Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf? Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
The three little pigs were still dancing and singing and hooting and whistling and playing their fiddles. The wolf had been dead for . . . for who knows how long? He had huffed and puffed and finally hyperventilated himself into a debilitating stupor. Then he fell for the oldest trick in the book: down the chimney and into the cauldron.
The two foolish piglets thanked their practical brother for graphically demonstrating the comparative worth of brick housing in a world filled with lupine danger. But soon the merriment wore thin. What would the three little pigs do with themselves after disposing of the body?
After considerable discussion (although the two simpleton pigs will do anything their practical brother tells them to do) they reached a consensus: “Let’s kidnap a rabbi!”
As Rabbi David Levi Zimlov left his study, he wondered if he had been too hard on his adult study group. So what if Mrs. Applebaum was a hypocrite for keeping a kosher house but taking her friends out to the Wong Fong for spare ribs, lobster cantonese, and mu shoo pork? With all the suffering and injustice in the world, that hardly seems worth even a mention on the Day of Atonement, does it?
Before he could double lock the door, Rabbi Zimlov was smothered by a blanket and carried off to a car. He struggled briefly but knew that he would need both his wits and his energy for later. As the car started, he heard a gravelly grunt, “We’ve got you now, Rabbi Zimlov.” He also heard a duophony of high pitched squeals: “Oh yes we do! Oh yes we do!” Then came a bonk on the head and all went blank.
Life of the urban American rabbi is not without risk.
The three little pigs stared at Rabbi Zimlov, who was stretched out unconscious and blindfolded on the sofa in the new brick cottage. The rabbi soon groaned, felt his head, and sensed the blindfold. He knew that he had been kidnapped and feared that his life was in danger. He asked: “Who are you? P.L.O.? K.K.K.?”
The gravelly grunt replied, “No. T.L.P.”
Who? A new terrorist group? Rabbi Zimlov was confused but could express only one feeling: anger. “You filthy pigs, what the hell do you want with me?”
The three little pigs looked at each other and nodded. How totally predictable of the rabbi. Practical Pig removed the blindfold. The bright light caused Rabbi Zimlov to cover his eyes and squint. Practical Pig replied, “Would you care to repeat that, Rabbi?”
Rabbi Zimlov began to focus. He shook his head and started to focus again. Could this be? Was Rabbi David Levi Zimlov really face-to-face, nose-to-snout, with three genuine porcines?
Quick thinker that he was, Rabbi Zimlov shook off the momentary terror and pursued the obvious. “Okay, clever costumes, now who are you?”
Of course, they were not costumes but it took a few minutes to convince the rabbi. Some people could never be convinced but you have to hand it to Rabbi Zimlov; he accepts reality when there are no other viable choices.
“So what do you want from me?”
Practical Pig took charge. “We are the three little pigs. T – L – P. You know, not by the hair on our chinny chin chins?”
There wasn’t much chin hair on those boys to speak of but Rabbi Zimlov was in no position to quibble.
Rabbi Zimlov played it cool. “So?”
Practical Pig continued. “These are my foolish brothers, Larry and Elliott. My name is Jerome. I’d offer you my trotter but you won’t shake it, will you? I’ll cut right to the quick, Rabbi. We kidnapped you because we don’t like the way you talk about us pigs.”
Rabbi Zimlov shrugged. Jerome seemed liked a decent sort, for a pig.
“I know what you’re thinking, Rabbi. I seem okay, for a pig. We don’t like this anti-pig hysteria you foster. Putting down pigs all the time! Shame on you! How do you get off calling us ‘unclean’? A few of your congregants aren’t so hygienic themselves if you haven’t already noticed.”
The rabbi had noticed. Chalk up a point for Jerome. Still, he is a pig. Tref is tref, as they say. Unclean is unclean.
Larry could not hold back. “Yeah, Zimlov, we pigs are sick and tired of you and your humanoid uppity–”
Jerome sternly interrupted his brother. “Lawrence! It’s Rabbi Zimlov.”
Now the rabbi was genuinely confused. Anger? Understandable. But respect? Still, no telling what these unkosher creatures might do if provoked. Time for quick thinking.
