Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masekhet Hullin (Perek 1)

הכל שוחטין
(Perek Aleph)

All are permitted to shecht
(So long as they’re part of the sect)
Unless they’re the kind
Who are deaf-mute or blind
Or so short that they can’t reach the neck.

Elijah was fed by the crows
Or so the Tanakh’s story goes
But were those crows birds?
What to make of that word?
They were two men named “crow,” we suppose.

There are people who act more like beasts
Do we let them bring sacrifice feasts?
Even people who choose
Sin cannot be refused
By the Temple’s officiates, priests.

Rabban Gamliel said: Don’t condone
Those Samaritans. Don’t eat their bones.
All they shecht is forbidden
For though it’s kept hidden,
They worship a dove carved in stone.

Jewish women should not grind their wheat
With impure commonfolk who might cheat.
Lest the commoner say,
Yum, so tasty today—
You should sample my flour – come eat!

If your mother in law can’t be trusted
Then your quantities must be adjusted:
That is, tithes you must take
From whatever she bakes.
She is sly, and won’t ever get busted.

Pinchas ben Yair, one fine day,
To redeem captives set on his way.
He said: Stream, you must split!
But the stream had a fit.
Til he threatened, and made it obey.

Pinchnas then came to an inn
With his donkey, a beast loath to sin.
They fed oats to the ass
Who refused the repast
“Were your oats tithed?” asked Pinchas, chagrined.

Rabi kept most unorthodox pets:
He had white mules (as bad as it gets)
Pinchas knew they kicked hard
Hence he wanted them barred
When invited, he sent his regrets.

A woman crawled under the seat
Of Hanina to sweep by his feet
To get dust for dark arts
Said Hanina: Too smart
Is our God. All your charms He’ll defeat.

A scholar of Torah must learn
These three subjects, each one in its turn:
How to slaughter, and write,
And to circumcise; quite
A whole lot for a sage to discern.

If you chance on a beast that’s been shechted,
Though it looks kosher once you’ve inspected,
You did not watch the slaughter
When blood flowed like water
So don’t eat — the butcher’s suspected.

If you throw a sharp knife towards a wall
And it chances to shecht while mid-fall.
Although not intended
A beast’s life is ended
But not by correct protocol.

Does a little kid act with intention
Can he act with full grown-up attention
If he carves out a fruit
To make storage for dirt
Do we render “Tamey” his invention?

Goyim abroad don’t know much—
Though idolatrous objects they clutch
It’s more just a fad
For the son acts like dad
Avodah Zara? Well, just a touch.

You can shecht in the night or if blind
(Though the right spot might be hard to find.)
You can shecht on a ship,
On a roof (but don’t trip)
Just make sure you have presence of mind.

Abraham took up the knife
(Unbeknownst to poor Sarah, his wife)
Must the knife be detached
When the deed is dispatched
Zealous Abe almost took Yitzchak’s life!

In the desert the Jews had no rules
They could slaughter whatever they’d choose
When they entered the Land
Matters got out of hand
God said: Do shechita right please, you fools!

Bar Hinana said: I can’t trust
This young butcher. I’ll make him go bust.
But the guy must be able
To put food on his table
Please say what I did was unjust!

Mugremet is not a good cut
If you shecht that way, you’re in a rut.
Know the right place to slice
For you can’t do it twice
Aim for windpipe, and not for the gut.

In five years’ time you learn your trade
After five years you work without aid
If you didn’t quite master
Don’t try working faster
It’s time to give up, I’m afraid.

At age 80, Hanina could stand
On one foot, put on shoes with his hand
He was spry for his age
‘Cause his mom at one stage
Used to bathe him in oil. How grand!

If yom tov’s on Friday, you asked,
Is havdala said once chag has passed.
To teach: “Now it’s Shabbat
Can you cook? You cannot”–
No havdala. Instead, shofar blast!

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