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Extempore Effusions on Gittin chapter 7

If a man seized by fury should shout
“Write a Get for me” – don’t hear him out
But if he says “write a Get”
And just then starts to fret
Then his words are not something to flout.

Solomon said to the sages, “But how
Can I chisel the Temple rocks now?”
They said, “Find the Shamir,
It’s a worm, that we fear,
You must wrest from a demon, somehow.”

For a nosebleed, sit under a drain,
For a toothache, take garlic for pain
If your heart’s in decline
Eat some wheat bread and wine
And cook willows for aches in the brain.

If you’re back from the loo, wait a while—
Don’t have sex ‘til you’ve walked half a mile
There are demons from hell
In the bathrooms they dwell
And the seed you emit, they’ll defile.

A deaf man can’t hear – that’s all right
He can scribble on paper, “Please writeA Get for my wife
Get her out of my life!”
They’re divorced. And they need no more fight.

Don’t say, “This is your Get if I die,”
That’s no way to say, “Honey, goodbye.”
Since you can’t get divorced
Once you’re dead, we are forced
To declare it invalid. Nice try.

Once divorced, she was seen in his bed
Under cover of night. Then she fled.
The sages were vexed:
Does this mean they had sex?
What did she and her ex do instead?

“I’ll divorce you, but first you must hand
My tallit to me. So I demand.”
What if it then gets lost?
Then the wife pays the cost
Henceforth she is divorced from her man.

“I’ll divorce you under this condition—
You must breastfeed our son. That’s your mission.”
For how long must she nurse?
Here the sages were terse:
For two years she supplies his nutrition.

“I’ll stay out of your face 30 days
If I do you’re divorced” – so he says.
Does that mean he can’t see
Her, or that she can’t be
The woman in whose bed he lays?

Ilana Kurshan

Ilana Kurshan is the author of If All the Seas Were Ink, published in 2017 by St. Martin’s Press. She has translated books of Jewish interest by Ruth Calderon, Benjamin Lau, and Micah Goodman, as well as novels, short stories, and children’s picture books. Her book Why Is This Night Different From Other Nights was published by Schocken in 2005. She is a regular contributor to Lilith Magazine, where she is the Book Reviews Editor, and her writing has appeared in The Forward, The World Jewish Digest, Hadassah, Nashim, Zeek, Kveller, and Tablet. Kurshan is a graduate of Harvard University (BA, summa cum laude, History of Science) and Cambridge University (M.Phil, English literature). She lives in Jerusalem with her husband and five children.
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