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Lyric of the Week: MITZVAH DANCE

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Mitzvah dance, with Moishe Kapoyer

Did the patchke kazatzke and glitched across the room

The Yiddish got skittish and sneezed their way to tshuva

And yutzmach shvitzachs all the way to shul

The Daven Haven has got a band playing

The guitar goes greng, the drums go zetz

All the local yokels are inside farbrenging

To the sounds of Nisht Geferlach and his clarinets

So Yanki the Flanki is telling his gelechter

While Yossel the Muscle is showing off his strength

Shaya the Flyer flaunts his money to the rebbetzin

And Moishe Kapoyer gets the floor the clap at length

All the assorted tipshim make the scene by just a tenth.


The one-way sign outside the shul points up to shamayim

And the sign outside the Haven seems to point somewhere else

The yeshivish get peevish and pasken everything assur

But the bochurs can’t resist and go see it for themselves

The rosh yeshiva makes his brief announcements after shachris

“If I hear of anyone going there it’s a broch and uchen vay!”

But come motzei Shabbos they line up for bitulmania

Though they know full well they’ll be arois the next day

They’re looking for escape and they’ve finally found a way.


Well, Nisht Geferlach is wailing out his klezmer

While Simmy Shmendrix is fardreying his guitar

The trombeiniks and the poikers are klopping out a tummul

Moishe says “whoever doesn’t like this is a shoiteh and a naar!”

And all the kalte Litvaks have got no rhythm

But the Hungarian Barbarians dance the csardas in the hall

The foolhardy Sephardi calls this all majnouni

And the Ashkenazi paparazzi make sure to catch it all

All the assorted mishagoyim hit the bar for last call.


©2023 The Hesh Inc.

Detail of "Scenes From a Hasidic Roadhouse" - original AI art by The Hesh Inc.
Scenes from a Hasidic roadhouse.

Scenes from a Hasidic roadhouse in Yiddish/Hebrew/English/Arabic macaronic verse, this is a Yiddish/yeshivish version of Bruce Springsteen's "Bishop Danced," written while that song was still only available as a bootleg. I wrote this on the boardwalk in Long Branch in 1990, right about the time my first marriage went belly up and I moved to the Jersey Shore for the first time. The world I left behind in Boston—that of a straitlaced Orthodox synagogue-going family man—was getting mishkebobbled up with the Jersey Shore rocker I was aiming to become. (The scene portraying the rabbinical objection to the party described in the second verse is based on an actual event—the New Year's Eve gig I played on December 31, 1983.) Never recorded or performed.


GLOSSARY

arois=out of here

assur=prohibited, forbidden

bitul=wasted time, usu. at the expense of Torah learning

bochurs=male yeshiva students

broch=disaster

farbrenging=enjoying themselves

fardreying=noodling

gelechter=guffaw-inducing jokes

glitch=slip, slide

greng=power chord

kalte Litvaks=cold (i.e., tone-deaf and emotionless) Lithuanians

kazatzke=Russian dance

klopping=banging around

majnouni=insane

mishagoyim=crazies

moishe kapoyer=someone who does everything backwards

motzei Shabbos=Saturday night

naar=fool

nisht geferlach=no problem, no worries

pasken=to make a legal decision according to Jewish law

patchke=mess around

poiker=drummer, banger

rebbetzin=female significant other (lit. rabbi's wife)

rosh yeshiva=dean of a religious school, chief authority figure

shachris=morning prayer

shamayim=heaven

shoiteh=idiot

shul=synagogue

shvitzachs=sweat

tipshim=dolts

trombeinik=someone who blows his own horn

tshuva=repentance (sounds like a sneeze when spoken quickly)

tummul=tumult

uchen vay=unenviable position

yeshivish=fervently-orthodox Jews of the Lithuanian academic persuasion

yutzmach=bonehead

zetz=drum hit; see klopping

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