Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Sanhedrin Perek Bet and Perek Gimel

כהן גדול
Perek Bet

A high priest must walk on bare feet
On Yom Kippur. The floor’s not concrete.
He does not want to freeze
So he says, if you please,
Don’t make leap years, for that means less heat!

Through the market no woman should stride
With her son just a few steps behind.
For it happened once – oy!
That they kidnapped the boy,
Such a ransom they made her provide!

Three mitzvot was Israel assigned
When it entered the land: First to find
Someone to be the king
And next: Amalek fling
To his death. Build the Temple, God’s shrine.

God gave Torah in Moses’ time
We inherit this Torah, sublime.
But we must also write
Each our own, black on white,
Hence before you, dear readers, this rhyme.

If a husband divorces his first
Wife, his whole world goes dark. It’s the worst.
And he feels such a void
Like the Temple destroyed
Into tears does the altar then burst.

Elasha spent all of his earnings
On a haircut for viewers discerning.
He served as high priest
And he said—now at least
Everywhere I go, heads will be turning.

זה בורר
Perek Gimel

Jerusalem’s wise men would say:
We won’t eat at a meal any day
Unless first we are told
Who will be there. We scold:
Share who’s coming, or we’ll stay away.

Reish Lakish was a scholar well-suited
For Torah. He often disputed
With others, and taught
What his teachings had wrought
‘Twas like grinding two mountains uprooted.

A witness must not have this vice:
He can’t lend at a very high price
Sell sabbatical fruit
Bet on pigeons for loot
Or spend all day long playing with dice.

A butcher once sold something treif
From then on, all his meat was unsafe.
He regretted his wrong
And grew hair and nails long
But he never restored people’s faith.

Thirteen years, Rabbi Zeyra collected
City taxes, a job he perfected.
When the clerk would decide
To come, Zeyra’d say: Hide!
And pay only for those still detected.

A friend and a foe can’t report
To attest for or ‘gainst you in court.
What’s a friend? One who chanced
At your wedding to dance.
Foe? Of hate-and-won’t-talk-to-you sort.

A man said: “My father’s bequest
Was some coins. But he laid them to rest
And I didn’t know where.
‘Til I dreamed: They are there!
But they’re tithings.” May he those coins wrest?

A judge cannot walk out of court
And disclose any sort of report.
Like: I stood by your side!
Or: The others all lied!
This is how a tale-bearer comports.

A poor little boy was once tried
In the court of Rav Nachman. He cried
When the court made him pay
And he wept all that day
‘Til some folks heard and rushed to his side.

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Sanhedrin Perek Aleph: דיני ממונות בשלושה

We judge certain matters in courts
Of three: Damages, beatings and torts
And the calf we behead
When we find a man dead;
“And seducers!” So Meir reports.

Do we follow the Torah as read
And ignore what is written instead?
Extra vav, extra yud
Does it matter? It should
Not (assuming we hold by what’s said).

Rabi said, “So your nephew went down
Into Bavel. A new guy in town.
Will he teach? He will teach!
Will he judge? And he’ll preach!
But not blemishes, nope,” Rabi frowned.

In a cemet’ry walked Rabbi Chiya,
Saw a man there and gasped: “Mamma Mia!
Priests can’t stand near the dead!”
Said the man: “My dad wed
A divorcee.” (No more first aliyah!)

A man steals some tall sheaves of wheat.
And then bakes it as challah to eat.
If he takes out some dough
Does he bless it although
It was stolen? Would priests want that treat?

Was Moses’ brother possessed
For the calf was built at his behest!
He saw Chur lying dead
On the ground, and he said
“I am next!” and in fear acquiesced.

I remember a time we adored
One another. The tip of a sword,
Wide enough for our bed.
Now estranged, there’s instead
A vast space where we rest in discord.

A judge in a court would be wise
To imagine a sword ‘tween his thighs
At his feet, hell gapes wide–
If he takes the wrong side
He’ll be plunged to his dreadful demise.

Rav’s landlord said, “Judge me in court.”
“But I know you,” was Rav’s quick retort.
“Rav Kahana will do it
Perhaps you will rue it–
I can’t guarantee his support.”

If a woman is learned in Torah
(Of such women attests our Amora.)
Must a warning be given?
Or is she forgiven
If unwarned? A box of Pandora!

Rabi, while teaching, once smelled
Garlic. Whereupon thus he expelled:
“He who ate it, walk out!”
Shmuel HaKattan, no doubt
Blameless, left the room as if compelled.

Vegetables can’t be imported
To Israel, some rabbis reported.
We’re loathe to despoil
Our land with their soil.
“So what?!” other rabbis then snorted.

Abahu, not yet an old geezer,
Went often to visit the Caesar.
There was always a dame
Who would sing out his name
We surmise his appearance did please her!

Can a lion or wolf be your pet?
How domesticated can they get?
If they kill off a guy
We don’t kill them? We try
Them in court? Says Akiva: “You bet!”

King David woke not by alarm
But by harp. (For those beeps can disarm!)
It was played by the wind
Which at midnight blew in
Playing music. It worked like a charm!

“Moses is going to die
We’ll be led by young Josh, former spy!”
So Eldad and Mei-
Dad were famous for say-
Ing. “Come quail!” they would then prophecy.

There are things that a town must provide
So a Torah sage there can reside:
Court and bathroom and shul;
Doctor, scribe, butcher, school.
Also fruit, for it makes you bright-eyed.