March 25, 2005

by Reb Yudel
From when does one recite Goodnight Moon?

Excerpted from "Our People's Story Book: Traditional Stories, Modern Commentaries - Good Night Moon" published by Jewish Night Lights Publishing:
Mishna: From WHEN DOES ONE RECITE GOODNIGHT MOON? UNTIL EIGHT. RABBI JUDAH SAYS: UNTIL ONE HOUR BEFORE. RABBI GAMLIEL SAYS: UNTIL MIDNIGHT.

GEMARA: Until eight? What does that mean? Rav and Shmuel argued.

Rav said: Until eight in the evening, for it is as my father taught: “No story for you, young man, if you’re not in bed by bedtime.” Can it be that bedtime is eight? Is it not written (Kohelet, 7:30), “of making of bedtimes there is no end”? [The cases of ] Kings are different, as it is written, “And David addressed them, saying: “You kids don’t know how good you have it. If I wanted a bedtime psalm growing up, I had to write it myself.”

The volume also includes historical perspectives:
“Goodnight Moon” holds the distinction of being rejected by almost every modern edition of the traditional bedtime liturgy. In 1819, the Hamburg Reform Liturgy and Children’s Programming Committee voted to reject Goodnight Moon as “contrary to the spirit of the age.”

Particularly upsetting to their sensibilities were the reference to the cow jumping over the moon — “contrary to all we know about astronomy,” as one committee member huffed, and the illustration of the uneaten, “unhygienic” bowl of mush.

Shortly thereafter, the Hungarian Orthodox authority, the “Burna Sefer,” would ban the age-old story as “reeking of heresy” after his granddaughter pointed out the “old lady whispering hush,” in defiance of the Mosaic prohibitions against women raising — or lowering — their voices.

Read it all in the Purim issue of Sh'ma, or download the PDF. TrackBack