Chad Gadya

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Chad Gadya (Aramaic: חַד גַדְיָא chad gadya, "one little goat, or "one kid"; Hebrew: "גדי אחד gedi echad") is a playful cumulative song in Aramaic and Hebrew.[clarification needed] It is sung at the end of the Passover Seder, the Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. The melody may have its roots in Medieval German folk music.[citation needed]

The song is popular with children and similar to other cumulative songs:[1] Echad Mi Yodea, ("Who Knows 'One'?) another cumulative song, is also in the Passover Haggadah.

Lyrics[edit]

English
ONE LITTLE GOAT
Transliteration
Chad Gadya
Aramaic
חַד גַּדְיָא
Verse 1:
One little goat, one little goat: Chad gadya, chad gadya, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא
Which my father bought for two zuzim. dizabin abah bitrei zuzei. דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי
Verse 2:
One little goat, one little goat: Chad gadya, chad gadya, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא
The cat came, and ate the goat, ve-ata shunra ve-akhlah le-gadya וְאָתָא שׁוּנְרָא, וְאָכְלָה לְגַּדְיָא
Which my father bought for two zuzim. dizabin abba bitrei zuzei. דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי
Verse 3:
One little goat, one little goat: Chad gadya, chad gadya, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא
The dog came, and bit the cat, that ate the goat, ve-ata kalba ve-nashakh le-shunra, de-akhlah le-gadya וְאָתָא כַלְבָּא ,וְנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאָכְלָה לְגַּדְיָא
Which my father bought for two zuzim. dizabin abba bitrei zuzei. דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי
Verse 4:
One little goat, one little goat: Chad gadya, chad gadya, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא
The mother with stick came, and beat the dog, ve-ata chutra, ve-hikkah le-khalba וְאָתָא חוּטְרָא, וְהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא
that bit the cat, that ate the goat, de-nashakh le-shunra, de-akhlah le-gadya דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאָכְלָה לְגַּדְיָא
Which my father bought for two zuzim. dizabin abba bitrei zuzei. דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי
Verse 5:
One little goat, one little goat: Chad gadya, chad gadya, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא
The fire came, and burned the stick, ve-ata nura, ve-saraf le-chutra וְאָתָא נוּרָא, וְשָׂרַף לְחוּטְרָא
that beat the dog, that bit the cat, that ate the goat, de-hikkah le-khalba, de-nashakh le-shunra, de-akhlah le-gadya דְּהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא ,דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאָכְלָה לְגַּדְיָא
Which my father bought for two zuzim. dizabin abba bitrei zuzei. דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי
Verse 6:
One little goat, one little goat: Chad gadya, chad gadya, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא
The water came, and extinguished the fire, ve-ata maya, ve-khavah le-nura וְאָתָא מַיָּא, וְכָבָה לְנוּרָא
that burned the stick, that beat the dog, de-saraf le-chutra, de-hikkah le-khalba דְּשָׂרַף לְחוּטְרָא ,דְּהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא
that bit the cat, that ate the goat, de-nashakh le-shunra, de-akhlah le-gadya דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאָכְלָה לְגַּדְיָא
Which my father bought for two zuzim]. dizabin abba bitrei zuzei. דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי
Verse 7:
One little goat, one little goat: Chad gadya, chad gadya, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא
The ox came, and drank the water, ve-ata tora, ve-shatah le-maya וְאָתָא תוֹרָא, וְשָׁתָה לְמַיָּא
that extinguished the fire, that burned the stick, de-khavah le-nura, de-saraf le-chutra דְּכָבָה לְנוּרָא ,דְּשָׂרַף לְחוּטְרָא
that beat the dog, that bit the cat, that ate the goat, de-hikkah le-khalba, de-nashakh le-shunra, de-akhlah le-gadya ּ דהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא, דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאָכְלָה לְגַּדְיָא
Which my father bought for two zuzim. dizabin abba bitrei zuzei. דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי
Verse 8:
One little goat, one little goat: Chad gadya, chad gadya, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא
The slaughterer (Shohet) came, and killed the ox, ve-ata ha-shochet, ve-shachat le-tora וְאָתָא הַשּׁוֹחֵט, וְשָׁחַט לְתוֹרָא
that drank the water, that extinguished the fire, de-shatah le-maya, de-khavah le-nura דְּשָׁתָה לְמַיָּא ,דְּכָבָה לְנוּרָא
that burned the stick, that beat the dog, de-saraf le-chutra, de-hikkah le-khalba דְּשָׂרַף לְחוּטְרָא, דְּהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא
that bit the cat, that ate the goat, de-nashakh le-shunra, de-akhlah le-gadya דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאָכְלָה לְגַּדְיָא
Which my father bought for two zuzim. dizabin abba bitrei zuzei. דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי
Verse 9:
One little goat, one little goat: Chad gadya, chad gadya, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא
The angel of death came, and slew the slaughterer, ve-ata mal'akh ha-mavet, ve-shachat le-shochet וְאָתָא מַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת, וְשָׁחַט לְשׁוֹחֵט
who killed the ox, that drank the water, de-shachat le-tora, de-shatah le-maya דְּשָׁחַט לְתוֹרָא,דְּשָׁתָה לְמַיָּא
that extinguished the fire, that burned the stick, de-khavah le-nura, de-saraf le-chutra דְּכָבָה לְנוּרָא, דְּשָׂרַף לְחוּטְרָא
that beat the dog, that bit the cat, that ate the goat, de hikkah le-khalba, de-nashakh le-shunra, de-akhlah le-gadya דְּהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא, דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאָכְלָה לְגַּדְיָא
Which my father bought for two zuzim. dizabin abba bitrei zuzei. דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי
Verse 10:
One little goat, one little goat: Chad gadya, chad gadya, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא
Then came the Holy One, Blessed be He, ve-ata ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu וְאָתָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא
and smote the angel of death, who slew the slaughterer, ve-shachat le-mal'akh ha-mavet, de-shachat le-shochet וְשָׁחַט לְמַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת ,דְּשָׁחַט לְשׁוֹחֵט
who killed the ox, that drank the water, de-shachat le-tora, de-shatah le-maya דְּשָׁחַט לְתוֹרָא, דְּשָׁתָה לְמַיָּא
that extinguished the fire, that burned the stick, de-khavah le-nura, de-saraf le-chutra דְּכָבָה לְנוּרָא, דְּשָׂרַף לְחוּטְרָא
that beat the dog, that bit the cat, that ate the goat, de-hikkah le-khalba, de-nashakh le-shunra, de-akhlah le-gadya דְּהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא ,דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאָכְלָה לְגַּדְיָא
Which my father bought for two zuzim. dizabin abba bitrei zuzei. דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי
Verse 11:
One little goat, one little goat. Chad gadya, chad gadya, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא

