What Am I Describing?

“When I saw the coffin I was like, ‘Really? They fit him into that? They didn’t even need to widen it around the middle?’ I mean, this is a guy who never went anywhere without his iPod, iPad, cell phone, pager, Hatzolah walkie-talkie, and Chaverim toolkit, just in case he needs to break into a car in a hurry. He jangled so much when he walked, you thought a robot was coming down the block. His belt added about a foot to his waistline. He never went anywhere without all that stuff, there’s no way he’s going to heaven without them either.”

Pause

“Or wherever he’s going.”

Pause

“I mean, you never know. God’s car might break down, and we know there aren’t too many mechanics in heaven.”

Pause

“So, here we are folks, mourning the passing of our esteemed friend, relative, and colleague, Yosef Schwartz. I’d like to invite his rabbi and mentor to give the next eulogy. Rabbi Cohen was in charge of Yossi’s spirituality. The guy who was supposed to make sure our friend here went to the good place. I don’t see any smoke coming from the coffin yet, so that’s a good sign. Ladies and gentlemen: Rabbi Dovid Cohen.”

“Thank you, thank you. You know, I really don’t think we have to worry about Yossi. I knew he was a good boy from the very start. We first met about a year after he joined our yeshiva. He had taken a hot slice of pizza—with the cheese just browning and bubbling—out of the toaster, and dropped it, right on the floor in front of the stove. Cheese side down, of course. Yossi was always meticulous about following rules, and Murphy’s law was no exception.

“Anyway, Yossi knew that many bits and scraps of food—both milchigs and fleishigs—had fallen in front of the stove over time, and in fact, most of them were still there. He really wanted to brush off and eat his perfectly baked pizza, but wasn’t sure if it was kosher.

“R’ Katz, who he usually went to for sheilos, was in LA at the time and Shabbos hadn’t ended yet. In desperation he called me. I immediately took a liking to the sincere, sweet boy, and we’ve been in touch ever since. He never hesitated to ask me even his most sensitive questions. I’ll miss him, but I know he’s happier now. He has access to much greater rabbanim than me now, and for his really tough questions, he can even go to the Ultimate Rebbe himself. In fact, right now the Ultimate Rebbe is probably pinning a medal on him for throwing out that pizza, and having blueberry pie for melaveh malka instead.”

“Thank you R’ Cohen for your kind words. You know, I bet they’re making up for that pizza right now with an entire pie that tastes… just… heavenly. Although I think they have to order in, since I hear most of the ovens are kept elsewhere.

“Our next speaker is someone who may have a different perspective on where Yosef wound up. We’re talking about someone who still remembers the time he colored on the walls and wouldn’t let him forget why they had to paint the living room mauve. She used to be upset because he didn’t call often enough. Well, he definitely won’t be calling now, Mrs. Schwartz. But you can send him a message anyway, while his neshama is still lingering. Everyone: Yossi’s mother, Mrs. Eve Schwartz.”

*     *     *

Okay. Now imagine the subject of these speeches is still alive and sitting there, listening.

Now swap out the jokes about God, heaven, and hell for jokes about mother-in-laws, wives, and jewelry shopping.

What do we have? Yep: sheva brochos.

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7 thoughts on “What Am I Describing?

  1. I’m sure some of your readers read the stories in Mishpacha Mag about ‘roasting’ a guy at sheva brachos and how horrible it is.
    I actually haven’t seen it happen yet, but I’m sure it does in many situations.

  2. I’m still recovering from last week’s shava brachos. Either the speeches are obituaries, stating every wonderful quality (real or imagined) about the young couple, or it is chock-full of bad Borst-Belt material torturing a perfectly innocent mother-in-law (what I don’t get is that a wife’s mother-in-law is usually more on her case than a husband’s mother-in-law, so what are all these shvigger jokes about a man wanting to kill his wife’s mother? It should be the other way around).

  3. I wish the speakers at my aufruf/sheva brachos had been so imaginative (and short!). With the exception of my brothers’ not-so-subtly inappropriate speeches by the aufruf, the majority of speeches were boring and lame.

  4. There were no speeches at our sheva brochos. Just quick divrei Torah.

    In general, a good speech might start with a joke and/or might end with a joke, but if a speech needs to be full of jokes, it almost always isn’t a necessary speech and should be avoided whenever possible (because the only thing it may accomplish is hurting someone’s feelings).

    I can’t imagine why people feel the need to prepare a speech full of jokes that may hurt feelings and accomplish little else.

  5. IMHO, this is a key to a good speech at a religious event: make a central point with the dvar Torah and tie it to One Thing about the person (or couple) about whom you speak. I know in rabbanus and professional speech-giving classes they teach the Rule of Three, but this is different in that there are already two sections (DT and talking about the simcha person).

    Unless the speaker is a gadol in joking, I always feel that they shortchanged the audience/took the easy way out if ALL the speech includes in jokes without a DT. But maybe I’m a snob.

    PS haven’t been here is long while – nice new look to the blog!

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