EXPLAINING "CHAD GADYA" - "ONE KID"

 

by: Schlomo Balsam with Gila Ansell Brauner


Aim:

Explore and convey the message by reversing logic.

Preparations:

One text of "Chad Gadya" for each participant; One set of 6 Russian "matreshki" dolls; Optional other songs

Procedure:

  1. Teach the musical notes to the chorus of "Chad Gadya". Explain that the song is in Aramaic.
  2. Work through the song [with translation], preferably having participants read a verse each, with everyone singing or reciting the chorus.
  3. Ask what the group has understood from this.

    [Optional: for the lighthearted: If there is little forthcoming, ask the group to say "Chad Gadya Chad Gadya" very fast and ask what it sounds like. Hopefully, someone will venture that it sounds a bit like saying "Haggadah".]

    Ask where the song comes in the Haggadah - ie, at the end - and what is the normal function of something which closes a special occasion.

  4. You are now going to show how the song, "Chad Gadya" summarises the very essence of the entire Seder and Haggadah, by doing the following and then asking for interpretations.
    1. Take the smallest [sixth] doll and recite the first verse - this is the kid.
    2. Take the next [fifth] doll, recite the second verse, and put the smallest doll inside it - what is this doll? What has happened?
    3. Take the fourth doll and recite the third verse, place the previous ones inside it. What is this doll in the rhyme?
    4. and so on with the next two dolls.
    5. When you arrive at the first doll, and place the others inside it, ask what happens next? Is there an end to this? Where? Why?

  5. Summarise with the group the message of "Chad Gadya". They should be able to identify natural law and Heavenly supremacy. Does justice even come into it?
  6. Ask for another song in this section of the Haggadah which not only reflects similar messages but has a similar, cumulative pattern: "Ehad ani yode'a" (I know One). The difference here is that while the earlier song begins and ends with the Almighty; in "Chad Gadya" participants have to wait until the end for the hand of G-d to appear.
  7. Many of the other songs in the Haggadah reflect this main message: overall, they balance in a lighter frame of mind the textual messages of Haggadah prior to the se'udah [meal] and in reverse order. This makes "Chad Gadya" the counterbalance to the "Ma Nishtanah / Avadim Hayinu" sequence and the final pronouncement of "Leshana Haba'a Biyrushalayim" (Next Year in Jerusalem), the counterpoint to the introduction of "Ha Lahma Anya" (This is the bread of our affliction).

 

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13 Jul 2005 / 6 Tamuz 5765 0