- PARODY, HEBREW
- -Parody in Early Hebrew Literature Parody is the use of a recognizable literary form as a vehicle to ridicule or mock something or someone. The writer takes a well-known, serious work as his model and invests it with new and amusing contents, at times in order to deride the original or its author, at others to express his views and criticisms of contemporary political and social issues. This technique is used in order to grasp the attention of the reader who will easily recognize the parodied text. Parody, though it uses different forms, is in fact a literary genre in its own right and one of the keenest weapons of satire. In Hebrew literature, parody is an ancient genre. Although mockery for its own sake is not among the things allowed a Jew, the mockery of idolatry is permitted (Meg. 25b) and, by inference, the mocking of anything morally or legally defective. Evidence of this concealed form of derision is found already in the Bible: "Elijah mocked them (the prophets of the Baal) and said: Cry aloud; for he is a god; either he is musing, or he is gone aside, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked" (I Kings 18:27) and, incidentally, in various places in the Talmud and the Midrash. It is not always possible to identify the source which is being imitated; however, the meter and rhythm of the work make it almost certain that it is a parody on something. Well known among the fables of Simeon Bar-Kappara, many of which are parodies, is the riddle Bar-Kappara puts in the mouth of the son-in-law of Judah ha-Nasi, Ben-Elasah, who was rich but ignorant and did not participate in the learned conversation of the wise men gathered in Judah's house. The riddle had two objects: first, to mock the rich ignoramus, and secondly, to criticize Judah himself for leading the people with a "high hand." Judah immediately realized that Bar-Kappara was behind his son-in-law's riddle and was angry with the true author. The "riddle" was in fact a parody on the fables of Solomon or of Ben-Sira and is one of the gems of early Hebrew satire: „ The netherworld looked down from heaven „ Turbulence at the sides of her house „ Scaring all winged creatures „ The young men saw me and hid themselves „ And the aged rose up and stood; „ He who flees shall say: Alas, alas\! „ And he who is trapped is trapped by his own sin (TJ, MK „ 3:1). Generally it may be said that the use of such allegoric or heroic language for mundane trivia should be considered parody, even if it is difficult to identify its source. An unusual homily in the Talmud itself should also be regarded as a kind of parody in talmudic pilpul style: "Where is Haman (of the Book of Esther) mentioned in the Torah? It is written, Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?" (Gen. 3:11). It cannot be assumed that anyone would have thought that that question which Adam was asked hinted even faintly at Haman in the Book of Esther. The novelty consists not only in the fact that the Hebrew letters of "Haman" and Ha-Min are identical but also in the juxtaposition of the evil Haman and the "tree" on which he was hanged. This witticism is in fact an imitation of more serious homilies, sometimes hair-splitting in their attempts to make a point, which were common in the Babylonian academies, and thus displays one of the most obvious characteristics of parody. -Parody Since the 12th Century Hebrew parody as an established literary form is post-talmudic, dating for the most part from the 12th century. It first appeared in Spain, then in Provence and Italy, from where it passed to the literary centers of the Netherlands, Germany, and eastern Europe. Among the secular poems of the Spanish and Italian poets are many excellent parodies on diverse subjects. The poem Al ha-Zevuvim ("On Flies") by abraham ibn ezra , who was one of the cleverest satirists of Hebrew poetry, is clearly an imitation of an epic. It begins with witty rhymes and pretentious language: „ To whom shall I flee for help from my oppression? „ Whom shall I implore against the devastation of the flies? „ Which will not give me respite „ With all their power they oppress me like enemies „ And flutter over my eyes and eyelids, „ Reciting passionate love songs in my ears; „ I venture to eat my meal alone „ And they partake of it like wolves, „ And even drink out of my glass of wine as though „ I had invited them like lovers or friends. By using such thundering sentences when speaking merely of tiny flies, Ibn Ezra forcefully achieves the amusing effect of parody. The satiric poetry of todros abulafia (Toledo, second half of the 13th century), or of solomon bonafed (Kingdom of Aragon, first half of the 15th century), in particular against other poets or against personal enemies, also often has a parodic nature. Also the rhymed prose work by Santob (Shem Tov) de Carrion , The Debate between the Pen and the Scissors, can be considered as a political allegory in the form of parody. The Ma'ariv le-Furim, written by menahem b. aaron (who lived in 14th-century Toledo), is an amusing parody on the piyyut Leil Shimmurim Hu Zeh ha-Laylah ("This is the Night of Vigil"), by meir b. isaac , included in the Ma'ariv prayer for the first day of Passover. This parody was unaccountably included in a serious edition of the festival prayers and piyyutim. With light and boisterous rhymes the author of the parody includes all creation in the joy of Purim: „ On this night all creatures get drunk „ To remember the law established on Purim „ And damned be the man who lifts his hands „ To drink abominable water. and so on, in similar style. Apart from its relevance to Purim, this parody is apparently also a protest against the abundance of piyyutim composed by the paytanim of that period, many of which have been included in the prayer book, and especially in the prayer books for holidays. The poems by joseph ibn zabara (who lived in 12th-century Spain) on the subjects of doctors and women, specify in a typically medical jargon all the remedies for the fever and other illnesses. They are obviously caricatures of Hippocrates' "collections." One of the masters of Hebrew satire and parody was the Spanish poet Judah Al-Ḥarizi . His amusing book of maqāmāt, Taḥkemoni , is written in the spirit of the Arab poet Abu Muhammad al-Qasem Al-Ḥarīrī (1054–1122), whose book of maqāmāt Al-Ḥarizi translated into Hebrew. The Taḥkemoni abounds in droll parodies on contemporary personalities and on customs which Al-Ḥarizi found amusing. For example, he