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.

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Berakhot (chapters 1-3)


When may we say Shma at night?
From the time the priests take their first bite
‘Til the first nightly shift
Or ‘til midnight comes swift?
Rabban Gamliel says: ‘Til first light.

Rabban Gamliel’s sons came home late
From a party. They said, “It was great!
But I fear we forgot
To say Shema. We cannot
Do it now, can we?” “Yes! And don’t wait.”

Rabbi Yossi set out on his way
When he stopped in a ruin to pray
There Elijah was sitting
He said, “It’s not fitting
Your long prayer. We don’t have all day!”

King David would wake with the trill
Of his harp, which would sound with the chill
Of the midnight north wind
But he wasn’t chagrined
He’d jump up and learn Torah – God’s will.

Midnight’s the deadline to say
Ma’ariv. After that, you can’t pray.
So the sages ruled, lest
One come home, craving rest,
And be snatched by sleep ‘til the next day.

If you say Shema in your bed
Then the demons will not rear their heads.
If you pray to the Lord
Then a sharp two-edged sword
Will protect you (or so it is said).

If you know that your friend will say hi
You should greet him right when you espy
Him. If first he greets you
And you don’t greet him too
You’re a thief (also not a nice guy).

God gets mad for but seconds. The hen
Has the sign that will tell you just when:
Its comb turns pale white
And it trembles in fright
You should curse all your enemies then.

An Aramean said, “Please sit down
On my bed.” Papa heard this and frowned:
“First turn over that bed”
Yikes! A baby was dead
Underneath. Papa fled from their town.

When to say Shema? At first light?
From the time you can tell blue from white.
Others say: Blue from green
(Guess their eyesight is keen)
All agree: ‘Til the sunrise burns bright.

Young King David would nurse at the breast
Of his mom. (Even then, breast was best!)
He would break off and sing
Of this marvelous thing:
“Praise the Lord who put these on her chest!”

Beruria said to her spouse: “It is sin
And not sinners that we want done in.
So I pray, as one should,
For the bums in our ‘hood
Meir said: “With my wife, I can’t win.”

Hannah said, “There is no rock like God.”
But the midrash says, “This is a nod
To the Artist Divine
Who, with brushstrokes and lines,
Shapes a babe, like a pea in a pod.”

If you marry a virgin, no need
To say Shema, our religion’s great creed.
For a widow, you must
You can wait with your lust,
Pause to pray, and then go do the deed.

Balak’s blessing, intended as curse,
Is not part of the Shema. For averse
Were the sages to add
Not because he was bad
But because he was, well, not quite terse.


One was reading the Torah and got
To the point with the Shema. Was it not
His intention to pray
From the scroll on that day
It depends on his plan and his plot.

If you start the Shema, then fall asleep
Do we wake you, or make not a peep?
If you said the first line,
But no more, it is fine.
Others say: Shema sure beats counting sheep.

Don’t take care of your needs ere you pray
Prayer should mark off the start of your day.
Don’t say hi to your friend
Or set off down the bend
On a trip. We allow no delay.

If you say Shema with earplugs – ok?
But you can’t even hear what you say.
Rabbi Yossi says: No!
But the sages say: Go
On. It’s God who must hear what we pray.

The womb is like hell. Both admit
Things that come, stay a while, and sit,
Then go out. But the womb
Is a most quiet room;
Hell absorbs you with loud screaming fits.

Workers say Shma on top of a tree
Or on stones where they happen to be
In the middle of work.
It’s a small builders’ perk
To help them pray more conveniently.

On the ninth of Av, most take a break
From their work – it’s a fast, for God’s sake.
If others don’t work
Then you should also shirk
Your job. Humility is at stake!


If before you, spread out on a bed,
Is a man who is lying there dead
Then you need not fulfill
Any mitzvot, until
Burial. Shema, too, need not be said.

In a cemet’ry no one sits chilling
But if you are there, don’t wear tefillin
It is rude to the dead
Who can’t wear on their head
That same mitzvah that you are fulfillin’.

Rav Hisda’s sons sadly forgot
All the Torah they learned. This was not
Something good. They said, “Woe,
Does our dead father know?
Is he conscious, or is he just rot?”

A man on a way to a bris
Finds a dead man unburied: “What’s this?
What do sages advise:
Bury or circumsize?
With man’s honor, we can’t be remiss.

Rav Gidel would sit and observe
Naked women in mikvah. A perv?
“No,” said Gidel, “To me
They’re like geese, I just see
Skin like feathers.” (And what of their curves?)

If you walk into shul and you’re late
(Who would do that? That’s never my fate.)
Do you try to return
To the start? Well, we learn
For Kedusha you always must wait.

