Many of my friends are observing religious feasts this weekend. For Jews it is the last day of Pesach and for Orthodox Christian observers the Feast of the Great and Holy Pascha.
Cumulative songs have long been an entertainment at any feast, festival and gathering. Those songs that can be found in most cultures begin with one short stanza and add a stanza (often only one line) so the song becomes longer and longer. Often they serve as a memory game or as a challenge to be sung in one breath. But just as often they are used as a method of teaching children, and perhaps in the past illiterate adults, their lessons – perhaps something as simple as an alphabet or as complex as the tenets of their faith.
The Haggadah includes two of these delightful songs: Chad Gadya (One Little Goat) and Echad Mi Yodea (One Who Knows?). In my Luzzati Haggadah both songs are illustrated in typical Lele style – childlike but touching, as does the song, on the spiritual significance of the celebration. A right click will take you to each verse. It appears that space didn’t allow him to illustrated all of the verses and he has wisely chosen not to even attempt to illustrate the Attributes of God.
Thirteen who knows? Thirteen are the attributes of God. Twelve who knows? Twelve are the tribes of Israel. Eleven who knows? Eleven stars did Joseph see. Ten who knows? Ten are the Commandments. Nine who knows? At nine months a child is born. Eight who knows? At eight days a boy is circumcised. Seven who knows? Seven are the days of the week. Six who knows? Six are the divisions of the Mishnah. Five who knows? Five are the Books of the Torah. Four who knows? Four are the Matriarch Mothers. Three who knows? Three are the Patriarch Fathers. Two who knows? Two are the Tablets of the Law. One who knows? One is our God that is in the heaven and earth.
Though there are many versions of Echad mi Yodea out there I found this one most in the spirit of a community celebration:
For all my friends who commemorate the final liberation on this last day of Passover once again I wish you Chag Sameach.
On this day in 1517: Evil May Day riots targeting foreigners living in London begin.