ridicules the ceremony of kapparot on the eve of the Day of Atonement by relating the words of a cock, who for fear of being killed had escaped to the roof of the synagogue. The style of the cock's speech is biblical, although there is a suggestion too of the style of the contemporary preachers whom Al-Ḥarizi mocks in other places. The book also contains a parody on the commandment for phylacteries at the end of Gate 5 (Segal 453), on bloody combats in Gate 7 (Segal 466), and on a bombastic host in Gate 34 (Segal 580), etc. Another of the early Hebrew parodists was judah b. isaac ibn shabbetai , born in Toledo or Burgos in the 13th century. He was the author of Minḥat Yehudah Sone ha-Nashim ("The Tribute of Judah the Misogynist"), a satire on bachelors and women-haters in the style of the Bible and of medieval stories. He also wrote Milḥemet ha-Ḥokhmah ve-ha-Osher ("The War of Wisdom and Wealth," 1214) and Divrei ha-Alah ve-ha-Niddui ("The Words of the Curse and the Ban," date unknown). A parody of a different kind is Iggeret Al Tehi ka-Avotekha ("Be not as your fathers"), written by Isaac Efodi (profiat duran ) in the 15th century to his friend Bonat Bongiorno, who had apostatized. Written in the mild language of the pastoral epistles of Christian preachers, Duran equivocally advises his friend "to remain in the Christian faith." By pretending to prove the mistakes of the Jews, as it were, he actually mocks Christianity and its preachers and, by inference, the apostates. The name of the parody and its flattering style misled many into thinking that this really was an epistle of the Church, until they came to the end and its conclusions. KALONYMUS B. KALONYMUS While the poets of the Golden Age in Spain wrote in biblical Hebrew, they employed Arabic meters. The contents of their poetry, especially the secular, was also influenced by contemporary poetry in general and by Arabic poetry in particular. Their parodies, too, were mostly imitations of contemporary literature (e.g., epic poems, love songs, and medical treatises). Gradually satire ceased to be the concern only of poets, rhetoricians, and rhymists, and scholars began to take a casual interest in it. Parody in talmudic style was welcomed on those days when jesting was allowed, the days which "Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to the writing thereof, and according to the appointed time thereof, every year" (Esth. 9:27). The father of parody in the style of the Talmud was Kalonymus b. Kalonymus, who was born in 1286 and lived in Italy from 1318, and who was one of the outstanding physicians of his time. Besides his profound knowledge of Torah and rabbinic literature, he mastered several languages and translated a selection of medical and philosophical books from Arabic into Latin at the request of the Italian King Robert, a lover of art and literature. His translations served as a bridge between the knowledge of East and West. His most famous work is Massekhet Purim, "Tractate Purim," written in the language and form of a talmudic tractate. Its four chapters contain a humorous debate regarding food, drink, and drunkenness on Purim. At the end of the tractate the author says that it was his intention „ to gladden people on Purim and the reader will not lose but (will „ gain) like him who reads a book of medicine and of matters that „ benefit the body and do not harm the soul, because I, Kalonymus, „ invented this essay, the mishnah and the gemara and I call to witness „ R. Shakran ("Liar") and his brother R. Kazvan ("Deceiver"), who are „ mentioned at the end of the tractate. A literary masterpiece in style, presentation, and contents, Massekhet Purim serves as more than a mere jest, for much can be learned from it regarding the life, customs, and food, etc., of the 13th-century Italian Jews. Among the Purim customs which Kalonymus mentions are: horse riding in the streets of the town, waving pine branches, and dancing around a rag puppet which symbolized the figure of Haman. Massekhet Purim also specifies 24 Italian dishes, popular among the Jews, some of which are otherwise unknown. The 24 dishes represent the 24 "contributions to the priests" donated by the people at the time of the Temple in Jerusalem and the 24 books of the Bible. Although other works by the same author met with no opposition, Kalonymus' Massekhet Purim was frowned upon by extremist rabbis who considered a parody in talmudic style to be a sacrilege. They banned reading the book and even condemned it to be burned. samuel ben abraham aboab , in his Devar Shemu'el, wrote: „ He who reads that book called Massekhet Purim will be „ grieved for by all God-fearing people, who saw, and straight away were „ amazed, how the author dared print it and felt no remorse – hopefully „ the book will be put away and will become like something which has „ been lost, so that it shall not be seen and shall not be found…" It therefore became rare and passed from hand to hand in manuscript. In the 19th century it was printed anonymously by various publishers, sometimes supplemented by other facetious Purim parodies of a later date. Jonah Wilheimer, who published it in Vienna in 1871, relates in his preface that he copied it from an old manuscript found in a collection of books (including some formerly belonging to jacob emden ) which he bought from an Amsterdam bookseller. He writes: „ I hereunder publish Megillat Setarim and Massekhet „ Purim without inquiring into who wrote these books or whose „ spirit collected them, but rather hailing this delightful treasure, „ because the author(s) have made a jest to cheer the readers with their „ sweet language in the style of the authors of the Talmud, and so as „ not to withhold what is good from its rightful owners, I publish them. Massekhet Purim served as a blueprint for other imitations of talmudic tractates and also of liturgical literature in all its forms; prayers, seliḥot, lamentations for the Ninth of Av, and especially the Passover Haggadah. Steinschneider lists three Purim tractates in his list of 31 parodies and hundreds of other comic works, and Davidson mentions a further 21 in his list of 500 parodies in Hebrew and other languages (see bibliography). In a list of Hebrew manuscripts in Offenbach, Germany, a Massekhet Purim with Latin translation is mentioned, but it was apparently never printed. One Massekhet Purim, together with other Purim parodies collected from the large anonymous Purim literature, appeared in 1844, published by Solomon b. Ephraim