Apologies to: A Visit from St. Nicholas
BY CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE (adapted by Yochanan Lavie)
'Twas the night before Nittel, when all through the shul
Not a bochur was learning, not even Reb Shmul;
White stockings were worn with the black pants with style,
In hopes that the Polish nobility smiled;
The Yidden were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of dreidels spun in their heads;
And mammaleh in her teichel, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains with a glassel of schnapps,
When out on the street there’s a bum wearing shmattas,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a putz,
Tore open the shutters and looked at that yutz.
The moon on the breast of the now-blackened snow,
Gave an urban patina to objects below,
When what to my near-sighted eyes did appear,
But a miniature goy and eight kosher rein-deer,
With a black gypsy cab so battered and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be Reb Nick.
More rapid than people at Kiddush they came,
And he hocked them a tchinek, and called them by name:
"Nu, Dovid! nu, Donniel nu Pesach and Velvel!
On, Kalman! on, Moishe! on, Dov-bear; I’m schvitzin’!”
To the top of the stoop to the peeling-paint hall!
Nu gei avek! Gei avek! Gei avek, y’all!"
As sukkahs before the wild hurricane flop,
When they fall apart including skach;
So up to the rooftop like pigeons they flew
With the cab full of goys, and Reb Nicholas too—
And then, like some cossacks, I heard on the roof
The non-mixed dancing of each little hoof.
As I twirled my payos, and was davening aloud
Down the fire escape Reb Nick came in like a hound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all black, just like ashes and soot;
A sigh full of “oys,” he had a mild heart attack,
And he looked like a peddler, on Essex, way back.
His eyes were so runny! He looked just like a Rebbe!
His cheeks were like kishka, his nose like a herring!
His drooling mouth made him seem like a schmoe,
And the beard on his chin was way down to his toes;
The hemp in his pipe, he sucked in through his teeth,
And the smoke that encircled his head made him reel;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a donut of jelly.
He was zaftig and plump, a right silly old schmuck
And I laughed when I saw him; I said “What the f--!”
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to tell him “Nu, gei in dred!”
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And took all the seforim, like an Inquisition jerk,
And laying his finger inside of his nose,
And flicking a booger, out the window he goes; [to the fire escape]
He sprang to his cab, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all drove, like a drive-by posse.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“No learning at all, and for all Nittel night!”