Archive for Jacob

“Got fin Avrum” Performed by Matele (Margaret) Friedman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2022 by yiddishsong

Got fin Avrum/God of Abraham (a woman’s prayer).
Version as remembered by Matele (Margaret) Friedman.
Recorded by Mark David in Los Angeles, April 2020. Transcribed by Eliezer Niborski.

Matele Friedman

Got fin Avrum

Got fin Avrum, fin Yitskhok, fin Yankev,
bahit dayn lib folk Yisroyl.
Zibn teyg in ale teyg zoln undz voyl bakimen,
Furs (?) tsu gevin, tse leybn, tse oysher, tse mazl, tse brukhe,
tse parnuse.

God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Protect your dear people of Israel.
For seven days and all the days may we only know good:
For prosperity, life, wealth, good fortune, blessing and livelihood.

Reboyne-shel-oylem,
tsu susen, tsu simkhe, tse yeshies toyves, tse psires toyves,
Tsim alem gitn un tsu gevint[?].
Tsu gevin, tsu gevin, tsu lange lebetug [=lebnstug?]
hot der liber her Got fil farmugt.[?]

Dear God,
for joy, celebration, salvation, good tidings,
For all things good and prosperity
for prosperity, for prosperity for all of our lives.
So does our dear God possess.

Nemt der liber her Got dem bekher in zayn rekhter hant
Un makht a brukhe ibern gantsn land.
Makht a brukhe gur zhe hoykh
Az kol-yisruls kinder zoln zhe zogn umeyn oykh.

So our dear God takes the goblet in his right hand
And makes a blessing over the whole land.
Says a blessing very loudly
So that all of Israel’s children will say “Amen” too.

Umeyn, veumeyn, s’zol shoyn vern,
zol men shoyn oysgelayzt vern,
Bar [gor?] gikh in dem yor.

Amen, and amen, may we soon hear.
How we will be redeemed.
Soon in this very year.

Shma kolayni – ikh shray tsu dir,
lebediker Got, nu, helf zhe mir,
Ales bayz zol fin indz avekgeyn.

Listen to our voice – I shout to you
The living God, help me,
so that all bad things should go away.

Elye hanuvi, Elye hanuvi
zol bayn undz in indzer
hoyz aybik zayn,
Tse deym lekhtikn hoyz.
Me zol hofn
az tir un toyer zoln shtayn aybik ofn.

Elijah the prophet, Elijah the prophet
May he be in our house.
To the brilliant house,
May we hope
That door and gate should always stay open.

Ofn, ofn zoln shtayn,
Arayn, arayn zoln mir gayn.
Arayn, arayn zoln mir tritn [treytn]
mir zoln hubn dem lekhtikn Got [= hofn tsum likhtikn Got?]
A gite vokh,
A gezinte vokh,
A mazldike vokh.
A frayerdike vokh. [fraydike?]
A gebentshte vokh.
Mir zoln hubn a git mazl oysgebeytn.

Open, open may it stay,
Enter, enter may we go.
Enter, enter may we step.
May we have the brilliant God.
A good week
A healthy week
A happy week
A blessed week
May our prayers for a good fortune be accepted.

גאָט פֿון אַבֿרהם

נוסח פֿון מאַטעלע פֿרידמאַן
רעקאָרדירט פֿון מאיר דוד, לאָס־אַנדזשעלעס
טראַנסקריבירט פֿון אליעזר ניבאָרסקי

,גאָט פֿון אַבֿרהם, פֿון יצחק, פֿון יעקבֿ
.באַהיט דײַן ליב פֿאָלק ישׂראל
.זיבן טעג און אַלע טעג זאָלן אונדז ווויל באַקומען
.פֿורס [?] צו געווין, צו לעבן, צו עושר, צו מזל, צו ברכה, צו פּרנסה

,רבונו־של־עולם
,צו שׂשׂון, צו שׂימחה, צו ישועות־טובֿות, צו בשׂורות־טובֿות
.צום אַלעם גוטן און צו געווינט
צו געווין, צו געווין, צו לאַנגע לעבעטאָג  [= לעבנסטאָג?]
.האָט דער ליבער הער גאָט פֿיל פֿאַרמאָגט

נעמט דער ליבער הער גאָט דעם בעכער אין זײַן רעכטער האַנט
.און מאַכט אַ ברכה איבערן גאַנצן לאַנד
מאַכט אַ ברכה גאָר זשע הויך
.אַז כּל־ישׂראלס קינדער זאָלן זשע זאָגן אָמן אויך

