A teaching on the Song of Songs, from Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, Kedushas Levi, Shir HaShirim
Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth… ישקני מנשיקות פיהו Song of Songs 1:2
As is known, G!d had the intent of creating our souls even before the Creation of the world (1). Our souls were beloved to the Creator even before their creation, as well as after. The love that the Holy One of Blessing had for our souls before they were created is called “kisses,” as kisses are a sign of love between two people. This love was not caused by anything on our part, and it is called א Alef, [the first letter], as in the verse a’alefcha chochmah, “I will teach you wisdom,” [for Chochmah is the first emanation through which G!d’s divine light passes, and there is no separation there between our souls and G!d] (2). And the blessed Creator’s love for us after we were created is called ב Beit, [the second letter,] which represents the second emanation, Binah [where our souls began to differentiate and take on individuality] (3). And our souls are known by the letter ה Heh, as is known (4). Now the first love, which is known as א Alef, is a love for us, ה Heh, and the second love, known as ב Beit, is also for us. Join these letters together and they will spell אהבה Ahavah, “love.” This is the meaning of kiss me with the kisses of your mouth — give me both loves (5).
1) Bereishit Rabbah 1:4 2) Job 33:33 3) Zohar III, Ra’ayah Mehemna 247a 4) Zohar Hadash, Ruth 75a 5) I believe the play on words has two parts: first, there is the doubling of the words “kiss” and “kisses,” implying two “kisses” or loves, and there is the word pihu, “your mouth,” which could also be interpreted as “two-fold,” as in, “give me your two-fold love.”
The Berditchever, more than this peers, was willing to get personal in his teachings, even if it’s not always so obvious. I think this teaching is a very personal one, reflecting a deep longing on Levi Yitzhak’s part for G!d’s love, or loves, as we see. Like a child who wants to be loved no matter what, for what he is — the child of his parents — but also for who he is — what makes him special — so I hear the Berditchever asking for the surety of G!d’s unconditional love as well as recognition of his unique devotion, what makes him Levi Yitzhak.