Chad Gadya, Sung by Yosef Elbaz, Jerusalem 19 April 1973. Sung in Aramaic and in Moroccan Arabic.
As with any work of prose, Chad Gadya is open to interpretation. According to some modern Jewish commentators, what appears to be a light-hearted song may be symbolic. One interpretation is that Chad Gadya is about the different nations that have conquered the Land of Israel: The kid symbolizes the Jewish people, the cat, Assyria; the dog, Babylon; the stick, Persia; the fire, Macedonia; the water, Roman Empire; the ox, the Saracens; the slaughterer, the Crusaders; the angel of death, the Turks. At the end, God returns to send the Jews back to Israel. The recurring refrain of 'two zuzim' is a reference to the two stone tablets given to Moses on Mount Sinai (or refer to Moses and Aaron). Apparently this interpretation was first widely published in pamphlet published in 1731 in Leipzig by Philip Nicodemus Lebrecht. This interpretation has become quite popular, with many variations of which oppressor is represented by which character in the song.
Though commonly interpreted as an historical allegory of the Jewish people, the song may also represent the journey to self-development. The price of two zuzim, mentioned in every stanza, is (according to the Targum Jonathan to First Samuel 9:8) equal to the half-shekel tax upon every adult Israelite male (in Exodus 30:13); making the price of two zuzim the price of a Jewish soul. In an article first published in the Journal of Jewish Music & Liturgy in 1994, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the co-author of The Yeshiva University Haggadah, summarized the interpretations of three reknowed rabbis: (1) Rabbi Jacob Emden in 1975, as a list of the pitfalls and perils facing the soul during one's life. (2) Rabbi Jonathan Eybeschuetz (1690-1764) as a very abbreviated history of Israel from the Covenant of the Two Pieces recorded in Genesis 15 (the two zuzim), to slavery in Egypt (the cat), the staff of Moses (the stick) and ending with the Roman conqueror Titus (the Angel of Death). And (3) from Rabbi Moses Sofer, the Hatim Sofer (1762-1839), in which the song described the Passover ritual in the Temple of Jerusalem - the goat purchased for the Paschal sacrifice, according to the Talmud dreaming of a cat is a premonition of singing such as occurs in the seder, the Talmud also relates that dogs bark after midnight which is the time limit for the seder, the priest who led the cleaning of the altar on Passover morning would use water to wash his hands, many people at the Temple that day would bring oxen as sacrifices, the Angel of Death is the Roman Empire that destroyed the Second Temple, etc.
Descriptions of Chad Gadya being "entirely in Aramaic" are in error; the song is mix of Aramaic and Hebrew and indicates that the composer's grasp of Aramaic was limited. For example, the song begins with Had gadya, which is Aramaic, instead of the Hebrew form Gedi yawhid, and for the cat the Aramaic shoonraw instead of the Hebrew hawtool and for the dog the Aramaic kalbaw instead of the Hebrew kelev, etc., but, towards the end of the song, we find the slaughterer is the Hebrew ha-shochet instead of the Aramaic necheisa and the Angel of Death is the Hebrew malach ha-mavet instead of the Aramaic malach mota and, finally, "the Holy One, blessed be He" is the Hebrew ha-Kadosh baruch hu whereas the Aramaic would be Kud'sha brich hu. Moreover, the Aramaic grammar is sloppy, for example. "then came the [masculine form] cat and [feminine form] ate". The suggestion that the song was couched in Aramaic to conceal its meaning from non-Jews is also in error, since its first publication included a full German translation.
The words "dizabin abah" (ִדְּזַבִּין אַבָּא) in the second line of the song literally mean "which father sold", rather than "which father bought". The Aramaic for "which father bought" is "dizvan abah" (דִּזְבַן אַבָּא), and some Haggadot have that as the text.
The soundtrack of the 2005 film Free Zone includes a controversial interpretation of Chad Gadya composed by Israeli singer Chava Alberstein. There were calls for the song to be banned on Israeli radio in 1989, although it became very well-known and is now frequently played during Passover.
In the Season 1, episode 14 of The West Wing "Take This Sabbath Day," the rabbi of Toby Ziegler's temple references this story as a deterrence against capital punishment and mentions that vengeance is not Jewish.
It was featured in the American television series NCIS in the season 7 opener "Truth or Consequences" by Abby and McGee, and then was sung jokingly in a scene by Dinozzo in another season 7 episode titled "Reunion". McGee explains that they accessed Mossad's encrypted files, "but they weren't in English, so we had to do a little bit of rudimentary linguistics. It's a Hebrew school nursery rhyme." Chad Gadya (One Little Goat). McGee and Abby start to enthusiastically sing along with the nursery rhyme." 
The recording "A Different Night" by the group Voice of the Turtle has 23 different versions of Chad Gadya in all different languages.
The Israeli satirical team Latma has created a parody "Chad Bayta" ("One House"), to the tune of "Chad Gadya", which tells the story of a house in the settlements. Instead of a cat, a dog, a stick, and so on,the song features Peace Now, Benyamin Netanyahu, Barack Obama, Ahmadinejad, and the UN, among others.
