Saturday, January 14, 2006

Vayechi always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Let me tell you why. From second grade through fifth grade, we learned chumash word for word with Yiddish "taitch". Each week we'd do the sedra as far as we got. (To this day, the parts after shishi and all of the summer sedras don't have the same familiarity to me as the parts we actually covered back then in girsa deyankusa.) The process never deviated from its regular pattern -- chumash word, Yiddish taitch, chumash word, Yiddish taitch, ad infinitum. You can imagine -- or if you had the same education, you recall -- that it could get a bit tedious.

There was one major exception. When we'd get to the verse va'ani bevo'i mi'Padan, we'd break away from the text into a special chant in Yiddish paraphrasing the midrash cited there in Rashi. Rashi describes Yakov apologizing to Yosef for burying Rachel outside Beis Lechem, rather than in the Maaras haMachpela, and explaining that Rachel will pray for her descendants as they pass her tomb on the way into exile and God will console her with the words ve'shavu banim ligvulom.

Is there another midrash as deeply moving as this one? (I recall reading that one Rav refused to give a haskamah to Mendelson's biur solely because he did not cite this midrash in his explanation of the verse.) The combination of the profoundness of the midrash and the nostalgia for the innocence of childhood evoked by recollections of that chant, brings me to tears every time we read vayechi. (And this completely apart from the fact that I have lived to pass Rachel's tomb on the way back from exile in realization of God's promise to her. Yesh sachar lifeulatech.)

Do you know what I mean?


Blogger mnuez said...

I feel the same thing about the psukim (the kol b'rama nishma psukim) but don't recall having sung the midrash. nope. straight teitch for us.

By the way, if you think about how boring it was for you, imagine how boring it must have been for the Rebbi!

To me though my remembered emotion on the matter was more of fear that I didn't know it than boredom - oh, and that coupled with the fact that none of us actually knew Yiddish (save some of the Rabbeim, I'd imagine) - we were just reciting mumbo-jumbo from one language to another. Kinna pointless in a certain logical way.


p.s. For the sake of historians: don't get carried away by my hyperbole. We may not have know much Yiddish but we all knew the English translations of the words anyhow (except for Birchas Yaakov, those I don't believe we knew in any language but the mumble of Hebrew and jumble of Yiddish).

2:10 PM  
Blogger mnuez said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:19 PM  
Blogger ליפא שנילצער said...

so you are one of those that went to chidier with "iron pants" or belchena hozen

12:51 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Not quite. Chofetz Chaim on the West Side. Except for Gertzulin, it was survivable.

1:04 AM  

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