HaShirim, attributed to King Solomon. As an Ashkenazi Jew, this Shabbat, we delve into the depths of this poetic masterpiece, curious about its significance, especially as we know that Sephardic communities read it every week on the  Shabbat evening. It is said that the singing of Yedid Nefesh is an abbreviation for Shir Hashirim, and that is why Ashkenazim sings it every Friday evening.

This is how Yedid Nefesh ends:

“Let Your mercy flow to me, and support me with Your salvation, Do not abandon me to myself, to You alone do I turn for support, Do not conceal kindness from me, do not hide from me, Remember me, and send me, the kindness of Your father forever.”

These are beautiful words of longing, and this theme is central in Shir Hashirim.

Driven by curiosity and a thirst for knowledge, I embarked on a journey to uncover the profound wisdom hidden within Shir HaShirim.

My quest to understand Shir HaShirim led me to Yaakov Schmidt’s enlightening book, “The Eternal Wisdom from King Solomon”. Having previously absorbed the teachings of Kohelet during Sukkot from the same author, I was eager to delve into Shir HaShirim, guided by Schmidt’s insightful commentary. I must admit, I received a copy of this book from the author, with a gentle nudge towards writing a blog about it. And so, I embark on this journey, intertwining my current reflections on Shir HaShirim with a heartfelt recommendation for Schmidt’s enlightening work.

The Book is available on Amazon

This is how the book is described:

“Jewish philosophy was certainly influenced by Greek philosophy but is based on three dogmas: the existence of HaShem, the Torah’s Divine origin, and Reward and Punishment. The Jewish wisdom literature is very old – dating back to the Torah, Shlomo HaMelech and even beforehand; it is eternal. Every generation of Jewish scholars builds on the foundations of previous generations creating a long chain of Jewish philosophy from antiquity to today. The ideas and concepts have eternal value and relevance. And Jewish philosophy is deeply religious, the here presented wisdom literature of Shlomo HaMelech openly or implicitly acknowledges HaShem and the fear of Him.”

In the introduction to Yaakov’s book, he is described as a searcher, and I resonate deeply with this characterisation. It’s not just our shared Hebrew name that binds us; it’s our mutual quest for meaning and relevance in the ancient texts of Judaism. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Yaakov for many years and sharing our appreciation for life’s pleasures and love of Israel.

Beyond our shared indulgences, what truly unites us is our passion for bridging the gap between ancient wisdom and modern life, particularly in the realms of business and investing. We both recognise the enduring ethical principles woven throughout the Bible and the profound call for justice and social responsibility. As I reflect on the Torah readings of Pesach, I’m struck by the timeless wisdom they impart about how we should treat others with dignity and compassion.

In today’s world, rife with moral ambiguity and societal upheaval, the relevance of ancient texts has never been more pronounced. They offer a beacon of wisdom in a sea of uncertainty, providing guiding principles for navigating life’s complexities with integrity and purpose. This commitment to reviving the timeless teachings of Judaism and applying them to contemporary discourse makes Yaakov’s book a compelling read.

I wholeheartedly recommend Yaakov’s book to anyone who shares our passion for breathing new life into ancient texts. It’s a testament to the enduring relevance of Jewish wisdom and a valuable resource for those seeking to infuse their lives with meaning and purpose rooted in tradition.

Some thoughts on Shir HaShirim

As I immerse myself in the poetic tapestry of Shir HaShirim, I am struck by its resilience across millennia. Its preservation for close to 3,000 years, amidst the limitations of ancient writing mediums, is nothing short of miraculous. The references to the agricultural cycle and the landscapes of ancient Israel evoke a sense of connection to our ancestral roots, resonating with the agricultural themes I recently encountered at the Israel Museum. In juxtaposition to the exhibitions of ancient civilisations, Shir HaShirim stands as a testament to the enduring power of wisdom, literature and spirituality.

Embedded within the verses of Shir HaShirim are echoes of love, separation, longing, and resilience. As the poem traverses themes of love and connection, it also navigates the turbulent waters of strife and conflict. The imagery of vineyards and blossoming landscapes in ancient Israel, juxtaposed with references to estrangement, mirrors human existence’s complex tapestry. Despite the passage of centuries, the quest for love and connection remains a timeless pursuit, echoing through the annals of history and reverberating in the protests of modern-day universities.

I heard an interesting talk about Sir Hashirim, in which the Rabbi highlighted the difference between comedy and tragedy depending on the end. Lets look at the last sentence.

In Hebrew:

“בְּרֹ֤חַ לְךָ֙ דוֹדִ֔י וּדְמֵה־לְךָ֛ לִצְבִ֥י א֣וֹ לְעֹֽפֶר־הָ֠אַיָּ֠לִים עַל־הָרֵי֙ בְּשָׂמִ֔ים”

It depends on how you translate Berach

Flee of Hurry

Flee is to run from something, or Hurry is to run to something. How each of us interprets makes a huge difference.

Flee, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the spice-laden mountains.” i.e the Temple Mount / God)

Hurry, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the spice-laden mountains.” i.e the Temple Mount / God)

Are we running away from God or towards God? That is the eternal dogma that plagues our world today.


Here is what I got when I posed the question to Chat GPT

“Shir HaShirim, also known as the Song of Songs or Song of Solomon, is a poetic book in the Hebrew Bible that is often interpreted as a love song between two lovers, traditionally understood as symbolic of the relationship between God and Israel or between God and the individual soul. It is not typically classified as either a comedy or a tragedy in the same way that literary works are.

However, if we were to explore the themes of Shir HaShirim in the context of comedy and tragedy:

Comedic elements:

  • The overall tone of Shir HaShirim is one of love, longing, and celebration of the beloved.
  • The lovers’ expressions of affection and desire for one another can be interpreted as joyful and uplifting.
  • The imagery of nature, beauty, and sensuality in the text evokes a sense of vitality and happiness.

Tragic elements:

Some interpretations of Shir HaShirim emphasize the longing and separation experienced by the lovers, which could evoke a sense of tragedy or melancholy.

The book includes themes of suffering and yearning, particularly in the context of separation and longing for reunion.

In specific interpretations, the imagery of Shir HaShirim is symbolic of the historical suffering and exile of the Jewish people, adding a layer of tragedy to the text.

Ultimately, while elements of both comedy and tragedy can be found in Shir HaShirim, it is primarily a poetic expression of love, desire, and spiritual longing rather than a narrative with a clear comedic or tragic structure.”

In a world plagued by evil and a lack of connection to God, Shir HaShirim serves as a poignant reminder of our shared love and connection to God and the enduring connection of the Jewish people to God and to the land of Israel.

I am sharing this from Albert Einstein, which serves as a timely reminder:

“Evil does not exist, or at least it does not exist for itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is like darkness and cold—a man-made word to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not faith or love, which exists as light and warmth. Evil is the result of the absence of Divine love in the human heart. It’s the kind of cold that comes when there is no heat or the kind of darkness that comes when there’s no light.”

As we navigate the complexities of contemporary geopolitics, we are reminded of our collective responsibility to cherish and safeguard our shared heritage. Through the lens of Shir HaShirim, we are invited to embrace the timeless values of love, resilience, and connection, forging a path towards a brighter future for all mankind.


About the Author
Jeffrey is a CFO | Seeking a just world I Author -living in Jerusalem. He is a young grandfather who has five kids and seven grandchildren. Jeffrey is promoting a vision for a better and fairer world through and is the author of Upgrading ESG - How Business can thrive in the age of Sustainability
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