1:8א׳:ח׳
1 א

אִם לֹא תֵדְעִי לָךְ. זוּ הִיא תְשׁוּבַת הָרוֹעֶה: "אִם לֹא תֵדְעִי לָךְ לְהֵיכָן תֵּלְכִי לִרְעוֹת צֹאנֵךְ, אַתְּ הַיָּפָה בַּנָּשִׁים, שֶׁחָדַל הָרוֹעֶה מִלְּהַנְהִיג אוֹתָם:

If you do not know. This is the shepherd’s reply, “If you do not know where you should go to pasture your sheep, you, O fairest of women, for the shepherd has ceased leading them31If you are uncertain about a matter of law, follow in the footsteps of your forefathers and follow their tradition. (Sforno)

2 ב

צְאִי לָךְ בְּעִקְבֵי הַצֹּאן. הִסְתַּכְּלִי בִפְסִיעוֹת דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁהָלְכוּ הַצֹּאן, וְהָעֲקֵבִים נִכָּרִים, טראצי"ט בְּלַעַ"ז, וְכֵן הַרְבֵּה בַמִּקְרָא, "וְעִקְּבוֹתֶיךָ לֹא נוֹדָעוּ", "נֶחְמְסוּ עֲקֵבָיִךְ", "וְהוּא יָגֻד עָקֵב", יָשׁוּב עַל עֲקֵבָיו. וְאוֹתוֹ הַדֶּרֶךְ לֵכִי: וּרְעִי אֶת גְּדִיֹּתַיִךְ

Go forth in the footsteps of the sheep. Look at the footsteps, the way that the sheep went, and the footsteps are discernible;” traces in O.F. There are many similar instances [of עקב in Scripture, “and Your footsteps וְעִקְּבוֹתֶיךָ were not known,”32Tehillim 77:20. [and] “your steps עֲקֵבָיִךְ were cut off,”33Yirmiyahu 13:22. [and] “And it will return on its heel עָקֵב,”34Bereishis 49:19. [meaning] that they will return in their tracks.35Alternatively, one who seeks God [symbolized by the shepherd], should follow the footsteps of the flock until he reaches the “shepherd.” (Sefer Duda’im) You go on that path. And pasture your kids

3 ג

עַל מִשְׁכְּנוֹת הָרֹעִים. בֵּין מִשְׁכְּנוֹת שְׁאָר הָרוֹעִים שֶׁאַתְּ אֶצְלָם. וְזֶה הַדֻּגְמָא: אִם לֹא תֵדְעִי לָךְ, כְּנֵסִיָּתִי וַעֲדָתִי, הַיָּפָה בַּנָּשִׁים, בִּשְׁאָר אֻמּוֹת, אֵיכָה תִרְעִי וְתִנָּצְלִי מִיַּד הַמְּצִיקִים לָךְ לִהְיוֹת בֵּינֵיהֶם וְלֹא יֹאבְדוּ בָנַיִךְ, הִתְבּוֹנְנִי בְּדַרְכֵי אֲבוֹתַיִךְ הָרִאשׁוֹנִים שֶׁקִּבְּלוּ תוֹרָתִי וְשָׁמְרוּ מִשְׁמַרְתִּי וּמִצְוֹתַי, וּלְכִי בְדַרְכֵיהֶם. וְאַף בִּשְׂכַר זֹאת תִּרְעִי גְדִיּוֹתַיִךְ אֵצֶל שָׂרֵי הָאֻמּוֹת. וְכֵן אָמַר יִרְמְיָה "הַצִּיבִי לָךְ צִיֻּנִים. . . שִׁתִי לִבֵּךְ לַמְסִלָּה וגו'":

near the dwellings of the shepherds. Among the dwellings of the other shepherds whom you are near. This is the allegory: If you do not know, My assembly and My congregation, O fairest of women, among other nations, where you should pasture and be saved from the hand of those who oppress you, to be among them, and not have your children perish, ponder the ways of your early ancestors, who accepted My Torah and kept My ordinance and My commandments, and go in their ways. As a reward for this, you will pasture your kids near the princes of the nations. And similarly Yirmiyahu said, “Set up markers for yourself ... set your heart to the path, etc.”36Yirmiyahu 31:20.