Hellmensch (Transcript)

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Chris Sims: "And when the fire had reached the topmost pitch of violence, the paritz himself walked into the midst of the flames. There he summoned Satan to him. And the two demons of evil stood in the flames, and laid all their powers together for a supreme assault that would consume the Master." Rabbi Israel and the Sorcerer. The story of the terrible struggle between Rabbi Israel, Master of the Holy Name, and the paritz who was in league with the evil one and how Rabbi Israel conquered.

C: Hello, friends and neighbors, and welcome to "Apocrypals." It's the podcast where two non-believers read through the Bible, but we try not to be jerks about it. It is, well, it's not Halloween for you, but it is Halloween for us. My name is Chris Sims, with me as always, the other set of footprints, Benito Cereno. Benito, how are you?

Benito Cereno: Chris, I'm feeling pretty spooky 'cause it is Halloween for us in the past relative to the listeners who are hearing this now.

C: I mean, we are always in the past relative to the listeners, as we have discussed before. That is the nature of time.

B: Nature of linear time.

C: Which has made fools of us all.

B: It sure has. Boy, howdy.

C: But even though it is Halloween for us and not for you, we did not want to let the year go by without doing our annual Haints and Saints traditions here on Apocrypals, because we keep the spirit of Halloween in our hearts year-round, just as we told the three ghosts.

B: That's right. Also, I feel justified by the Julian calendar that any time before mid-November could still potentially be Halloween.

C: Right. I just feel like we spend a lot of time being terrified, for which I am on medication in therapy. And if I think about that as being less of a brain problem and more of just keeping the spirit of Halloween, it makes me feel a little bit better about it.

B: That's right. I don't have anxiety. I have the spirit of Halloween in my heart.

C: Yeah. Yeah.

B: That's a life hack. Put that one on lifehack.org.biz.

C: So Benito, this is our second year of doing a particular thing to celebrate Halloween. So I feel like this qualifies as a tradition. Would you like to talk about what we are reading for this episode?

B: Yeah, we're doing two more stories out of The Golden Mountain, the book by Meyer Levin from 1932, which collects folk tales of the Baal Shem Tov, the Besht, the Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Jewish mystic, Rabbi, healer, the founder of Hasidic Judaism, who lived in the early 18th century in what is now Ukraine. About him, there are many interesting stories. did two last year. We did him versus a werewolf. He descended into the world of the dead to save a bride or something, right? Isn't that what the other one was?

C: That sounds about right. I do remember the werewolf primarily because we had a easy slam dunk theme song for that episode. Sadly, there is no Gill-man Bar Mitzvah.

B: Yeah, that's too bad because yeah, this time we got a couple of bangers, in my opinion. We got a full on wizard battle, like real, real for real wizard battle on the level of the wizard battle between Boris Karloff and Vincent Price in Roger Corman's The Raven. And then we have a full-on Gill-man.

C: Is Roger Corman's The Raven based on the poem?

B: Nominally.

C: Yeah, 'cause I don't seem to recall a wizard battle.

B: No, right.

C: Is it based on an NES adaptation of the poem?

B: So that movie is written by Richard Matheson, who wrote a couple of the Roger Corman Poe adaptations. And he was like, "Oh, we have to do the raven. Well, that's a poem. There's not enough in there for a feature length film. Might as well make it a crazy wizard comedy." And that's what he did with it. And so Boris Karloff is a wizard. Vincent Price is a wizard. Peter Lorre is also in it. He gets transformed into a raven. Jack Nicholson is also in it. It's very good. I do recommend that one if you like wizard battles and that cast of amazing people.

C: And if you do like wizard battles, again, I would say maybe stop this recording, go read these stories, and then come back before we talk about them. Because these are a) quick read. Both of these stories amount to about what 12 pages or so?

B: Yeah, probably something like that.

C: Also, they read like Hellboy stories.

B: Yes.

C: And they read like both kinds of Hellboy stories because there's one that's just like a creepy monster story and one that, as you said, has a wizard battle. So I have started thinking of the Baal Shem Tov as "Hellmensch."

B: "Hellmensch," yeah, okay.

C: He's like the Hellboy of Jewish mysticism, right?