If you’re praying, and find you’re near poop
This could throw Kavana for a loop.
Walk four cubits away
Only then can you pray
Better yet: Pray in shul with a group.

My Tefillin were stolen! Oh dear!
By a whore who just snatched them, I fear.
Then she claimed I had paid
Her for getting me laid.
I must jump off the roof, disappear.

Please, no spitting or sneezing in shul
These are things they should teach you in school:
It is no doubt a sign
That you’re most unrefined
Would you spit with a king there, you fool?

You cannot pray near someone who’s nude
What, you think that the sages were prudes?
It would surely distract
It would therefore impact
How you daven. Besides, it’s quite lewd.

The Persians have toilets, we’ve stated,
Which were five stars, and also first-rated.
Though the person would squat
And make poop, there would not
Be a trace of it. Sophisticated!

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Niddah, Prakim Bet and Gimel



The hand reaches in to explore –
A woman should do this much more
For she will not squeal
Unlike him, she can’t feel
And it’s worth it for her to be sure.


Do not urinate holding your hand
Yes, it’s messy, we do understand.
It could bring on a flood
Which would make you say “Crud,
Will we ever go back to dry land?”


Yehuda said, “Geez, I must pee.”
It was night on a rooftop, you see.
From on top of the shul
Shmuel told him: Stay cool
You can hold on and pee fearfully.”

Your evil side steers you astray.
It says”Do this, and do that today.”
Then tomorrow: “Go bow
To the gods you’v avowed
You would never go near.”  You fall prey.

Do you ride on a donkey? Oh well.
We ought to say, “Don’t ass, don’t tell.”
It depends how you straddle
Or ride with a saddle
The point is that nothing should swell.

A husband comes home from a trip
He says to his wife, “Dear, let’s strip.”
But can he assume
He can go in her room?
It depends if her time’s come to drip.

A Kohen leans over a well
Where a miscarried fetus once fell
Is the Kohen impure?
But a rat came, for sure,

Thus the Kohen has not heard his knell.


The Pregnancy Angel, named Night
Takes a drop of their seed to the height
Of the one on Most High
And says, “God, will this guy
Be weak, strong, wise or dumb, tall or slight?”


Having sex? Don’t let anyone pounce
Thus your sex act should first be announced
Ring the bells on the bed
Wave the flies off instead
(Why not make sure the bed makes a bounce?)


In a graveyard a man should not lie
Nor eat garlic or onion peeled dry.
Nor cast fingernails
Over public handrails
Or have sex after bloodletting. Why?

Daytime sex can be good if your spouse

Spends a lot of time outside the house,
Is too tired at night
When you turn off the light—
(Just be quiet. But soft! Like a mouse.)


A baby has dough on its hands
Must all of the batter be banned?
All babies, I fear,
Like to touch what is near
Tell them “No,” but they don’t understand.


In Pumbedita, Ulla chanced to meet
An Arab dressed in black from head to feet.
“Eureka!” said he
“That’s the color we see
In her blood. For a swatch I entreat.”


Yannai said to his sons, “When I head
To the land of those already dead
Do not dress me in white,
Nor in black like the night,
Lest I stand out wherever I’m led.”


Elazar deemed a woman’s blood due
To her love for her spouse – it proved true!
When Rav Ami inquired

She said she desired
Her husband. So Elazar knew!


Ifra Hurmiz sent Rava a sample
Of blood. He ruled right. She sent ample
Selections. He tested.
The last was infested
From lice. “Comb your nits ‘til they’re trampled.”


Yalta gave of her blood to a sage.
When he ruled, Yalta said, “I’m outraged.”
I resist your dominion!
Need second opinion!
She got it, and then was assuaged.



If a woman miscarries and births
A clump made of flesh and of earth
If it’s bloody and red
Like a baby now dead
She’s impure. (And she’ll soon lose her girth.)


A woman miscarried red hair
A big ball of it. No baby there.
The sages said: Go
Ask the doctors. They’ll know.
They said: Drown it and see how it fares.


A miscarried babe with two backs
And two spines (there are parts that it lacks).
If it’s born to a beast
You can slice it and feast
So says Shmuel. Says Rav: You’re too lax!


A demon came out of my womb
Shaped like Lilith! A sure sign of doom!
It’s a baby, except
It has wings, which are kept
At its sides. It can fly through the room.


A woman miscarried a snake
Hanina said: “Impure.” “Mistake!”
Gamliel cried, enraged:
Summon to me that sage
‘Til they realized just what was at stake.


My job was to bury the dead
There was one time I stood at the head
Of a wide open cave
Which had nobody save
Avshalom. In his eye I had tread.


If a woman sheds seed ere her mate
She’ll give birth to a boy. If she’s late
Such that he sheds his first
It’s a girl (is that worse?).
Men can hold off, and thus affect fate.


