Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Yevamot (Prakim 2 and 3)

Your dead brother’s wife had awaited
You to marry her. Her death created
A case hard to decide:
If her mom does reside
Nearby – can you wed mom? Too related?

If your brother’s not born when you wed
Then you find yourself suddenly dead
May he marry the wife?
Rabbi Shimon says, “Sure, go ahead.”

Can two events just coincide?
Can two brothers fall dead side by side
At one instant in time
In a single clock-chime
(Perhaps Einstein alone can decide?)

A eunuch or one who’s too old
To have kids may yet still be so bold
To do yibum with she
Who would then never be
Pregnant. (Life sucks when women are sold.)

Shlomo said: You may also not sleep
With some others. Thus “do not” rules keep
Multiplying. They act
Like the handles intact
On a basket, And like orchard-keep.

The Chaldeans said I’d be a teacher
If by that, they mean “great preacher”
I’ll know how to explain
Laws of when to refrain
From one’s son’s wife, and when to beseech her.

Tell me, why can’t I bed my half-sister?
Would my father’s wife care if I kissed her?
Tell me what desecration
Is in this relation
And thanks to which rule I’ve dismissed her?

I have married a twin, but which one?
Such confusion is surely no fun.
For the Talmud will teach
That I must divorce each
Then chalitzah by brother is done.

If a salesman is leaving the house
When I come back to greet my dear spouse
I don’t want do be vicious
But hey, it’s suspicious–
For why was he with her, that louse?

The Get is brought by one who said
“I am sure that the husband is dead.”
Then he himself marries
She whose Get he carries
The Mishnah rules “No, they can’t wed!”

Women visit each other a lot
And if one bed is all that they’ve got
They will sleep side-by-side
Not so men – petrified
They are; therefore, they rather would not.

Is a woman whose husband has died
To the brother of spouse strongly tied?
Does the zikah bond mean
Brother’s like one who’s been
Engaged, thus barred from those on her side?

Three brothers, two of them wed
Then the latter two die! Now they’re dead.
But the third may not do
Stuff with wife one or two
They’ve both fallen, but not to his bed.

What is “Ma’amar”? Sanctification
To one’s yavam (before copulation).
Shammai says: It’s like marriage!
Says Hillel: Disparage
Their bond! It is still in formation!

Not every mishnah is needed
There are some that they should have deleted
But no mishnah will move
From its fixed-in-place groove
That’s why some rules are taught, then repeated.

Extempore Effusions on the Completion of Masechet Yevamot (Perek 1)

My husband died leaving no heir
I must marry his brother, and bear
Him a child. His name
Will live on; that’s the aim
Of this mitzvah called Yibum. So there.

Fifteen women’s co-wives need not wed
Brothers-in-law once husbands are dead:
Mother-in-law and daughter,
Wife’s sister, granddaughter
And others you’d rather not bed.

A dame with no womb is excluded.
For yibum she won’t be recruited;
She’s not the right mate
For she can’t procreate
As you might logically have concluded.

It’s forbidden to sleep with the wife
Of one’s brother. Though after his life
Yibum then overrides
This “do not” rule. Besides
With such cases the Talmud is rife.

If one’s brother-in-law has bad boils
And the woman who sees him recoils
She need not bear his son
Which would be as not-fun
As a threshing ox barred from the spoils.

A leper must shave all his hair
Really? Do you think all must be bare?
Does the Torah not say
That the sidelocks must stay
The “do not” rule gets overrode there.

If a father says, “Son, break Shabbat!”
He may answer (respectfully) “Not!”
For both father and son
Must defer to the One
Who is holy. How holy? A lot.

One may not build the Temple each day
On Shabbat one must rest. As they say:
“Keep my Sabbath and fear
My great Temple” we hear
That to mean: No more building, go pray!

Treat the Temple with fear: That’s a must!
This means do not go traipsing in dust
Or wear shoes while you’re praying
It goes without saying
That spitting in God’s home means bust!

A murderous priest may not serve
At God’s altar (to murder takes nerve).
Since worship one may
On the great Sabbath day
We say murder trumps shabbos: Observe!

A leper must leave camp and wait
For a “week plus one,” that is, for eight;
But if he emits
Semen (‘twould be the pits)
May he dunk? Or must he return late?

Two brothers who marry two sis-
Ters, then one brother no longer is
Alive; If the remaining
Bro chooses abstaining
From yibum then is he remiss?

If a man may do yibum on two
Women he may choose which one to do;
If just one is permitted
Then both are not fitted
For yibum; the yavam is screwed.

Rabbi Chiya’s rule may be applied
To all fifteen (just ask Rashi why)
Levi said: “Or sixteen!”
Making Rabi turn green
“It seems you have no brain!” Rabi cried.

If a man does chalitzah and then
Says, “Oops, wish I could do that again!”
So he marries shoe-lady
Then dies without baby
Have we our sixteenth case? No? When?

Choose the widow already unfit
Do chalitzah, and let that be it.
For a man should not spill
From his well; others will
Drink up freely what’s left in the pit.

These are women allowed to prevent
Pregnancy: First is one who is meant
To be nursing; one still
Underage; and one filled
With a baby. For these we relent.

The megillah is read on which day?
It depends in which city you pray.
Does the Torah not chide,
“You should not subdivide!”
Lo titgod’du, that is to say.

Abahu would carry a torch
(Though unlit) on Shabbat from his porch
Out to most public grounds
Save in Yochanan’s town
He knew factions, like fires, can scorch.

Gamliel’s daughter hadn’t a womb
Sigh! Back then they would call that a “moom”
Did she learn once she wed
Had she known and misled?
When her husband found out, did he fume?

“I don’t eat olives; don’t give me that!”
So said Yochanan, tipping his hat
To Beit Hillel. They get
Impure if they are wet.
Thus said Yochanan: “Take back your vat.”

Said ben Hurcanus: “Akiva are you
THE Akiva? The rabbi and Jew?
For your fame does extend
‘Cross the world, end to end –
But a shepherd knows more than you do.”

The ten exiled tribes were so sad
That they suffered a fate that was bad:
After told “You must leave”
Women could not conceive
No new children were born – not one lad.

If no woman will marry you, go
To Harpanya – due south, as the crow
Flies. It’s where you can find
Those for whom no one’s signed
A ketubah. How low will you go?