B: Yeah, yeah. I think that stands up to scrutiny. Pretty good stories today. I think you guys are going to enjoy them. But yeah, as we are recording here in the midst of Halloweekend, it's the freaking Halloweekend, baby. Chris, what is your Halloween looking like?

C: Well, I have a therapy appointment.

B: Cool. To address the Halloween spirit that lives inside you.

C: Right, exactly. And then I will, of course, stay up until midnight, and then at exactly midnight, when October 31st becomes November 1st, I will begin playing Christmas music, and I will not stop for two months.

B: Nice. For me in the past, that key transitional song has been Candy Cane Lane by Sia. I don't know if it will be that this year.

C: Yeah, it's a banger.

B: Yeah.

C: But, unfortch.

B: We all know what it is.

C: You know what my, you know what my...

B: Yeah, we know what yours is.

C: May play at the end of this episode. I don't edit it anymore. We'll both be surprised.

B: We'll both be surprised. Who knows what Deacon Brown might do. Yeah, so as of this recording, we already did our Halloween parade. It was last weekend. And I swear I had heard that they did the Halloween parade a weekend early because the city's official trick or treat was going to be Saturday, right? And so they moved the parade back a weekend. But then I looked it up with my wife last night, and it's supposed to be Monday, like actual Halloween, which is weird because I told one of my former students I would come and carve pumpkins with him, which I don't know why he wants to carve pumpkins on actual Halloween. But I said I would do that. And then my wife was like, "Are you going to miss trick or treat?" And I was like, "No, because tricks and treats are on Saturday." And then she was like, "You are incorrect about that." So who knows? Wait, have you been in your house long enough to have had a Halloween there?

C: Yes. Mainly it is my job to corral and wrangle my poor dog who also has the Halloween spirit.

B: Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

C: Which is triggered by anyone knocking at the door.

B: Sure. Do you get trick-or-treaters through?

C: Yeah. We got a bunch last year. A.C. gave out the candy while I handled Biscuit. We're not a full size bar house.

B: Yeah.

C: That's, I think, silly. We're a king size bar house, baby.

B: Yo. Yo.

C: Everybody's leaving here with a pound of candy.

B: And everyone knows they can come to my house to get starlight peppermints, horehounds, some nice stick candy, ribbon candy, all clumped together in a big ball covered in dust, just like at your nana's house. Actually, so I think I've probably talked about this before. In my neighborhood, we do get some trick-or-treaters through, but you have to like really super entice them to come. Like, they don't just come up to your door. Like I have found I have to go outside, sit on my porch, set up a table, light candles, blast music.

C: Bring your banner up.

B: Yeah. Otherwise, they'll just completely walk past. But I have to basically stand there and shout like, "Please come get candy for me, the Halloween man."

C: That's weird.

B: They won't even miss me if I'm not here because I'm in another county carving pumpkins.

C: Well you have an apartment.

B: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

C: I always hope to get more trick-or-treaters at the apartment that we used to live in. Because I feel like I know there's kids living there, and apartments should be like, it's less walking.

B: Yeah, right.

C: We have so many houses, but I guess people are like, nope, absolutely not.

B: Yeah, I'm not in an apartment complex, right? I live in a residential neighborhood. I just live in a quadruplex. I don't know.

C: Folks, if you ever find yourself in one of our two cities, you know where you can get some candy handed out by people who desperately want to give candy to people?

B: It's true. Come to my house, hang out on my porch, you can eat some good ribbon candy, we can listen to SkaToon Network's "Skalaween" album on my Bluetooth speaker, enjoy my hot chocolate scented Halloween candle from Bath and Body Smells, and we'll have a good time.

C: I am imagining that that store is called Bath and Body Smells and how quickly it would go out of business.

B: Yeah. Is that not what it is? It's like, "Take a bath, help your body smell." Good. I assume.

C: Benito, we went through the background of the Balsam Tov last year. Maybe you can give an abbreviated version before we jump into these stories just to catch everybody up.

