RW681 – Midrash Song of Songs Rabbah

Instructor: Rav Carl Kinbar
Location: Populi (
Dates:  December 26, 2021February 27, 2022

Song of Songs Rabbah is the definitive anthology of early rabbinic commentary on the Song of Songs. In its broadest aspect it serves as a parable of the mutual love between God and Israel. Within this parable, we learn about the place of God, Torah, Messiah, and covenant in Israel’s life and explore the complexities of the “partnership” between God and Israel in this world. We also study ways in which the Song of Songs bears on our understanding of the Bible, the Messiah, and our relationship with God in the here and now.

This course is required for the MRS degree and an elective for the MJS degree.

Song of Songs Rabbah connects us with the Jewish heritage of theology, devotion, and biblical interpretation. Theologically, it is radically Godcentered, consistently envisioning God in relation to Israel. Devotionally, it uses an array of biblical and rabbinic imagery to stimulate love for God. Interpretively, Midrash models ways of bringing together scriptures from throughout the Tanakh,  weaving them into coherent statements. Thus, although traditional Judaism  does not acknowledge Yeshua as Messiah, Song of Songs Rabbah helps to establish a more Jewish context for our life with the Messiah. It is particularly  relevant to Rabbinic students who as rabbis will serve as custodians of Israel’s sacred tradition

R501 Early Rabbinic Judaism 1, or permission from the instructor.

This is a live, online course. The student must have a computer and reliable internet access

Lecture and discussion in live online Zoom sessions; informal discussion thread.

Complete required reading and translation; prepare for and participate in the eight Zoom sessions; write a midterm paper (including your translation of Song Rabbah 1.8) and a final paper. Video sessions will take place on Sundays at 10:00am11:45am EST.


  • Course Pack (digital download) FROM R501
  • Fernández , Miguel Pérez. An Introductory Grammar of Rabbinic Hebrew. (Leiden and Boston: Brill,1999). Download free at
  • Fonrobert, Charlotte and Jaffee, Martin, eds.The Cambridge Companion to Talmudic and Rabbinic Literatur (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). (Paperback)
  • Jastrow, Marcus.A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli,and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature. (Reprint, New York: Judaica Press, 1989).(Accessed free online at
  • Strack, H.L. and Stemberger, Gunter.Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996). (Paperback)
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