Ain't It A Shem? (Re-posted for Purim)
(For tonite, a Purim rerun of one of my favorite posts! More tomorrow am!)
"And Malchitzedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was priest of God the Most High.
And he blessed him, and said: 'Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God the Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.' And he gave him a tenth of all." (Gen 14: 18-20)
Ever wonder if there was a bit more to this conversation? Let's listen in...
[Scene: "Kings Valley", aftermath of the battle:]
Malchitzedek: Greetings! I, Malchitzedek King of Salem, have arrived! Here, sit down, rest, have a bissel nosh! But first, machen a bracha! Ahem: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Maker of..."
Abram: Zaidee?? Zaidee Shem? Is that you?
M: Shem? There's no "Shem" here, young man! No, no, you must be mixing me up with someone else. As I said, I am King Malchi...
A: Come on now, it's you! You think I wouldn't recognize my own great great great great great great great grandfather? Zaidee, what on earth are you doing in that ridiculous getup?
M: "Getup", hmph! I'll have you know that these are my Royal Robes of Majesty. Or my Priestly Garments of Splendor, one or the other. I get them mixed up sometimes.
A: Well, they make you look like the Total Nutcase of Meshugginer! Imagine, carrying on like this, a man your age! You should be resting in bed with a glezeleh tea, you're getting too old for this kind of stuff!
M: Now listen, sonny! As a wise man once said (sort of), "When 465 years old you reach, look as good you will not, hmmm?" And you're not exactly a spring chicken yourself, "little Abey". You're 75 now, if I remember correctly? And here you are, fighting wars, chasing great big kings into salt mines, oy! Not that that old rascal Hammurabi didn't deserve it. Gosh, what a Nimrod!
A: Alright, alright. I am a little winded, I must admit. Running 600 miles will do that to you.
M: So nu, sit already, eat something! Have some nice challah and a glass Manischewitz! Don't worry, it's just from last Shabbos, it's still good and fresh. Not to complain mind you, but I always have plenty of food left over, seeing as how none of my grandchildren ever bother to visit me these days. You'd think, with like 1/3 of the Whole World descended from me, that just a few of you would have time to see their great-Zaidee once in a while! But Noooo! "Oh, sorry Zaidee, we've just been busy, building towers and whatnot." Young chutzpaniks! You know, when I was their age, I spent a whole year on a tiny little boat with my parents, taking care of Stinky Animals day and night. Did I ever tell you about the time the lion bit Zaidee Noach, and I ...
A: [interrupting] Yes, about two hundred times. OK look, I know I haven't gotten a chance to stop by in a while. I've been traveling; you know, the whole "length and width of the Land, East and West and North and South" bit. God's command, and all that. And anyway Zaidee, you shouldn't let yourself get so worked up. It's bad for your blood pressure. You know it's been much too high ever since you gave up the vegetarian diet after the flood.
M: [pouting] Hey, those fashluggineh animals OWED me something big! OK, OK, I'll calm down. So enough about me then. How's by you? And how's my darling great (etc.) granddaughter-in-law Jessie? When are you guys going to make me a great great great great great great great great grandfather already?
A: First of all, you know very well that my wife goes by her Hebrew name these days, "Sarai"!
M: Ooooh, look who's gone all fa-chnyuked on us! OK, so how is "Sarai"? Any good news?
A: To be honest, Zaidee, no. And believe me, we've been trying! Jess - uh, Sarai is pretty upset about it too.
M: Hmm. Well, here's an idea! You know, the latest trend is the whole surrogate mother kind of thing. Is there anyone you can ask to "help out"? Say, what about that cute new maid you guys brought home from Egypt?
A: You're kidding me! You mean Hagar??? She's horrible!
M: What are you, prejudiced or something? Just cause she's a "Hamite"? She happens to be my great-great... some-odd niece, you know!