A placenta was found in a house
‘Twas unearthed by a dog or a mouse.
The house is impure
We can say this for sure
Though no baby was found (and no spouse).


Rabbi Chiya had twins. Not together
They weren’t two birds of a feather
One decided to wait
He was born three months late.
Such a labor his wife had to weather!


An androgyne has an emission
We assume ‘twas not of his volition.
If he sets foot inside
The great Temple, don’t chide
Him. This isn’t a sin of commission.


A woman left home with a bump
Then came back, clearly over the hump.
She’s says, “Oops, I forgot
Did I give birth, or not?”
Said the sages: “I fear we are stumped.”


It’s a full forty days ‘til the seed
That’s implanted will get what it needs
To grow fingers and eyes
And attain enough size
That it’s human, the sages decreed.


Alexandria’s queen’s female slave
Was sentenced to death. Who would save
Her? Nobody! Instead
She was cut up once dead
‘Twas a baby that made her concave.


God is much greater than man.
There are things we can’t do but God can.
Like preserve something dropped
In a jar with no top
Like a fetus in mom. What a plan!


Two planned to set out in the morn,
To do business. One sat on a thorn.
He was forced to stay home
While his friend, free to roam,
Drowned at sea. Then he felt less forlorn.


A woman must bring sacrifice
When she gives birth because of this vice:
In the heat of her pain
She swears, “Never again!”
But does one child ever suffice?


Why must a woman endure
Seven days when her body’s impure?
So that on mikvah night
She can bring him delight
Like a bride – innocent and demure.


Why is it lads who  must court
Lasses. Couldn’t instead she cavort?

It’s the person who lost
Who must find what was tossed
From his rib. Thus men do this for sport.

Rav Ketina said, “I’m great in bed,
For I say to my wife: Go ahead.
And since first she enjoys
All our children are boys
We’d have girls if I went first instead.

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Niddah, Perek Aleph

“You must start from the time you see blood.”
Said Hillel: “That date is a dud.”
With a regular check
(Quite a pain in the neck)
You can measure. Or my name is mud.

This mikvah is no longer full
But when was it kosher until?
And that pot that you dunked
Better if it had sunk?
Said both Hillel and Shammai: “That’s bull!”

In an alley a lizard was found
There should not be such creatures around!
Shall we say it’s the same
As the blood in a dame
But it’s natural that such blood abounds!

Shammai says “Retroactive? No need
To forsake procreation.” Indeed.
And to Hillel he said
“Israel’s daughters, once wed
Should be often—quite often—with seed.”

Just before and just after the sex
The couple performs body checks.
It is never in vain
There could yet be a stain
Says one rabbi. Ketina objects.

When dressed in a cloak one could touch
A lizard, a snake, or some such.
We know that for sure
This would make you impure
But what of the cloak that you clutch?

Rabban Gamliel’s servant would break
After each loaf of Truma she baked
To check for a stain
Such an act would detain
Her. But she understood what’s at stake.

Rabban Gamliel’s servant would steal
A few moments each time she would seal
A bottle of wine
To check if ‘twas time.
This made winemaking quite an ordeal!

Eliezer is right. But decide
Not as he does, and don’t take his side.
And why not? He’s a groupie
Of Shammai, who’s loopy.
Rule like him just after he’s died.

There are three kinds of virgins: A lass
Who has never had sex. (This will pass.)
And a land that’s untilled
And a sycamore still
Not permitted to eat from, alas.

An old woman starts from the time
That she sees blood. She’s not in her prime.
What constitutes old?
If her friends are so bold
As to “Wow, she is old” freely chime.

If you menstruate each time you jump,
That is many a big bloody thump
We can know in advance
We can tell you: Don’t prance
It is better to sit on your rump.

Rabbi Meir says if you don’t bleed
On a regular basis, we need
To divorce you forthwith
Says Hanina: A myth!
Though it’s bad for her husband indeed.

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Hullin, Prakim 2-3


Rabbi Yohanan was interrogated:
Just how were the birdies created?
On land or on sea?
In between them, said he
Citing verses his students debated.

A menstruant woman was raped
She was dunked when she made her escape
May she sleep with her spouse
May she eat in his house
Teruma; or must we say: Hold that grape!

Shchita is done with one slice
It’s done quickly, and must be precise
Don’t drop the knife
Ere the animal’s life
Has been taken. That will not suffice.

You slaughter a beast and the blood
Lands on pumpkins of Teruma – oh crud!
Can the pumpkins now be
Made impure? Woe is me
Hence aim not for the plants but the mud.

If an animal’s soon gonna die
And you shecht it; or maybe you try.
You must check it was still
Live and well ere you spilled
Its blood. Do its limbs jerk, all awry?

