by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
There is a theory that dates back long ago, that the origin of the word, “lullaby” comes from the Yiddish – “Lilith Abi – Lilith Go Away.” Adam HaRishon’s first wife, Lilith, was attached to Adam before Hashem separated them. She later became a shaid, a demon, who damages (see Shabbos 151b). Regardless of the etymological origin, there is an old Yiddish lullaby that contains the words, “Sleep, sleep, my girl, and I shall find you a suitable chosson (groom).“
The following inspiring story regarding the Vilna Gaon is found in the biographical work entitled, “HaGaon” on page 49.
In the 1740’s the Vilna Gaon took upon himself a period of voluntary exile. Once, he stayed in a home where there was a baby girl who was crying in the middle of the night. The Vilna Gaon picked up the baby girl, and yes, sang her the soothing old Yiddish lullaby in order to get her to go back to sleep.
***PLEASE HELP A STRUGGLING FAMILY MARRYING OFF A CHILD***
Years passed. When the girl was of marriageable age, the Vilna Gaon sent a young man to her parent’s home with a letter signed by the Vilna Gaon himself. It said:
“Years ago, your daughter was crying and I picker her up, soothing her with the old Yiddish lullaby which ended with the words. “and I shall find you a suitable chosson (groom).“
The young man who is bearing this letter is just such a suitable groom. I am not saying that they should marry, but I have fulfilled what I had said in that lullaby.”
The couple did get married, and the story was repeated by none other than Rav Chaim Soloveitchik to others. Such was the Vilna Gaon’s remarkable degree of everyday emes – speaking truth always!
The author is in touch with one of the top Yiddish song experts at Hebrew University to help identify the actual lullaby that the Vilna Gaon sang. Stay tuned!
The author writes a weekly parsha sheet for the Sefas Tamim Foundation. If you would like to subscribe please email the author at [email protected]
ALSO: The Sefas Tamim Foundation has produced a special 30 minute video entitled, “Emes and Tisha B’Av” – to be played at Shuls across the country on Tisha B’Av. It features such speakers as Rav ELya Brudny Shlita, Rav Yaakov Feitman Shlita, Rav Pesach Krohn Shlita, Rav Noach Oelbaum Shlita.
The author can be reached at [email protected]