Who Knows One?

Yesterday, I shared a poem that actually came to me in prayer as I stood outside with the cornfield on my left, as high as an elephant’s eye, and a tree on my right that has been on this property long before we came here, perhaps since before I was born.

As I indicated, I was inspired by a book about kabbalah, the mystic stream of Judaism. It is an amazing book and I am awed once again by the Oneness of God. I believe that all who search with a sincere heart will find the door to God and when they open it, they will discover the same God that all other sincere searchers seek.

When I picked up this book, I picked up two others, one on Jewish festivals (I was hoping weddings would be included) and one a Passover Haggadah. The Haggadah is the story or script that goes along with the food when a family comes together for the Passover seder (meal). I was delighted when I opened the Haggadah book and realized that the way my family celebrates the seder is pretty accurate. I must have done some pretty good research when I wrote ours 35 years ago. But in this book, there were some really cool children’s songs which, according to the footnotes were sung during the seder to keep the children interested in what is a pretty long, adultish type ritual.

Two that are really fun (I wish I had music to these) are “Who Knows One” and “The One Kid”. The former is a repetition song like the 12 days of Christmas or Old MacDonald. Children love these songs and they are great to help them put to memory ideas you want them to remember. Here is a sampling of the first:

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

Two – who knows two?
     Two – I know two.
          Two  are the tablets of the Covenant,
           One is our God, who is in heaven and on earth.

Three – who knows three?
      Three – I know three.
          Three are the Fathers,
          Two are the tablets of the Covenant,
          One is our God, who is in heaven and on earth, etc.

Having worked in Early Childhood for years, it is easy for  me to imagine actions to go along with this song.

The second song reminds me of songs I taught my children – “Hush Little Baby”,  “There’s a hole in the bucket” and “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly”. Here are the words:

The one kid, the one kid, that daddy bought for two zuzim, the one kid.
And the cat came and ate the kid, that daddy bought for two zuzim, the one kid, the one kid.
And the dog came and bit the cat, that the kid, etc.
And the stick came and beat the dog, that bit the cat, etc.
And the fire came and burned the stick, that beat the dog, etc.
And the water came and put out the fire, that burned the stick, etc.
And the ox came and drank up the water that put out the fire. etc.
And the butcher came, and butchered the ox, that drank up the water, etc.
And the Angel of Death came and slaughtered the butcher, who butchered the ox, etc.
And the Holy One, blessed be he, came and slaughtered the Angel of death, who slaughtered the butcher, who butchered the ox, who drank up the water, that put out the fire, that burned the stick, that beat the dog, that bit the cat, that ate the kid, that daddy bought for two zuzim, the kind and one kid. 

Footnote says of the first that it was probably composed in the 15th or 16th century. The second was originally written in poor Aramaic no earlier than the 15th century. One explanation for its meaning: “Israel is the kid which God bought for two zuzuim, which are the two tablets of the Covenant. Subsequently, Israel fell prey to the first of a series of empires, each of which destroyed its predecessor in turn. The cat is Assyria, the dog Babylonia, the stick  Persia, the fire macedonia, the water Rome, the ox the Saracens, the slaughterer the crusaders, and the Angel of death the Turks.” The song is a history lesson.

So who will give the  meaning of our songs…Henry’s bucket, the Little Old Lady’s Spider and the Hushed Little Baby? Someone else’s research.

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