Limericks: Bava Metzia perek 4 הזהב

Bava Metzia chapter 4

Is it silver you use to buy gold?
Is it rather the silver that’s sold?
The Nasi first said one
Back when teaching his son
Then he changed his mind when he got old.

“I’ll pay you with new coins my friend”
Can he pay him old coins in the end?
He must do as he said
Lest his friend be misled
Though most people want old coins to spend.

When you take hold of the object, it’s bought
And not when you pay, as we thought.
Lest the seller, a liar
Say “My attic’s on fire
Your wheat burned. The sale was for naught.”

What’s this thing that they call Asimon?
Not those things they once used for the phone.
It’s a ticket you get in
The bathhouse, once let in–
Or a coin still unstamped and unknown.

Rabbi Hiya bar Yosef sold salt.
He was paid, but then wished to default
For the price never fell
It just rose. Must he sell?
“You’ll be cursed if you try now to halt.”

Don’t charge more than a sixth of the price
That is called O’na’ah. It’s a vice.
You can’t charge in your store
Any price so much more
Than the object is worth. Be precise.

If you’re overcharged, can you return
The item whenever? We learn—
Only ‘til you could show
To your friends, who’d say “No!
That is not worth that much, we discern.”

Sadly price gouging happens a lot
If you’re a merchant, or if you are not.
If you know you’ve been tricked
It is your right to pick:
Take your cash, or what you should have got.

That coin you were handed is bad
It is worn away. Well, just a tad.
You can go take it back
You have time, but don’t slack—
Make him own up, that seller, that cad.

Maaser Sheni – eat within the walls
Of Jerusalem. What if they fall?
Can you then redeem
Your tithe? It would seem
That you can. Not according to all!

Teruma is meant for a priest
So don’t eat it all up in a feast
If you eat by mistake
You must pay, and we take
The full sum, plus a fifth (that’s at least!).

A Pruta is not very much.
Do we take you to court over such
A small sum? Yes we do
If the money was due
To the Temple. That you cannot touch!

There is no On’a’ah if it’s land
You are buying. There’s no hand-to-hand
Transaction. So too,
With slaves, we construe
Them as land, as you must understand.

If you promised to donate some flour
To the Temple. But within the hour
The price shot up high
Must you give as much? Why?
It’s the Temple! Now don’t look so sour!

If a convert comes by, you can’t say
“It was ten years ago to the day
That your Dad ate some pork
With a spoon and a fork”
Do not torture or turn him away.

Better to fall in a furnace and burn
Than embarrass your friend, so we learn
From Tamar, who did not
Speak aloud Judah’s rot
Blaming Judah was not her concern.

In your store, don’t hand out nuts and sweets
To the kids who come in seeking treats.
For you’ll give them a knack
To come flocking right back
It’s not fair to the stores on your street.

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.


Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masekhet Eruvin

An alley roof may reach so high
That it nearly approaches the sky
But alas you cannot
Carry there on Shabbat
‘Til you lower it for passersby.

A Korah is a side-to-side beam
That’s affixed so an alley will seem
Like a less public place
So it can be a space
One can carry in, our sages deem.

With many folks sharing a pot
It will never get cold or get hot
Because each guy avers
“Surely someone else stirs”
And the soup that’s inside starts to rot.

The species of Israel are treasures
Wheat, barley, and grapes – oh such pleasure
From our bounteous land
But you must understand
They are also intended as measures!

An alley extends to the sea
And its other end happens to be
By a big garbage heap
May one carry? They sweep
Garbage out periodically.

A fence may have much open space
In between its slats. If that’s the case
If there’s less wood than air
Can you still carry there
If you walk in Shabbat through that place?

What makes an alley OK?
Beam and post! That’s what Beit Shammai say.
Hillel say: Either one
Alone gets the job done
Eliezer: “Two posts!” joins the fray.

Meir says: With Akiva I learned
To use vitriol ink, thus I earned
As a scribe my own living
Yishmael had misgivings
Vitriol was a substance he spurned.

Yishmael said: You do holy work,
Rabbi Meir, and therefore don’t shirk
Or slack off. Every letter
You write, it had better
Be perfect. Destruction here lurks.

The Sotah—adulterous dame—
Gets a scroll written out. May the same
Scroll be reused again?
Must the scribe each time pen
It anew? It does not say her name.

Rabbi Meir was quite a great sage
The most famous to live in his age
But the rabbis don’t rule
In accord with his school
For his wisdom was too deep to gauge.

For two and a half years ‘twas fated
That Hillel and Shammai debated:
Is it good that man’s here
Since we sin without fear?
Better never to have been created?

What’s the blessing you say when drink?
Tarfon said: Shehakol’s what you think
But it’s not! For I vote
For Borei Nefashot
Go and see what men do, and rethink.

A well is surrounded by four
Cornered posts, though they look like twice more.
So that cattle can nuzzle
Around it and guzzle
They’re private domain space décor.

A man should walk first in a line
Any women should trail far behind
She’s ahead on a bridge?
He should stand in the ridge
To the charms of her backside, stay blind.