If you inherit a slave — one or two
But you don’t want slaves, what should you do?
Can you then de-accession
Them from your possession
Say: Dad gave me slaves, but I’m through!

Never shecht into the sea
If you’re on a boat, then hopefully
You can shecht off the side
Of the boat as you ride
Let the blood drip down slow, steadily.

אלו טרפות

These are the Treyfot: The brain
Has been punctured within the membrane
Or the skeleton broke
Or the windpipe got poked
Or the wolf trampled, leaving it slain.

If an animal’s hechshered by you
Can you eat it? It seems wrong to do.
For you might be tempted
To have it exempted
From treyfness although it’s not true.

Rabbi Elazar always refused
Any gifts he was sent. And he’d choose
Not to go to a feast
When invited. At least
He’d explain: It’s my life I would lose!

Rabbi Zeyra said: I will not take
Any presents. But if my friends bake
And invite me to eat
Their delectable treats
I’ll accept. It’s for my honor’s sake.

Roman soldiers came into the town
So two rabbis ran, fleeing the crown.
And while fleeing they taught
Rabbi Zeyra: One ought
Check the place where the liver is bound.

Natan HaBavli related:
This poor woman I met – she seemed fated
To lose every son
When Brit Milah was done
So I said: Make your next bris belated.

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!

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Zevachim, chapters 1-2

Perek Aleph: כל הזבחים שנזבחו שלא לשמן

An off’ring must be sacrificed
For that off’ring. You must be precise.
You can’t bring a cow
And think about how
It’s a Pesach lamb. That won’t suffice.

Stan, you happen to be walking by
In a market, and hear someone cry
“It’s a Get for Joanne
And for her husband Stan.”
Though the name’s right, it doesn’t apply.

An oven for food that you bake
Is infested! Inside there’s a snake!
If the oven is split
Can you salvage the bit
In the non-snake part? Redo the cake.

Israel sins often, we owe
Sacrifices each moment. Oh no!
Fear not – we are spared
By a Torah that cared
That we not give up all our cash flow.

Time for minchah! Then you realize
You forgot to do Musaf. Devise
A solution. Well, first
You do mincha. Reverse
Them you don’t. Musaf always applies.

If you set aside your Korban beast
Then go crazy ere you see the priest.
Sanity then comes back
Do we cut you some slack
And let you bring that set-aside feast?

Said Tarfon: By my sons I swear
There is something these two acts don’t share:
Sprinkling and collecting
I’m not recollecting.
Akiva got it. Tarfon fell off his chair.

It’s the priest who puts blood on his fingers
(Can’t be done by Levitical singers)
The priest does it himself
He can’t count on an elf
Or a monkey. (Or ape-priest dead ringer.)

A priest was once sprinkling blood
When his finger came off with a thud.
Is such mulilation
A clear desecration?
Oh yes! And this Kohen’s a dud.

Perek Bet: כל הבחים שקבלו דמן

Sacrificial blood can’t be received
By a non-priest. He can’t be relieved
By one impure, or sitting,
Without clothes – unfitting
Are these. So is one who’s bereaved.

“The clothes make the man,” that’s the vest
And the breastplate, and all of the rest
Of the priestly attire
All needed to fire
A sacrifice. Don’t underdress!

On festivals, Rav always stunk
Of alcohol. He got quite drunk
And so he refrained
From all preaching, til drained
Of the wine, and til out of that funk.

There are those who say blindness impinges
On whether a man must wear fringes
Tzitzit must be seen
But a blind man has been
Seen by others, on whom this one hinges.

Huna bar Natan professed
He was once with the Persian king, dressed
In his vestments. He felt
As the king fixed his belt.
“Kingdom of priests,” the Persian king blessed.

Can a priest wear a band-aid or gauze
On his finger? This question gives pause.
Some say we suppose
He can’t wear extra clothes.
Others say: There are no band-aid laws!

In the morning, one priest would clear ash
All the other priests woke to the clash
Of the wheels that went clink
As he lowered the sink
To the well, where it made a big splash.

A priest who’s a lefty was screwed
Temple work with left hand was eschewed.
No matter how deft-
Ly you sprinkle with left
It is sinister blood, we conclude.

If you’ve wounded the ear of a cow
(Do not worry, it’s dead – can’t say ow.)
Ere its blood is collected
The act is affected,
For mixing of blood’s not allowed.

When you slaughter a sheep, you can’t say
“I will eat his meat some other day.”
Or “I’ll eat this outside”
If you do so, we chide
You: That’s Pigul, go throw it away.

If you vow sacrifices, then wait
To bring them til some later date.
Your wife will not die
As she would if you cry,
“I can’t pay you!” Then you’ll lose your mate.