The Simpsons Talmud

By: Noah Gradofsky

Welcome to the Simpsons Talmud. The following is a Talmud based on the Simpsons episode, "Like Father Like Clown." In this episode, we find out that Krusty the clown is Jewish, and has been estranged from his father because he became a clown (which for whatever reason wasn't seen as an honorable profession). Of course, it's Bart and Lisa to the rescue. They work to convince Krusty's father, Rabbi Krustofski that the Rabbi should forgive his son. The conversation between Bart and Rabbi Krustofski takes on a talmudic dialectic. Bart quotes many pieces of Talmud which Lisa researches.  Most of the quotes are fairly accurate.  Rabbi Krustofski replies as to why he is unconvinced by Bart's argument.

It occurred to me that this conversation would do well if converted into a talmudic account. Thus, I set out to write a Talmud style account of these events.

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Please note: The rest of this document can be viewed in pdf form (including a more legible and printable Hebrew text) here. If you don't have acrobat reader, please click here.

The (somewhat accurate) script

Before I present the text, let me remind you of the conversation between Bart and Rabbi Krustofski, as well as between Bart and Lisa.  I typed this up myself by watching this section of the episode many, many times. It might not be perfectly accurate, but it should be pretty close.

At Rabbiís Office:
Rabbi Hyman Krustofski: You I told to go away.
Bart: But, but but, but Rabbi - does it not say in the Babylonian Talmud and I quote, ďA Child should be pushed aside with the left hand and drawn closer with the right.Ē
Rabbi: Yes
Bart: Then doesnít your religion command you to make up with Krusty?
Rabbi: But in Exodus, the fifth commandment says: ďHonor thy father and thy mother.Ē End of story.
At Library:
Bart: Oh, itís hopeless.
Lisa: Not quite. I got some dynamite stuff from Rabbi Simon Ben Eliazar
In Sauna:
Bart: At all times let a man be as supple as a reed and not rigid as a cedar.
(Others murmur in the background)
Rabbi: But my short learned friend, the book of Joshua says, ďYou shall meditate on the torah all day and all night.
(others murmur approvingly).
At Circumcision
Bart: Is it not written in the Talmud, ďwho will bring redemption - the jesters.Ē
Rabbi: Sorry my friend Iím still not convinced and this is hardly the time or the place to discuss it.
In Front of Library
Lisa: Here you go Bart. Itís a long shot but thatís all I can do without learning ancient Hebrew.
Playing chess in park
Bart: Rabbi, did not a great man say, and I quote, ďThe Jews are a strange bunch of people. I mean Iíve heard of persecution but what they went through is ridiculous. But the great thing is after thousand of years of waiting and holding on and fighting, they finally made it,Ē end quote.
Rabbi: Oh, I never heard the plight of my people phrased so eloquently. Who said that, Rabbi Hillel?
Bart: Nope.
Rabbi: It was Judah the Pious
Bart: Nope.
Rabbi: Maimonideds?
Bart: Nope.
Rabbi: Oh, I got it. The dead sea scrolls.
Bart: Iím afraid not Rabbi. Itís from Yes I can by Sammy Davis Junior. An entertainer like your son.
Rabbi: (gasp) The Candy Man? If a performer can think that way maybe Iím completely upside down on this whole problem.

 

The Talmud Page

Reminder: The rest of this document can be viewed in pdf form (including a more legible and printable Hebrew text) here. If you don't have acrobat reader, please click here.

Here, in graphic form is the page of Talmud that I have created. As is usual, the larger sized type which appears in the center (and then takes over the left side as well) is the Talmud. The right side is Rashi (a late 11th century commentator from France). On the left is Tosafot, the commentary created by the Franco-German Tosafist school (shortly after Rashi). Between the Talmud text and Rashi is all references to the Bible which (including one that I have added which is not related to any text quoted in the Simpsons episode). On the far right are references to other places in Talmud where similar texts are quoted. The first two of such references are quotes of Talmud made in the Simpsons episodes and that I have been able to find, or massages of text where the Simpsons episode took some license (see footnote 5 to talmud text). The final reference in that column is a reference to a piece of Talmud that I have decided to add on my own.

I have done my best to be consistent with proper talmudic language (Aramaic or Hebrew where appropriate). I'm sure I have failed miserably. In most cases I at lest used legitimate words. One place where I'm sure I did not is in the term I use for an entertainer. I created the word "b-d-r-n-a" by simply adding an alef to a modern Hebrew word. I did that because I couldn't come up with the right Aramaic term. If you have any comments on anything I did here, please contact me.

Note: The following is currently in a crude .gif format. It will be difficult to read. Eventually, I hope to upgrade to pdf format. For now, if you would like to receive a copy of this text, please e-mail me at noah@e-ark.net and I'll try to mail you a copy.

Translation of the Talmud

Here is a translation of the Talmud I wrote. 

