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A Passover Song

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Len Shustek

Feb 20, 1994, 7:04:39 PM2/20/94

For at least fifty years and probably longer my family has sung
a Yiddish variation of the Passover "Chad Gadya" song we call
"Yekele". There is no goat in ours, only a small boy ("Yekele")
whom God has sent to pick the pears that will not fall from the
tree themselves. He refuses, and for encouragement God sends a
dog to bite the boy, then a stick to hit the dog, a fire to burn
the stick, water to quench the fire, etc.

Relatives as far back as my late great-grandfather have always
claimed that it is a private family song. How can this be?
Doesn't anyone else, particularly of eastern European origin,
know this version?

Here are some fragments of the song as I remember it from
seders of many years ago. (Please forgive the transcription;
my knowledge of Yiddish is fragmentary and entirely aural.)

Der Oybershter's hinuntergeshicht a Yeleke auf die weld,
Yekele auf die welf,
Yekele zol perelech reisen,
Yekele zol perelech reisen.
Yekele vil nicht perelech reisen,
Perelech vill nicht fallen,
Perelech vill nicht fallen.

Der Oybershter's hinuntergeshicht die Vasser auf die weld,
Vasser auf die weld,
Vasser zol die fire alushen,
Vasser zol die fire alushen.
Vasser vil nicht fire alushen,
Fire vil nich shteckelem brennen,
Shteckele vill nicht huntele shmisen
Huntele vill nicht Yekelem bisen,
Yekele vill nicht perelech risen,
Perelech vill nicht fallen,
Perelech vill nicht fallen.

In the last stanza the Melech Hamoves (Angel of Death) is sent
and suddenly everyone turns to do his duty, but the pears, of
course, have already fallen.

It's a wonderful story with a moral, sung to a minor key melody
very different from "Chad Gadya". Is this part of anyone else's
family tradition?

Len Shustek "When thou speakest, say little;
<> for the fewer the words of a man,
the fewer his mistakes."
-- Ibn Gabirol, b. 1021

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