Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Bava Batra Perek Bet: לא יחפור

A person may not dig a pit
Near his neighbor’s – don’t get close to it.
Or a cave or a trench
Or a thing that makes stench
Keep it far, lest your friend have a fit.

Must the damager stay far away
If he fails, is it he who must pay?
Or is he who’s alarmed
By how much he is harmed
Is it he who has not been okay?

Can you pee on your neighbor’s own wall?
Can your neighbor respond with a brawl?
If it’s only your pee
Go ahead. But stand three
Tfachim off if you’re pouring for all.

A window’s made smaller in size
When a thing on the windowsill lies.
What’s impure, like the dead,
Through blocked windows won’t spread
Blocked with non-Jews or chickens in ties.

If your friend’s storehouse rests right on top
Of the place where you open a shop
Don’t do baking or dying
Your friend will be crying
“The smoke and the stench! Have him shot!”

“I can’t sleep ‘cause your baby’s so loud
And your hammering hurts, I avow!
And I’m losing my mind
From that millstone you grind”–
Is his neighbor’s behavior allowed?

Yehoshua ben Gamla made schools
So that kids would be students, not fools.
From age six or age seven
They study, thank heaven
With schools in each town, and strict rules.

When scholars are jealous they learn
Better. Jealousy’s not to be spurned.
If a teacher knows more
Then it’s he we want for
Our kids’ teacher. So give him his turn.

A storekeeper may not give out
Roasted nuts to kids running about.
For he’s surely predicted
Those kids get addicted
Then parents must buy more, no doubt.

Ezra ruled: All those peddlers, they may
Wander hawking their wares in the day
Selling jewels to the city
So girls will look pretty
We want our girls pretty, he’d say.

Rav Dimi bought dates from abroad
To sell them. His plan, though, was flawed.
For Rava, discerning
He lacked in his learning
Said: Dimi, your sales are outlawed.

A dovecote may not be built near
Any town. It’s the doves that we fear.
They might up, fly the coop
And above our fields swoop
Eating seeds from the plowed earth. Keep clear!

A barrel of wine floats at sea
Near a town with a majority
Of Jews. We assume
It is kosher. There’s room
For doubt. Shmuel cries: I disagree!

There are four winds that blow every day
But the north wind is crucial, they say.
It blows calmly. The west,
Common more than the rest
That’s where God is. We face there to pray.

A tree full of fruit may not be
Cut down, axed, in its prime suddenly.
Said Hanina: My son
Lost his life, Came undone
When he chopped down a blooming fig tree.

A tree overhangs in a space
That is public. A most public place.
We trim off one side
So a camel can ride
Past without getting whacked in the face.

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Bava Batra Perek Aleph: השותפין

Two neighbors would like to divide
Up their backyard, or so they decide.
They both build the wall
So that if it should fall
They can split up the stones on each side.

A man is forbidden to stand
In the field, on his friend’s fertile land
And to gaze and his grain.
Such a man must abstain–
Keep your eyes on your own, we command.

A shul cannot be taken down
‘Til a new one is built on that ground.
Brought Rav Ashi his bed
Into shul, for he said:
They’ll rebuild it if I stick around!

Herod said: “That’s the babe I desire!”
Then he killed off her fam’ly entire.
She went up to the top
Of the roof, and went plop
“Honey,” cried he, “It’s you I’ll admire.”

Though saved, Bava Ben Buta was blind
Herod said, “A worse king can you find?”
“Do not curse the king,”
Bava said. A good thing!
Herod then had a (phew!) change of mind.

“Our wall fell! And we both paid our share!”
Said his neighbor: “But you were not there!
It is my wall alone
And I’ll take every stone.”
We rule No! They must split, as is fair.

“Hey, my windows are blocked by your wall.”
Said one man to his neighbor. Tough call.
For what are we to do?
Do we safeguard his view?
Must the neighbor go rebuild it all?

They built a gatehouse for the bourgeoisie
And Elijah stopped visiting me!
That’s what gate guards are for–
Yes, they keep out the poor.
(Did Elijah then sleep in a tree?)

“I’m a wall and my breasts are like towers”
This refers to rabbinical powers.
Rabbis are not affected
By robbers. Protected
Are all in their midst. No one cowers.

“Feed me, Rabi,” poor Ben Amram said.
“Is there Torah inside of your head?”
Amram said to him, “No,
But pretend I’m a crow.”
Good thing Rabi agreed to share bread!

A caravan of camels and asses
From city to city it passes
It comes to a town
Where idolaters abound
Do the riders get stoning and lashes?

Shmuel bar Sheylat would teach.
Every day. No vacations, no beach!
Until he said, “I’ll take
Just a short garden break
From my students.” He thought of them each.

Rav Achad’voy’s mother said, “Shoot
Rav Sheshet has made my son mute!”
Just one thing she could do–
She said, “Look at these two
Breasts that nursed you too, Sheshet, you newt!”

If God loves the poor, why’s their fate
Miserable? Why no food on their plate?
Because charity’s swell!
We would all go to hell
If we had not the chance to donate.

What is a person to do
To have sons – not just one, but a few?
Scatter coins to the poor
Lead his wife to adore
What he does when the time’s come to screw.

“I’ve seen the whole world upside down!”
Yehoshua’s son said. “On the ground
Were the people of status.
While those with afflatus
Like sages, on high could be found.”

Binyamin the Tzadik was in charge
Of collected tzdakah. Someone barged
In. “Please feed me,” she begged.
“I can’t.” Then he reneged
And he gave his own cash, sums quite large.

Munbaz gave lots of cash to the poor
Said his family, “Munbaz! What for?
Your ancestors stored
Up a great cash reward
Don’t now waste it, Munbaz, we implore!”

A shortcut that many folks take
Can’t be cut off for one person’s sake.
You’ll incur neighbors’ wrath
If you block off that path
Do you think we can swim through the lake?

From the Temple’s destruction and ages
Beyond, prophecy went to the sages.
Did the prophets retire
Were sages inspired?
And did this all happen in stages?

(12b) For MA
Bat Rav Chisda on her father’s knees-
Said her Dad: You want which one of these?
Bat Rav Chisda was loath
To choose, so she said “Both”–
“I’ll go last,” Rava said, “If you please.”

A person half-slave and half-free
Says, “I serve both my master and me.”
But he hasn’t a mate
So he can’t procreate
Thus says Shammai, “It simply can’t be!”

Dad left us two slaves: One can make
Woven tapestries. One can serve cake.
I’ll take the weaver
I ask you to leave her
Will you keep the one who can bake?

Tanach is a novel conception
Three books are they at their inception–
May they be attached
Say, with glue, may we patch–
Says Yehudah: No! I take exception!

Broken tablets were stored in the ark
Moses shattered them, not on a lark.
Yea, although they went crack
Still we put them in back.
“Yasher Koach,” God warmly remarked.

Who wrote the Bible? We wonder.
Some say Moses. That must be a blunder.
How could Moses have penned
“Moses here met his end”
Could he write once already down under?

Was Job a real man or a fiction?
It’s a legend! We say with conviction.
But we’re given the name
Of the town where he came
From. Is that not a sure contradiction?

Penina by God was created
To make Hannah that much more frustrated
So that Hannah would pray
In her drunkenly way–
When Tzaddikim pray, God is elated!

Perfume-makers and tanners, we think,
Are both needed. But tanners – they stink!
Surely we all consent
Better makers of scent
Than the leathery hide on that mink.

Miriam’s moment of bliss:
When she fell to her death with a kiss
She remained ever-fresh
For no worms ate her flesh
‘Twas the fortune of Moses’ big sis.