For a Song of Desire God Created Heaven and Earth
“The frog is saying, ‘Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever’ (BT Pesaḥim 56a)” (Pereq Shirah 4).
“Our rabbis, of blessed memory, said, when King David completed the book of Psalms he became proud. He said before the blessed Holy One ‘Is there any creature You have created in Your world that utters more songs and praises than me?’ At the moment a frog appeared, saying, ‘David! Do not become proud, for I recite more songs and praises than you and every song I utter contains three thousand proverbs, as it says, And he spoke three thousand proverbs, and his poems came to five thousand (1 Kings 5:12) [צְפַרְדֵעַ (tsefarde’a), frog, is numerically equivalent to שְׁלֹמֹה בֶן דָּוִד (Shelomoh ben David), Solomon son of David (Rabbi Ya’aqov Emden)]. I am also busy with a great mitsvah, and this is the mitsvah with which I am busy: There is a certain creature by the edge of the sea whose sustenance is entirely from the water and when it is hungry it takes me and eats me, such that I fulfill if your foe is hungry, feed him bread, and if he thirsts, give hime water, for you would heap live coals on his head, and YHWH will pay you back (Proverbs 25:21–22)—do not read יְשַׁלֶּם לָךְ (yishalem lakh), will pay you back, but יַשְׁלִימֵהוּ (yashlimehu), will make him at peace with you” (Yalqut Shimoni 150).
“Come and hear: Thaddeus of Rome taught: What [reason] did Ḥananyah, Mishael and Azariyah see that they delivered themselves, for the sanctification of the Name, to the fiery furnace [of Nebuchadnezzar]? They argued a minori to themselves: if frogs, which are not commanded concerning the sanctification of the Name, yet it is written of them, [And the Nile will swarm with frogs] and they will come up and come into your house… and into your ovens and into your kneading pans (Exodus 7:28). Now, when are kneading pans to be found near the oven? When the oven is hot. We, who are commanded concerning the sanctification of the Name, how much the more so” (BT Pesaḥim 53b).
“What is the path to love and fear Him? When a person contemplates His wondrous and great deeds and appreciates His infinite wisdom that surpasses all comparison, he will immediately love, praise, and glorify [Him]—yearning with tremendous desire to know the Great Name, as David said: My soul thirsts for God, the Living God (Psalms 42:3)” (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah 2:2).
“בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning (Genesis 1:1). Rabbi El’azar opened, ‘שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת (shir ha-ma’alot), A song of degrees. In my distress I cried to YHWH, and He answered me (Psalms 120:1). The blessed Holy One created songs of desire at the creation of heaven and earth, so as to praise and glorify Him as the Creator of All. The heavens utter song in His presence, as is said: The heavens declare the glory of God (ibid. 19:2); and the earth utters song, as is said: Sing to YHWH all the earth (ibid. 96:1).
Furthermore, the entire world desires and delights to glorify their Creator, when they gaze upon His wonders in the heavens and on the earth. This is בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning: contemplate the letters and you will see שִׁיר תָּאֵב (shir ta’ev), a song of desire; in other words, for a song of desire, God created heaven and earth—that every person will desire to utter song about His wonders in the heavens and the earth.’
What are those degrees that King David (peace be upon him) used to recite? They are the songs of those degrees comprising the heavens, as is said: Who constructs His degrees in heaven (Amos 9:6). David desired them and uttered them, and this is שִׁיר תָּאֵב (shir ta’ev), he desired song.
Rabbi El’azar also said, ‘It is written: When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7). Who are the sons of God? They are the angels who every night chant song in the presence of the Creator of the Beginning, corresponding to the three watches of the night. In every single watch, each of the companies chants song. In the last watch, at night’s end just before morning, all the stars and constellations, and the angels called sons of God utter song, as is said: When the morning stars sang together; each company according to its degree, teaching that height upon height keeps guard (Ecclesiastes 5:7), for they arranged by degrees, one above the other. Therefore it is said: A song of degrees (Psalms 120:1)—of the degrees of the angels who utter song. This is בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning—שִׁיר תָּאֵב (shir ta’ev), for desired song, God created heaven and earth” (Zohar Ḥadash 5d–6a [MhN], cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 51, 24b).