Friday, December 22, 2006

Beitzah: A Shakespearean-Miltonian Diptych

Shimon the Teymani Did Not Arrive (21a)

Shimon the Teymani did not arrive
One morning to the study house. His friend
Yehudah found him (thankfully alive)
And said, "We feared that you had met your end."

Shimon replied, "Forswear, I nearly did:
A band of soldiers came into my town.
They threatened us -- they said they would get rid
Of each last man 'til no one was around."

"What did you do?" Yehudah rasped, aghast.
"We killed a calf – though chag. We feared attack.
We cooked it, made the soldiers a repast --
They ate and left." Yehudah answered back:

"I hope, Shimon, you'll gain more than you lose –
One may not cook on chag except for Jews."

* * *

Day-labor, Light-denied (30b)

Though I consider how my light is spent
And when my flame will die, so too my art –
I don't ask of my sukkah, which is bent
By howling winds: When will it fall apart?


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