Friday, February 04, 2011

Rabbits, 兔, העזעלעך, קניגלעך

Image from Barcelona Hagaddah, mid-14th century, reproduced from Dreams of Subversion in Medieval Jewish Art and Literature Marc Michael Epstein, University Park: Penn State Press, 1997

גוט חודש Gut khoydesh, happy new moon and a joyous and auspicious New Year of the Rabbit to all In Mol Araan. Adar, (Oder or Uder in Yiddish) is an especially joyous month, in spite of the saying אָדר ניע ברודער Uder nye Bruder "Adar is no brother" referring to the cold, slushy, and generally miserable weather we are likely enough to face at this time of year.

This is a good time to recall that rabbits are positively hopping with significance in Jewish art, most notably in hagaddahs, in which we see rabbits employing their skill and speed to evade the fierce hounds who pursue them. In Dreams of Subversion in Medieval Jewish Art and Literature, Marc Michael Epstein explains the subversive nature of some of these illustrations, like the amazing picture reproduced above in which a repentant hound serves wine to an enthroned rabbit. Take that, dawgs!
Prague Hagaddah 1526, reproduced from Epstein

And, speaking of Hagaddahs, I'm sure I hardly need remind you that the joyous holiday of Passover is hurtling toward us like a pack of ravenous hounds and we must need employ all our skill and speed to prepare.
hoz hare

hezele little hare, bunny

kinigl rabbit

tu4zi rabbit


Blogger Lao Qiao said...

Interesting that there is a saying rhyming "bruder" and "Uder," since Northeastern Yiddish speakers say "bruder" and "Oder" and Southeast and Central Yiddish speakers say "Uder" and "brider."
When there are two Adars, as there as this year, Chinese New Year coincides with (or precedes by a day or two) Rosh Hodesh Adar. otherwise, it can be either Adar or Shvat.
In China, New Year's Day is often called Chun Jie, meaning Sprng Festival. China is a big country, and spring starts at different times depending on the latitude. Although Northern China can be freezing cold at this time of the year, I know of no saying corresponding to "Uder nye bruder."

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very interesting art!

best wishes to you!

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Marc M. Epstein said...

Thank you, my dear, for using my book here. I always prefer to see an enthroned rabbit than an enthroned rabbi.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Alan Divack said...

I forgot where I read this first (Arnow?) but the presence of rabbits and hares in that Haggadah is associated with the pnenomnic "Yaknehaz" which sounds vaguely like the Yiddish for Hunt the Hare, and stands for Yayin / Ner / Havdalah / Zeman (though I may have this wrong)reminds people of the proper order of blessings when the first seder comes Motzei Shabbat. Last time this happened, we decorated our wine bottles with pictures of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Your pictures are much nicer, but would have been less entertaining for my niece and nephew.

2:21 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

San Lao Qiao,

We talked in more detail about the dialects in this saying here

Paz, thanks, so good to see you!

And my thanks to you (Despise the rabbitate!)

I am delighted to refer you to Marc M. Epstein's book 36-38. The hare hunt imagery seems to appear in non-Ashkenazic sources that predate the YaKNeHaZ mnemonic by a century. I agree that Bugs Bunny is an excellent example of the elusive quarry who outruns and outwits the predator, but he has evolved considerably from the gentle innocent creature with whom our ancestors identified.

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can you find a receipe to use when you just feel someone is about to feed you crap? what is all the nonsene around ?just give out joked and receipes, the rest is bla bla bla sorry

3:36 AM  

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