J.K. Rowling wrote about the Mandrake in her book Harry Potter 2. The translator Gili Bar- Hillel translated the word Mandrake to “duda”yim in Hebrew. Rowling explained that the cries of the Mandrake “is fatal to anyone who hears it” and the mandrake is a “powerful restorative” In the book, Harry Potter’s class wear ear muffs when they work with Mandrakes so they wont hear the cries. The children work with young mandrakes and although their cry wont kill them it “will knock you out for several hours”.
I was very surprised when I saw the translated version and saw that Mandrakes became “duda” in Hebrew. The midrash about Veyetze tells us a story about Rueben. He found “duda”. He knew that when he will pull out the “duda” he will have a problem with its cries. The midrash says that the “duda” is a type of half little man and half a plant that is stuck in the ground and when you pull them out they will cry and all the animal within in a kilometer will die. So Rueben took a rope and tied the “duda” to a donkey. Rueben rode a horse and then hit the donkey, so the donkey started to run. The rope pulled out the “duda”. The “duda” cried and the donkey died. But Rueben was far away and he didn’t hear the cries and was not killed. He gave the “duda” to his mother Leah – she gave the “duda” to Rachel because the “duda” has powers to help barren women. Rachel gave Leah a night with Jacob in return for the “duda” and Leah became pregnant with Yitzahar.
When Jacob blessed his children before his death he said to Yitzahar- hamor garem this means a donkey caused his birth!
So its interesting to see how a story from the “midrash” has become part of the Harry Potter series. This is not the only story…