Columns - 2004

    Kidding around

    By Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    There's an age-old joke that you might have heard...

    How old is age-old? I don't know. Ask my brother.

    (Okay, my older brother's not that old, but I knew my mother would get mad if I used her there instead.)

    It's the old story about Moses on Mount Sinai receiving the laws. The Almighty (Olde Englishe for "The Big G") says, "Don't cook a kid in its mothers milk." And Moses then goes into all these elaborate derived laws (commonly taught today as the commandment "remember the sabbath day and keep it kosher"), after which the Big G says "Moses, do what you want."

    It turns out, and you're reading it here first, that this didn't start out as a joke. Our secret lab, in an unidentified basement in south Florida, has recovered another of the sacred texts of the lost Mishnah tractate Bava Gump. Included in this scroll is the actual, unabridged text of the original conversation which was lost over the centuries, except in the aforementioned joke.

    So, for the first time in print anywhere (Bava Gump wrote in cursive), here's what was really said:

    Moses: "...I still think that telling them what not to do will just make them more curious to try."

    Big G: "They will demonstrate their faith by following these laws in the face of temptation."

    Moses: "You think so? Didn't you learn anything from that apple story with Adam and Eve?"

    Big G: "Didn't I learn?!? Moses, did you learn anything from those ten plagues?"

    Moses: "You don't make things easy, do you?"

    Big G: "Try creating the heaven and earth sometime."

    Moses: "Can I?"

    Big G: "No. And I have one more item for you."

    Moses: "Ready, boss."

    Big G: "Don't cook a kid in its mother's milk."

    Moses: "Right... Huh?"

    Big G: "Don't cook a kid in its mother's milk."

    Moses: "That's disgusting! Why would we cook a cute little defenseless kid in milk from his own mother? Bad enough you think you need to tell us to not sleep with our relatives or livestock, but this?"

    Big G: "Moses, in Hebrew, a kid goat is a different word than a kid that you beget."

    Moses: "Oh. Sorry. Got lost in the translation."

    Big G: "Won't be the last time."

    Moses: "So... kid... milk... you mean that we should strictly keep all meat and dairy products separate."

    Big G: "No, don't cook a kid in its mother's milk."

    Moses: "I suppose we should have separate dishes for meat and dairy too..."

    Big G: "Moses, I just said don't cook a kid..."

    Moses: "That's a little bit of salt on the wound. I mean, we're in the desert. It's not like we have lots of cabinet space for all these plates."

    Big G: "I didn't say..."

    Moses: "And we should wait at least six hours after eating meat before eating dairy, I suppose."

    Big G: "I was just trying to tell you to..."

    Moses: "So we have that restriction, but you still don't want me to put in that bit about waiting at least thirty minutes after eating before going for a swim?"

    Big G: "Moses..."

    Moses: "Or is this milk and meat thing not necessarily just about health?"

    Big G: "I'm just asking you to have faith in what I'm saying..."

    Moses: "That's fine. But I'm just saying... We already have to shlep two separate sets of dishes around the desert for this Passover thing you just decreed to celebrate our exodus. Oh, and thanks again for freeing us and everything. But now it sounds like we must have four sets!"

    Big G: "Moses..."

    Moses: "With all that stuff to carry, it'll take us forty years to get across this desert!"

    Big G: "And that'll have nothing to do well how well you're taking directions."

    Moses: "While we're talking about the desert and travel rations, it's good that you let us eat locusts, since there's so many of them here in the desert."

    Big G: "Hey, Mo..."

    Moses: "But isn't it cruel to let us eat them? After all, they helped free us from Egypt."

    Big G: "They helped?"

    Moses: "Yea, that seventh plague."

    Big G: "All the locusts did was fly around stinging people. I sent them to Egypt. Unlike some people, they don't wander aimlessly once they receive my direction."

    Moses: "Is that a dig?"

    Big G: "Moses, I'm not talking about cooking or eating. I said don't cook a kid in its mother's milk."

    Moses: "Yea? And?"

    Big G: "It's a metaphor. Cooking a child. Mother's milk. I'm saying don't abuse your wife or kids!"

    Moses: "Oh... Do you think they'll pick up on that?"

    Big G: "I thought it was clear."

    Moses: "I missed it."

    Big G: "I noticed. Should I try a clearer metaphor?"

    Moses: "The ink has already dried on the parchment."

    Big G: "Okay, fine. We'll go with your reading. Tell them it means all that food stuff you were talking about."

    Moses: "You got it, boss. Anything else? We can still work in that don't-abuse thing."

    Big G: "My metaphors are getting thin, and your ink is dry. We'll get back to that later. For now, we should call it a day."

    Moses: "I thought you already did that in Genesis."

    Big G: "Oh yea."

    Moses: "Actually, based on that, I've been up here taking dictation for forty days now."

    Big G: "Okay, I get the point. We're done. Get out of here. And, Moses, be careful with those two tablets."

    Doug Brook is a kosher technical writer in Silicon Valley. Just don't look in his kitchen. He is directing Fiddler on the Roof, playing in April and May in Sunnyvale. For more information, past columns, other writing, and other current events, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.