Herschel, the son of Rabbi Krustovsky was a clown. He (Rabbi Krustovsky) threw him (the son) out. When Bartus came from the state in which Springfield is, [Bartus] said to him (Rabbi Krustovsky): "Hasn't it been taught, 'with regards to a child's inclinations the left hand should push away and the right hand should bring close?'"1 He responded: "Yes." He said to him: "Should we not learn from this that a person is obligated to forgive his son?" He responded: "The verse states however, 'honor your father and mother.'"2 What did Bartus do at that moment? He said to Lisa his sister: "There is no hope," and Lisa said, "No (there is hope) because I have some wonderful statements that Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar said." Bartus said to Rabbi Krustovsky in the sauna: "A person should always be supple as a reed and not stiff as a cedar."3 He responded: "Joshua states: 'You shall meditate on the Torah all day and all night.'"4 At a circumcision he said to him: "Who will bring the redemption? The jesters."5 He said to him: "From this you bring a proof?" Bartus' sister Lisa became distraught, and she sent to him that which Rabbi Sammy Davis Junior said. Bartus said to him (Rabbi Krustovsky): "Didn't a great man say, 'Israel is a strange people. I [mean] to say that I have heard of persecution, but this is shocking. But at the end of 2,000 years that they waited and held on and struggled, they made it. End of quote.'" He responded: "Who taught thus, Rabbi Hillel?" He responded: No. "Judah the Pious?" "No." "Maimonides?" "No." "The Dead Sea Scrolls?" "No, rather it was Rabbi Sammy Davis Junior, an entertainer like your son." He (Rabbi Krustovsky) said to him (Bartus): "The Candy Man? Perhaps I've been mistaken." Immediately he forgave his son.

[Let us now return to] the statement itself: What does it mean "Bartus said to him?" Rather [it should read] "Lisa said." For Lisa was a Talmud scholar and she brought up the statements in the first place. Rather, since she said them to Bartus and he said them to Rabbi Krustovsky. Since Bartus said them to Rabbi Krustovsky, [the story] said "Bart said to him." This is obvious! And when it asked the question why did it ask the question? Since Lisa was a Talmud scholar and one that says something in the name of the person who said it (originally) brings redemption to the world, as Rabbi Elazar said in the name of Rabbi Chanina6 "Anyone who says something in the name of the person who said it (originally) brings redemption to the world, as it written: 'And Esther said to the king in the name of Mordechai.'"7

 

Sources

1 Sotah 47a, Sanhedrin 107b. However, note that the text isn't exactly as it appears here. See the commentary of Tosafot. In reality, the statement appears twice in both Sotah and Sanhedrin. First there is a statement, "Always have the left hand push away and the right hand draw near." Then, a little while down we have, "Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar taught: 'with regards to the inclination of a child or a woman, always have the left hand push away and the right hand draw near.'" I decided that Bart (who says in the episode "A Child should pushed aside with the left hand and drawn closer with the right.") must have been quoting (however imperfectly), the second of these texts. The reasons I did so are (a) it directly talks about children, as does Bart's quote, and (b)Lisa makes a direct reference to Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar. Unfortunately, Bart's quote doesn't include "women," and Lisa's reference to Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar comes after the quote is used. But these difficulties just gave me a reason to write commentaries for Tosafot.

2 Exodus 20:11

3 Ta'anit 22b

4 Joshua 1:8

5 This statement appears to be taken from Ta'anit 22a where a certain two entertainers are identified as being worthy of the world to come.

6 Megilah 15a

7 Esther 2:22

 

Rashi

 

He threw him out: Because there is no honor in being a clown. As it is said, "The clown has become the king, and the prophet has become the clown."1

That Springfield is in: And there is no state that does not have a Springfield.

Thus we read: With regards to the inclination of a child or a woman. This is the language of obligation.

But the verse has stated: To say, that since a son who is a clown does not honor his father, the father is not obligated to forgive him.

And you shall meditate on it etc: And a clown doesn't study Torah.

At circumcision: Rabbi Krustovsky was a mohel. But know, that it is not proper to talk to a mohel during the circumcision.

He said to him: "Who taught thus": Because it is a great statement.

Maimonides: I don't know who he is.2

The Dead Sea Scrolls: I don't know what this is.3

The Candy Man: [This is said] with shock. [Gavrah demamtakin means] Candy man in the foreing tongue. (transliteration, in the manner that Rash"i often translates words into old French).

Perhaps I've been mistaken: For if an entertainer could say a thing like this, perhaps there is Torah with the clowns as well.

What does it mean "Bartus said to him?" Rather [it should read] "Lisa said.": To say, that it needed be "Bartus said in the name of Lisa."

Said it in the firs place: Because she knew the statements of the Tanaim (the early Rabbis).

It is simple: For it doesn't need to say "Bartus said in the name of Lisa" for it is known that Bartus doesn't speak words of Torah by himself because he was not a Talmud scholar at all.

 

Notes

1 "Y'hiyeh Tov," David Broza composer and singer, lyrics Yehonatan Gefen.

2 Maimonides lived 1135-1204. Rashi died in 1105.

3 The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the 20th century.

 

 

Tosafot

This translation also engages in some commentary. If, even after reading my commentary, you still don't exactly understand what Tosafot is saying, then I have done my job.

 

The inclination of a child: This refers to an obligation (of forgiveness). And in Sotah (47a) and Sanhedrin (106b) there is "The inclination of a child and a woman the left hand should push way and the right hand should draw near." And Rashi read thus (in our text as well) and said that all of this is the language of obligation. And in all our texts (of this text) there is not the word "woman." Rabbi Yitschak explained that it must be that forgiving a child is an obligation and forgiving a wife is optional. And on this our men rely when they don't forgive their wives.

That Rabbi Shimon the son of Elazar said: But Bartus doesn't quote Rabbi Shimon the son of Rabbi Elazar later. And the statement that was brought originally that "with regard to the inclination of the child etc." is a statement of Rabbi Shimon the son of Rabbi Elazar. And there is room to say that Lisa thought she would find more statements of Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar similar to that which she already found. And Rabbenu Tam explained that that which Bartus says later, "A person should always be supple as a reed and not hard as a Cedar," is brought in Ta'anit (20b) in the name of Rabbi Elazar the son of Rabbi Shimon. And one can say that Rabbi Shimon also said this statement in the name of his son, and (therefore) the Talmud treats him (Rabbi Shimon) as if he were his (Rabbi Elazar's) Son.

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