“Alright, you three little pigs. Here’s what I will do. I will take you off the unclean list. There will be no more bad-mouthing of pigs. Okay?”
The pigs were surprised. It couldn’t be that easy.
“If that’s what you little pigs want, you can have it. I’ll tell my congregants they can eat pork starting tomorrow. By the way, Larry, how much do you weigh? Dressed weight, I mean.”
The three little pigs gasped in terror. That was not what they had in mind.
“Rabbi Zimlov,” said Jerome, “you know that in India the Hindus do not eat beef. The cow is considered sacred, not unclean. The cow is revered, not maligned.”
“That is true, but we are not Hindus. You see, the book of Leviticus is quite clear on this point. You are, in the Biblical sense, unclean. I mean no offense. But I cannot rewrite scripture.”
“Rabbi, may I ask you two questions?”
“Who created you?”
“And the second question?”
“Who created us piggies?”
Another point for Jerome. Of course, if the rabbi gives in to these pigs, the lobsters, camels, rock-badgers, horses, donkeys, catfish, clams, eels, falcons, pelicans, and cuckoos would surely take similar action.
Rabbi Zimlov looked at the three little pigs. He recalled his childhood and the days when Porky Pig and Cicero and Petunia were (secretly, of course) his favorite cartoon friends. He remembered the enchantment of . . . this little piggie went to market, this little piggie stayed home. But there is no contradicting Leviticus 11:7, is there?
Ibiddy, ibbidy, ibbidy, that is all, folks, sayeth the Lord. A theological bummer, if there ever was one.
“Rabbi,” said Jerome, “you might be surprised to learn that our cousin Morris has studied Talmud for many years. The depth of his knowledge would astound you.”
The rabbi was doubtful of Jerome’s claim but listened.
“Morris tells me that the flesh of the pig is unclean for your people only when they eat it. Don’t eat it and it’s not unclean.”
“Jerome,” said the Rabbi, “I have never heard that theory. But I will admit: it has a certain logical charm to it. Tell me, is it unclean for others as well?”
“According to Morris, eating pork should be forbidden to everyone. I admit that Morris has a certain vested interest in the matter, but he is a very learned pig.”
“I should like to meet him one day,” said the Rabbi.
Rabbi Zimlov sought and, with the help of his new friends, found the middle ground.
“You have put me in a difficult position. This is what I propose: I will stop denigrating pigs. I will undertake a program of, what shall we call it, affirmative action? But under no circumstances will I tell my congregation that pork is kosher. That I cannot do.”
That was fine with the pigs, who appreciated any and all efforts to get people to stop eating pork for whatever reason.
“I must tell you something, Rabbi Zimlov. Your friend Mrs. Applebaum eats ham sandwiches on white bread with butter and mayonnaise.”
Rabbi Zimlov was not surprised. “I will counsel her.”
“That is an abomination. At least tell her it is much better on dark rye with good mustard. Add some swiss cheese, leave out the (gulp) ham and that’s a sandwich that will please a prince.”
“One more thing, Rabbi. Do you remember last week when Mr. Goldman asked if it was kosher to trade in pork belly futures on the commodities market?”
“Of course. I will tell him that it is not kosher.”
“Tell him September oats are a sure bet. We knew we could count on you.”
The three little pigs brought Rabbi Zimlov back to the synagogue. The bump on his head disappeared in a few days. He now tells his congregants that pigs are decent, intelligent, and above all, clean, animals. They ask: then why can’t we eat pork? The rabbi answers: maybe we are not worthy to eat the pig. Maybe it is we who are unclean. Worry about other things, why don’t you?
If you need to reach Rabbi Zimlov, call him anytime except Tuesday night. That’s when he visits the brick condo on the wrinkle by the south side of the universe. Elliott and the rabbi shoot baskets in the back yard, they have dinner (vegetarian), and then they play poker: Texas Hold ‘Em. Larry is an easy mark because he can’t remember if a flush beats a straight but Jerome is the best competition the rabbi has seen since the seminary. Next week Morris will join them if he can get away.