1. The Time of Zamir
2. The Road to Light
3. The Voice of My Beloved Is Calling
4. Today, Too
The Time of Zamir
"The time of zamir has come," we will read in Song of Songs this coming holiday Sabbath. "The winter is past, the rain is over and gone… the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land." The word zamir has many different meanings. On the one hand, it means song and rejoicing. But it also has an opposite meaning - pruning, cutting off, an end. Our Sages of blessed memory attributed the different meanings to different types of people: Mitzrayim (Egypt) sounds like "zamir aritzim," the cutting off of proud ones, while Israel/Yisrael is alluded to by "shirah" - song. "G-d is my strength and strong (zimrat)," the Israelites sang after they miraculously crossed the Red Sea out of Egypt and bondage.
These two opposing aspects can also be seen in the "inner circle" of the People of Israel. On the one hand, a farmer acts with a measure of cruelty while he prunes his orchard. He cuts and destroys the vine, leaving it with barely any of its little shoots. After the pruning is completed, the vine appears empty and naked of its previous glory.
But those who can see a bit deeper know the secret that is second nature to every farmer. Hidden within the vine's few remaining shoots is the great potential for growth and fertile abundance. If the cut-off branches had remained on the vine, they would have weakened those powerful shoots to the point of sterile dormancy. It is precisely the sharp blows delivered to the vine that awakened the productivity hidden within it. The abundant crop of grapes that will produce wine to "gladden man's heart" stems from the harsh whacks rained down upon the vine.
The Road to Light
If you want to reach the zimrah, the song and joy - you must pass through the zmirah, the cutting back. One who wants to reach the geulah, the redemption, must first undergo the tribulations of the redemption. If you desire to enjoy the beauty of spring, you must first experience the chill of winter. Freedom comes from having tasted the bitterness of subjugation, and one who merits it will see the light of Redemption breaking through the darkness of the Exile. He will merit to eat from the Pesach offering, which the Torah commands us to eat "on matzahs and maror (bitter herbs)" - Pesach, matzah, and bitterness all together. He will have reached the point where he will be able to thank G-d for *all* His works: "We will greet Him with thanks, and with song we will acclaim Him."
Kol Dody Dofek - The Voice of My Beloved Is Calling
"I am sleeping, but my heart is awake," King Solomon continues in Song of Songs. For most of his life, man is asleep. He is very active and busy, but he does not pay heed to the inner voice of his soul. His true inner personality is asleep. His heart is awake to hearing the voice of his soul in which G-d's voice is calling; but he has not reached a true level of understanding, and certainly not the level that will cause him to take action.
Every once in a while, the Holy One, blessed be He, comes and calls to Man, "Awake! Why do you sleep!?" Open the chambers of your heart, listen to the musings of your soul, return to Me. But it is man's nature for his lethargy to take over; he is comfortable in his current situation. He is afraid of the effort required of him, of the obligations he will have to undertake. He is terrified of a change.
The Holy One, blessed be He, does not suffice with placing the "call" to man, but also takes action to awake him. "My beloved put his hand by the door latch," King Solomon sings, "and my heart was thrilled for Him." It is impossible to remain apathetic in the face of G-d's actions on our behalf. Whoever has experienced great miracles in his life, or who has come face-to-face with G-d's Providence, can simply not ignore it. "I rose up to open the door for my beloved" - but I was too late. The laziness won out. By the time I gathered my strength and decided to return to G-d, the great imprint of the G-dly light has melted away. Man continues to look for G-d, but he no longer finds Him within him.
As with the nation, so with the individual. This cycle occurs in people many times in their lives - and with the People of Israel many times during its history. G-d calls out to us and says: "Don't wait for a more opportune moment! Return to Me truly, and then I will come too and return to you." We turn to G-d and ask, "Return us to You, G-d," and then "nashuvah" - we will return of our own accord.