Polish Jewish Cabaret: a library of wonderful but forgotten Yiddish songs of the 1920s - 1930s. Have a listen!

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Kadish (A din-toyre mit Got) - the Berditchever rebbe confronts God

The article about Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev (1740–1809), at Wikipedia, says: Reb Levi Yitzchok was known as the "defense attorney" for the Jewish people, because it was believed that he could intercede on their behalf before God. As he does in this song. This version by Sol Liederman is spelled "Din Toire mit Got."


A din-toyre is a case before a rabbinic court. The title has been translated as "Lawsuit against God" or "A Plea to God." The poem/prayer has been put to music at least three times, the most famous being this setting by Leo Low (1878-1962). The transliteration used on his sheet music: A Din Toire Mit Gott.

There are probably a dozen versions of this song available on line so, needless to say, you're not getting one from me. However, I do have a lead sheet for you with transliteration and translation.

Here is the marvelous Jan Peerce, an opera singer who never forgot his roots in Yiddish music: A din toire mit Gott

Here is David Montefiore: A Din Toire Mit Gott

At the Library of Congress jukebox site you can hear Joseph Winogradoff's 1921 recording

Here is Batya Fonda's translation

Good morning, Master of the Universe,
I, Levi Yitschak son of Sara from Berditshev,
have come to You in a law-suit
on behalf of Your people Israel.
What have You against Your people Israel?
And why do You oppress Your people Israel?
No matter what happens, it is: "Command the Children of Israel."
No matter what happens, it is: "Say to the Children of Israel."
No matter what happens, it is: "Speak to the Children of Israel."
Father dear!
How many other peoples are there in the world?
Babylonians, Persians, Edomites!
What do the Russians say? "Our csar is a csar!"
And what do the Germans say? "Our king is a king!"
And what do the English say? "Our sovereign is a sovereign!"
And I, Levi Yitskhak son of Sara from Berditshev, say:
"O King who sits exalted on his throne."
And I, Levi Yitskhok son of Sara from Berditshev, say:
"I will not move from my place" [Hebrew] -
I will not stir from my place! [Yiddish]
An end there must be [to this suffering]
It must all stop!
Hallowed and magnified be the name of God."

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