Symbolism[edit]

Chad Gadya, Sung by Yosef Elbaz, Jerusalem 19 April 1973. Sung in Aramaic and in Moroccan Arabic.

As with any work of prose, Chad Gadya is open to interpretation. According to some modern Jewish commentators, what appears to be a light-hearted song may be symbolic. One interpretation is that Chad Gadya is about the different nations that have conquered the Land of Israel: The kid symbolizes the Jewish people, the cat, Assyria; the dog, Babylon; the stick, Persia; the fire, Macedonia; the water, Rome; the ox, the Saracens; the slaughterer, the Crusaders; the angel of death, the Turks. At the end, God returns to send the Jews back to Israel. The recurring refrain of 'two zuzim' is a reference to the two stone tablets given to Moses on Mount Sinai.[2] Though commonly interpreted as an historical allegory of the Jewish people, the song may also represent the journey to self-development. In "An Analysis of Had Gadya", Rabbi Kenneth Brander relates the interpretation that the song can be seen as one of warning, a cautionary tale against living a life devoid of spiritual growth and self-perfection.[3]

Variations[edit]

The words "dizabin abah" in the second line of the song literally mean "which father sold", rather than "which father bought". The Aramaic for "which father bought" is "dizvan abah", and some Haggadot have that as the text.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

Chad Gadya column in Castra center, Haifa
  • The soundtrack of the 2005 film Free Zone includes a controversial interpretation of Chad Gadya composed by Israeli singer Chava Alberstein.[5] The song was banned on Israeli radio stations in the 1980s.[6]
  • In the Season 1, episode 14 of The West Wing "Take This Sabbath Day," the rabbi of Toby Ziegler's temple references this story as a deterrence against capital punishment and mentions that vengeance is not Jewish.[7]
  • It is source of the title A Kid for Two Farthings, a 1953 novel written by Wolf Mankowitz, the basis of a 1955 film and 1996 musical play.[8]
  • It was featured in the American television series NCIS in the season 7 opener "Truth or Consequences" by Abby and McGee, and then was sung jokingly in a scene by Dinozzo in another season 7 episode titled "Reunion". McGee explains that they accessed Mossad's encrypted files, "but they weren't in English, so we had to do a little bit of rudimentary linguistics. It's a Hebrew school nursery rhyme." Chad Gadya (One Little Goat). McGee and Abby start to enthusiastically sing along with the nursery rhyme." [9]
  • The recording "A Different Night" by the group Voice of the Turtle has 23 different versions of Chad Gadya in all different languages.[10]
  • The Israeli satirical team Latma has created a parody "Chad Bayta" ("One House"), to the tune of "Chad Gadya", which tells the story of a house in the settlements. Instead of a cat, a dog, a stick, and so on,the song features Peace Now, Benyamin Netanyahu, Barack Obama, Ahmadinejad, and the UN, among others.[11][12]
  • It is sung in the seder scene of the 1999 film The Devil's Arithmetic, with Kirsten Dunst.
  • In Italy the song has become very popular since the ’70s, when the Italian folk singer and composer Angelo Branduardi recorded it with the title of Alla fiera dell'est.
  • It is the name of a theatre company based in Toronto, Canada: One Little Goat Theatre Company

Other uses[edit]

  • In Yiddish slang, the term "chad gadya" is a euphemism for jail. A prisoner is said to languish in a chad gadya — that is, all alone.[13]
  • Chad Gadya was the pseudonym of Marousia (Miriam) Nissenholtz, the only female student at Bezalel Art School in Palestine in 1912.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ For example, "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly".
  2. ^ "Had Gadya ('One Kid')". Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "An Analysis Of Had Gadya". YUTorah Online. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  4. ^ For example, the 1839 Rodelheim Haggadah.
  5. ^ "Free Zone electronic press kit" (PDF) (Press release). BAC Films. 9 May 2005. Retrieved 2006-12-10. 
  6. ^ "Israel: Chava Alberstein banned". Freemuse. Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  7. ^ "The West Wing" Take This Sabbath Day (2000). IMDB.
  8. ^ Steven H. Gale, Mankowitz, Wolf, Literary Analysis, Encyclopedia of British Humorists, Vol. 2, 1996.
  9. ^ TV.com. "NCIS: Truth or Consequences - Season 7, Episode 1". TV.com. Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  10. ^ "Jewish Music". Jewish Music. Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  11. ^ "‫חד ביתא". YouTube. 4 April 2010. Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  12. ^ English version
  13. ^ Kolatch, Alfred (April 30, 2006). Inside Judaism: The Concepts, Customs, And Celebrations of the Jewish People. Jonathan David Publ. 
  14. ^ I lived life to the fullest, Haaretz

External links[edit]