Extempore Effusions on the Comlpletion of Masechet Ketubot (Prakim 3-4)

Perek 3: אלו נערות

These are women for whom there’s no fine
If you force them to bed (not a kind
Thing to do): the one taken
Captive, then forsaken
The convert, the slave for a time.

Shimon Hatimni announced
If a woman could not be one’s spouse
Because she’s forbidden,
Then, though one was smitten,
There’s no fine (but one’s still a louse).

Jacob said to his sons: Be on guard
Against hot and cold winds, they are hard
To withstand. And beware
Thieves and lions that tear
Human flesh. I don’t want my boys scarred.

When the Temple stood tall, one could be
Killed in four ways, unmercifully.
We today don’t burn, kill
Stone or hang. But we will
Wait for these fates to come naturally.

If on shabbos an arrow is thrown
And it lands on some silk that you own
And the silk then gets ripped —
Though the thrower has slipped.
Is it two sins, or one sin alone?

If a man steals some cattle but ere
He has taken the beast anywhere
There’s a blow to the head
It drops suddenly dead.
Is thief guilty? He’s not. (Is that fair?)

Ulla said: If a man should get lashed
For his crime, and pay also in cash
It’s enough just to pay
We do not also say:
Beat the guy ’til his bones are all smashed!

Rabbi Yochanan said: If one beats
His friend – just a small tap on his feet.
There is not much to pay
So instead, should we say:
Give him lashes? How much would be meet?

For the pleasure of sex, one who rapes
And gets caught for it ere he escapes
Must pay dad fifty zuz
That’s not all he must lose:
Shame and damage. Whip him into shape!

If a man steals an ox that was slated
For stoning (this ox was ill-fated)
He drowns ox. Can he say:
“For soon-dead ox, why pay?”
He’s still punished and incriminated.

If you cook on Shabbat by mistake
When the food’s finished, can you partake?
Need you wait ’til Shabbat
Ends, or do you need not?
Can you dig in right now to your cake?

If a man drops dead leaving a cow
He had borrowed to his sons, so now
It’s the sons’ loan. It dies
Now the brothers surmise:
Is it our fault? Need we pay? And how?

The Torah lists these side-by-side:
Killing beasts, killing men. Both we chide.
Does this mean then that we
Rule both absolutely?
Do we care ’bout intent? How they died?

If a wombless girl gets raped one day
There’s no fine for the rapist to pay
For it’s only a lass
One can’t rape. She can’t pass
For one. She won’t mature though she’s gray.

Until what age can orphans refuse
To wed the young men fathers choose?
Until she has two hairs
Or more black than white there—
What makes women mature, for the Jews?

A girl about whom people tell
Lots of rumors, about what befell
Her. A rapist might get her
But like a forged letter
We don’t collect charges. Oh well.

A prostitute turns upside down
After she has been sleeping around
A form of abortion
This strange, strange contortion
Lest she bear sons to the whole town.

If a man has been sentenced to die
Slay him right at the neck (do not try
Methods experimental.
Though you can’t be gentle
Still, please try to feel for the guy.)

A woman’s engaged. Ere the time
Comes to wed, she’s divorced in her prime.
Does she get any cash
Does it go to her stash
Does her father instead say, “All mine!”?

Does a person mature once he’s dead
Do we freeze age, or add years instead
Do we say: He was five
When he last was alive
But he’d now have white hairs on his head.

Three women may use birth control
One still nursing (for this takes its toll)
One’s who’s pregnant already
One young and not ready
For babies. They’re not quite her goal.

The first time a woman has sex
She feels pain – but not as you’d expect.
Abayey’s mom quips
“Like when warm water drips
On a bald man’s head.” (Yes, we’re perplexed.)

How much is the payment for shame?
It depends on the one who’s defamed.
A slave who threads pearls
Will get more than the girls
Who do needlework simple and plain.

A girl’s earnings go to her dad.
We know this from a reason quite sad.
If she’s sold as a maid
He’s the one who gets paid.
(‘Twould be different if she were a lad. )

Says a man “I’ve seduced your dear daughter
She looked to me great, so I caught her.”
He pays “shame” for his deed
Although he doesn’t need
To pay fines — he admitted he sought her.

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.)

Perek R’vi’i: נערה שנתפתתה

“You’ve seduced my ‘lil girl,” yells a dad,
“It’s the first time she’s ever been had.
And now for your crime
Please hand over the fine.”
“But I did no such thing!” balks the cad.

If the dad drops dead before the time
He’s collected the rapist’s full fine
Who receives all the funds–
The poor girl, or his sons?
This took twenty-four years to divine.

