Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Anim Zemorot: A Modern Purim Parody

Anim Zemorot:  A Modern Purim Parody

For many centuries, parodies have been part of the Purim literature (see this post discussing their history).  One particularly popular genre of Purim literature has been the fake tefila.  Perhaps the best-known collection is the “Kol Bo” (first printed in L’vov, 1855 - see I. Davidson, Parody in Jewish Literature, n. 191 discussing this work, and a later example here) which runs the gamut of Kiddush to Yetziv Pitgam (de-Lot mi-S’dom) and Mareh Haman to an elaborate Haggada (known as Leil Shikkorim) and even includes a collection of "Shu"t Le-Purim (which isn't recorded in Kuntres ha-Teshuvot).  A collection of these and other Purim works have been recently republished in Ve-Nahafokh Hu, ed. Dov Goldberger, 2. vol., (https://www.getit.co.il/BN_Direct/43804/).

Elli Schorr has added his own contributions over the years to this venerable genre. In honor of his daughter's Bat Mitzva (this past Rosh Chodesh Adar), he published his works, as well as several of the “classics” and some by Rabbi Aharon Frazer, to flesh out a preliminary “machzor” for Purim, entitled אנעים זמורות.  (The title, like many of the lines in the machzor, is a play whereby a sacred text undergoes a minor spelling change to reference wine, or drinking, or levity, etc.)  One wishes, incidentally, that Schorr would have actually composed a faux אנעים זמירות to include in the “liturgy”.

For over a decade, Schorr has been sending Purim mailings, on an informal basis, to friends and family (and some have appeared on his blog, purim365.blogspot.com, albeit not a fulsome treatment). Most have been of the tefila genre, but others have included a parody of Aviviah Gottlieb Zornberg’s books on Chumash (co-authored with Chaim and Shari Saiman) and particular pieces that have focused more on current events or community politics than the timeless nature of the tefila parody.  Having written pieces that have been parodies of Shabbat, Pesach, Shavu’ot, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot liturgy, among others, there was enough material to print something that would be more of an anthology, across the Jewish calendar.  As he has developed more knowledge of the world of classical piyyut (largely owing to the tutelage of his neighbor, Prof. Avi Shmidman), he has also reworked older piyyutim to better reflect paytanic sensibilities.  For example, his old Tefilat Gefen (a takeoff on Geshem) was reworked this year to be an alphabetic acrostic, like the original Geshem.  Some of the rhyme scheme, though, was left imperfect, at the preference of a good punchline.

Some of the more recent works, such as ברכת המזון, a spoof of the special bentsching recited at a Brit Milah, are more faithful to the paytanic conventions of proper rhymes and meter and often include a חתימה מקראית where the last line of a stanza is a direct quote of a pasuk.  This may be the best example in the book of a parody of both the form and the content.  The stanzas are to a meter and rhyme identical to the original and, if sung with the nusach, sound authentic.  Additionally, the רשות asked at the beginning of the zimmun is turned on its head, and permission is asked of, inter alia, mamzerim, chalalim, and Haman’s children. The הרחמן section at the end turns both the blood covenant and the eschatological visions into dreams of a great, big, drunken Purim se’udah.

Other pieces reappearing here, with minor varations (and many of them with nikkud for the first time, though with some errors in the preliminary draft edited here), are an akdamut retelling the story of Purim in faux Aramaic, Kabbalat Shabbat witha במה משתכרין nd כגוונא   both, a stream-of-consciousness Kiddush published by Professor J. Tabory attributed to his late father, Rabbi Zvi Tabory, and a מראה כהן  depicting a kohen having delivered a ruling regarding mareh nega’im, changing the meaning of the phrase mareh kohen.

Several pieces make their first appearance in this addition.  The most ambitious is a parody of amitz koach (“mitz koach”, excerpted below) written according to the same poetic convention as the original (alphabetical acrostic, 5 words per each non-rhyming line) and, like many of the Yom kippur piyyutim, starts from the Creation and works its way to the main event. In this case, the event is not the Temple service, but is the Shushan chain of events.  Instead of the priests prostrating themselves, those in the king’s courtyard do so (when Haman passes by); instead of a goat tumbling down hill, drunkards are rolling away; instead of counting blood sprinkles, Haman’s sons (or, alternatively, glasses of wine drunk) are counted. Written with the sensibilities of a chazzan, ואף הוא היה מתכוון works well with Rosenblatt’s classic niggun for a duet.  Several smaller pieces, not bearing enough humorous content to stand alone, are included here as well.  One is a special nusakh inspired by last year’s Erev Pesach where, in one morning, we had bi’ur chametz, bi’ur of shevi’it wine, birkat ha-chammah, and siyyum for the first borns.  Another piece is a short “ushpizin” for Purim.  A parody of the prayer for the government (תפילה לשלום חמר המדינה) appears below, as does a special version of the trop for annoying people. (See below for a few examples.)

People interested in obtaining one of the remaining hard copies, should contact the author directly, at elli dot Schorr at gmail.

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