Bloch, at the "Royal Court Press" in Hanover, where Jews had lived since the 13th century. A novel feature of this edition is its illustrations – one of a drunkard in the shade of trees in the innyard, and one of four people, including a woman, in festive fancy dress. Most of the later editions of Massekhet Purim are followed by Megillat Setarim, which consists of three chapters. It begins in the style of Pirkei Avot: „ Ḥavakbuk received instruction (in drinking) from Karmi, who handed it „ down to Noah, and Noah to Lot and Lot to Joseph's brothers (apparently „ by virtue of the "cup" found in Benjamin's sack, Gen. 44:12), and „ Joseph's brothers to Nabal the Carmelite (who was "very drunken," „ I Sam. 25:36), and Nabal the Carmelite to Ben Hadad „ (king of Aram in Ahab's time, of whom it is said, who "was drinking „ himself drunk," I Kings 20:16), and Ben Hadad to „ Belshazzar (who "drank wine before the thousand," Dan 5:1), and „ Belshazzar to Ahasuerus (thanks to whose feast blessed with "royal „ wine in abundance" the festival of Purim came about), and Ahasuerus to „ Rabbi Bibi (according to Shab. 80b, a certain Rabbi Bibi "got drunk," „ as a result of which he became a central figure in Megillat „ Setarim). The characters of Ḥavakbuk ha-Navi and Karmi figure in Sefer Ḥavakbuk ha-Navi, which was appended to a number of editions of Massekhet Purim, beginning with the Venice edition of 1551. It is a parody in a pure and precise biblical style (of the books of the prophets) in praise of wine on Purim. The modification of the prophet's name from "Ḥavakkuk" to "Ḥavakbuk" ("he embraced the bottle") is the sort of humorous pun which recurs throughout the parody. All personal and place names are derived from the Bible, and with a change of meaning, are made to recall wine and everything connected with it: Karmi (a biblical first name, here meaning a vineyard); Bozrah (the town Basra; here it alludes to the vintage); Be'eri (a biblical first name, here meaning a water well); Ha-Tiroshta (appellation of Nehemiah, "because he was allowed to drink the king's wine"; here the allusion is to tirosh, new wine); kos ("glass"); enav ("grape"); and bakbuk ("bottle"). In the parody, Karmi, king of Israel from Boẓrah and Be'eri contend for the kingship. The prophet Ḥavakbuk brings the word of God to the waverers between Karmi and Be'eri. Influenced by Ḥavakbuk's powerful words, the people forsake Be'eri and "return to Karmi with all their heart," after the prophecy was fulfilled that "at midnight God directed a very strong east wind and dried up the sea, the rivers and lakes and destroyed the canals and wells." The parody ends with a sentence based on Deuteronomy 34:10; "And there hath not arisen a prophet since in the house of Karmi, like unto Ḥavakbuk in all the signs and wonders, which he wrought in the sight of Israel." Both Megillat Setarim and Sefer Ḥavakbuk ha-Navi were erroneously attributed to Kalonymus b. Kalonymus since they were appended to most editions of his Massekhet Purim. Other writers, Lavi ha-Levi (known also as Leon de Blautes (de Valentibus) and Elijah Baḥur Levita , were also credited with their authorship. Neubauer and Davidson, however, established that the actual author of these parodies was levi b. gershom . MASSEKHET HANUKKAH Ḥanukkah, like Purim, is a festival of celebration and games, but very little entertaining literature has been written for it. What there is consists mainly of songs, riddles, and witticisms concerning food and drink, in particular various local Ḥanukkah dishes, all of which symbolize historical events connected with Ḥanukkah. Although the Scroll of Antiochus, which relates the Jewish victory in Hasmonean times and the miracle of Ḥanukkah, is an imitation of the style of the Book of Esther, it is in no way a parody. There are, however, three special Ḥanukkah "tractates," modeled on the Massekhet Purim and concentrating especially on the secular aspects of the festival – the food and entertainment. The first, the author of which is unknown, was found in manuscript in the collection of david franco-mendes and published, with an introduction by A.Z. Ben-Yishai in Aresheth, 3 (1964), 173–92. It is written as a profound talmudic discussion on the essence of the festival, its joys, and its "laws." It details the quantity of the special Ḥanukkah delicacies a Jew must eat "until he is nauseated" or until "he breathes his last." There are actual descriptions of local color, for which no other source is extant, obviously written by a person who was observant of his environment. It tells of the pastimes current among the well-to-do, cultured Jews of that day, which goes far to explain the reprimands of the great rabbis of the 18th century, Jacob Emden, Moses Ḥagiz, and Ẓevi Hirsch Kaidonover among them, who in their writings admonished their contemporaries "who spend their days going to the theaters and circuses, in dancing, card-playing, and even hunting." Another Ḥanukkah tractate, by Joshua Calinari, appeared in Venice, and later in Salonika, while the third, by Jacob Segre, remained in manuscript. PARODIES AGAINST CATHOLICS, APOSTATES, AND FALSE MESSIAHS The opposition to the false Messiah, Shabbetai Ẓevi, and to his movement in the 17th and 18th centuries, produced an extensive polemical literature in Hebrew, both in poetry and in prose. The Italian poets, Jacob and Emanuel Frances, published a book of satiric poems called Ẓevi Mudah, directed at him. The parody Haggadah le-Tishah be-Av is also attributed to the two brothers. (The Ninth of Av was chosen for the recital of the "Haggadah" parody because Shabbetai Ẓevi "abolished" the fast on that day and turned it into a feast.) Two versions of this parody, preserved in manuscript, were published by A.M. Habermann, in Kobez al Jad 13, pt. 2 (1940), 185–206. Using the framework of the Passover Haggadah, including instructions for the various seder customs connecting the different sections, the author unleashes his sarcasm and contempt, curses and abuse upon the false messiah. For example, his version of Dayyeinu ("It would have been enough"): „ Had he made himself false Messiah „ And not abolished the fast of the Fourth, „ It would have been enough. „ Had he abolished the Fast of the Fourth and not abolished the fast of „ the Fifth, „ It would have been enough. „ Had he abolished the Fast of the Fifth and not turned it into a „ regular feast, „ It would have been enough. „ Had he turned it into a regular feast and not eaten and distributed „ forbidden