B: Yeah, sure. Like I said, you know, early 18th century, born sometime around 1700. His name is Israel ben Eliezer, meaning his father's name was Eliezer. And we only know a little bit about his actual life because he's one of those people whose biography is so shrouded in like legend. But we do know, you know, he is regarded as the founder of Hasidic Judaism. He is a Kabbalistic mystic, and he's called Baal Shem Tov, the master of the good name, because he, as a miracle worker and a healer, you know, is thought to have mastered the use of the secret and divine names of God and the miraculous powers that come along with that. We'll definitely see him use that in his wizard battle. He was from what was at the time Poland, but would today be part of Ukraine, a city called Medzhybizh. And we'll see that city in one of the stories. And his cousin lives in a city called Starokostiantyniv, also in Ukraine, in case you're thinking of visiting important sites in the life of the Baal Shep Tov.

According to the legend, right, his parents were very advanced age when he was born, and so they died almost immediately after, and his father told him, you know, "Fear nothing except God." That's one line we hear him say, and tells him to show love to all Jews. And so he lives his life by those central tenets.

C: He sure does. Yeah. If you were to ask me, what is that guy's deal?

B: He doesn't afraid of anything, and he loves all the Jews. And yeah, part of his mysticism was – what would you call it? – an ability, I guess, 'devekut', which means adhesion, where he can astral project up into heaven and consult with God and angels and people in the bosom of Abraham and that kind of stuff.

I should mention this because this is a thing I found out after last year's episode, and I wanted to mention it. Do you remember, Chris, in the story of, not the werewolf story, but the other one, there's a thing where he's able to kind of like fast travel. Do you remember that?

C: Yes.

B: Right? Like he's on his horse and cart and he manages to like teleport by going through like an alternate dimension.

C: Yeah. As one does.

B: It turns out that is not a thing that was just completely invented for that story. It is a repeated miracle in multiple Jewish sources and it is called Kefitzat Haderech.

C: Oh, cool.

B: Yeah, and if that sounds familiar, it's because that is the source of the name Kwisatz Haderach from Dune.

[Dune clip: "For he is the Kwisatz Haderach!"]

B: It means "a shortening of the road." And so, yeah, in Dune, the idea is it's supposed to be – what is it? I'm not a Dune guy. It's supposed to be the male Bene Gesserit or whatever.

C: Bene Gesserit, yes.

B: And that person is supposed to be like a leap forward, right? Is that correct?

C: Yes.

B: And so, yeah, that's the idea. Like that's the connection there. That's a recurring miraculous ability in Jewish sources. So that's one of the things that we see the Besht employ in one of the stories we did last year.

C: See, now you're making me think about if Timothée Chalamet was cast as the Besht. And I don't think that would be good casting. Not as bad as casting Tom Holland as Nathan Drake. Also not good.

B: Not great.

C: Who do you think could play, if you get the film adaptation of Rabbi Israel and the Sorcerer going, who do you think could pull off the part?

B: Ooh, that's a good question. I just Googled Jewish actors, and I'm gonna see... Jack Black. Okay, I'm in it now. I'm fully in: Jack Black.

C: Actually, that would be pretty great.

B: That's the Besht. Yeah, what am I gonna say? Zach Braff, get real. Let's go with Jack Black, as the Besht, I love it.

C: That would actually be like, that's maybe better than mine. I went in a very different direction. I figured that my main dog, Adrian Brody...

B: Ooh.

C: ...could do it, especially if, much like in the movie, Predators, which I always talk about whenever Adrian Brody comes up, when he draws that circle and begins to have his wizard battle, he also takes his shirt off, and everyone watching is confused at how ripped he is.

B: Yeah.

C: I have told people that story of me watching Predators so many times, and then after I tell that story to people who have not seen this movie, I then send them a photo of Adrien Prodi in that movie, and they are still surprised.

B: Oh man. There's a horror movie from probably 10-ish years ago at this point called The Possession, not to be confused with the early 80s movie Possession with Sam Neill that I've never seen because it's not in print and not streaming anywhere. That is one of those white whale kind of movies. But anyway, it's the one about the haunted Dybbuk box. I don't know if you remember that, Chris. That was a thing in IRL. Someone was trying to sell a possessed box on eBay or something and they made a movie about it with Eric Banner, maybe? I forget, is maybe the lead. But the important thing is that Matisyahu is in it playing a Hasidic exorcist. That's pretty good. The movie is not good, but I do like the idea of a Hasidic exorcist doing Jewish ghost hunting. I feel like there is a whole avenue of that kind of sub-genre to explore. And I feel like, yeah, Jack Black is the Besht going around fighting monsters. That's a franchise, baby. That's franchise material.

