Friday, January 31, 2014

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masekhet Yoma, chapter 8

On Yom KIPpur, you can’t eat or drink
You can’t wash yourself off in the sink.
Or wear shoes on your feet
(Pregnant ladies can cheat)
Or anoint with perfume – which must stink.

“You must torture your souls” -- this does not
Mean go sit in the sun, burning hot.
It means don’t eat or drink
That is all, so we think
Say the sages: And that’s quite a lot.

Said the Israelites: Oh, how we wish
We could go back to eating that fish
For it tasted so yummy
In Egypt! (The mummy
Would also want some on its dish.)
The manna fell not once a year
But each day – to instill in us fear,
And to turn hearts with love
To the One up above,
For He sent it, yes that much is clear.
Shammai did not want to feed
Any food to a child. But heed:
For the sages say wash
And then spoonfeed kids squash
Kids don’t fast, so the sages decreed. 

A bride fasts but washes her face
Lest her groom think: My wife’s a disgrace.
And the king, who is seen,
By his subjects, keeps clean
While the rest of us smell up the place.

You can’t eat more than a big date
For apparently this satiates.
Hey, but how big is it?
Do we include the pit?
These are questions the Talmud debates. 

Bar Yuchni was quite a big bird
And his eggs were so large it’s absurd
And a person who bit
Into one, could not fit
The whole thing in his mouth. Oh my word.

If you eat food not fit for consumption
On Yom Kippur – what is the assumption?
Not real food, hence not bad?
But it’s food that you had
Rava says, “Like hot peppers” –with gumption.

Said a dame with a babe in her womb
“I crave food! You must let me consume!”
They must whisper – “Repast?
But my dear, it’s a fast.”
If she still eats, her child is doomed.

Said the sick man: “I really need food.”
Said the doctor: “Ignore his bad mood.”
The patient is right
So we give him a bite
(Better so, lest the doctor be sued.) 

If a baby is found in a town
Where it’s mostly non-Jews who abound
We assume the babe too
Is likely not a Jew
Wall collapses? Leave him on the ground.

How is a baby created?
Is it from its head that it’s instated?
Or else from its middle
Indeed, it’s a riddle
That sages at great length debated. 

If you sin but you then mend your ways
Don’t return to those sins when you pray
Like a dog who is sick
And its vomit then licks
God says: Ick! I don’t need this display!

If one says: I will sin, for the day
Of Yom Kippur makes sins go away—
Well, if only he’d known
That the day won’t atone
You can’t plan out your penance that way.

If semen is seen on the date
That Yom Kippur falls out, that is great—
Having such an emission
Is prove of contrition.
May God grant us all such a fate.



Blogger Maggie Anton said...

Great to see the return of Talmud limericks after an absence of of many months. I finally have time to appreciate it since, after a fourth set of edits, and revisions, my editor at Penguin has accepted my ENCHANTRESS manuscript for production – 88 pages and 22,000 words less than what I sent her at the end of December. Pub date is Sept 2014.

5:37 AM  
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6:03 AM  
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1:38 AM  

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