fats, „ It would have been enough. „ Had he eaten and distributed forbidden fats and not „ desecrated the Sabbath, „ It would have been enough. „ Had he desecrated the Sabbath and not uttered the Ineffable Name, „ It would have been enough. „ Had he uttered the Ineffable Name and not permitted murder, „ It would have been enough. „ Had he permitted murder and not apostatized, „ It would have been enough. „ Had he apostatized and not desecrated the name of God in public, to „ the hazard of all the Jews of the Diaspora, „ It would have been enough. In the defensive war against incitement or coercion of Jews to convert (mainly on the part of the Catholics), and against the false messiah Shabbetai Ẓevi, satiric parodies came to be written which were circulated in manuscript for fear of the authorities, and which were preserved in various archives. Some of these parodies were printed only hundreds of years later, in countries enjoying a free press. One of the bitterest of those directed against the Catholics is Pilpul al Zeman, Zemannim, Zemanneihem by Jonah ha-Kohen Rafa, which was printed in London in 1908, some 226 years after the author's death, from a manuscript in the Montefiore collection. It is a derisive imitation of Jewish ritual style, in the manner of the Passover Haggadah, and of the Avodah (the Temple service of the Day of Atonement). The descriptions of the christian carnival , of gluttony and drunkenness, and of other gratifications of the flesh, point at the debauchery of the Catholic priests of those days, which was far removed from the holy and ascetic life preached by the Church. The author's sharp, unrestrained pen, and his insight into contemporary church and monastery life, highlight the suffering and distress of the Jewish community confronted with religious incitement or coercion. -The Early Haskalah One of the fathers of Hebrew parody of the Haskalah was Judah Leib Ben Ze'ev , one of the early maskilim and Hebrew philologists. His Meliẓah le-Furim, based on the prayers of the Day of Atonement, is a paeon of praise to wine and utter abandon. The uncurbed Purim joy, permitted according to the halakhah, served as a cover for the freedom of drinking and gluttony. At the same time the Meliẓah also utilized sacred prayers to convey profane ideas, without which no work by a maskil of that generation was complete. Parodies of a different kind are Ben Ze'ev's erotic poems, which were never published, but passed from hand to hand like secret pamphlets. One of the poems, Derekh Gever be-Almah (a play on the word almah; the title can mean "The Way of a Certain Man" or "The Way of a Man with a Maiden"), is a precise description of sexual intercourse, in a garbled combination of fractions of biblical verses. Through this erotic parody Ben Ze'ev wanted to prove that classical Hebrew could express not only holy and exalted ideas, but even intimate, earthy matters. Not only the Bible and the Talmud served as a framework for amusing parodies at times of festivity, but the Zohar also was used. One of the parodies of the Zohar is Zohar Ḥadash le-Furim, whose author was the Polish writer tobias feder . Zohar Ḥadash was published in Oẓar ha-Sifrut, 3 (1887–90). Even the names of chapters are borrowed from the Zohar. In a language comprehensible only to those familiar with the original, it deals with the festivity of Purim and the purpose of drinking, utilizing biblical verses in a display of homiletics and a pseudo-mysticism. Like the amusing names of the tannaim in Kalonymus' Massekhet Purim, in the Zohar Ḥadash there are also names alluding to Purim dishes and to inebriating drinks. Another Hebrew philologist, Ẓevi Hirsch Sommerhausen, who lived in Holland and Belgium, was the author of one of the best Hebrew parodies which has retained its popularity, Haggadah le-Leil Shikkorim, a parody of the traditional Passover Haggadah. It is reminiscent of the classical winesongs in the Hebrew poetry of Spain and in the poetry of the other peoples – the Greek Anacreon and the Persian Omar Khayyam. Sommerhausen's Haggadah begins with these Anacreonic rhymes: „ Drink and eat, eat and drink, „ Dissipate every heart-ache „ Eat and drink, drink and eat „ Till you don't know black from white. At the end is a German poem by the author (in Hebrew letters) in praise of wine, even specifying particular types. Another booklet of this period "including all the intoxication rules of Purim" is Even Shetiyyah (1861). The name originally refers to the foundation rock in the Temple, but may also be translated "drinking stone." The rules which the anonymous author gives include those "forbidding water on Purim": „ (a) it is forbidden to touch, carry, or look at a vessel which „ contains water or is used for water; he who finds water in his „ house on Purim should cover it with earth, and he who has a well in „ his yard should invalidate it with three partitions; (c) laundrymen „ and all who work with water are forbidden to join the congregation on „ Purim; (d) it is forbidden to walk on the river bank on Purim; (e) it „ is forbidden to sail a boat on the river; (f) it is forbidden to drink „ wine mixed with water on Purim, even if it was mixed before the feast; „ (g) it is forbidden to walk outside in the rain; (h) it is forbidden „ to lick salt on Purim, and similar prohibitions. PARODIES DIRECTED AGAINST ḤASIDISM AND EXTREME ORTHODOXY There was hardly a poet or author among the early maskilim who did not, on some occasion, attempt to write parody, principally as a weapon of derision against his "ideological" adversaries. In particular they mocked Hasidism, its customs, and its way of life. joseph perl was a Ḥasid in his youth but, after his stay at the centers of the Haskalah, he became a fanatical adversary of Ḥasidism and a militant maskil. He wrote classical parodies directed against ḥasidic literature, in particular the Shivḥei ha-Besht, and the stories of Naḥman of Bratslav. These allegorical stories, which are today considered gems of Hebrew literature, were, at the time of their publication, derided by the linguistically pedantic maskilim for their confused language and strange contents. So successful were the parodies that they deceived many innocent Ḥasidim into thinking that they had really been written by ḥasidic authors. In Megalleh Temirin ("Revealer of Secrets," 1819), written in the form of 151 epistles which the "obscurantist" Jews were supposed to have exchanged, Perl gives a biased caricature of Ḥasidism in Volhynia and Galicia, and