C: Especially if you've not seen Jack Black with that beard that he grew.

B Yeah, yeah.

C: Strong look. Well, I think we're well past background at this point.

B: Let me add one detail.

C: Yes.

B: The best ate farfel, which is like little pellet style pasta from Ashkenazi cuisine made of egg noodles. He ate it every Friday night because the word is similar to the word for "fallen,"" which means wiped out or over and finished because he thought it made it a symbol of wiping out the old week in favor of starting fresh the new week.

C: It's a pretty good tradition and also you get to eat pasta.

B: You do get to eat pasta on Fridays. Farfel Fridays, baby. Taco Tuesday, what? Farfel Friday, more like.

C: Go throw on a little pasta, read these stories, and meet us back here as we pass the collection plate.

B: Yeah.

[Musical interlude]

C: Benito, Season 2 is continuing.

B: Here we are, Season 2, going strong. It's our sophomore season, baby. This is the one where we team up with Tyra to solve a murder or do a murder. I don't remember what happened in season two of Friday Night Lights. No one wants to think about that one.

C: Yeah, you did not take long to completely lose me.

B: Friday Night Lights is a good show except for season two, which was the one where executives were like, "You need to add more intrigue. Have the teens accidentally do a murder and then try and cover it up in this show about small town football and Applebee's." Anyway, it's a joke about how that season is bad, but the rest of the show is very good.

C: Well, I think we should add some more intrigue to this season of Apocrypals. Specifically the intrigue of how are we gonna pay them gimmicks they keep sending in the mail called bills?

B: That's right. It's very important. I'm overwhelmed with gimmicks, Chris. I'm drowning in gimmicks.

C: What is it that you said? Adulthood is just a series of people asking you for $100?

B: Yeah, it's a series of faceless entities asking me for $100.

C: Yes. And now, we're not a faceless entity. We have two faces.

B: Each.

C: Each. 'Cause the only law that matters is the law of averages.

B: That's right. We each have two faces. We've been secret Cainites this entire time, underground beings descended from the lineage of Cain with two heads. That's also from Jewish lore. Anyway, the point is, your support is what makes this show happen. And we, your parasocial best friends, appreciate the support that you give to us by going to ko-fi.com/apocrypals, K-O dash F-I dot com slash apocrypals, and leaving donations in whatever increment you would like. One time or recurring, both great.

C: It also helps us to get some of the more obscure texts that we cover on the show as well, books that we have to order for the reading. It helps us to pay Editorial Deacon Lucas Brown to get the show edited, who's been handling the show for the past all of season two.

B: All of season two.

C: And the last little bit of season one. It helps us in a lot of ways. So if you enjoy the show and you are able to, and you want to kick in a little bit of a love offering to help us out, ko-fi.com/apocapals. You can kick in a little bit, really help us out. We do appreciate it. If you do that and you are in the Apocapals Discord, you can get the Cheerful Giver status.

B: That's right. There's actually a second one. I forget what the other one is.

C: as inspired by the Ezekiel, I believe.

B: Yeah, there's actually two. One is for one-time donations and one is for ongoing donations. So you can be a cheerful giver or you can be a floodgate of blessing. That's the other one.

C: What do you have to do to be a floodgate of blessing?

B: That's for recurring donations.

C: Ah, okay, that's good. There are of course the various challenges that you can take. They're optional, but you know, if you're keeping track of your lifetime Chievos, Maybe you're like, "I need to get that full beast achievement that only three people will know about."

B: That's right. The elusive full beast. Someone's gonna hit that Cheivo one day. Some brave Cheivo hunter.

C: We've got a couple of half-beasts. Couple of half-beasts. Pretty good.

B: Yeah. Seriously though, thank you to those who have donated and it's not about the amount. Widows, mites, etc. Jesus, that was a whole thing. You remember him? So thank you to everyone who's donated and thank you to everyone who helps in other ways. Word of mouth is so important for a show like us. We don't have a network. We don't have advertising, anything like that. We completely rely on people like you telling their friends, telling their cool Bible professors to put us on the syllabus or whatever.

