Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Bava Metzia: Perek Aleph (שניים אוחזין)

Two are holding a tallis they find
Each one cries out, “This tallis is mine!”
Each guy swears that at least
He owns half the whole piece.
Then they split it. Both parties don’t mind.

Ben Nanas was quite a straight guy
He did not like to make others lie.
Said Ben Nanas, “I’m loathe
To require this oath
One guy’s lying, you cannot deny!”

Nobody in his right mind would dare
To deny, with his creditor there,
That he borrowed a calf.
So he says, “’Twas just half.”
Don’t believe him! Instead, make him swear.

A shepherd would take sheep each day.
And he’d watch them go off on their way
Then return them at night.
He is not in the right
If he says, “I took no sheep today.”

When a shepherd takes sheep he must be
Watched by witnesses, vigilantly.
For all shepherds are liars
With wayward desires
Don’t think they’ll confess sheepishly.

Yochanan says, “We make each guy swear
That the tallis is his, fair and square.
Lest men take stuff they find
And declare, “It is mine.”
Legislate oaths – for scruples are rare.

A person’s more likely to steal,
Than to lie earnestly and with zeal.
Because money can be
Returned regrettably
Words once spoken, though, can’t be repealed.

A borrower and lender both stand
Each one with half a writ in his hand
“You owe me!” “But I paid!”
Are the claims that are made.
Solid proof must the court then demand.

A guy rides in a wagon that’s led
By two species of beasts at the head.
That’s Kilayim! No good
Forty lashes, we should
Beat him with. Or the driver instead?

A man is aboard his own ship
Sailing forth at a nice steady clip
Then some fishies jump in
To the boat, on a whim—
Are they his? Do we “walking yard!” quip?

A man’s field got flooded. The poor
Guy. But guess what else, too, came ashore?
Fish! They landed in trees
“Fetch those fish, if you please,”
Said the man. “They are mine and not yours.”

If you find a Get do not return
It. The woman may not still be spurned.
For the man may have written
It, then said, “I’m smitten
With her now — and for her I yearn.”

Some dude sells his farm to you but—
It was not his! Now you’re in a rut.
The field’s taken back
Do we cut you some slack?
If you farmed it, you get a pay cut.

Reuven betroths his sister with cash
(You can’t do that! Why? Need we rehash?)
Well of course they’re not wed
We are asking instead:
Tell us, who has the rights to the stash?

Shabtai son of Marinus once wrote
A ketubah. He promised a coat
To his bride. Lost forever,
Their Ktubah. “I never
made such a pledge.” Swear on that quote!

If you drop your wife’s Get in the street
And then find it beneath others’ feet.
May the Get still be given
Though it has been ridden
Over by most people you meet?

Rabah once found a Get. Here’s the facts:
In a factory where they make flax
“I’ve a Get,” he proclaimed
Just one man with the name
On the Get worked there. He took it back.

We find loan documents, and they say:
One man borrowed from three guys one day.
We assume he who borrows
(Impoverished, with sorrow)
Has lost. Them to him we relay.

We find loan documents. We agree
That if one man has lent cash to three
We return to the lender,
The likely contender
To own them. Indubitably.

One thought on “Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Bava Metzia: Perek Aleph (שניים אוחזין)

  1. R says:

    That first Perek of Baba Metziah was the topic of my 10th grade Talmud class — the first time I really learned how to learn Talmud, although I'd studied it since 7th grade. As such, I have a tremendous fondness for the Perek, and a wonderfully vivid memory of my Talmud teacher grabbing a notebook of someone's desk and saying “Ani Metzaitiyhah ve'kulah sheli!” to start things off. Thanks for reminding me of this, as I embark this week on teaching Rabbinics.


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