"Awake from the north and come from the south! Blow upon My garden, let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its precious fruit." (Song of Songs 4:16)
According to Jewish tradition, the "north wind" represents the human desire for physical pleasure and gratification, while the "south wind" represents the soul's longing for spiritual fulfillment. The human being's mission is to unite the two winds – the physical and the spiritual - by using the physical to serve the highest spiritual calling. Adam and Eve were given the Garden of Eden, the perfect setting for this task. They failed and were banished from the Garden. But the Garden remains in the Divine plan, and we will yet combine the two winds and enjoy the ultimate aroma and fruits of holiness. (Based on the ArtScroll Commentary)
It is fascinating that the ancient work "Perek Shirah" lists the Song of the Garden of Eden, long after we were expelled from the Garden. This seems to indicate that the Garden of Eden is still present, even though it is hidden from us. In fact, Maimonides writes in his introduction to Perek Chelek (Sanhedrin):
"The Garden of Eden is a fertile and rich place, the finest part of the earth. It has many rivers and fruit trees. God will reveal it to humankind in the future and will also show them the way to reach it, so they will enjoy it."
The book "Nature's Song" by Rabbi Nosson Slifkin cites another interpretation of the Garden's song: According to the commentary of Kenaf Renanim, the Song of the Garden of Eden is sung by lush gardens on earth with beautiful and aromatic flowers; moreover, these gardens are visited by beautiful songbirds and bees. They are not the Garden of Eden itself, yet they represent a small but significant taste of that spiritual paradise.
It is possible that the Song of the Garden may also be referring to the hidden potential within the world to become the Garden of Eden. It is this potential which is singing the song. For as the above ArtScroll commentary states, "The Garden remains in the Divine plan." And as we shall explore in future letters, the Torah indicates that we can recreate the Garden of Eden. This song is therefore to remind us of the potential of the world to return to the ideal state of the Garden of Eden, where all creatures dwelled in peace and harmony, and where the physical and the spiritual were united.
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)
1. An English translation of the introduction of Maimonides to Perek Helek (Tractate Sanhedrin) is found in the book, "Maimonides' Commentary on Pirkei Avoth", by Paul Forchheimer (Feldheim: www.feldheim.com ). The commentary of Maimonides on Perek Helek contains his explanation of basic Jewish beliefs, including beliefs regarding the messianic age and the resurrection of the dead.
2. ArtScroll published, "Perek Shirah" – The Song of the Universe, Translation and Insights by Rabbi Nosson Scherman. For information on this work, visit: http://artscroll.com/linker/hazon/ASIN/PSHH
3. Another book on Perek Shirah is "Nature's Song" by Rabbi Nosson Slifkin (Targum/Feldheim). For further information on this work, visit: www.feldheim.com