Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #156 (8/11/18) – JOKE TIME
Airs Aug. 11, 2018 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube:
Shalom, Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of Aug. 11, 2018.
Well, my friends, I hope you’ve been having a terrific summertime. I haven’t. I’ve been in pain, I’m getting angry letters from my accountant, and my local deli raised prices on everything but the free mustard, so I am seething, my friends. But what better way to get me out of my funk, out of my relentlessly pissed-off state than with jokes? I love sharing jokes with a Jewish flavor and then offering a bit of interpretation, some talmudic reconnaissance, if you will, to put the comedy in a Kosher context.
Full disclosure: This joke comes from the comedian Jackie “The Jokeman” Martling, who is not Jewish but might be circumcised. It’s about a guy who has suffered for years with terrible headaches. He’s been to doctors, neurologists, acupuncture, meditation—nothing helps. Finally, he visits a specialist who checks his eyes, checks his pulse, listens to his heart, and tells him, “Okay, I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news. The good news is: you can cure your headaches completely once and for all.”
“That’s amazing!” the guy says. “What do I do?”
“The bad news,” the specialist says, “is that you must have your testicles removed.”
“What?” screams the man. “Castration?”
“I’m sorry,” says the doctor. “That’s the only way. Chop off the testicles, and you’ll be fine.”
Distraught, the man goes home to think it over. But he can’t think because his headaches are so bad. Finally, he says, “I can’t take this anymore. I’ll do it.”
So he goes for the surgery: cuts his nuts off. After a couple of days recovering, he’s walking around the house cleaning, dusting…and he realizes, “Oh my God! I’m not in pain. My headache is gone! I feel great!” He starts dancing, singing—he’s so happy, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. That’s when he thinks, “You know, I feel like a new man, so I’m gonna change my life. And the first step is getting myself a new suit of clothes. I feel like a million bucks; now I wanna dress like it.”
So the guy does some research and learns that the best tailor in New York is, of course, in the garment district. He makes an appointment saying money’s no object, shows up at the cramped little shop on 38th Street, and asks for the famous Chaim Shmulovitz.
After a couple of minutes, a wizened old Jewish man shuffles out of the back room. He says nothing as he stares at the visitor, taking him in from head to toe. “Okay,” says Chaim. “You need a Borsalino hat, short-brim, size 7 1/4. Then we’ll get you a double-breasted, executive-cut suit, two buttons, size 40 regular. The pants also 40 with a 28 inseam. Silk tie with patterning. Shoes you’re an 8 1/2, wide-width, Oxford. Oh, and can’t leave out the underwear: you take a Hanes medium V-neck and size 38 briefs. Come back in a week, and you’re all set.”
“Wow,” says the guy. “I heard you were good, but that’s amazing! Just by looking at me, you got my whole style to a T, including the sizes.”
“Of course I did,” says Chaim. “I’m not in the business 60 years without being the best.”
“However,” says the guy, “you did make one mistake. For the underpants, I take a 34 brief, not a 38.”
“Mister, don’t tell me my job. You take a medium undershirt and size 38 on the briefs, and that’s that.”
“Excuse me,” says the man. “You may know your job, but I know myself, and I’ve been shopping for my own clothes all my life. I take a 34 or I take my business elsewhere.”
“Okay, okay,” says Chaim. “The customer is always right—even when he’s wrong. You want a 34? 34 it is. But I warn you: if you wear size 34 briefs, your left testicle is gonna slide out the side and hang down, the right testicle is gonna spill out and mash against your thigh, the middle will pull up in between. You will get the most terrible headaches.”
Now what do we learn from this joke? First of all, if you do business with an old Jewish man who has six decades experience, you probably want to listen to him—just as when we consider laws in the bible. HaShem invented these rules for living 2000 years ago, so even if we think we know better, we probably don’t know better. So if you’ve been coveting thy neighbor’s ox, even today, you’re better off disregarding your neighbor and buying your own ox. And getting therapy.
We also learn from this joke that sometimes the solution to a problem is easier than you think—you just haven’t thinked it yet. God knows how many different chemical compounds Alexander Flemming was futzing around with before he came back from a vacation, saw mold growing in a petri dish, and bing-bang-boom! goodbye syphilis. So whenever you think you have a solution for a crisis, take one more moment to make sure you’re not cutting off your beitzim to spite your punim.
On to the next joke:
Irving, my second cousin, is a very troubled man. Every night, he gets drunk on Manischewitz, and then his wife starts yelling at him, “Oh, you’re killing yourself with that alcohol. You keep drinking that much, you’re gonna die.”
Finally, last week Irving wakes up after passing out the night before, looks across the room, and starts to laugh. “Serves you right, Marjorie,” he yells. “You’re so worried about me killing myself with booze, but you’re the one lying dead with your head bashed in.”
What do we learn from that joke? Nothing, we learn absolutely nothing from that horrible joke. Let us just move on.
Although he denies it, my uncle Benny has been having hearing problems. He and my aunt Sophie argue about it all the time. Finally, she demands he visit an audiologist. Benny tells the guy, “I’m fine. There’s no problem. I’m only here because my wife says she has seen some changes.”
“Oh?” says doctor. “Can you describe the symptoms?”
“Of course I can,” my uncle says. “There’s Homer, who’s bald and yellow. His wife Marge who has big blue hair…”
Ah, the vanity of older men. We don’t want to admit that once we’re 50, everything goes downhill faster than a Raisinet falling out of the box and rolling under your couch. For many of us, admitting to a physical or mental weakness is tantamount to giving up. Today we spot one gray hair in the beard, tomorrow we’re in a nursing home. But as we live longer and longer in the world, we have to get used to diminished capacity and asking for help when we need it. If you can’t walk across the room without a cane, you don’t vist avek forever in a chair; you grab a cane and walk. If you have diabetes, you poke your thumb every morning and get on with your day. If it’s your anniversary and your wife wants a little fun, you take a blue pill, you wait an hour, and then you give her the best two-and-a-half minutes of her life. In all cases, you acknowledge the obstacle and then work your way around it. Just remember: whether it’s diabetes, hearing, or headaches, change your underwear first. You never know.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.
(c) 2018 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.