of the ẓaddikim whom he despised, and whom he describes as swindlers and avaricious men. It is written in a corrupt Hebrew, spiced with Yiddish idioms and Slavic expressions. His second book, Boḥen Ẓaddik (1838), also in the form of letters, is a continuation and explanation of the first. Another satirical work aimed at the Ḥasidim of Galicia is Ha-Ẓofeh le-Veit Yisrael (1858) by isaac erter , written in biblical language and in the spirit of Haskalah. Some of the parodies against Ḥasidism were written in Yiddish poetry and prose. A very popular parody in its time was Tsvey Khasidimlekh by N. Goldberg, modeled on heine 's Die Grenadiere. It tells of two Ḥasidim traveling to the ẓaddik Israel of Ruzhin to celebrate the feast of Sukkot and "to listen to his talk with the Divine Guests (ushpizin)." On the way, they hear of the rabbi's arrest and imprisonment, together with others suspected of plotting rebellion. The dialogue between the two Ḥasidim is modeled directly on that of Heine's grenadiers, who return from Russian captivity, and while on their way hear of the defeat of Napoleon and his imprisonment. The two Ḥasidim are deeply shaken when they hear of the rabbi's arrest, and the more sentimental of them begs his friend (like Napoleon's grenadier) that if he die of chagrin, he be buried at the rabbi's town, Ruzhin, and covered with its earth. In one hand of the deceased, who is to wear a tallit and tefillin, they should place a shofar and in the other a bottle of brandy. When the rabbi is released and treads on the Ḥasid's tomb, the latter will arise, blow a prolonged blast, and drink to the health of the rabbi. Another parody directed against Hasidism and popular in its time was Dos Lid fun'm Kugil (1863), on the model of schiller 's poem The Bell. It was written by abraham gottlober , a popular and prolific Hebrew and Yiddish author who published many such satiric works both in poetry and in prose, mainly against Ḥasidism, in the spirit of the Haskalah. Sefer ha-Kundas (1824) is a witty parody in the style and form of the Shulḥan Arukh. The book is divided into paragraphs, and the paragraphs into sections, which determine, in a style typical of the Shulḥan Arukh, how the true prankster must behave in order to justify his title. It is a satire on the strict way of life, which robbed young children of the joy of living by prematurely imposing ritualistic duties upon them. In many cases they rebelled against the severe restrictions by complete licentiousness. The author also wanted to prove how common this type of prankster was among the youth of good families in Vilna. There are differences of opinion as to the identity of the author of Sefer ha-Kundas. It is often ascribed to Aaron of Berdichev, whose exact identity is unknown, but according to Zinberg and others, it was Abraham Isaac, the son of Rabbi Ḥayyim Landa, a learned young man who was familiar with the teaching of the maskilim. Pressed by the hostile environment, Landa was compelled to divorce his wife. In order to avenge himself on his former father-in-law and on the leaders of the Vilna community, he wrote Sefer ha-Kundas, relating "the prankster's deed, ruses and actions and his doings from the beginning of the year to its end." Kundas (perhaps related to the Polish word kondys – a farmer's dog, lacking manners) is a common appellation in the Yiddish of eastern European Jews for a mischievous, prankish boy, or a social outcast who uses vulgar and obscene language, affronting the dignitaries and appearing wherever there is a crowd. The dignitaries of Vilna considered Sefer ha-Kundas to be a dangerous pamphlet and banned it soon after its publication, burning all available copies so that it should not be circulated. Only individual copies survived, one of which was published 88 years later by the student of Jewish folklore david maggid in 1913, with an introduction by the publisher about the parody and its author. In recent generations, remote from the controversies of the Haskalah, evaluation of the works written in the heat of the polemics of that time have changed, and literary critics now regard Sefer ha-Kundas as a "gay sunbeam peeping through the dark clouds of seriousness" of the Haskalah period (see S. Niger, Bleter far Geshikhte fun der Yidisher Literatur, 1954). According to this view, this was the first book in the Hebrew literature of the 19th century, which was amusing for its own sake and without any polemical or didactic aim. This seems also to have been the view of Ḥ.N. Bialik , who, in writing a children's poem describing a merry, mischievous boy, admitted to having been influenced by the 19th-century Sefer ha-Kundas. isaac dov levinsohn was one of the early Russian maskilim. He was the author of several parodies, including Divrei Ẓaddikim, similar to Joseph Perl's Megalleh Temirin, concerning ẓaddikim and Ḥasidim, and Oto ve-et Beno, a tractate in talmudic style, protesting against unfair trade practices, etc. judah leib gordon , the greatest Hebrew poet of the late Haskalah, who successfully tried his hand at all literary forms, also attempted parody, especially in his Shirim le-Et Meẓo. It includes maqāmāt, epigrams, and a long and witty parodic poem in Aramaic called Be-Niggun Akdamot. Gordon derides the conduct of the provincial Jewish tradesmen in the 1800s who came on business to St. Petersburg, where no one knew them, "with the aim of making great profits and stuffing their bellies with delicious food and other delights." With all his reservation toward Yiddish, Gordon tried his hand at writing poems in that language collected in a volume with the Hebrew title of Siḥat Ḥullin. The majority of the poems are humorous imitations of naive folktales, which may be considered parodies. One of them, Eliyahu ha-Navi min ha-Nahar Ridevka ("The Prophet Elijah of the river Ridevka"), is the story of a pretty shopkeeper, the wife of a yeshivah student, who suddenly becomes rich thanks to "the prophet Elijah" who enters through the window while her good-for-nothing husband studies Torah at the bet ha-midrash until late at night. The "Elijah" is a gentile lover who is a public official and who bestows many presents upon the pretty shopkeeper in return for her favors. This is a parody on those Jewish folktales which attribute any obscure success in the life of the individual to miraculous events and to the "appearance of Elijah." The Haskalah orientation of this parody and of similar poems is obvious. The jesters (badḥanim ), whose job it was to