rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
[personal profile] rymenhild
Many of you are literary critics. Many of you are amateur or professional scholars of Judaism. Most of you are talented at creative, bizarre works of extempore interpretation.

Therefore:

I propose a challenge. It shall be open to every reader of this journal, regardless of religion, race, gender, level of education, sexual orientation or status as a fictional character. (I should note that entries from fictional characters are especially welcome.) It's even open to non-readers of this journal. Advertise the challenge to your friends!

I challenge you to provide an interpretation for the following song:

Had Gadya (One Little Goat)

One little goat, one little goat,
that Father bought for two zuzim.
*A zuz (plural, zuzim) is a coin. All I know about the exchange rate is that two zuzim buy a small goat.
One little goat, one little goat.

Then came a cat and ate the goat,
that Father bought for two zuzim.
One little goat, one little goat.

Then came a dog and bit the cat that ate the goat,
that Father bought for two zuzim.
One little goat, one little goat.

Then came a stick and beat the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat,
that Father bought for two zuzim.
One little goat, one little goat.

Then came fire and burned the stick that beat the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat,
that Father bought for two zuzim.
One little goat, one little goat.

Then came water and quenched the fire that burned the stick that beat the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat,
that Father bought for two zuzim.
One little goat, one little goat.

Then came an ox and drank the water that quenched the fire that burned the stick that beat the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat,
that Father bought for two zuzim.
One little goat, one little goat.

Then came the butcher and slaughtered the ox that drank the water that quenched the fire that burned the stick that beat the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat,
that Father bought for two zuzim.
One little goat, one little goat.

Then came the Angel of Death and killed the butcher who slaughtered the ox that drank the water that quenched the fire that burned the stick that beat the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat,
that Father bought for two zuzim.
One little goat, one little goat.

Then came the Holy One, blessed be He, and slew the Angel of Death that killed the butcher who slaughtered the ox that drank the water that quenched the fire that burned the stick that beat the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat,
that Father bought for two zuzim.
One little goat, one little goat.


A note of explanation: "Had Gadya" is traditionally sung at the end of the Passover Seder, a ritual dinner occurring in a week and a half. By that point in the ritual, everyone is (or should be) drunk and exhausted, and no one quite knows what they're singing or why. The song, as you may notice, has nothing obvious to do with freedom from slavery; it has nothing obvious to do with spring fertility rituals; it may possibly have nothing to do with anything. However, Jews are not content to take "meaningless" as an answer, so we keep making up interpretations.

Some interpretations from Jewish Heritage Online Magazine

According to one popular interpretation, the kid symbolizes the oppressed Jewish people, which was bought by the father (God) for two coins (Moses and Aaron). The subsequent players in the ballad represent the nations who persecuted the Jewish people over the centuries: the devouring cat represents Assyria; the dog–Babylon; the stick represents Persia; the fire Macedonia; the water is Rome; the ox, the Saracens; the shohet (ritual slaughter)–the Crusaders; and the Angel of Death, the Turks who subsequently ruled Palestine. The end of the song expresses the hope for messianic redemption: God destroys the foreign rulers of the Holy Land and vindicates Israel as "the only kid."

According to other, mystical interpretations, Had Gadya is an allegorization of the Joseph legend, or alternatively, of the relationship between body and soul as reflected in Jewish mysticism.
(found here)

Clearly, we need more explanations for this song. Explain away! Points will be given for creativity, randomness, amusement value, plausibility, implausibility, and my mood at any given moment.

Here's a bizarre 80s Hebrew version of the song, complete with synthesizers and eerie drums, to get you in the mood.
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rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
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