One of the more tedious bits of the Seder is near the end when we recite a lengthy liturgical poem, either (first night) vayehi b’chatzi halayla (“It happened at midnight!”) or (second) v’amartem zevach Pesach (“you should say – this is the Pesach offering!”). We don’t have a tune for this, so somebody (moi) just sort of drones it while everybody chimes in on the last word of each line. Dull, dull, dull.
So I was curled up with my new Jonathan Sacks Haggadah today during a quiet moment (thinking, “wouldn’t an Oliver Sacks Haggadah be super-cool, if a bit weird?” “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for the Marror” Oh, never mind… nobody will EVER get that in a million years.)
Anyway, I discovered - drumroll – that BOTH of these dreary, complicated poems can be sung to the standard tune of “Dayeinu.”
Which is a GREAT choice because a) everybody knows it and b) we don't overuse it - ie we usually do it once through and that's it. Once more isn't going to kill us.
In case anyone's curious, here's the first "verse" - first, the dayeinu line (ie which bit of the tune to use), then the Hebrew, then transliteration:
Ilu hotzi, hotzi-anu,
אָז רוֹב נִסִּים הִפְלֵאתָ בַּלַּיְלָה,
Az rov nissim hifleysa balayla,
בְּרֹאשׁ אַשְׁמוֹרֶת זֶה הַלַּיְלָה,
Be-rosh ashmoras ze halayla
v'lo asa vahem shefatim, dayeinu!
גֵר צֶדֶק נִצַּחְתּוֹ כְּנֶחֱלַק לוֹ לַיְלָה,
geir tzedek nitzachto k'nechelek lo - layla! (squish everything in a bit and hit “lo layla” on the “dayeinu” syllables)
Day, day, aynu,
Vayehi (you have to draw this out just a bit)
day, day, aynu,
be-chatzi (draw it out a bit)
day, day, aynu,
ha-layla (draw it out a bit)
וַיְהִי בַּחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה
(faster) vayehi b'chatzi ha-layla!
Repeat for each group of 3 lines, and use up the second "dayeinu" to squish in the 4th line at the very end. (and end with a fast vayehi b'chatzi halayla in the space of the very last dayeinu). I hope this is clear. I would record myself singing it, but I’ll spare you!
There is SO much still to do… and we are nowhere near ready. Off to watch The West Wing instead! I have made the big kids promise they will read the haggadah tomorrow… and specifically, read through these poems so I will not be the only one singing. If only my extended family would do the same.