C: No longer part of a network, which is kind of a shame because I bet that Elon podcast has really popped off lately.

B: Yeah. Also, we were on a video game podcast network. I don't know. We were the Bible podcast on the video game podcast network.

C: Yeah, but look, like we've never talked about video games.

B: Yeah, well, that's-

C: We haven't had three episodes of this show devoted entirely to video games.

B: Okay, look, that's true and that's fair. But anyway, thank you to everyone who talks about us, IRL, or who suggests us in various subreddits or on Facebook, Twitter, wherever. We appreciate that. and leaving us rating and review on your podcast app of choice, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify. I don't know if you can leave reviews on Spotify or if you just-

C: You can. You can now leave reviews on Spotify.

B: I knew you could leave a rating. I didn't know if you could leave an actual review. So either way, great. Thank you to everyone who's done that because that really does help people find the show and we do appreciate that. And we haven't had new ratings in a while. We're still at 509, which is where we were at last time.

C: You could be the person to throw us a new review that maybe won't be super insulting to one or both of us.

B: Yeah, the latest one is good. It's from Jesse A. Zero. They start their review saying this podcast is fantastic. Good. And then they end it by saying, "Great job, lads. Keep up the great work." And we will continue doing work at the level at which we have been doing it. And if you interpret that as great, thank you very much.

C: Once again, thank you, everybody. Benito, are Are you ready to get into these pretty incredible Hellboy-like stories?

B: Boy, am I.

C: Let's do it.

[Musical interlude]

C: All right, let's get started with "Rabbi Israel and the Sorcerer: The story of the terrible struggle between rabbi Israel, master of the holy name, and the paritz who was in league with the evil one. And how rabbi Israel conquered." Not always a great idea to spoil the ending of the story in the title. I guess the middle at this point. But I mean, you know, you know who's gonna win in this.

B: Yeah, well, he wins all the stories.

C: Very Hellboyish.

B: Yes, for sure. He does have a large hand. It's not mentioned, but it's assumed. I have inferred that the best has one outsized hand. But we should probably define a paritz because we've already said it a couple times. A paritz, which is spelled a couple different ways in English because it's a Yiddish word from Hebrew, but it could be P-A-R-I-T-Z is how it's spelled in this text. I've also seen it P-O-R-I-T-Z is how I found it on Wiktionary. Oh, actually, here I have the Wiktionary entry open. Borrowed from Yiddish, a word meaning landowner, and it comes from Hebrew, the word parish meaning bandit. So that gives you an idea of how they felt about landlords. And so, yeah, a paritz is a, according to Wiktionary, "a wealthy landowner who controls a shtetl." And a shtetl would be Eastern European Jewish village, right? So, this is your Gentile wealthy landowner who owns the village where the Jewish community lives. Surprise. Well, it already says in the subtitle that he's in league with the evil one, as most landlords are. Not really a spoiler, I guess, because it's already been spoiled by the story itself. But yes, the Gentile landlord is an evil wizard.

Okay. Our guy, the Besht, Rabbi Israel, he's riding on a journey and they want to stop at an inn. He says, "We'll stop here." And they go inside and he can see from the end that the village is prosperous. It is a generous priest. The lands are fat and their peasants drink well. Even beyond that, once he goes inside, he can see that they're having a party. Many bottles of fine wine line the long tables, plates of roasted chicken, cakes, all sorts of delicacies. So first room, fine wine. Second room, roasted chicken. What's in the third room? Everyone think about it. What's the natural progression? That's right, infant-sized coffin.

[Simpsons: If the passengers will look to the right, you will see a sad man. That is all.]

C: Yes, and a sad man.

B: Yes, a sad man sitting next to an infant-sized coffin.

C: Which generally, in parties that I go to is how it goes. It's drinks, snacks, sad people.

B: Because he's in the room that has no drinks and snacks. In a story that feels to me similar to the story of Sarah from the book of Tobit, the woman who keeps getting married and her husbands keep dying on their wedding night, the innkeeper keeps having sons and they keep dying on the night of their circumcision. The reason for the feast is because it's the circumcision party, the bris, for his third son, but as he puts it, it's his third son and yet my only son because his previous two sons have died on the night of their circumcision and he's worried that the third one will as well, which is why they have prepared this very small coffin that he's sitting next to and crying when the Besht comes in.

