June 1, 2005 | Issue 21

Chassid Finds Finger in His Shirayim

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK — [TheKnish.com] Yoily Satmerer IV was in for a surprise last Shabbos as he bit into a finger at a tisch given by his rebbe, the Admir MeBensonhurst. What was unusual about the scenario was that at the time the finger was not attached to another chassid.

Yoily had come to the tisch the previous day, along with several hundred other chassidim, who were all eager to partake of the Rebbe’s leftovers, which were not so much leftovers as they were still hot and the Rebbe was not entirely full because he’d only taken about one bite. Before the Rebbe had even finished blowing on his first bite, the food was gone, grabbed away by his guests, each eager to partake of the precious shirayim, because the tisch had started the previous day and they were starving. Also, there was holiness involved, and nothing says “I’d like to partake of this holiness” like a bunch of grabbing and stuffing. Yoily had just popped a fistful of chulent into his mouth when he came upon something that almost made him gag.

“It was a finger,” Yoily told this reporter, displaying his prize after first licking it clean. “I thought it was a chicken frank.”

Chassidim have been going to tisches, or tischim, as some call it, for hundreds of years, ever since the days of the Great Baal Shem Tov, who loved to have company over for meals. Since then, rebbes put on their tisch bekechers and host tischim of their own - the only major requirement being that everyone involved has to eat with their hands. (The rebbes had a deal with the local dry cleaners.) This rule came about when a wise rebbe somewhere along the line weighed the downsides of all those people passing food to each other with their hands against the downsides of hundreds of chassidim simultaneously lunging forward with forks.

TheKnish.com has sent reporters to every tisch for years, in case something newsworthy happens, such as the rebbe nodding, or the rebbe waving, or, if we get a lucky, a choptzim (literally: “Charge!”). Choptzims have been few and far between as of late, with the institution of metal detectors at the doors, and so this reporter was very excited at this development. In general, in this reporter’s opinion, tischim are highly reminiscent of another group of devout followers who also dress up as the people they admire and camp out in long lines to see them and hear them spout words of wisdom.

“Know where that finger came from I do not,” the Rebbe later said, speaking to this reporter in broken English in a private meeting surrounded by faces pressed against the windows. (Strange, considering we were on the fourth floor.) The rebbe continued, “But find out where it came from somebody should. And referring to my bouncer Doovidle I am not.”

“It’s not mine,” the Rebbetzin told this reporter’s wife. “But I don’t know what happens to the food once it leaves my kitchen. I don’t know how many guests Admir will have, so I make a whole pot and hope it’s not too much. I haven’t actually spoken to Admir since our two-hour sit-in date thirty years ago. At least I think he was there. There were at least three hundred people sitting in on that date. But he did tell me that he’s always wanted to be a rebbe, ever since he was a little boy when his mother made him finish everything on his plate. At that point he decided, “No more.” This reporter’s wife told the Rebbetzin that she had to leave, but we suspect that the Rebbetzin is still talking.

The question of the finger remains unanswered, as no one has as yet claimed it. In fact, it is entirely possible that the victim did not even notice a missing finger until later, when he tried to wash his hands for Maariv. It is also possibly not the first time this guy lost a finger at a tisch. Yoily says that he will not press charges, unless the prospect of getting shirayim of the Rebbe’s money becomes too great. In the meantime, he says he will take the Rebbe’s advice and try to find the owner of the finger by standing on street corners in Boro Park and holding it aloft. And, he says, if someone misunderstands and gives him a ride to another street corner, that’s their problem.

Others did not see why this instance was a big deal at all. “So he found a finger,” said Yoily Rosenbaum V, who was also at the tisch and got to lick the bowl. “You should have seen what I found in my cream cheese at a bris once. Talk about metzitzah b’peh.”


Pencil Mike Schmutter writes humor articles for TheKnish.com and is trying to break into the part of the writing industry that doesn’t require him to cover tischim for free (not counting advertising stickers). He harkens back to last month, when he was to write an article about G-d killing the Angel of Death for the reckless pro-vegan killing of butchers, which, while difficult to write about, was not as claustrophobic. He is pleased to note, though, that in the time since he has written that article, not one person actually was sad and corny enough to actually try to email G-d, whose supposed address was provided. (Did anyone think Mike would not back it up with an actual email address?) You can email Mike at mschmutter@gmail.com with any article ideas or job offers or else Mike may seriously consider emailing the Almighty about whether there is still an opening.


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