web analytics
December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Chad Gadya – Pesach & the Order of Things

Front-Page-040612

By the end of the Seder, after the afikoman has been found and its reward exacted, after the story has been told and the festive meal consumed, the children grow sleepy and want nothing more than to curl up in their mothers’ laps and enjoy a well-deserved schluff.

But no, not yet! It is not yet time to slumber and so we continue the many and seemingly strange things at the Seder to keep the children awake. We arrive at the lively and lebedig songs that culminate in Chad Gadya.

Yes, it is delightful to children. But what is its significance for adults?

Even if the song’s purpose is to keep children awake, the song’s theme and images are depressing and cruel. Despite the melody, this is no amusing little ditty. No character escapes unscathed in Chad Gadya. The kid is innocent and harmless, but the cat consumes him. The dog takes revenge on the cat, but the dog then gets a beating. The stick beats the dog, but then gets consumed by the fire and so on and so on until the song’s climax, the grand finale of the entire Haggadah which comes with a triumphant crescendo:

Then came the Holy One, blessed be He, and smote the angel of death, that slew the slaughterer, that 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 kid, that father bought for two zuzim. Only one kid, only one kid.

God has entered the scene.

His involvement in the song’s turn of events certainly means that Chad Gadya cannot be understood only as a simple, whimsical rhyme. And so it turns out that this deceptively simple song is filled with insightful lessons. In fact, Chad Gadya incorporates one of the most fundamental elements of emunah. As such, it belongs as the grand finale of the Haggadah.

* * * * *

Over the centuries, differing interpretations have been offered to explain the song. Many see in its dark imagery the history of Israel, the lone, innocent kid. The father, Avinu Shebashamayim, selected the lone kid, when giving two zuzim, two tablets of the covenant.

The animals, objects and people who subsequently destroy and beat one another are the various nations that persecuted, subjugated and oppressed the “one lamb among the seventy wolves” throughout history.

Ultimately the Holy One, blessed be He, comes to bring about the final redemption of His beloved kid, who remained alone and separated front the devouring nations.

Another explanation takes the form of a debate between a Jew and an Egyptian. Framing this interpretation is the understanding that the kid is an animal both deified and worshipped by the Egyptians. Seeing in this deification the essence of idolatry, the Jew wonders how the Egyptian can worship a kid that can be devoured by a cat. When the Egyptian responds that he will then worship the cat, and the Jew retorts that a dog can overpower the cat, the Egyptian quickly transfers his allegiance to the dog. The debate persists until the Jew concludes, “But all powers on earth are subservient to the Holy One Blessed be He. Why don’t you finally realize that only He is to be worshipped?”

Still another understanding views the goat as man’s soul that descends (“sold by the father”) to this earthly existence and suffers through the trials and tribulations of life as it moves (zuz-zazin) about in this world.

Each stanza of the song symbolizes another phase and stage of life as we know it. As life progresses and years pass, man is called to task, “Chad Gadya, Chad Gadya – Unique soul! Unique soul! What have you accomplished on this world? What are you doing here?”

But at each step and every stage, man procrastinates, thinking there will always be time to tend to the spirit and soul. “Later” however, never comes. Finally, man is warned that in due time the soul will have to return to its source and give reckoning for its deeds.

Ultimately, every man must answer to a Higher Source.

The Chatam Sofer brings Chad Gadya closer to Pesach, and finds therefore a parallel between this very last song and the very first Haggadah paragraph, “This is the Bread of Affliction.”

Both are in Aramaic. Both were authored subsequent to the galut and renewed exile from Eretz Yisrael. Both are forms of elegies (kinot) bemoan­ing the renewed galut, recalling when matzah was eaten not as the bread of affliction but as the bread of freedom and when the Pesach was attended by the pageantry of a Temple sacrifice in Jerusalem. Now we eat matzah, but again as the bread of affliction.

Likewise, we recall the entire service of Pesach, which encompassed the offering of both a Pesach sacrifice and a chagigah korban (chad gadya, chad gadya) that were bought for shtei kesef (two zuzim). And now, chad gadya, chad gadya – woe unto us that we have lost two beautiful gediyim! Who knows when the endless galut will cease, and we will again be able to rejoice in the rebuilding of God’s Holy City, when we can once again partake of the sacrifices and Pesach offerings?

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Chad Gadya – Pesach & the Order of Things”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
funny rocket joke
Israel Retaliates: Hits Terror Tunnel Cement Factory
Latest Indepth Stories
The annual  Chabad menorah lighting in Sydney has been called off this year because of the murders in the Lindt cafe.

The decision to not publicly light the Menorah in Sydney, epitomizes the eternal dilemma of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.

Greiff-112814-Men

Am Yisrael is one family, filled with excruciating pain&sorrow for losing the 4 kedoshim of Har Nof

Two dreidels from the author’s extensive collection.

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Police play down Arab terrorism as mere “violence” until the truth can no longer be hidden.

The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.

Obama obtained NO verifiable commitments from Cuba it would desist from acts prejudicial to the US

No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?

For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.

It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.

For Am Yisrael, the sun’s movements are subservient to the purpose of our existence.

Israelis now know Arab terrorism isn’t caused by Israeli occupation but by ending Israeli occupation

Anti-Semitism is a social toxin that destroys the things that people most cherish and enjoy.

Amb. Cooper highlighted the impact of the Chanukah/Maccabee spirit on America’s Founding Fathers

Zealousness has its place and time in Judaism; Thank G-d for heroic actions of the Maccabees!

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Two dreidels from the author’s extensive collection.

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

Jacob Talking with Laban

It is difficult to remain faithful in galut, the ultimate Rorschach test for all Jewish generations

Racheli Frankel: “I didn’t think they were thrown just anywhere. The tears of Hebron embraced them”

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?

One who may leave his wife an agunah is not included in the general rule that we may not imprison on Shabbos.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/chad-gadya-pesach-the-order-of-things/2012/04/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: