Yekele

 

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. The boy 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.

 

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"

 

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 is a transliteration of the song as I remember it from seders of many years ago.

 

Der Oybershter's hinuntergeshicht a Yeleke auf die weld,

The Most High sent down Yekele to the world,

Yekele auf die welf,

To the world a Yekele,

Yekele zol perelech reisen,

For Yekele to harvest the pears,

Yekele zol perelech reisen.

For Yekele to harvest the pears.

Yekele vil nicht perelech reisen,

Yekele will not harvest the pears,

Perelech vill nicht fallen,

The pears will not fall,

Perelech vill nicht fallen.

The pears will not fall.

 

Der Oybershter's hinuntergeshicht a hintele auf die weld,

The Most High sent down a dog to the world

A Hintele auf die velt

A dog to the world

Die hintele zol Yekelem bisen

For the dog to bite Yekele

Die hintele zol Yekelem bisen

For the dog to bite Yekele

Hintele vill nicht Yekelem bisen

The dog will not bite Yekele

Yekele vil nicht perelech reisen,

Yekele will not harvest the pears,

Perelech vill nicht fallen,

The pears will not fall,

Perelech vill nicht fallen.

The pears will not fall.

 

 

Der Oybershter's hinuntergeshicht a shtekele auf die weld,

The Most High sent down a stick to the world

A shtekele auf die weld

A stick to the world

Die shtekele zol hintele schmisen

For the stick to hit the dog

Die shtekele zol hintele schmisen

For the stick to hit the dog

Shtekele vil nicht hintele schmisen

The stick will not hit the dog

 

 

 

Der Oybershter's hinuntergeshicht die fire auf die weld,

The Most High sent down fire to the world

Die fire auf die weld,

Fire to the world

Fire zol shtekele brennen

For the fire to burn the stick

Fire zol shtekele brennen

For the fire to burn the stick

Fire vil nicht shtekele brennen

 

 

 

 

Der Oybershter's hinuntergeshicht die Vasser auf die weld,

The most high sent down water to the world

Vasser auf die weld,

Water to the world

Vasser zol die fire lushen,

For the water to put out the fire

Vasser zol die fire lushen.

For the water to put out the fire

Vasser vil nicht fire lushen,

The water will not put out the fire

The pears will not fall.

 

 

Der Oybershter's hinuntergeshicht die exele auf die weld,

The Most High sent down an ox to the world

An exele auf die weld,

An ox to the world

Die exele zol die wasser trenken

For the ox to drink the water

Die exele zol die wasser trenken

For the ox to drink the water

Exele vil nicht wasser trenken

The ox will not drink the water

 

 

Der Oybershter's hinuntergeshicht die shochet auf die weld,

The Most High sent down a butcher to the world,

Die shochet auf die weld,

A butcher to the world

Die shochet zol die exele koilen

For the butcher to slaughter the ox

Die shochet zol die exele koilen

For the butcher to slaughter the ox

Shochet vil nicht exele koilen

The butcher will not slaughter the ox

 

 

Der Oybershter's hinuntergeshicht die melech hamoves auf die weld,

The Most High sent down the Angel of Death to the world

Die melech hamoves auf die weld

The Angel of Death to the world

Die melech hamoves zol die shochet nemen

For the Angel of Death to take the butcher

Die melech hamoves zol die shochet nemen

For the Angel of Death to take the butcher

Die shochet vill shoen exele koilen

The butchet now will slaughter the ox

Die exele vil shoen wasser trenken

The ox now will drink the water

Die wasser a vill shoen die fire lushen

The water now will put out the fire

Die fire vil shoen shtekele brennen

The fire now will burn the stick

Die shtekelem vill shoen hintele shmisen

The stick now will hit the dog

Die hintele vill shoen Yekelem bisen

The dog now will bite Yekele

Yekelem vill shoen perelech risen

Yekele now will harvest the pears

Perelech vil shoen fallen; perelech vil shoen fallen

The pears now will fall; the pears now will fall