C: The Besht responds to this news. Well, he responds to my third son and yet my only son by being like, "Hey man, lighten up."

B: Yeah. His response is, "You should be merry." He offers to help at the circumcision. He wants wants to hold the baby. Of course, this guy is like, "Of course, you can do it. You're a famous miracle worker and you look strangely like Jack Black with one large hand." And so he says, "It will be a great honor." Then he explains, "Twice before my sons have died on the night of their circumcision." The Besht is like, "Do you have enemies? Do you owe money to your paritz?" He's like, "No, everything is good and the paritz is really nice. You saw that whole table full of fine wine? That's all from him. He's very generous. Every time I've had a bris, he's sent all these rare wines out of his own cellar. Everything is great. So, I don't know what's happening here." And so, the Besht is like, "We're going to work this out, bud. Don't do the circumcision tonight. Let's save it for tomorrow. Take me to see your son now."

The innkeeper's got his son locked up tight, in a room with huge locks. And inside, there's an old woman sitting there next to the cradle covering the baby with a prayer shawl. The room is all dark to hide the baby. The innkeeper's like, "I brought this holy man." And the Besht is like, "Why is the baby hiding under this prayer shawl?" And he's like, "Well, we don't want anybody to put the evil eye on the baby." So, we're protecting the baby from the evil eye. When he pulls away the shawl, the Besht can see that the baby's face glows with the light of holiness and wisdom. The Besht is convinced that this child will grow up to be a great rabbi. The innkeeper is obviously a little bit – he's skeptical that he'll be a rabbi. He's skeptical that he will be nine days old, right? Like, that's where his level of skepticism is at. The Besht gives him instructions on what to do, right? Let his glowy face out, light the room up, don't leave it dark. Instead, fill the room with candles, bring in two young Torah students, have them sit here and study Torah, put a bag by the baby's head.

C: Gotta get a whickety-whack into my sack bag.

B: That's right, yeah.

C: Some of you from some parts of the country in which we live know exactly what I'm talking about and the rest of you think I am having a stroke.

B: Or that you're quoting some early 90s rap song that they've never heard. He puts the open sack by the baby's head and he tells the students that if anything falls into the bag to close it up immediately. And then like one of you watch the sack the other run and get me. So they set everything up that way. They put off the circumcision for the next day. When night comes, everybody goes to sleep except for the Torah students. They light all the candles, they sit there and study Torah, and spooky stuff starts to happen.

C: Because what they don't notice is that a cat shows up.

B: A cat?

C: Yeah.

B: The candle light starts like guttering and becoming smaller. The flames get smaller and become ghostly pale. So the students are concerned about the baby, so they go and sit right by the cradle and keep their eyes on the baby. And by doing that, their attention is not on the window where a cat sneaks in, silent, smooth as the wind, gliding about the wall. And it's not just any cat because it's a cat that has blue fire coming out out of his eyes.

C: I can say Bible, famously, not keen on dogs.

B: Yeah.

C: Folklore, generally, not keen on cats.

B: Yeah.

C: What kind of pet are you supposed to have?

B: Great question. The answer is box turtles. All of the Hebrew patriarchs and Jesus's apostles all had pet box turtles.

C: That's true.

B: It's not in the canonical scriptures, but it's there. It's there. Hey, blue fire cat comes in, creeps around the room, getting closer and closer to the cradle, following a twisted way like the wind on the sand.

C: There is some great mood setting in this bit.

B: There really is.

C: Each of these is its own paragraph: "Its glossy sides sank and widened with its breathing, otherwise the cat was motionless. Cold fire came out of its eyes. The flames of the candles shrank low, like backs beaten under whips. The cat sprang." But, I'll tell you what, that cat is stopped by the light of holiness shining on the face of this little future rabbi.

B: That's right. And so the cat bounces off like it has hit a wall. It falls. Where does it fall? Whickty-whack get in that sack.

C: Yeah, it's in the bag. The cat is in the bag.

B: It's the opposite of what people normally think has happened.

