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My question is about the history of the Passover song Chad Gadya. I have long suspected this song was originally conceived as a pastiche of Echad Mi Yodeya--the thematic, musical, and phonetic similarities seem to me too many to overlook--with the Aramaic lyrics pieced together around a central theme over time and across Seder tables. However, it struck me that there is an even more obvious correlate of the title and refrain of "Chad Gadya": the "Haggadah" itself, or at any rate its title.

This is admittedly a long-tail question about something it may or may not be possible for musicologists to answer, if they haven't already; still, I will give it a try. Are the phonetic similarities between "Chad Gadya," "Echad Mi Yodeya" and "Haggadah" a matter of pure coincidence, or can anyone provide historical evidence of their intertextuality? Put another way, was the original refrain of "Chad Gadya" "Haggadah"?

  • in Echad Mi Yodea there is a suite of numbers from 1 to 13. But in Had Gadia all is 1. gadia shunra, kalba Chutra... 10 steps. – kouty Jul 5 '16 at 12:52
  • If this is a problem for musicologists, is it on topic here? – Avrohom Yitzchok Jul 5 '16 at 17:05
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/36857. Both songs are first attested in printed Haggados in the 16th c., although R' Yedidya Weil reports that he heard that manuscripts of both songs were found in the Beis Midrash of the Rokeach (perhaps hundreds of years earlier). Each has strong parallels with German folksongs that arose around the same time (Guter Freund Ich Frage Dich corresponding to Echad Mi Yodei'a' and Der Bauer schickt den Jockel aus to Chad Gadya), and there's reason to suspect that the Jewish versions may have developed first or in tandem with the folksongs. – Fred Jul 5 '16 at 18:54
  • @Fred Great find; I'm not at all surprised by this – SAH Jul 5 '16 at 21:14
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    @AvrohomYitzchok, on the on-topic list is "general knowledge (science, etc.) as it relates directly to Judaism". – msh210 Jul 5 '16 at 21:23
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The similarity between Chad Gadya and Echad Mi Yodeia is because they both come from the word meaning "one" - חד/אחד. Chad Gadya means "one goat" in Aramaic, and Echad Mi Yodeia means "Who knows one?" in Hebrew.

The word Haggadah, though, is a completely different word, meaning "to tell over" (הגדה), also in Hebrew. So, no, it's not related at all.

  • Whoever down voted my post, would you please explain why, so that I can fix my answer accordingly? – DonielF Jul 17 '16 at 15:10
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    While i didn't downvote (yet), the most obvious reason for a downvote is that the question was whether there is any evidence for a historic change in the text of the poem. This posts does absolutely nothing to demonstrate any sort of evolution in the text. – mevaqesh Apr 14 '17 at 4:22

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