If a girl with no dad and no spouse
Lives out her sad days in the house
Of her brothers. Do they
Get to take all her pay
May she tuck it away like a mouse?

If a woman’s had husbands die twice
We suspect her of some sort of vice
For if both husbands die
We can’t help asking why
(Is it poison she puts in their rice?)

If a convert’s young girl goes astray
Then we strangle the girl right away.
Since her dad’s not a Jew
There is no reason to
Stone her out in her father’s doorway.

If an orphan is falsely accused
Of seducing a man, he won’t lose
Any coins that he had
For she hasn’t a dad
And it’s fathers who get paid these dues.

If your body begins to change form
After you commit sin, is the norm
That your punishment’s changed
Is a new death arranged
Do we take what was once by a storm?

“May God save us from that which you think!”
Rabbi Elah said, making a stink.
Said Chananya, “I see
Things quite contrarily:
May God save us from that which YOU think!”

If a man says, “I vow half my worth”
Does he mean half his length? Half his girth?
He refers to his brain
Or his heart, something main–
It’s like all that he’s got on this earth.

A father’s entitled to all
That his daughter finds, every windfall.
He may cancel her vows
Bring her Get to their house
Wed her off to a man dark and tall.

A young girl who works for spare cash
Must turn over all of her stash
To her dad, who we learn
Could have sold her to earn
Quite a hefty lump sum — in a flash!

Every wife is entitled to three
Things. Her husband must these guarantee:
She has food she can eat
Clothes to wear in the street
And great sex with him regularly.

Says a man: “I can’t get in the mood
To have sex when my wife’s in the nude
Like the Persians, unless
We are both fully dressed
I don’t want her.” He’s out of here, dude.

The messengers sent by the groom
Travel with the bride from her dad’s room
After she has walked out
Not yet there, but en route
She is in the domain then of whom?

Daughters quite young will still need
Someone else who can help them to feed
But their dad’s not required
Until he’s expired
To give them their food, we’ve decreed.

In Usha they fixed that a man
Must feed daughters who live from his hand
If even crows care
For their young, we should share
In the burden, those rabbis command.

The Torah is learned at age six
At ten you get your Mishnah fix
At thirteen you fast
And then once you move past
That age, you can do all sorts of tricks.

If your son’s sent to school when too young
He will find that the place is no fun:
His classmates will chase
Him right out of the place
But worse still is the one who gets stung.

Rav Himnuna said: Just as the guys
Don’t inherit land when their dad dies
So the girls can’t partake.
How the whole earth did shake
When he said that, for all were surprised.

A virgin’s ketubah must be
At least two hundred zuz, standardly.
If he got her for less
Then the rabbis profess
That he took her promiscuously.

If a woman is taken by force
By a man who is cruel, harsh and coarse.
If she brings to him bread
Does that mean she was led
To sleep close to him without remorse?

I won’t sleep with him, is one wife’s vow
If her husband does not disallow
He puts fingers inside
Her teeth. Can he then chide
If she bites? No, he can’t have a cow.

A father should dress his girl well
So a suitor will think she looks swell
He will glance at her rump
And then up he will jump:
“I must marry her! Please, will you sell?”

Rav Yehuda of Big Teeth: Don’t go
To inheritance meetings. You know
It is not good to be
There when much property
Is passed on, dad to son, with a row.

She inherits until she’s engaged
That is, ’til the day she comes of age
If no man takes her hand
Sucks for her! Understand
She can’t feed off her dad at that stage.

A widow who colors her face
With make-up, and dresses in lace
She no longer merits
The right to inherit
She wants a new man in his place.

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Ketubot, Prakim 1-2

Perek Aleph: B’tula Niseyt

On Wednesdays the virgins should marry
So their husbands can wake and not tarry
To go Thursday to court
(If need be) and report:
“There’s no blood on the sheet that I carry!”

(2b, 3a)
Said the man to his wife, “Have no fear
Have this Get if I do not appear
Back within thirty days.”
There were dreadful delays
O’er the river, he called out, “I’m here!!”

Virgins marry on Tuesdays as well
For the rabbis knew danger befell
When the Romans could come
Every week and say “Hummm,
Let’s go kidnap that bride – she looks swell!”

If you’ve mixed all the wedding feast wine,
Cooked the meat, baked the bread very fine.
Then the groom’s father dies–
Close the room where he lies
First get married, have sex, and go dine.

There are intimate labors we cite
As a wife’s tasks for he-she-holds-tight :
Mix the wine to his taste
Wash his hands, feet, and face
Make the bed where he lies every night.

