Friday, May 25, 2007

Chad Mi Yad'ei? Who knows Ein?

I was thinking the other day about Echod Mi Yodea. Now, not all the verses rhyme. However, some do, and do so by switching Aramaic. The numerals are Hebrew, not Aramaic, and the first 6 items listed are in Hebrew: Elokeinu, Luchot Habrit, Avot, Imahot, Chumshei Torah, Sidrei Mishnah.

Then you get
  • 7 "yemei Shabata" Hebrew-Aramaic hybrid (Ar. would be yomei)
  • 8 "yemei milah" is Hebrew again.
  • 9 "yarchei leida" Aramaic yarchei not chodshei, which would scan just as well, but I think "leidah" is Hebrew.
  • 10 "dibraya" From here on in, the nouns are all Aramaic.
  • 11 "coch'vaya"
  • 12 "shivtaya"
  • 13 "midaya".

Is it known who wrote it? Why the shift from Hebrew to Aramaic? It starts Hebrew, then has a hybrid section, and finally switches to Aramaic. Might it symbolize the shift from Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew into Aramaic for rabbinic dialogue and writing? Or is that just post-facto hermeneutics?

It doesn't only seem to be for poetic reasons such as rhyme or scansion. While the last four rhyme and scan, they would scan just as well with two syllables for the Hebrew plurals. 9 doesn't seem a necessary switch, as noted.

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