A: Yeah, so is the whole entire world, big whoop. Anyway, you know perfectly well it has nothing to do with that. Why, some of my best friends are Emorites! Three of them, to be exact.
M: Yeah, but would you let your son marry their daughters? [under his breath] That is, if he ever has a son at this rate...
A: Look, Sarai would never let me take a second wife, especially not the cleaning lady, OK? You know she'd just get all "uppity", and then all gehinom would break loose. So just let it go, willya?
M: If you insist. But you and Jess aren't getting any younger, you know. Maybe you guys shouldn't be so fussy?
A: [eager to change the subject] So anyway, still in the holy city, huh? How is everything in good old 'Salem?
M: Actually, much better these days since we got rid of those pesky witches.
A: Huh? Got rid of who now?
M: Never mind, bad joke. Things are fine. And speaking of which, I'm sure you heard about the wonderful project that Zaidee Eber and I have been working on!
A: You mean the Yeshiva? As a matter of fact, I did hear something about it from Zaidee Peleg a while back, right before he "split".
M: Now who's making with the bad jokes!
A: Seriously though, is it working out? How's the enrollment?
M: Ummm.. actually, not quite as good as we hoped.
A: What do you mean? How many talmidim do you have exactly?
M: Well, to be precise... zero. But we think things will be looking up someday soon. Thanks to your work, actually! Good stuff, that kiruv.
A: Thanks! We try. Got to get those mitzvahs in wherever we can, you know.
M: Exactly my point! Which reminds me... have you decided what to do with your maaser money this year? Because I have a very good cause for you to support!
A: You must be kidding. You're shnorring from me - you're own great-great etc. grandson??
M: Who else can I shnorr from, if not family? There aren't exactly a lot of people around who aren't related to me, you know!
A: OK, good point. But didn't you just get through telling me you have no students!!
M: Oh, come now! Didn't you ever hear of "build it, and they will come!"? And do you have any idea what kind of expenses we have?? Tents, camels, wells, parchment, books...
A: "Books"? What kind of "books"? SEVEN LAWS, Zaidee! Seven Laws! You don't need books, you need pamphlets!
M: Can the sarcasm. Look, you going to pony up, or not?
A: [giving in] Well... I guess there are worse ways to spend my shekels. Would you believe after all that happened, Dad is still trying to get me to invest in the family business? Imagine me, supporting "Mesopotamian Idol"! So OK, your yeshiva can have my donation. But I do have one condition.
M: What? I told you, the bais midrash is already named for Zaidee Adam and Bubbee Chavah, so that's taken.
A: Not that. Here's the deal: My grandchildren (some day, God willing!) get free tuition.
M: What, all of them??? Listen, you want to bankrupt us? I know all about that "stars of heaven, dust of earth" bit. Nothing doing! I'll give it for one grandson, that's it!
A: Alright, I guess that's fair. But he gets to stay as long as he wants.
M: Sure! I'll give him a full five years, free!
A: Five years! What do you think we are, Modern Orthodox? What kind of kollel yungermentch learns for a mere five years? He gets twenty years, at least!
M: Twenty! Nothing doing. Ten years, that's it!
A: You want the donation, or not? Eighteen!
M: Twelve! That's as high as I can go!
A: Look, let's not get carried away. Can we compromise on 15 years?
M: 14, and you've got a deal.
A: Done and done.
M: Pleasure doing business with you, Abey! You can make the check out to "Yeshivas Shem V'Eber Scholarship Fund, LLC"
A: [writing] Here you go. And it really was good to see you again, Zaidee. Give my regards to uncles Hammy and Jappy.
M: Will do, Abey. And listen, do think about my Hagar idea. [lowers voice] You want that Syrian oaf Elie over there with the great big sword to inherit the estate some day?
A: [quietly] I hear ya, believe me. Alright, I'll mention it to Sarai, but don't get your hopes up. You know how women are. Take care, Zaidee.
M: You too, Abey. God Most High bless.