,אָמן־ואָמן
,ס׳זאָל שוין ווערן, זאָל מען שוין אויסגעלייזט ווערן
,באַר [גאָר?] גיך אין דעם יאָר

,שמע קולנו — איך שרײַ צו דיר
,לעבעדיקער גאָט, נו העלף זשע מיר
,אַלעס בייז זאָל פֿון אונדז אַוועקגיין

,אליה הנבֿיא
,אליה הנבֿיא זאָל בײַן אונדז אין אונדזער הויז אייביק זײַן
.צו דעם ליכטיקן הויז
מע זאָל האָפֿן
,אַז טיר און טויער זאָלן שטיין אייביק אָפֿן

,אָפֿן, אָפֿן [זאָלן] זיי שטיין
,אַרײַן, אַרײַן זאָלן מיר גיין
,אַרײַן, אַרײַן זאָלן מיר טרעטן
מיר זאָלן האָבן דעם ליכטיקן גאָט.    [= האָפֿן צום ליכטיקן גאָט ?]
,אַ גוטע וואָך
,אַ געזונטע וואָך
,אַ מזלדיקע וואָך
,אַ פֿריידיקע וואָך
,אַ געבענטשטע וואָך
.מיר זאָלן האָבן אַ גוט מזל אויסגעבעטן

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is the second “Got fun/fin Avrom/Avrum”, a woman’s prayer said at the end of the Sabbath, that we have posted. It is also the second post on this blog of the singer Matele Friedman (born in 1927, in Kimyat, Czechoslovakia, now Velikiye Komyaty, Ukraine), who died in Los Angeles, February 2022. You can hear more of her songs in Yiddish at the website of Mark David’s radio program The Yiddish Voice/Dos Yidishe Kol.  

Mark David who recorded Matele Friedman in LA wrote the following after her passing:

She was, like my aunt Hedy and my mom, a survivor of Auschwitz from the Carpathians, deported in 1944 under the Hungarians.  But she lived a very different life compared to my mother after the war. She did not spend a few years in a DP camp in Germany or elsewhere in Western Europe after the war, but instead went back to the home area. She was a lot more frum, and practiced, surprisingly, orthodox Judaism under the Soviets when “our” area became part of Ukrainian SSR (Soviet Union).  (She had gone back after the war, gotten married, and started her family there.) She moved to the US in the 1970’s with her two young daughters, already teen-agers or a maybe a bit older.

In Noyekh Prilutski’s first collection of Yiddish folksongs Yidishe folkslider, 1912, which included religious and holiday songs, he printed 23 versions of this prayer. Here is the link to the first of the variations, song number 8.

Because the “Got fun Avrum” prayer was transmitted orally, the daughters often learned the prayer from their mothers as just sounds, not thinking what the words were or meant to be. As a result, a few words in this version cannot be understood and there are more question marks in the transcription in this post than we would ordinarily like. Eliezer Niborski did a wonderful job of transcribing Matele’s “Got fin Avrum” as best as possible. Corrections or improvements are welcome from those with sharper hearing. There are at least two more recordings of “Got fun Avrom” that we hope to post in the future. The “Got fun Avrom” prayer is the most widespread and among the oldest examples still extant of Yiddish woman’s folk poetry. A “standard” version can be found in the Art Scroll siddur and a scan is attached.

Thanks to Mark David, Eliezer Niborski, Simon Neuberg, Claudia Rosenzweig and David Braun.

Below: Art Scroll version of “Got fun Avrom”.

“Eyns ver veyst” A Passover Song Performed by Dr. Thelma Borodkin

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2021 by yiddishsong

Eyns ver veyst? / Who Knows One?
A Passover song sung by Dr. Thelma Borodkin. Recorded by Dr. Hankus Netsky, 2021

Dr. Thelma Borodkin

Eyns ver veyst?                                  Who knows one?
Eyns, eyns, ikh, ikh veys.                   One, one, I, I know.
Ikh, ikh veys                                        I, I know                                  
Eyns iz Got aleyn, iz Got aleyn.          One is God himself, is God himself.
Der har funem himl un fun der erd.    The Lord of heaven and earth, 

Tsvey ver veyst?                                       Two who knows?
Tsvey, tsvey, ikh, ikh veys.                        Two, two I , I know
Ikh, ikh veys                                               I, I know
Tsvey likhes.                                             Two tablets
Eyns iz Got aleyn, iz Got aleyn.   One is God himself, is God himself.
Der har funem himl un fun der erd.          The Lord of heaven and earth,

Dray ver veyst?                                          Three who knows?
Dray, dray, ikh, ikh veys.                            Three, three I , I, know.
Ikh, ikh veys.                                              I, I know
Dray futers.                                                Three fathers [patriarchs]
Tsvey likhes.                                               Two tablets
Eyns iz Got aleyn, iz Got aleyn.   One is God himself, is God himself.
Der har funem himl un fun der erd.   The Lord of heaven and earth.