entertain the bride and bridegroom on their wedding day, composed many entertaining parodies in Yiddish, interspersed with Hebrew words and phrases. Most have been forgotten, while some have been preserved in Jewish folklore, though the sources which inspired the jesters are not always identifiable. -Modern Times PARODY AS A SOCIALIST WEAPON With the development of political movements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the war against religious Orthodoxy and the "obscurantists" slackened and new battles broke out in Jewish society on nationalistic and socialistic issues. The maskilim began to employ satirical parody as a weapon against unfair trade, widespread ignorance, and the miserable social position of religious personnel, particularly of teachers and yeshivah students. Themes from the life of Jewish society which did not receive adequate treatment in journalism or in serious literature were reflected gaily in an exaggerated and biased light in satire. These satires were modeled on the common liturgy which was well known to all Jews in those days, and were thus intelligible even to people not used to reading belles letters for their own sake. Not only "professional" authors but also adroit dabblers in writing engaged in such parody. Many of the writers are anonymous and it is almost impossible to identify them, despite the effort of literary scholars to decipher and identify some of their pen names. But even as anonymous amateurs these writers make a substantial contribution to the knowledge of Jewish social life in various periods; these descriptions cannot be ignored in the study of all classes of Jewish life, at differing times and in diverse countries. The language of this "unofficial" literature also contributed in its own way to the development and crystallization of modern Hebrew. Massekhet Aniyyut ("A Tractate on Poverty," 1878), by Isaac Meir Dick, considered the "father of the Yiddish folktale," is one of the most successful parodies in Hebrew literature. It severely criticizes the poor social and economic conditions of Lithuanian Jews at that time. It also contains autobiographical elements: in those years the school where Dick taught was closed down, and a state school was opened in its stead to which Dick could not adjust, and he thus remained jobless. Sachs published the parody, unknown to its author, and it made a great impression, reflecting as it did the reality of Jewish society at the time. The parody Kiẓẓur Shulḥan Arukh li-Melammedim u-le-Morim by joseph brill of Minsk, whose pen name was Iyov, printed in Oẓar ha-Sifrut, 3 (1889), also belongs to the class of "socialistic" parodies. An outstanding parodist, he described in a lively, biting, and comical fashion the miserable position in Jewish society of "the educators of the generation" – the melammedim of the old system and the teachers of the new. Even with the change in the contents and purpose of parodies, traditional books of worship, such as the festival prayers and in particular the Passover Haggadah, continued to serve as a model for topical parodies. The authors directed their satire against local affairs, such as profiteering, exploitation of the poor, cultural emptiness, excessive materialism, and similar negative phenomena. When the aim of the parody was to protest against the decrees and restrictions of unjust authorities, the disguise of stories and prayers was used in order to circumvent censorship. The Mah Nishtanah questions of the Haggadah and the recurring answer "We were the slaves of…" would be given new topical contents each year. The same was done to the chorus of the song Ḥad Gadya. In addition to parodies on traditional liturgical literature, parodies on popular contemporary works, Jewish and gentile, eventually came to be written. The following parodies are of a salient socialistic orientation: Seder Haggadah li-Melammedim (1882), with a commentary by Levi Reuben Zimlin, a teacher in Odessa, imitates the Passover Haggadah "imbued with moral lessons for melammedim and for landlords who inspire them with awe for a loaf of bread that does not satiate." The book contains recommendations by Gottlober, Lilienblum, and others. Seder Haggadah le-Ḥoveshei Beit ha-Midrash ("Haggadah of Bet Midrash Students," 1899), by Elijah Ḥayyim Zayantshik, describes the miserable state of students ("he will divide the food he eats into two shares, so that one remains for the morrow, because a miracle does not occur every day, and the second share is the afikoman , because after that there is nothing to eat or drink but water"), and bitterly criticizes the treasurers, supervisors, and landlords who neglect the students. Massekhet Soḥarim ("Traders' Tractate," 1900) by Abraham Shelomo Melamed (1862–1951), a Hebrew teacher in Feodosia, in the Crimean Peninsula, is a parody in the style of the Mishnah and Gemara and a bitter satire on the various tradesmen ("wheat tradesmen, wood tradesmen, contractors and shopkeepers") who engaged in unfair trade, profiteering, international bankruptcy, and arson in order to collect the insurance money. Massekhet Shetarot ("Bills' Tractate," 1894. by "La-Saifa vela-Safra" (pen name of Abraham Abba Rokovsky, born in Poland, who translated many books from various languages into Hebrew, including Alroy by Disraeli), is also a parody in talmudic style "depicting the world of trade, its customs, stratagems and wicked impulses" (from the publisher's introduction to the book). HEBREW PARODY IN THE U.S At the time of the large-scale immigration to the U.S. from Russia and other eastern European countries during the late 19th century, the newcomers were able to give vent to their feelings through parody. They had immigrated to the new country to seek their fortune and discovered only chaos in Jewish life. Far from the old bet ha-midrash tradition, many of the Jews in the U.S. had largely abandoned Jewish tradition, and satire was a convenient genre for adroit writers to express their anger and bitterness at this development. Abraham Kotlier, born near Kovno, immigrated to the United States in 1880 and lived in Cleveland as a bookseller for over 50 years, before moving in his old age to Ereẓ Israel. His first parody, Massekhet Derekh Ereẓ ha-Ḥadashah ("Tractate on the Way of Life of the New Country"), was a devastating attack on Jewish immigrants living in the U.S., their faults and vices, and on the Jewish administrators and "Reform" leaders who corrupted Jewish life. It was first published serially in the Yiddish