“You shall be with a spike on your gear”
Said the rabbis, “We read that as ‘ear'”
If you hear something crude
(Though you might appear rude)
Stick your fingers in so you don’t hear.

Rabbi Yishmael’s famous aside:
Why are tops of the ears tough as hide
With such soft flesh below?
So a man need not know
All that’s said. Stick that soft part inside.

If it chances a little girl’s wed
And her husband finds blood in their bed
Any of those four nights
He assumes it’s all right:
Menstruation it’s not, though it’s red.

(6b; Brachot 16a)
A groom need not say the Shma prayer
When he gets into bed with his fair
Bride. Why not, you might ask–
He’s concerned with task
Yup, it’s only of sex he’s aware.

Rav Zvid said: Virgin sex is OK
On Shabbat, on that most holy day–
Though you might tear some skin
The first time you go in
Still, Zvid did it himself, so they say.

Even babes sang the Song of the Sea
In the womb they kicked jubilantly
“I will sing to the Lord”
Well, perhaps they were bored
Or like slaves they too longed to be free.

Tell us, how many blessings are said–
Sheva brachot – or just six are read?
It depends how you hold:
What’s the story we’re told?
Adam then Eve? Together instead?

All of course know the reason a bride
Stands there under the chuppah; but chide
Anybody so crude
As to say it – how lewd!
(There are things that we all know but hide.)

If a man says, “The door feels ajar
I suspect, ere my time, she went far.”
That’s a bold thing to say!
Still, we trust right away
In his claim, and his wife becomes barred.

(9b, 12a)
If a man eats with his fiancée
In the home of her folks, far away–
He cannot bring then defame
With a “not virgin” claim
He was there! Perhaps he made her stray!

If a man wanders through a dark night
And the doorway is blocked from his sight
Like a groom with his mate
Perhaps he’ll penetrate
If he veers to the left or the right.

How to know if a woman’s had sex?
On a wine barrel seat her, and check:
If you can’t smell the wine
In her breath, she is fine
And intact. (Does it work? What the heck!)

Said one groom: “Rabbi, I did the deed
But I swear, my new wife did not bleed!”
Said the Rav: “Understand
She’s a Dortki, whose clan
Don’t shed blood, though their women bear seed.”

My mom said: Eating dates before bread
Is like taking an axe to a head.
After bread, though, a date
Is a well-oiled fate:
Eat your dates for dessert, then, instead.

If a girl’s of the wood-beaten sort
Her ketubah sum will be cut short
Since she’s not all intact
(It’s a sad but true fact)
She’ll get less than a virgin in court.

Tell us: How do you bring a bad name?
What exactly must be the groom’s claim?
You must stand up in court
Say, “Your daughter falls short
Of a virgin.” You’ll heap her in shame.

Two wedding guests would go to sleep
In the newlyweds’ home. They would peep
To make sure all went well
Just in Judah. They tell
Jokes in Israel: “What customs they keep!”

(12b, 13a, 16a)
If an unmarried lady grows fat
And the rabbis ask, “Whose kid is that?”
And she says, “It’s that priest,”
The kid’s kosher. At least
We trust she knows with whom she begat.

If the rabbis would chance to espy
An unmarried gal flirt with a guy
They would ask, “Who is he?”
“He’s a kohen” (her plea).
Eliezer trusts she wouldn’t lie.

If a girl asserts, “It was a tree
That has taken my virginity.”
Do we hold be her words?
Yehoshua: “Absurd!
We assume bastard rape, naturally!”

If a captive girl comes with the claim:
“They did not sleep with me! I’m not maimed!”
We say, “Most non-Jews would
Rape a girl if they could
And so sadly, we can’t trust the dame.”

Before wedding a widow, one checks:
“Is she pure? Should I make her my next?”
But a rapist would not
Care what woman he got
Do you think he first stops and inspects?!

A young girl went down to a lake
Someone saw, and decided to take
Her by force. If the town’s
One where kohens abound–
One may marry her (risking mistake).

If ten butchers market their meat
Nine are kosher; one’s not fit to eat
A man says I ought
To know from which I bought
It’s an error I will not repeat.

Nine frogs that go “ribbet” and “croak”
And one treyf creeper. Up came a bloke:
“I touched something slimy
But which one? Oh blimey!
Assume I’m impure,” so he spoke.

If a poor helpless baby is found
In a town where it’s Jews who abound
We assume it’s a Jew
(Do we cut off what grew?
It’s so odd. Who leaves babies around?)