Fir ver veyst?                                               Four who knows?
fir, fir  ikh, ikh veys.                                       Four, four I, I know.
Ikh, ikh veys.                                                 I, I know
Fir muters.                                            Four mothers [matriarchs]
Dray futers…..                                                Three fathers….etc.

Finef ver veyst?                                            Five how knows?
Finef, finef  ikh, ikh veys.                               Five, five I, I know
Ikh ikh veys                                                     I, I know
Finef khamushim fin der Toyre          Five books of Moses in the Torah
Fir muters….                                                  Four mothers…etc.            

Zeks ver veyst?                                      Six who knows?
Zeks, zeks  ikh, ikh veys.                        Six, six I, I know.
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                          I, I know.
Zeks mishnayes.                                     Six “orders” of the Mishnah.
Finef khamushim in der Toyre….             Five books of Moses in the Torah…etc.

Zibn ver veyst?                               Seven who knows?
Zibn, zibn. ikh, ikh veys.                 Seven, seven I, I know
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                  I, I know
Zibn teyg in der vokh.                    Seven days in the week
Zeks mishnayes…                          Six orders of the Mishnah...

Akht ver veyst?                            Eight who knows?
Akht, akht,  ikh, ikh veys.             Eight, eight, I, I, know.
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                 I, I know.
Akht teyg tsi der mile.                    Eight days to the bris
Zibn teg in der vokh…                    Seven days in the week….etc.

Nayn ver veyst?                               Nine who knows?
Nayn, nayn  ikh, ikh veys.               Nine, nine, 
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                   I, I know
Nayn khadoshim in deym trugn.      Nine months of pregnancy
Akht teyg tsi der mile…                     Eight days to the bris…etc

Tsen ver veyst?                                  Ten who knows?
Tsen, tsen,  ikh, ikh veys.                  Ten, ten, I, I know
Ikh, ikh veys.                                       I , I know
Tsen dibres.                                       Ten commandments
Nayn khadushim….                          Nine months to the pregnancy….etc.

Elef ver veyst?                              Eleven who knows?
Elef, elef,  ikh, ikh veys.               Eleven, eleven, I, I know.
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                 I, I know
Elef shtern in deym himl.            Eleven stars in the sky
Tsen dibres…                               Ten commandments….etc.   

Tsvelef ver veyst?                           Twelve who knows?
Tsvelf, tsvelf, ikh ikh veys.             Twelve, twelve I, I know.
ikh ikh veys.                                     I, I know.
Tsvelef shvotim, Twelve tribes
Elef shtern in deym himl…            Eleven starts in the sky…etc.

Draystn ver veyst?                          Thirteen who knows?
Draytsn, draytsn, ikh, ikh veys.     Thirteen, thirteen I, I know.
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                   I, I know.
Draytsn mides hot der Got.          Thirteen attributes has God 
Tsvelef shvotim…                          Twelve tribes….etc.

………….

Eyns iz Got aleyn, iz Got aleyn.        One is God himself, God himself
Der har fun dem himl un fun der erd.  Master of heaven and earth
Der har funem himl un fun der erd.      Master of heaven and earth

Commentary by Hankus Netsky

Dr. Thelma Borodkin grew up on Hopkinson Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn.  Her parents came from Ukraine, her mother from Dnietopietrovsk and her father from Stara Constantine.  She remembers her mother singing constantly in Yiddish, Russian, Ukrainian and English while she worked, and her mother taught her a wide array of Yiddish Theatre songs that she heard at the nearby Hopkinson Theatre.  

Dr. Borodkin attended Jefferson High School and the local Hebrew Educational Society School.  She became fluent in Hebrew and made Aliyah twice.  She received her Ph.D in English and taught writing for twenty-three years at Lehman College.  Most recently (pre-pandemic), she taught a course on works by female Yiddish writers at Lester Senior Housing in New Jersey.  She remembers this wonderful and little-known Yiddish version of “Echod Mi Yodea” from her childhood family seders in Brooklyn, and her children and grandchildren keep the tradition going to the present day.