weekly Folks Fraynd, and later on its own in St. Petersburg (1893). It also appeared in Warsaw in 1898 together with Maḥzor Katan – Hagaddah le-Fesaḥ, a volume of piyyutim and a Haggadah "according to the American custom." A third edition was published in Tel Aviv in 1927. gershon rosenzweig , born in Russian Poland, was a teacher who went to the U.S. in 1888. He contributed to the Hebrew and Yiddish press, specializing mainly in parodies and aphorisms. He also edited and published some of the Hebrew periodicals: Ha-Ivri (1892–1902), Kadimah (1899), and Ha-Devorah (1912). In a series of "tractates" first published in Ha-Ivri and then in the collection Talmud Yanka'i, Rosenzweig satirizes U.S. Jewish life. According to Rosenzweig, Columbus refused to have the country he discovered called after him, and it was therefore called "America," deriving from the Aramaic Amma-Reika ("an empty people"). There is hardly an aspect of Jewish life in America that Rosenzweig does not touch upon. He pours out his protest against the low standards of education, the neglect of the younger generation, and the Reform rabbis. He attacks the fact that most synagogues are mortgaged, that ignorance among Jews was becoming even more widespread; he criticizes the prevalence of card games, and touches also on the inferior state of Jewish writers, and the mediocre Yiddish press which fed its readers on "cheap sensations and trash." In Massekhet Okẓin ("Tractate Sarcasm") Rosenzweig treats the subject of plagiarisms, which were then very common. In yet another tractate, Massekhet Maḥaloket mi-Talmud Ẓivoni ("Tractate Discord, from the Colored Talmud"), Rosenzweig discusses the quarrels between Portuguese Jews and German Jews in Philadelphia. During the period of "prohibition" in the United States Gershon Kiss published Massekhet Prohibishon (1929), in which he depicted humorously, in talmudic style, the many and diverse maneuvers carried out in order to circumvent the laws of prohibition, as well as all the mishaps occurring due to the consumption of noxious drinks. Here is an excerpt from one of the chapters: „ Mishnah. How does one hide the drinks? One hides them in the walls and „ under the floor, in pits, ditches and caves, in toilets, bathrooms, „ and any place out of reach of the city guardians. Gemara. The rabbis „ have taught: The pious men of olden days used to hide the drinks in „ the walls and under the floor and in pits, bushes, and caves, but „ pious men of recent times have decided once and for all that there is „ no hope of storing them, so they immediately store them in their „ stomachs. ephraim deinard , born in Russian Latvia, was a scholar, traveler, and bookseller who lived in the U.S. for many years. He published several satires in parodic form, including one called Sefer ha-Kundas ("The Book of the Prankster," 1900), and Sefer ha-Ployderzakh ("The Chatterbox"), a caricature of contemporary Jewish newspapers in America. The title page describes it as "a general gazette for everyone, and the attentive reader will merit life in this world, and I am positive he will not have to read any other gazette." HEBREW PARODY IN COMMUNIST RUSSIA During the early years in post-1917 Russia, when Judaism, the Zionist movement, and Hebrew culture generally were the subjects of persecution, many bitter satirical parodies were written attacking the oppressive regime and its supporters. In particular, the "Yevsektsia," the department of the Communist Party responsible for the liquidation of Jewish communities and institutions and the suppression of the various Jewish parties, and especially the Zionist ones, came under protest. As these parodies could not appear in print they passed from hand to hand as "underground literature." They were modeled on well-known prayers and folksongs in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian. One of the most successful parodies on the Bolshevik regime was Massekhet Admonim min-Talmud Bolshevi ("Tractate of the Reds from the Bolshevik Talmud"), signed by Avshalom Bar-Deroma, the pen name of A.S. Melamed (see above). It was brought out of Russia by the author in the early 1920s, and was published in Tel Aviv in 1923. PARODY IN MODERN EREẒ ISRAEL Jewish settlement in Ereẓ Israel, from the second half of the 19th century onward, gave rise to many varied social conflicts which were reflected in mostly verbal satire, such as new words sung to old and familiar tunes. During the period of Turkish rule hardly any satires had been written due to the despotism of the regime. Those which were circulated treated only of internal affairs of the Jewish yishuv. One of the major conflicts within the yishuv before World War I was the struggle for the place of Hebrew as the language of the people. When the Hilfsverein founded the Technion in Haifa, it declared its intention of having German as the language of instruction. The protagonists of Hebrew carried their struggle to the press and published, among other items, a parody in talmudic style, Massekhet Bava Tekhnikah (1910), by kadish yehudah leib silman . Silman was a teacher and journalist, born in Russia, who wrote and edited textbooks, and published various humorous works. Another "internal" parody, an anonymous satire against the plague of anniversary celebrations prevalent in the yishuv among the communal workers and writers of the time, was called Ha-Yabbelet ("The Ulcer," 1914). Under the semi-democratic rule of the British Mandate in Ereẓ Israel between 1918 and 1948, there was a greater degree of freedom of criticism, and political satire against the regime was allowed to develop. During the 29 years of the Mandate many humorous and satirical papers appeared, most of them of one issue only, usually for holidays and festivals, especially Purim. A political parody which had a great impact was Haggadah shel ha-Bayit ha-Le'ummi ("Haggadah of the National Home") by "Afarkeset," a regular columnist in the daily Haaretz. It appeared for Passover 1930, when a British commission was visiting the country to investigate the bloody riots of the Arabs a year earlier and the slaughter of the Jews of Hebron and other towns. It begins with Mah Nishtannah: „ How does the present rule (the British) differ from the former „ (Turkish) rule? Under the former regime we settled to the west of „ the Jordan as well as to its east, while this regime has completely „ closed the land of Gad and of Reuben to us. Under the former regime we „ bought lands and received kushans (sales