The Kid from the Haggadah

Cover from Had Gadya Suite (Tale of a Goat) by El Lissitzky, 1919.  (The Jewish Museum, New York/Art Resource, NY; 2016 Artists Rights Society, NY.)
Cover from Had Gadya Suite (Tale of a Goat) by El Lissitzky, 1919. (The Jewish Museum, New York/Art Resource, NY; 2016 Artists Rights Society, NY.)

He stood in the market

Among rams and some goats,

Waving his tail, pinky long.

A kid from the poor-house,

A kid for two-pence

No make-up, not a bell, nothing at all.

No one paid any attention,

Because no one knew,

Not the gold-smiths, the weavers

Not even you,

That this little kid,

In the Haggadah will be for long

The hero of a popular song.

But father came with a smile on his face,

And bought the small kid, patting his head,

And so began one of the songs,

We will sing for ever, my friend.

With his tongue, the kid licked father’s hand

And touched him with his moist nose.

And so it was, verse one, who would have thought,

That begins: “Father bought.”

It was a breezy spring day, sunny and nice,

And girls laughed with a wink in their eyes.

And both father and kid entered the song,

Waiting their turn, waiting there long.

And that Haggadah was already full

With stories and songs to the brim.

And this is the reason

They are back on last page

Embraced, and pushed to the edge.

And that Haggadah then quietly said:

“Be it so, stand here father and kid,

Through my pages cross the smoke and the blood,

And I tell of events as great as the flood,

But I know that a sea would not split in vain

And a reason there is for walls to collapse,

If at the end of the story

Stand a kid and a father

Expecting their turn to be seen in the light.”

                              —translated by Dan Ben-Amos

Comments

Suggested Reading

Promised Land or Homeland?

Allan Arkush

The university presses of Cambridge and Oxford have released two new works of Jewish political theory that blend theoretical defenses of Zionism with robust critique of what Chaim Gans calls the “Zionist mainstream.”

“The Cruiser” and the Jews

“The Cruiser” and the Jews

Allan Arkush

O’Brien himself didn’t consider his history of Zionism to be anything more than a bit of haute vulgarization, but it is much more than that. It is one of those uncommon works of political history in which a man who knows how the world works tells a great story with dazzling literary skill.