Thanks for this week’s post to Thelma Borodkin, Hankus Netsky and Arun Viswanath. 

?איינס ווער ווייסט
געזונגען פֿון  תּמר ד״ר באָראָדקין
רעקאָרדירט פֿון  ד״ר הענעך נעצקי, 2021

?איינס ווער ווייסט
איינס, איינס, איך, איך ווייס
איך, איך ווייס
.איינס איז גאָט אַליין, איז גאָט אַליין
.דער האַר פֿונעם הימל און פֿון דער ערד

?צוויי ווער ווייסט
.צוויי, צוויי, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
.צוויי לוחות
.איינס איז גאָט אַליין, איז גאָט אַליין
.דער האַר פֿונעם הימל און פֿון דער ערד

?דרײַ ווער ווייסט
.דרײַ, דרײַ, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
דרײַ פֿאָטערס
…צוויי לוחות

?פֿיר ווער ווייסט
.פֿיר, פֿיר איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
,פֿיר מוטערס
…דרײַ פֿאָטערס

?פֿינעף ווער ווייסט
.פֿינעף, פֿינעף איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
,פֿינעף חומשים אין דער תּורה
…פֿיר מוטערס

?זעקס ווער ווייסט
.זעקס, זעקס איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
זעקס משניות
…פֿינעף חומשים אין דער תּורה

?זיבן ווער ווייסט
.זיבן, זיבן איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
.זיבן טעג אין דער וואָך
…זעקס משניות

?אַכט ווער ווייסט
.אַכט, אַכט איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
אַכט טעג צו דער מילה
…זיבן טעג אין דער וואָך

?נײַן ווער ווייסט
.נײַן, נײַן איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
נײַן חדשים אין דעם טראָגן
…אַכט טעג צו דער מילה

?צען ווער ווייסט
.צען, צען איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
צען דיברות
…נײַן חדשים אין דעם טראָגן

?עלעף ווער ווייסט
.עלעף, עלעף, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
,עלעף שטערן אינעם הימל
…צען דיברות

?צוועלעף ווער ווייסט
.צוועלעף, צוועלעף, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
,צוועלעף שבֿטים
…עלעף שטערן אינעם הימל

?דרײַצן ווער ווייס
.דרײַצן, דרײַצן, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
דרײַצן מידות האָט דער גאָט
…צוועלעף שבֿטים

“Eyns, eyns ver veyst vos dos iz eyns?” Performed by Professor David Fishman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2020 by yiddishsong

Eyns, eyns ver veyst vos dos iz eyns? / One, one, who knows one?
A Passover Song sung by Professor David Fishman in NYC. Recorded through internet by Itzik Gottsman, Austin TX. March 25, 2020

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The Corona virus lockdown did not deter us from recording this gem for Passover. Fishman learned this from Rabbi Herschel Schacter Z’L (1917 – 2013), long time rabbi of the Mosholu Jewish Center in the Bronx.

schachterRabbi Herschel Schacter

This version has eight verses but on Wiki Source.org we found a version with more verses extending to thirteen. Here is the link which is only the text in Yiddish. 

In this Wiki Source version all the previous verses get repeated each time, paralleling other “Ekhod mi yodea” (“Who Knows One”) types of Passover songs such as “Mu asapru, mu adabru”.

shalom of safedIllustration of song “Who Knows One” by painter Shalom of Safed (1887-1980). Reprinted in: A Feast of History by Chaim Raphael. London and Jerusalem: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1972.

At the end of this post we have given the translated and translated extra five verses of the Wiki Source song. Fishman’s version in Yiddish is also given at the very end.

The ethnomusicologist Michael Lukin has sent us additional information on this song including a discussion of it in the Yiddish Forverts newspaper and a similar melody found in a Ukrainian song from the former Yugoslav region.

TRANSLITERATION

Fishman, spoken: “Dos iz a lid vos ikh ken fun mayne kinderyorn. Ikh hob dos gehert fun dem rov, Harav Schachter fun undzer shil. S’iz aza yidishe ‘Ekhod mi yodea'” (This is a song from my childhood. I heard it from Rabbi Schachter from our synagogue. It’s a Yiddish ‘Ekhod mi yodea’).