There are three entrances into hell:
The first is where ocean tides swell
At Jerusalem’s gate,
Where the deserts stretch straight,
To the place where the sinners all dwell.

A cow’s head and body extend
To the private domain; its rear end
Is still in public space
May it drink in that place?
Do we “rosho v’rubo” contend?

Whence come Eruv and hand-washing laws?
King Shlomo alone is the cause.
With Torah a basket
Said Shlomo, “My mascot
Is handles. I’ll add them!” Applause.

An Eruv’s a small bit of food
That is shared among neighbors. Exclude
Only water and salt
With such foods we find fault
Hearts of palm, though, are fine, we conclude.

Rabbi Zeyra would study a lot.
When he couldn’t go on, he would not.
He would sit on a stoop
Looking out for a group
Of wise scholars to greet from that spot.

Hanina sat down. On his plate
Was an onion. Hanina then ate
It. Inside was a snake!
Did he die? Heaven’s sake!
No! His colleagues averted this fate.

Can you send Eruv food with a beast?
Tell a monkey: “Please carry this east?”
To an elephant, say,
“Take my Eruv, I pray”
Yes! But man must retrieve it, at least.

Drive a donkey and camel at once?
It’s impossible! You’d be a dunce
You won’t move from your place
You’ll be stuck in that space
One should never agree to such stunts.

For the Tchum Eruv, go drag your feet
To the outermost alley or street
In that place you should park
Just until it gets dark.
Are you lazy? Then just send a treat.

If you’re fasting on Friday, you stop
Just before it’s Shabbat. Do you drop
The fast early or not?
Can you enter Shabbat
Feeling starving? You don’t want to plop.

If you dock in a port on Shabbat
Can you get off the boat? Must you not?
Rabban Gamliel said
On dry land you may tread
If at nightfall you’re in the right spot.

A telescope! What an invention
And that Gamliel had one bears mention.
He could measure the height
Of a tree (not at night,
Using shadows) and other dimensions.

Nechemia, immersed in his learning,
Did something that’s rather concerning:
He walked out of his Techum
Unaware, we presume
Now will sages permit his returning?

If you fall fast asleep on the street
When you wake up, you jump to your feet
It’s Shabbat, is it not!
Can’t believe I forgot
Now how far can I travel to eat?

Rabba said to Rav Yosef: We’ll be
On Shabbat mostly under this tree
That has so many dates
I could sell them for rates
That would pay off my taxes for me.

The Judeans were careful with words
And precise in their speech—oh, what nerds.
Galileans were sloppy
Their words, hard to copy
Their teachings thus went to the birds.

There once was a guy with a book.
He was whispering. Beruria said: “Look,
Do you want to forget
What you learn? That’s a threat!
Learn aloud.” Then she kicked him. He shook.

Learning Torah is like a gazelle
Do you want to know why? I will tell.
A gazelle’s narrow womb
Makes sex nice, we presume.
Likewise Torah, each time, casts a spell.

Torah’s words are compared to a breast
For a baby, and baby knows best.
Like the breast satisfies
When the poor baby cries
Torah offers us what to digest.

Prida’s patience was known through the land
When his student did not understand
He taught four hundred times
‘Til “I got it!” he chimed
Once he taught even more times than planned.

Torah scholars must live in a town
Where vegetables grow and abound
Onions and leeks
Will add shine to one’s cheeks
Therefore live where fresh produce is found.

We measure the Techum with a rope
But what do we do with a slope?
You don’t need to stop
Or to let the rope drop
It’ll still be precise, so we hope.

If you share your yard with a non-Jew,
When it’s shabbos, what are you to do?
If the goy will agree,
You rent his property
Make an Eruv, and then carry through.

Do not teach if your teacher is there
If you’re asked about knives, do take care.
If you don’t have respect
Then your life will be wrecked
By a snakebite. It’s true. So beware!

Is it good to drink wine ere you teach
When you’re drunk, can you give a good speech?
Said the rabbis: No, no!
Said Rav Nachman: Not so—
I must down a glass each time I preach.

Rav Hisda and Sheshet would shake
When they’d see one another, they’d quake
Each could not comprehend
How much Torah his friend
Knew. Their friendship, alas, was at stake.

Several groups of friends slept in one hall
‘Twas divided into separate stalls.
Beit Shammai will teach
It’s one Eruv for each
Says Beit Hillel: One Eruv for all.

Mom’s Eruv is good for her son
If he’s so young that she wipes his bum.
If he wakes up at night
And cries “Ima” in fright
And he cries and he cries ‘til she’ll come.

If a guy goes away for Shabbat
Do we fear he will come back, or not?
If he goes to his son
Whose wife may make him run
Back, an Eruv without him is shot.

If Tefillin are found on Shabbat
By the roadside, or a parking lot.
May you carry them in
Or would that be a sin?
Should you leave them all day in that spot?

If you’re reading a scroll on a stoop
And it falls from your hands, may you scoop
It back up? May you roll
It for “book” just means “scroll”—
Shimon says: Holy things should not droop.

May you walk across grass on the day
Of rest? What would Virginia Woolf say?
Keep off if it’s dry
If it’s wet, then pass by
At your leisure, and be on your way.