certificates), „ while this regime hinders the buying of new lands and invalidates old „ kushans. Under the former regime there were no riots, while „ under this one they have occurred four times. Under the former regime „ we were residents enjoying the protection of consuls, while under this „ regime we are all citizens and we lack protection and defense. The following chant appears in the same parody, based on the Dayyeinu of the Passover Haggadah: „ What a long line of kindnesses has John Bull bestowed on us: Had he „ given us the Balfour Declaration and not appended a second part that „ contradicts the first – it would have been enough. Had he appended a „ second part that contradicts the first and not given us an alien „ police force – it would have been enough. Had he given us an alien „ police force and not ignored Arab incitement – it would have been „ enough. Had he ignored Arab incitement and not distributed high „ positions to the inciters–it would have been enough. Had he „ distributed high positions to the inciters and not negotiated with „ them regarding the future of the country – it would have been enough. „ Had he negotiated with the inciters and not sent us a commission to „ investigate sabotage – it would have been enough. Had he sent us a „ commission to investigate sabotage and it had not interviewed various „ land specialists – it would have been enough. Had it interviewed „ various land specialists and not drawn conclusions and not closed the „ country to Jewish immigration – it would have been more than enough. Under the British Mandate theatrical troupes were also established, a large part of whose program consisted in satires against the regime, only some of which have appeared in print. The unique life during the Mandate and the contrasts between the three elements in the population – Jews, Arabs, and British – is reflected to some extent in Palestine Parodies (Eng., 1930). Tel Aviv, the largest town in Ereẓ Israel, became the subject of a special parodic Haggadah on its 25th anniversary. Its author did not spare the eminent status of "the first Hebrew town," and severely criticized the leaders of the town for their many words and few actions. The citizens, too, came under fire for their lack of social etiquette, and the confusion of foreign languages rivaling Hebrew. Nor was the British regime spared. The life of the State of Israel, its new parliament, austerity at home, and international adventures all gave rise to an improvised satirical literature, much of it concentrated in the Friday and holiday supplements of the daily press. It featured too in the entertainment programs of the radio. The Talmud, which was studied in the secondary schools as well as in the many yeshivot, continued to be a popular model on which to build parodies. In Massekhet Yamim Tovim ("Tractate of Holidays," 1959), M.Y. Bar-On, a journalist and translator, wittily criticized the faults of the state and of the different strata of its society, alluding to various public scandals. PARODIES OF WRITERS ON WRITERS Hebrew parody through the ages was mostly of the sort which used easily recognizable literary forms as a vehicle for social, religious, or political themes. Such were, of course, the works of Kalonymus b. Kalonymus, Ben Ze'ev, Sommerhausen, and the extensive Purim literature, all intended mainly for entertainment. However, there were also examples of the type of parody designed to deride the very work or literary form which it emulates. Among these were the writings of Joseph Perl against the early books of Ḥasidism, mocking not only the hasidic movement but also its literature, with its entangled style, faulty syntax, and confused presentation. This was the start of parodies of "writers on writers." Some of the work of Joseph Brill (see above) also belongs to this category. Brill's "Midrash Soferim" ("Midrash of Writers," in: Ha-Shaḥar, 10; 1880–81) is a witty satire directed against various literary types. Of contemporary newspaper editors he writes: "There are three who eat and do not labor – a son-in-law supported by his father-in-law, a soldier on guard and a boorish editor." He lashes out at "the scholars and historians who peck like hens, and who prefer one grain of barley on the mound of an ancient hill, already rotten and mouldy, to all the precious stones and jewels glittering in the valley of the present." Well-known Hebrew authors and poets of the 20th century, among them Frischmann, Bialik, Tchernichowsky, Shneour, Berkowitz, Shlonsky, and Hameiri, occasionally wrote parodies on other writers and on literary works, some of them simply for amusement and entertainment, others for genuine criticism. They appeared mostly under pen names, scattered in newspapers, appearing for festivals, especially Purim, in Russia, Poland, the U.S., and Israel. The Hebrew stage, which became firmly established towards the middle of the 20th century, and especially the smaller entertainment theaters, produced many topical satires which, however, seldom appeared in print. Some well-known Yiddish authors also wrote occasional parodies, mostly anonymously or under a pen name. joseph tunkel was a prominent Yiddish humorist and parodist. A regular columnist of Yiddish papers in Poland, he published special collections of parodies, including Mitn Kop Arop (1931), Di Royte Hagode (1917), Di Bolshevistishe Hagode (1918), and some on writers and on literature: Der Krumer Shpigl (1911), and Kataves (1923). Small theatrical troupes in Yiddish, in countries where Yiddish was spoken and Yiddish newspapers appeared, also owed much of their popularity to topical parodies. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Davidson, Parody in Jewish Literature (1907), incl. list of 500 parodies; J. Chotzner, Humour and Irony of the Bible (1883); idem, Hebrew Satire (1911); N.S. Leibowitz, Ha-Shome'a Yiẓḥak; Mivḥar ha-Ḥiddud ve-ha-Hittul (1907); M. Steinschneider, Gesammelte Schriften, 1 (1925), 196–214; idem, in: MGWJ, 46 (1902); 47 (1903); 48 (1904); Zinberg, Sifrut, passim; Waxman, Literature, 2 (1960), 603ff., and passim; W. Jerrold and R.M. Leonard (eds.), Century of Parody and Imitation (1963); J. Kabakoff, Ḥalutzei ha-Sifrut ha-Ivrit ba-Amerikah (1967), 211–66. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Sh. Melamed, Masekhet Soḥarim (1899 or 1900); C. Colahan, in: Sefarad, 39:1 (1979), 87–107; 39:2, 265–308; T. Fishman, in: Prooftexts, 8, 1 (1988), 89–111. (Aharon Zeev Ben-Yishai)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.