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Friday, February 7, 2014

A kale bazingen as performed by Pesach Burstein.

UPDATE: Pesach Burstein's own, original recording is now on Youtube, you can hear it: A kale bazingen. This was the recording I transcribed and sang. It is, of course, a million times better than mine but  mine, a living-room version with one viola and two fiddle overdub tracks, has the original text and the translation on the video so you can take a crack at it yourself. Let me know if you do, I'll post your version too!


It's on our Nervez! cd.

I was recently sent an article from the Jewish Journal called Badkhn Belt? Jewish humor was born in 1661, prof says and it spurred me to get this song ready. .

Badkhns were wedding entertainers - they still can be found at chasidic weddings. The badkhn roasted and toasted the bride and groom and all the new in-laws (mekhutonim) - it was his job to make the crowd laugh and cry. He sang, told jokes, and insulted all and sundry. Various long form wedding songs - rambling melodically like the klezmer instrumental form "doina" - include the kale bazetsn (seating of the bride) and the kale bazingen (sung directly to the bride).

Mel Gordon wrote:
The badkhn was a staple in East European Jewish life for three centuries, mocking brides and grooms at their weddings ... His humor was biting, even vicious. He would tell a bride she was ugly, make jokes about the groom’s dead mother and round things off by belittling the guests for giving such worthless gifts. Much of the badkhn’s humor was grotesque, even scatological.

I don't know if anybody would ever want to sing this song now, but as a historical item it's pretty interesting and it certainly has a wicked punch line.



Here's my translation of the text:

Oy vey iz mir! says a badkhn.
"May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified" (from kaddish)
Oy, congratulations, bride, let it be a good hour,
Oy, dear bride, today is your day of judgment (implies it's like Yom Kipur)
You should know what you need to do,
Therefore, dear bride, I want to tell you something:
After you get married, don't behave,
as people comport themselves among the Turks!
Because the Gemorah says: "Don't trust in the wealthy and generous,"
You must give your husband goose cracklings three times a week
Dear bride, I must also tell you
That on the day of your wedding you must cry and lament
Oy, dear bride, you must pray to God our father
That you and your husband
Will not tear at each other like a tomcat and his mate
Because the Midrash says: "Let all who are hungry come eat."

Since the man who comes to you under the khupe
Must either be crazy or stupid
Oy, therefore, dear bride, if he should, God forbid, become angry,
You shouldn't wait long, but should go apologize to him
Because the Torah says: "Come in peace, oh crown of your husband,"
Because after your wedding you will be a wife, no longer a bride,
And therefore take an example from twin Torah portions,
When the time comes for the Purim feast,
You should quickly bring to the table
Wine and nuts and gefilte fish, and fresh tsimmes
Because the day, dear bride, is a little Yom Kipur
You must see that you prepare well for Purim
Dear bride, you should always have what your heart desires:
That your husband be strong as iron and healthy as a horse

And if it should come to pass that you have trouble with him
And things, God forbid, get dangerous
You should pray to God
That if your husband gets a hankering to be a widower,
It would be better if you, rather, should become a widow.
And now, in-laws, you should all wish congratulations to the bride
And bring her to the khupe in this good hour
And we all say amen! Congratulations!

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