1) Eyns, eyns ver veyst vos dos iz eyns?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz eyns.
Eyns iz hakodesh borekh hu.
Der eybershter in himl. Eyner bistu!
Eyns iz hakodesh borekh hu.
Der Eybershter in himl. Eyner bistu!

2) Tsvey, tsvey ver veyst vos dos iz tsvey?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, un ikh zog dir zey.
Tsvey lukhes fun sapirshteyn,
Geshribn hot af zey Der Eybershter aleyn.
Tsvey lukhes fun sapirshteyn.
Geshribn hot af zey Der Eybershter aleyn.

3) Dray, dray ver veyst vos dos iz dray?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, un ikh zing zikh tsu derbay.
Dray oves zenen bay undz do.
Avrom, Yitskhok, Yankev zikhroyno livrokho.
Dray oves zenen bay undz do.
Avrom, Yitskhok, Yankev zikhroyno livrokho.

4) Fir, fir ver veyst vos dos iz fir?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, un ikh zog zey dir.
Fir imoes zenen bay undz do.
Sore, Rivke, Rokhl un Leyo.
Fir imoes zenen bay undz do.
Sore, Rivke, Rokhl un Leyo.

5) Finf, finf ver veyst vos dos iz finf?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz finf.
Di Toyre iz tseteylt af finef sforim.
Breyshis, Shmoys, Vayikro, Bamidbor un Devorim.
Di Toyre iz tseteylt af finf sforim.
Breyshis, Shmoys, Vayikro Bamidbor un Devorim.

6) Zeks, zeks ver veyst vos dos iz zeks?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz zeks..
Af zeks khalokim efn uf un ze:
iz bay undz tseteylt di Toyre-shebal-pe
Af zeks khalokim efn uf un ze:
iz bay undz tseteylt di Toyre-shebal-pe

7) Zibn, zibn ver veyst vos dos iz zibn?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz zibn.
Zeks teg a vokh arbetstu,
Der zibeter tog iz shabes, shtel zikh op un ru!
Zeks teg a vokh arbetstu.
Der zibeter tog iz shabes, shtel zikh op un ru!

8) Akht, akht ver veyst vos dos iz akht?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz akht.
Akht teg vert a yingl alt.
Makht men im a bris un er vert gemalt.
Akht teg vert a yingl alt.
Makht men im a bris un er vert gemalt.

TRANSLATION

One, one who knows what is one?
I know, I know, I know what is one.
One is Blessed be his name.
God in heaven. You are one!

Two, two, who knows what is two?
I know, I know and tell you thus.
Two tablets made of sapphire,
written by God himself.

Three, three who knows what is three?
I know, I know, and I sing along.
We have three patriarchs:
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, may their memory be blessed.

Four, four, who knows what is four?
I know, I know and I’ll tell you who they are.
We have four matriarchs.
Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

Five, five who knows what is five?
I know, I know, I know what is five.
The Torah is divided into five books:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy

Six, six who knows what is six?
I know, I know, I know what is six.
Six divisions, open up and see:
that is how our oral Torah is divided.

Seven, seven, who knows what is seven?
I know, I know, I know what is seven.
Six days a week you are working.
The seventh day is Sabbath, take a break and rest.

Eight, eight who knows eight?
I know, I know, I know what is eight.
When a boy becomes eight days old
he has a bris and is circumcised.

WIKISOURCE VERSION With five additional verses

9) Nayn, nayn ver veyst vos dos iz nayn?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz nayn.
Nayn monatn vert ayngeshtelt
eyder a kind kumt af der velt.

Nine, nine, who knows what is nine?
I know, I know, I know what is nine.
It has been established that Nine months
must pass for a child to come into this world

10) Tsen, tsen ver veyst vos dos iz tsen?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos is tsen.
Oyf barg Sinai hot undzer Got
Undz gegebn di tsen gebot.

Ten, ten, who knows what is ten?
I know, I know, I know what is ten.
On Mount Sinai our God
gave us the ten commandments.

11) Elf, elf ver veyst vos dos iz elf?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos is elf.
Akhod oser lozt unz hern
Yoysefs kholem un di elf shtern.

Eleven, eleven, who knows what is eleven?
I know, I know, I know what is eleven.
Eleven teaches us –
Joseph’s dream and the eleven stars.

12) Tsvelf, tsvelf ver veyst vos dos iz tsvelf?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos is tsvelf.
Yankevs kinder fun dor tsu dor.
Di tsvelf shvotim un Ruven iz der bkhor.

