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How to Say the Mah Nishtana (Four Questions) in Yiddish

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 9/11/2012

Looking forward to saying the four questions in Yiddish at this year's seder? Look no further! We explain the basics of the four questions (mah nishtana) as well as how to say it in Yiddish.

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    Basics of the Four Questions (Mah Nishtana)

    Much of the night of the Passover Seder is dedicated towards teaching children the story of the Exodus from Egypt. On this night, the children ask the father four questions about the Seder night – why we eat matzah instead of bread, why we eat marror (bitter herbs) instead of other vegetables, why we dip the karpas in saltwater and the marror in charoses, and why we lean instead of sitting up. These questions are collectively called the mah nishtana and are answered during “Avadim Hayinu," which is the next part of the Seder.

    The words "mah nishtana" mean "Why is it different?" The implied question in the four "questions" of the mah nishtana are "Why is this night different from all other nights?"

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    Why Say the Four Questions in Yiddish?

    In some families, the youngest child says the mah nishtana in Hebrew. Many other families, however, have the custom of each member saying the mah nishtana in a different language. Yiddish is one of the most common languages to say the mah nishtana in – and it’ll sure surprise Bubby and Zaydie when they hear the child speaking their mother tongue!

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    How to Say the Four Questions in Yiddish

    Tatta, ich vil d’fraigen de fir kashes (Father, I will ask the four questions.)

    Question 1

    Alla nacht fun a ganz yar (All of the rest of the year)

    Essen mir chametz u’matzah, (I eat leavened products and matzah,)

    Uhbar d’nacht fun Pesach, essen mir matzah. (But on the night of Pesach, I eat matzah.)

    Question 2

    Alla nacht fun a ganz yar (All of the rest of the year)

    Essen mir allilay grinsin, (I eat all types of vegetables,)

    Uhbar d’nacht fun Pesach, essen mir marror. (But on the night of Pesach, I eat marror.)

    Question 3

    Alla nacht fun a ganz yar (All of the rest of the year)

    Tinkin mir nor ain mol, (I don’t even dip once,)

    Uhbar d’nacht fun Pesach, tinkin mir tzvai mol. (But on the night of Pesach, I dip twice.)

    [Karpas in saltzvasser, un marror in charoses. (Karpas in saltwater, and marror in charoses.)]

    Question 4

    Alla nacht fun a ganz yar (All of the rest of the year)

    Essen mir sie zitzindik un sie ungeshpart, (I eat while sitting straight or leaning,)

    Uhbar d’nacht fun Pesach, essen mir sie ungeshpart. (But on the night of Pesach, I eat while leaning.)

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