Friday, July 09, 2010

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Sanhedrin Perek Bet and Perek Gimel

כהן גדול
Perek Bet

A high priest must walk on bare feet
On Yom Kippur. The floor's not concrete.
He does not want to freeze
So he says, if you please,
Don't make leap years, for that means less heat!

Through the market no woman should stride
With her son just a few steps behind.
For it happened once – oy!
That they kidnapped the boy,
Such a ransom they made her provide!

Three mitzvot was Israel assigned
When it entered the land: First to find
Someone to be the king
And next: Amalek fling
To his death. Build the Temple, God's shrine.

God gave Torah in Moses' time
We inherit this Torah, sublime.
But we must also write
Each our own, black on white,
Hence before you, dear readers, this rhyme.

If a husband divorces his first
Wife, his whole world goes dark. It’s the worst.
And he feels such a void
Like the Temple destroyed
Into tears does the altar then burst.

Elasha spent all of his earnings
On a haircut for viewers discerning.
He served as high priest
And he said—now at least
Everywhere I go, heads will be turning.

זה בורר
Perek Gimel

Jerusalem’s wise men would say:
We won’t eat at a meal any day
Unless first we are told
Who will be there. We scold:
Share who’s coming, or we’ll stay away.

Reish Lakish was a scholar well-suited
For Torah. He often disputed
With others, and taught
What his teachings had wrought
‘Twas like grinding two mountains uprooted.

A witness must not have this vice:
He can’t lend at a very high price
Sell sabbatical fruit
Bet on pigeons for loot
Or spend all day long playing with dice.

A butcher once sold something treif
From then on, all his meat was unsafe.
He regretted his wrong
And grew hair and nails long
But he never restored people’s faith.

Thirteen years, Rabbi Zeyra collected
City taxes, a job he perfected.
When the clerk would decide
To come, Zeyra’d say: Hide!
And pay only for those still detected.

A friend and a foe can’t report
To attest for or ‘gainst you in court.
What’s a friend? One who chanced
At your wedding to dance.
Foe? Of hate-and-won’t-talk-to-you sort.

A man said: “My father’s bequest
Was some coins. But he laid them to rest
And I didn’t know where.
‘Til I dreamed: They are there!
But they’re tithings.” May he those coins wrest?

A judge cannot walk out of court
And disclose any sort of report.
Like: I stood by your side!
Or: The others all lied!
This is how a tale-bearer comports.

A poor little boy was once tried
In the court of Rav Nachman. He cried
When the court made him pay
And he wept all that day
‘Til some folks heard and rushed to his side.