Twelve, twelve, who knows what is twelve?
I know, I know, I know what is twelve.
Jacob’s children from generation to generation:
the twelve tribes and Reuben is the oldest.

13) Draytsn, draytsn ver veyst vos dos iz draytsn?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos is draytsn.
A Got fun rakhmones iz undzer boyre.
Draytsn mides lernt undz di Toyre.

Thirteen, thirteen who knows what is thirteen?
I know, I know, I know what is thirteen.
A God of mercy is our creator:
thirteen attributes teaches us the Torah.
passover1passover2passover3passover4

“S’iz shvarts in himl” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2019 by yiddishsong

S’iz shvarts in himl / The Sky is Black by Avrom Goldfaden
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman.
Recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman: 

This song about Rebecca in the Bible is a folklorized version of a song written by Avrom Goldfaden. It appears, text only, in his volume Dos yidele, where it is called “Rivkes toyt” (Rebecca’s Death, see scans below). Before the poem, Goldfaden gives this introduction:

In the midrash it says: When Rebecca died, they had to bury her at night so that Esau would not see and follow her to the burial. For if he did so, she would be cursed for having such a son. Jacob had run away to Horon and Isaac was too old. So no one accompanied her at her funeral. 

rebeccacoro“Rebecca at the Well”, painting by Corot, 1839

The midrash addresses the question – why was Rebecca’s death not mentioned in the Torah?

Goldfaden was a master of creating songs that resonated with Yiddish folklore. Though this song is about Biblical figures, it resembles a typical Yiddish orphan song. The second line “S’iz a pakhed af der gas aroystsugeyn” (It is a fright to go out in the street) is the exact same as the second line in the ballad “Fintser glitshik shpeyt ba der nakht“, the first song ever presented on Yiddish Song of the Week. And the last line “Elnt blaybsti du vi a shteyn” (Alone you remain like a stone) is found in other Yiddish orphan songs. In this case, biblical Jacob is the orphan. LSW, in her slow, emotional and mournful style, sings this song about Biblical characters as if it reflected a contemporary, local tragedy.

Two textual changes worth noting:

1) Instead of Goldfaden’s “A mes, a mes” א מת, א מת  (A corpse, a corpse), Lifshe sings “emes, emes” (true, true) אמת אמת. which just by combining the two words into one word, changes the meaning completely. This reminds us of the Golem legend in which “emes” אמת [truth] was written on the Golem’s forehead, but when he was no longer needed, the rabbi wiped off the first letter, the alef א and the Golem became dead מת

2) LSW sings “miter Rukhl” (mother Rachel) instead of “miter Rivke” (mother Rebecca). This can be explained, I believe, by the fact that the appellation “muter/miter Rukhl” is far more common than “muter Rivke”. I  did a Google Search in Yiddish to compare both and “muter Rukhl” won 453 – 65. The Yiddish folksinger would have found the phrase “muter Rivke” strange to the ear. In addition, the matriarch Rachel also had an unusual burial: she was buried far from home, on the road to Efrat, and therefore all alone, as Rebecca.

In the papers of the YIVO Ethnographic Commission there is a version of the song collected in the 1920s or 1930s, singer, collector and town unknown. There too the singer changed “a mes” to “emes” but sang Rivke not Rukhl.

TRANSLITERATION

S’iz shvarts in himl me zeyt nit kayn shtern.
S’iz a pakhid af der gas aroystsugeyn.
Shvartse volkn gisn heyse trern
un der vint, er bluzt mit eyn geveyn.

Emes, emes, ersht nisht lang geshtorbn.
Etlekhe mentshn geyen trit ba trit.
Me trugt deym toytn, ersht a frishn korbn:
indzer miter Rukhl, ver ken zi nit?

Yankl iz dekh fin der heym antlofn.
Er shluft dekh dort af deym altn shteyn.
Shtey of di yusem! Di host dekh shoyn keyn mame nisht.
Elnt blabsti du vi a shteyn.

TRANSLATION

The sky is black, no stars can be seen.
It’s a fright to go out in the street.
Black clouds gush hot tears
and the wind blows with a great cry.

True, true she died not long ago.
Several people walked step by step.
They carry the deceased, a fresh sacrifice:
our mother Rukhl, who doesn’t know her?

Jacob had run away from home.
He sleeps on that old rock.
Wake up you orphan! You no longer have a mother.
You remain alone like a stone.

siz shvarts 1siz shvarts 2

From Goldfadn’s Dos yidele, 1891:

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