A dove in the wilderness

יוֹנָתִ֞י בְּחַגְוֵ֣י הַסֶּ֗לַע בְּסֵ֨תֶר֙ הַמַּדְרֵגָ֔ה הַרְאִ֨ינִי֙ אֶת־מַרְאַ֔יִךְ הַשְׁמִיעִ֖ינִי אֶת־קוֹלֵ֑ךְ כִּי־קוֹלֵ֥ךְ עָרֵ֖ב וּמַרְאֵ֥יךְ נָאוֶֽה: — שיר השירים ב, יד

My dove? A circle within the boulder, a secret within the step, my vision from the mirror, what I hear of your voice — your voice? A wilderness, when dawn is a multitude and the mirror is desire.

The Hebrew for dove — יוֹן — within Shir Ha’Shirim refers to G!d, not to love. In its natural habitat everywhere on the known Earth, the dove is a simile for Ha’Shem. The Hebrew ah’rév — ערב — literally means “wilderness”, but here I decode it as when dawn (ער) is a multitude (רב): it is always dawn somewhere on Earth. Mystics understand cirlce within the stone to refer to Moshe, whom G!d Placed in the cleft of a rock when passing by —

וְהָיָה בַּעֲבֹר כְּבֹדִי, וְשַׂמְתִּיךָ בְּנִקְרַת הַצּוּר; וְשַׂכֹּתִי כַפִּי עָלֶיךָ, עַד-עָבְרִי

And as My Glory passes I Will place you within a gouge of
the rock. It will be as if My Hand covers you until I Pass by.

Every step is a mystery, for one does not know what’s around the corner, though ma’dréga — מדרגה — refers less to footsteps — צעדים — than it does to advancing along a stairwell — חדר מדרגות — e.g., it defines moving up a level rather than moving across the same level. One can walk down a stairwell, of course, but I do not understand there to be any such thing as a “lower madréga”.

Author: rector@metivta.ca

A chaplain, spiritual director, and educator, Arié Chark (“Reb Arie”) is Rector at The Metivta of Ottawa. A strong sense of personal mission has led Reb Arie to convene various civil society projects under the auspices of The Metivta of Ottawa, including the Ottawa Roundtable and the Abrahamic Chaplaincy Board.

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