Limericks: Masechet Makkot

(2a)
This witness could not have been there
We know he instead was elsewhere
If we cannot do
What he tried, unto you –
We give lashes, with one left to spare.

(3b)
It’s your head that you want to insert
But the collar’s sewn shut on your shirt
Do not rip, do not tear
If you do, then beware
You must slaughter a goat, we alert.

(4a)
“He owes two hundred coins,” so they say.
But these witnesses aren’t OK.
When they spoke, they were lying
And also conspiring,
Hence lashes. (Must they also pay?)

(5b)
Yehuda ben Tabbai would cry
On a witness’ grave: “’Woe am I.
For I ordered him dead
Which was wrong, Shetach said
It is my moaning you’ll hear ‘til I die.”

(6b)
A witness can’t give a report
Through a translator when in a court
But Rava did so!
That’s ‘cause Rava did know
What they said, just not how to retort.

(7a)
If a court kills once per seven years
It’s destructive – so tremble in fear.
Akiva said: Hey
Once in seven? No way!
None would die in a court of my peers!

(8a)
If you throw a stone straight at a tree,
And some dates fall and kill somebody
Is it like when you hack
Some wood off of your axe?
That’s the force of your force? Could it be?

(9a)
Avimelech thought Sarah was there
For the taking (Abe made it seem fair).
Then he said: “By your life!
I have slept with your wife!”
Do we punish him, though unaware?

(10a)
Rav Hisda learned Torah – his goal
Was: Let death angel not seize my soul
Then the angel made fall
Cedar branch. Hisda stalled
Midst his learning, and death took its toll.

(11a)
The mothers of high priests would sew
Clothes for those who in exile must go
Lest the exiled ones pray
That the priest die away
They did not want their sons on skid row.

(12a)
Yoav, fleeing King Solomon, would take
To the altar, with so much at stake.
He held on to the horns
Although sin is not borne
By the horns. This was his first mistake.

(13a)
If a murderer is exiled and then
He comes back to his hometown again.
Can he go back to work
(Though some hold he’s a jerk)
Can he work the same job as back when?

(14a)
I was once at the butcher. I shopped
There while Josh’ua and Gamliel dropped
By. I asked: If your aunt:
Is your sister, you can’t
Sleep with her; Lashes – when do they stop?

(15a)
Do not muzzle an ox. It may eat
While it’s plowing your field full of treats.
Here the Torah says no
And from this law we know
When with lashes the sinner we beat.

(16a-b)
You get lashes for eating crushed ants.
And for holding it in, lest your pants
Fill with pee. And for taking
The chicks, while forsaking
To send mom away – this you can’t!

(17b)
Shimon, even when wrong, can expound
Torah like no one else who’s around
So said Rava, impressed.
Giving all moms this test:
Is it Shimon? Check your ultrasound!

(18b)
Too much flour will not mix with oil
And your sacrifice plans will be foiled
But if you can mix
It, then that does the trick
Even if you forgot, it’s not spoiled.

(19a)
Firstborn beasts are all holy to God
(Like the tenth passing under the rod.)
But with no Temple left
And us all quite bereft
Bring them still to the site? Is that odd?

(20a)
Do not make a bald spot on your head
If you must shave, shave elsewhere instead
And although it sounds weird
Keep the edge on your beard
Sins like these is where razors have led.

(21a)
Do not print a tattoo on your skin—
Cut your flesh, and then squirt some ink in—
All tattoos? Or just those
About idols (God’s foes)
All tattoos, it seems, bring God’s chagrin.

(22a)
Priests, don’t plow over plots of mixed seeds
With an ox and a donkey (not steeds)
On a festival day
With a corpse in the way
You’ll get lashes for each of these deeds.

(23a)
A woman whose husband is dead
Must she marry his brother instead
If he’s covered in boils
That make her recoil
Don’t muzzle! An ox should be fed.

(24b)
The sages, when quite far from home
Wept when hearing the masses in Rome
But aware of God’s craft
Wise Akiva just laughed
And his laughter resounds in this tome.

Limericks: Bava Metzia perek 4 הזהב

Bava Metzia chapter 4

(44a)
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.

(45b)
“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.

(46b)
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.”

(47b)
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.

(48b)
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.”

(49b)
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.

(50b)
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.”

(51a)
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.

(52a)
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.

(53b)
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!

(54b)
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!).

(55b)
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!

(56a)
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.

(57b)
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!

(58b)
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.

(59a)
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.

(60a)
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

(73b)

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.

(74b)

“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.

(75a)

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.)
 

(76a)

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.
 
(77b)
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. 

(78a)

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.

(79a)

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. 

(80a)

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.

(81b)

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.

(82b)
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.

(83a)

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.) 

(84b)

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.

(85a)

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. 

(86b)

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!

(87a)
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.

(88a)
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.