Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Bava Kama פרק ד’: שור שנגח

Must a Tanna flesh everything out?
Can he summarize, speak thereabouts?
Or like peddlers, repeat
What they hear; it’s not meet
For a Tanna, who’s someone with clout.

The villain Chanan dealt a blow
To a poor guy. Rav Huna said, “Go
Pay him half of a zuz.”
Counterfeit! He refused
So Chanan hit again. “Here you go.”

There are oxen who gore when they hear
Shofars sounded. Yup. Oxen are queer.
If they post-blast gore thrice
(Two times will not suffice)
They are muad for shofars, I fear.

If a non-Jew learns Torah, his fate
Is like that of a high-priest: first-rate!
But the Jews stand to earn
More for all that they learn;
They’re commanded! Chanina relates.

Sent the Romans two soldiers to study
Some Torah. (Each learned with a buddy.)
They said: “Torah’s OK
Except: ‘No Jew must pay
If his ox gores a non-Jew’s.’ That’s nutty!”

Hate the Moabites. Yup, that is fine.
But do not wipe out all of their line
Because then the sad truth
Is: We’d be without Ruth
With whom our nation’s fate is entwined.

Do a mitzvah forthwith! Do not wait!
Be the first, like Lot’s eldest; her fate
When she slept with her dad
Was to bring forth this lad:
David’s grandpa. And hence: Procreate!

An arena ox trained for the fight
Can gore all that he wants; it’s all right
Those who own him don’t pay—
He would gore anyway.
He is trained thus. A sorrowful plight.

The Amazon Shimon would teach
“Every ‘et’ is a reason to preach.”
Except one. We refrain
From that “et,” not in vain
There is merit to gain from the breach.

Said Akiva: I’ll preach on that “Et.”
I have something to say! Will you let
Me? We honor, yes, God;
But we also must nod
In respect to each sage – don’t forget!

A fisherman casts out his net
He will take all the fish he can get.
If he gets lots of big
Fish, he’ll still hold his rig
Out for little ones too. You can bet!

If an ox kills a girl or a boy
This is sad. We cry out with an “Oy.”
And we hold it as bad
As if rather it had
Killed a woman or man (not a Goy).

An ox prone to kill human life
Will cause people a whole lot of strife.
Such an ox can’t be watched
For the job will be botched
You can keep it safe just with a knife!

You may hold it an obvious matter
Still we say: Keep no rickety ladder
In the place where you live
For you will not forgive
Yourself when it falls down with a splatter.

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Bava Kama פרק ג’: המניח את הכד

Reuven leaves his jug out in the street
Shimon bumps into it with his feet
Barrel-owner must pay.
–Barrel? What did you say?
I thought jug! Jug is barrel. Repeat!

Reuven’s barrel is out in the street.
Shimon bumps into it with his feet.
The jug owner must pay
Jug? What did you just say?
I thought barrel. That’s jug, I repeat.

“You bumped into my barrel! Now pay!”
No, said Ulah, For it’s not the way
Of most people to look
When they walk in the shuk
Keep your barrels inside and away!

If a public path goes through your farm
Can you block it off? Widespread alarm
Would ensue. You cannot
That is, first you have got
To provide a new route free of harm.

If you turn over mounds of dog shit
(It’s good fertilizer, you’ll admit.)
And some guy walks right in
Oh, what deep shit he’s in
So are you! Because you pay for it.

Rabbi Yehuda says: Take out your trash
Leave it there thirty days in a stash
For the sake of this plan
Joshua conquered the land
Should one step in it, you don’t owe cash.

Reuven strolls with his bucket along
Shimon comes with a beam, straight and long.
Just then BOOM! Hear the smash
Beam and barrel go crash
But we hold neither man in the wrong.

Well a beam is quite phallic you know
And a bucket’s a place it might go
If a man starts to vex
His poor wife during sex
Does he need to be careful? Or no?

Is a man during sex like a beam-
Holder? Is that the case, does it seem?
Maybe he’s like a wood
Chopper who (though he should
Have looked out), killed a man, not by scheme?

Can you run fast in a public place
Should you slow down, for life’s not a race?
If you cause a big spill
You’re to blame, so we will
Blame. But pre-shabbat, you’ve got a case.

Chanina would say when the light
Would begin to fade each Friday night:
“Let us go greet the queen
Who has come on the scene
Like a bride. Such a beautiful sight.”

Can an ox show behavior that’s smart?
Can it do more than pull a big cart?
Papa’s ox, when with ache,
in its tooth, it would take
Beer and drink ’til the pain would depart.

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Bava Kama: פרקים א-ב

Perek Aleph: ארבעה אבות נזיקין

Four groupings of damage may be
Inflicted on you or on me:
The ox and the pit
Are the fire. That’s it?
Oh, the Maveh. The Maveh? You’ll see.