^Birnbaum, Philip, The Birnbaum Haggadah (1976, NY, Hebrew Publ'g Co.) page 156 ("phrased in the simplest style of Aramaic-Hebrew"); similarly, Birnbaum, Philip, Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts (1975, NY, Hebrew Publ'g Co.) page 203, s.v. Had Gadya; Cohen, Jeffrey M., 1001 Questions and Answers on Pesach (1996, NJ, Jason Aronson Inc.) page 173 ("a variation of a popular German folk song, .... its Aramaic is faulty,..."); Guggenheimer, Heinrich, The Scholar's Haggadah (1995, NJ, Jason Aronson Inc.) page 390 ("questionable Aramaic"); Glatzer, Nahum N., The Schocken Passover Haggadah (1996, NY, Schocken Books) page 119 ("written in poor Aramaic with a scattering of Hebrew words....").
^Roth, Cecil, The Haggadah, A New Edition (1959, London, Soncino Press) page 85 ("Some pundits assert that the Had Gadya is based upon the famous old German nursery-rhyme, Der Herr der schickt den Jokel aus, which was generally sung upon the feast of St. Lambert (September 17th); itself, as a matter of fact, probably the imitation of an older French original. This theory is by no means surely established," The German nursery rhyme is included in Kohut, George Alexander, "Le Had Gadya et les Chansons Similaires", Revue des Etudes Juives, vol. 31 (nr. 62), (Paris, Oct-Dec 1895) pages 243-244; it begins "The boss (or the Lord) sent the yokel out to mow the grain, but the yokel didn't mow the grain and he didn't come home. So the boss sent his poodle to bite the yokel, but the poodle didn't bite him and the yokel didn't mow ....." and goes ona nd on finally to send out the Devil to take the executioners who failed to hang the butcher who was supposed to slaughter the ox which was sent to drink the water that was meant to put out the fire that was sent to burn the whip that was sent to beat the poodle, and finally the boss comes himself and all those tasks are finally done. There is also a French nursery rhyme, "The Old Woman and her Pig", with a similar listing - but it is significant that in both the German and French nursery rhymes that characters are reluctant and refuse to do their natural or assigned activities, whereas in Had Gadya "the position is absolutely reversed.... the agents display no manner of unwillingness to perform the work of destruction, to exhibit their mastery over their inferiors." Abrahams, Israel, Festival Studies: Being Thoughts on the Jewish Year (1906, Philadelphia) page 108.
^Roth, Cecil, The Haggadah, A New Edition (1959, London, Soncino Press) page 85; Idelsohn, Abraham Z., Jewish Music in Its Historical Development (1929, NY, Henry Holt & Co.) page 361; Idelsohn, Abraham Z., Jewish Liturgy and It Development (1932, NY, Henry Holt & Co.) page 186; Nulman, Macy, The Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer (1993, NJ, Jason Aronson Inc.) page 145, s.v. Had Gadya. It did not appear in a Haggadah printed in Prague in 1526, but it did appear in the 1590 Prague Haggadah accompanied by a German translation. The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906, NY) vol. 8 page 190 s.v. "Had Gadya".
^For example, "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly", This Is the House That Jack Built and, begging the reader's pardon, The Twelve Days of Christmas. George Alexander Kohut provided a bibliography of comparable poems in his article "Le Had Gadya et les Chansons Similaires", Revue des Etudes Juives, vol. 31 (nr. 62), (Paris, Oct-Dec 1895) pages 240-246; also, Newell, William Wells, "The Passover Song of the Kid and an Equivalent from New England", Journal of American Folk-Lore, vol.18, nr. 68 (Jan-March 1905) pages33-48.
^For example, in the Cecil Roth Haggadah, the cat is Assyria, the dog is Babylon, the stick is Persia, the water is Greece, the ox is Rome, the butcher is the Moslem empire, and the Angel of Death is the Christian nations of Europe. Roth, Cecil, The Haggadah, a new edition (1959, London, Soncino Press) pages 87-88. Another interpretation, attributed to the Vilna Gaon, in which most of the characters are identified with Biblical figures, the ox is a reference to Rome, which destroyed the Second Temple, and evidently serves to represent all the oppression and persecution since then, the butcher who slaughters the ox is the Messiah ben Joseph, who (in some unspecified future period) wages war against all the enemies of Jewry, and who is eventually killed - by the Angel of Death, who is then killed by the Almighty, ushering in a Golden Age in which the Jewish nation will be fully restored. Herczzeg, Yisrael Isser, Vilna Gaon Haggadah: The Passover Haggadah with Commentaries by the Vilna Gaon and his son, R' Avraham (1993, Brooklyn, Mesorah Publ'ns) pages 130-136; Kahane, Binyamin Zev, The Haggada of the Jewish Idea (2003, Ariel, Israel, The Center of the Jewish Idea) pages 222-227; Idelsohn, Abraham Z., Jewish Liturgy and It Development (1932, NY, Henry Holt & Co.) pages 186-187.
^Pinner, Daniel, "The Climax of the Seder Night: Chad Gadya", Israel National News, 17 April 2008.
^Hoffman, Lawrence A., My People's Passover Haggadah, volume 2 (2008, Vt., Jewish Lights Publ'g) page 223; also Guggenheimer, Heinrich, The Scholar's Haggadah (1995, NJ, Jason Aronson) pages 390-39.
^Avigdor, Isaac, "Chad Gadya - One Little Goat", The Jewish Press, 25 April 1997.
^For example, the 1839 Rodelheim Haggadah; also Guggenheimer, Heinrich, The Scholar's Haggadah (1995, NJ, Jason Aronson) page 390; and Hoffman, Lawrence A., My People's Passover Haggadah, volume 2 (2008, Vt., Jewish Lights Publ'g) page 223.