Echad Mi Yodea, recorded in Tel Aviv in 1966 (nusach Corfu)

Echad Mi Yodea (Hebrew: אחד מי יודע?, lit.'One, Who Knows?') is a traditional cumulative song sung on Passover and found in the haggadah. It enumerates common Jewish motifs and teachings. It is meant to be fun and humorous, while still imparting important lessons to the children present.

Recitation varies from family to family. The song has versions in Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic, and many other vernacular languages. Sometimes it is played as a memory game, recited without looking. Sometimes the goal is to recite the entire verse in one breath.[1]

Names

The song is known in...

Meaning

Although it can appear to be simply a juvenile children's song, an important message is being imparted to those present at the Passover table. The main theme of Passover, and particularly of the Seder, is not only the physical freedom of a nation of slaves. More importantly, it is the spiritual and mental freeing of this people, to become a nation unto God, His Chosen People. As His people, the Jewish Nation is expected to be wholly at one with God, and to relate everything in their lives to Him. It is sometimes thought that word association reveals the unconscious mind. Thus, it is at this point in the Seder that the Jews sing this cumulative song. After relating God's wonders and kindness, and the events of the Exodus, the song demonstrates how everything can and should relate to God: "If I say 'One', you think 'God!', if I say 'Five', you think 'Books of Moses!'"

History

According to the Encyclopaedia Judaica, this song is first found in Ashkenazi Haggadot of the 16th century. It is believed to have originated in Germany in the 15th century, possibly based on a German folk song "Guter freund ich frage dich", which means "Good friend, I ask you".

Structure and text

"Echad Mi Yodea" is a cumulative song, meaning that each verse is built on top of the previous verses. There are thirteen verses.

The first verse runs:

Who knows one?
I know one.
One is our God, in heaven and on earth.


The second verse:

Who knows two?
I know two.
Two are the tablets of the covenant;
One is our God, in heaven and on earth.


...and so forth. The last verse is:

Who knows thirteen?
I know thirteen.
Thirteen are God's principles;
Twelve are the tribes of Israel;
Eleven are the stars of Joseph's dream;
Ten are the Commandments;
Nine are the months of childbirth;
Eight are the days before circumcision;
Seven are the days of the week;
Six are the sections of the Mishnah;
Five are the books of the Torah;
Four are the Matriarchs;
Three are the Patriarchs;
Two are the tablets of the covenant;
One is our God, in heaven and on earth.
Popular version
English Hebrew Yiddish
1. One is our God, in heaven and on earth אחד אלוהינו שבשמיים ובארץ איינער איז הקדוש ברוך הוא אויף דער ערד און הימעל איינער ביסטו
2. Two are the tablets of the covenant; שני לוחות הברית צוויי לוחות פון ספיר שטיין געשריבען האָט זיי דער אייבערשטער אליין
3. Three are the Fathers שלושה אבות דריי אבות זענען ביי אונז דאָ אברהם, יצחק, יעקב, זכרונם לברכה
4. Four are the Mothers ארבע אימהות !פיר אימהות זענען ביי אונז דאָ שרה, רבקה, רחל אוּן לאה
5. Five are the books of the Torah חמישה חומשי תורה די תורה איז צוטיילט אויף פינף ספרים בראשית, שמות, ויקרא, במדבר, דברים
6. Six are the books of the Mishnah שישה סידרי משנה זעקס חלקים, עפען אויף און זע ווערט צוטיילט די תורה שבעל פה
7. Seven are the days of the week שיבעה ימי שבתא א גאנצע וואָך גרייט מען זיך צו דער זיבעטער טאָג שבת, שטעלט זיך אָפ אין רוּ
8. Eight are the days of the circumcision שמונה ימי מילה אכט טעג ווען א קיד איז אלט מאכט מען איהם א ברית, און ער ווערט געמַל'ט
9. Nine are the months of the pregnant תישעה ירחי לידה ניין מאנאטען ווערט איינגעשטעלט אייעדער א קינד קומט אויף דער וועלט
10. Ten are the Commandments עשרה דיבריא !אויף באַרג סיני האָט אונזער גאָט אונז געגעבען די צען געבאָט
11. Eleven are the stars of the Joseph's dream אחד עשר כוכביא .יא אחד עשר לאָזט אונז הערען יוסף'ס חלום און די עלף שטערען .יא
12. Twelve are the tribes of Israel שנים עשר שיבטיא .יב יעקב'ס קינדער פון דור צו דור די צוועלף שבטים, און ראובן איז דער בכור .יב
13. Thirteen are the attributes of God שלושה עשר מידיא .יג א גאָט פון רחמנות איז אונזער בורא דרייצען מידות לערנט אונז די תורה .יג

Popular culture

The song appears in The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (film) 1970 movie, sung amidst the rise of Mussolini's racial laws and alignment with Nazi Germany.[citation needed]

The Judaism section of the Stack Exchange Network of question-and-answer websites is named Mi Yodeya after this song.[2]

Entebbe (titled 7 Days in Entebbe in the U.S.), a 2018 crime thriller film directed by José Padilha and written by Gregory Burke, features a dance on the tunes of the Echad Mi Yodea song, choreographed by Ohad Naharin of the Batsheva dance company.[3]

During an episode of the interactive cartoon "Charlie Gets Fired", the user has the chance for Charlie to sing the whole song. This much chagrin to his boss.[citation needed]

See also

References

  1. ^ "JBooks.com - Secular Culture & Ideas: Who Knows One?". www.jbooks.com.
  2. ^ "words - What does "mi yodeya" mean?". Mi Yodeya.
  3. ^ Wingenroth, Lauren (18 November 2018). "Can Music Artists Stop Stealing from Choreographers Already?". Dance Magazine. Retrieved 22 November 2018.