The Earliest Recorded Children’s Song Might Be Found in the Haggadah

In most versions of the Haggadah, the seder concludes with the Aramaic poem Ḥad Gadya (“One Kid”), which follows a formula found in many children’s songs in many cultures: “there came a cat that ate the baby goat that father bought, . . . then came a dog that bit the cat that ate the baby goat,” and so forth. That a children’s song—if that is indeed what Ḥad gadya is—should be found in what, in many ways, is a child-centered ritual is unsurprising, but much about this poem remains shrouded in mystery. Amit Naor writes:

[S]ome scholars have crowned Ḥad Gadya the earliest [recorded] children’s song . . . specifically written and put into print for the sake of the edification of children.

Although its language appears to be Aramaic, the song is in fact full of grammatical mistakes, and there are Hebrew words embedded in it as well, suggesting that the author wasn’t fluent in Aramaic and that at the time of its writing, Aramaic was no longer a spoken language.

This is also perhaps a clue as to when the song was written. The song’s appearance in the Haggadah dates to the 15th or 16th century, and earlier versions of it may have been written as early as the 14th century. It first appeared in print in the 16th-century Prague Haggadah. An early version, in impeccable Aramaic, has been located in a manuscript which was subsequently added to the prayer book of the Provencal community in France.

It is assumed that the Jews who fled France after the great expulsion of 1306, brought the liturgical poem with them to communities in the region of Ashkenaz (modern day Germany and northern Europe), and from there it found its way into the Haggadah. Only later did the song also reach the liturgy of the Sephardi communities in Spain and the Middle East.

Read more at The Librarians

More about: Children, Haggadah, Poetry

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy