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!