An ox can do harm in three ways
Horn – he willfully rams. Master pays.
Teeth – he’ll eat what he’ll find
(If he’s yours, you’ll be fined)
Foot – He tramples where others must graze.

“Be your own bodyguard” that’s the law.
Don’t extend to your friend a big claw.
One who sleeps, he can be
Flailing dangerously–
He can hurt with his arms, legs and jaw.

For a mitzvah, spend up to one third.
Third of all that you’ve got? Oh my word!
What if then there are three
Mitzvot? How can that be —
You’d be bankrupt. That’s clearly absurd.

Five men sat on a bench. It stayed strong.
Then a sixth man came ambling along.
He sat down. It went splat
It was Papa, who’s fat!
Well, then Papa’s the one in the wrong.

This one’s sad. If a baby’s born dead
The placenta takes time, and instead
It comes out one day late
Mom must count days and wait
Til she’s pure. Count from when? From the head.

If a newborn is torn limb from limb
By a wild beast, say, on a whim.
There’s no need to redeem
It would be quite unseem-
Ly. Poor baby! (Poor what’s-left-of-him.)

Olah, Chatat, Asham – we can’t eat
Of their sacrificed burnt altar meat.
But the Shlamim, like most,
You can eat. Make a toast!
To dead animals! Ooh, what a treat.

“Dude, your cow trampled on my Tallit!”
“Your Tallit brought my cow to its feet!”
So two men scream and shout.
Does it all even out?
Don’t assume it’s all so nice and neat.

Do not keep a dog in your house
(It could bite off the head of your spouse)
Or a rickety ladder
(It might slip and shatter
And injure much more than a mouse.)

When it’s time for the Modim prayer, make
Sure you bow – there’s a lot here at stake!
If you don’t, then your spine
After seven years time
In the grave – it will turn to a snake!

Rabbi Yochanan’s students would cry:
“Teach us this halacha! How and why!”
He would answer. But he,
When he needed to pee
Would then wait ’til he washed to reply.

Perek Bet: כיצד הרגל מועדת

The perilous feet of a beast
Can cause damage – some damage at least.
When it walks it will break
Any jug in its wake
Scatter pebbles and leave your rug creased.

Your chickens were dancing in dough
(These were quite jolly chickens, you know.)
They pecked at the batter
Their footprints made splatter
It’s full-damage payment you owe.

Reuven threw a great jug from on high
While the jug was midair through the sky
Shimon came with a staff
Broke the jug into half
It would break anyway! Jugs don’t fly!

A dog took a still-flaming cake
Off the coals and proceeded to take
To the haystack his food
Quite a fire ensued
Restitution his master must make.

A chicken was dancing in dough
Soon the chicken, it seems, had to go.
Not a nice sight, is it?
Home-made baked chicken shit?
Would you eat it? Ahem, that’s a no.

A chicken extended its beak
In a vessel of glass. Then it shrieked.
Oh the glass – how it shattered
The pieces were scattered
What havoc a chicken can wreak!

A chicken with string ’round its foot
Runs. (A chicken, we know, can’t stay put.)
It flutters and breaks
Everything in its wake
Strewing dirt, pebbles, feathers and soot.

The cat ate my gymsuit –it’s true!
Paula Fox, here’s a sugya for you!
Is the way of a cat
To eat something like that?
No? Then cat-owner owes me a few.

What if I set up camp in your yard?
I live rent-free when living gets hard.
You’re not even aware
That I’m living right there.
I get benefit; you don’t get scarred.

Rav Chisda asked, “How do we know
If the tenant pays not-in-the-know
Master? Rami bar Chama
Said “Bring my pajama
I’ll answer if you serve me. Go.”

There were orphans who owned a trash heap
There they stored what it is orphans keep.
Some guy built there a castle
Said Nachman, “A hassle
You’ve caused. And I hold it not cheap!’

A camel is carrying flax
Which ignites in some hot burning wax
That is hung at the door
Of a man’s roadside store–
“Was it Chanukah then,” you must ask.

A cow enters a fine fancy home
Not a place where a cow tends to roam!
Rubs its back on the wall
And erases the scrawl
Of the mural. Who repaints the home?

The Torah is from where we know
A principle known as Dayo
If Miriam were spat
At by father, well that
Would mean one week. And God rules just so.

A man has a rock on his chest
He gets up and it falls from his breast.
Is the damage his fault?
He meant not to assault!
He pays Nezek, but not all the rest.

A baby is thrown off a roof
It resembles a comic book spoof:
Below, someone comes toward
It with quite a large sword.
Slashing baby midair. Babe goes poof!

Someone falls off a roof and he lands
In a woman (Er… not in her hands)
What was done has been done
(And perhaps it was fun)
Are they married? This was not the plan!