“The first step is the two-step,” sang the incomparable country musician Tracy Byrd. But Country music has nothing on the Turkish Two-Step (as I have dubbed it) and its apparent incorporation into Karaite poetry.
As I was reviewing some poetry for an upcoming birkon, I noticed that many poems printed in Karaite siddurim repeated the first two syllables of the chorus. As I was investigating why, I recalled the time I totally choked on singing the Karaite melody of Ki Eshmera Shabbat.
What makes this Haggadah different from all the rest?
This weekend, Jews throughout the world will be retelling the story of our national exodus from Egypt. And in the traditional haggadah reading, both Karaites and Rabbanites recite the following three words from Deuteronomy 26:5: Arami Oved Avi. The most common translation of these words is “My father (“avi”) was a wandering (“oved”) Aramaean (“arami’)”. This is in fact how the Jewish Publication Society has chosen to interpret these words.
There is an interesting debate in the Rabbinic community about what these words mean. But none of the Rabbinic opinions I have come across is fully satisfying. The historical Karaites have a unique interpretation of these words. And that interpretation is also not perfect. At the end of this post, you can vote on the interpretation you believe is the “best.”