Perek Bet: HaIsha SheNitarmela

Says the bride, “Back when we got engaged
Still a virgin I was – at that age
I was thrown to the bed
By some guy, ere we wed.
His field flooded.” But what rules the sage?

There’s a “cup of good news” that is passed
In front of a bride who has cast
Off her white wedding gown
Once her husband has found
Her a virgin. Drink quick! It won’t last.

How to dance before a bride
Who is lovely, but on the inside?
Hillel says: “Say she’s pretty”
Says Shammai: “A pity
To lie.” “But you must!” Hillel chides.

Rabbi Shmuel bar Yitzchak would dance
On three myrtle leaves he’d up and prance
“He shames Torah,” one said,
But not so. For when dead
Stopped the pillar of flame, not by chance.

Dancing with brides is quite lewd
Don’t we think that it should be eschewed?
If she looks like a post
(As do some? As do most?)
You can boogie with real attitude!

What’s a “Hinuma”? we ask
Taking all virgin brides to the task.
A chuppah of myrtle?
A scarf for the fertile
So she could doze behind the mask?

A man claims, “I owe just a bit.”
Do we trust what he says? Not a whit.
For a man would not dare
To deny every share
That he owes. Rather just part of it.

If a witness says, “True, ’twas my hand
That signed there. But you must understand:
I was under duress
When I signed, I confess.”
There is no further proof we demand.

Nothing comes before saving a life
Except spilling a man’s blood in strife
Serving gods of bad nations
Improper relations
(Like bedding another man’s wife).

If two from the shuk say, “Their hand
Signed there. But you must please understand:
They were under duress
When they signed, we profess.”
There is no further proof we demand.

If a man says, “That’s signature’s mine
Though I signed it before a long time.”
If, on his own,
He remembers the loan
You can trust him. The document’s fine.

Cemeteries are where dead are lain
But not all dead. A woman in pain
May not wait for a tomb
For her babe lost in womb
She’ll just hide it in nearby terrain.

Sign your name on a pottery shard
Do it not on a scroll or a card.
Lest a criminal who
Prefers “false” over “true”
Steal that page and write more. It’s not hard.

(21b, Rosh Hashanah 25b)
If three folks see the moon in the sky;
Two cry, “It’s the new moon we espy!”
The third, with two more
Make a beit din, for sure.
“Sancified is the month!” they then cry.

A beautiful maiden-girl said
To the suitors who flocked, “But I’m wed!”
And once every last dope
Had abandoned all hope
She married her heart’s choice instead.

Two witnesses say “Her man’s dead.”
Two say, “No, he is living” instead.
She can’t marry anew
If she did, what to do?
We do not force divorce on her head.

When some captive girls came back to town
Shmuel’s father said, “Keep guards around
To ensure they stay pure.”
Shmuel said, “Are you sure?
For who watched them until they were found?”

If two girls taken captive come back
Each one swears, “I was in no man’s sack!”
We cannot abide
Their claims. What if they lied?
Each must vow that the other’s intact.

Two ass-riders come into a town
One says, “He’s got the best grain around
Mine’s new, hence not so good.”
Do we trust him? We should
Not. For they might switch off in each town.

A non-Jew leaves the tools of his trade
By a river and goes down to wade
Or to take a long drink.
Are his tools, do we think,
Pure? The inner ones, yes, every spade.

There are things only cohens can eat
Like the truma and kodashim meat.
If we see someone nibble
Then should we still quibble?
He might be not a priest but a cheat!

“Yehoshua ben Levi, I swear
It’s a Levi who’s standing right there
How do I know it’s true?
Aliyah number two
Is the one that he took. I was there!”

Said a man who was chatting away:
When a young lad, my classmates would say
When they called me from class
To eat truma, alas:
“Yochanan who eats challah.” Oy vey.

If your woman is carted away
And it’s ransom they hope you will pay
You may then take her back
But we don’t cut such slack
If their goal was to lift axe and slay.

If soldiers come tear through your town
In peacetime, with bottles around
Your wine’s not all right
If ‘twas open. They might
Have poured it for libations unsound.

Reb Zechariah, the butcher’s own son
Said “I swear by the Temple” (which one?)
“That nobody came near
To my wife, who was here,
By my side, ‘til the non-Jews were done.”

“As kids, we’d stop here on Shabbat.”
Do we trust in this claim? Do we not?
Can a man testify
“Dad, when we were small fry
Wrote like this”?? For perhaps he forgot.

One guy married a woman and found
She was not quite the best catch in town.
His brothers then shattered
A barrel, and scattered
Its fruit to show she was unsound.