C: At this point, I did get a little uncomfortable with what happens.

B: Oh, you mean how a succession of people come in with sticks and start beating the... I almost said a cuss, Chris. I almost said a cuss on the Apocrypals.

C: They beat the unholyness out of this cat, and the best, the Baal Shem Tov, the master of the good name, is a little bit creepy about it. He comes in, the Baal Shem Tov felt the sack, and he began to laugh softly. "Bring me a stick," he said, which is extremely hard.

B: Yeah.

C: But also at this point, I mean, look, the cat did have fire coming out of its eyes, but I'm just going to go ahead and spoil it. It's not a real cat. So don't worry.

B: You guys don't have to put an entry into does the cat die.com. Cause first of all, no, the cat doesn't die. Second of all, it's not really a cat.

C: It's not really a cat. It is a target for some baseball swings. Baal Shem Tov is out here doing base hits.

B: He was like, "What's a bris without a piñata? That traditional element."

C: I literally wrote in my notes, "And that is why we celebrate with the piñata to this very day." He beats this thing till candy comes out and then starts handing off the stick to other people.

B: He gives it to the innkeeper and says, "Dance a little at your son's feast." And the innkeeper went at the sack and beat it with all his might.

C: It's Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs at this point.

B: Yeah.

C: This cat is stuck in the middle.

B: Once the bag stops moving again, the cat is not dead. And also it's not a cat.

C: It's not a cat.

B: Once it is lying still, the best says open the window and dumps the cat out the window onto the ground. They all hear the cat fall to the ground. It creeps away on its belly. Like I said, not dead.

C: It's out of the bag.

B: And the cat is out of the bag. The next day, they have a great feast. They do the bris. They celebrate it. musicians, Jewish families from miles around, they drink and eat and sing and dance and as promised, the besht holds the baby for the bris. But there's someone missing. Someone's not there that they expected to be there. That's right. It's the paritz. You guys can put together what's happening here. The paritz, the local Lord, not present. Why? Well, the peasant who works in his house says he's sick today.

C: Yeah, he's feeling a little beat to stuff.

B: He's feeling a little beat today, you might say. What's the Besht's response to this? That's right, he chuckles softly under his breath, as he does at many acts of violence throughout this story.

C: There's a lot of "the Baal Shem Tov laughed softly" in this, and I wrote that it's like how Grand Admiral Thrawn smiles tightly. It's his signature move.

B: The innkeeper is like, "Oh, he can't make it? He's sick? That's too bad. Let's send him a cake." And the Besht is like, "Great idea. Let me deliver the cake."

C: I got some dessert for him.

B: The innkeeper's like, "Great idea for an honored holy man who is our guest to deliver a cake to the paritz. Please do." When he gets there, he finds the priests who is lying in bed. His arms are all covered in bandages and the flesh of his face was blue.

C: I kind of love this entire interaction. It is hard as nails. So they look at each other and Rabbi Israel says, "I brought you a honey cake, your excellency." And then they look into each other's eyes. The eyes of the paritz became white and cold and glinted like pieces of ice. Rabbi Israel laughed a low, soft laugh. Then the paritz says, "Well, you gave me a good beatin'."

B: And then, oh my God, like it gets a little too real because-

C: It does get a little... it's a little strong, but in case you were not aware that this is a bad guy.

B: Yeah. Rabbi Israel became stern and said, "The innkeeper is an honest man and serves you well. You have no right to persecute him." And the paritz said, "He is a Jew."

C: Rough.

B: That's the motivation. Why does he keep murdering this guy's children? Because he's a Jew. And that's the only reason he needs oof.

C: This is two episodes in a row where I feel like we've had to say this, but folks, child murder bad.

B: Don't do it.

C: Very bad. Do not. So the paritz is like, listen, the only reason you were able to beat me with a stick until you broke both my arms and my face is a blueberry, is that you caught me unawares. You could never actually defeat my incredible demonic sorcery. And in both of the stories we read, and honestly maybe in all four of the stories we read, it's been a year, so I'm not quite sure if anything is this strong in the other two from last year, the Baal Shem Tov goes, "Well hey, why don't you rest up a minute until you're back at 100% and then we'll fight again?" That's bad donkey right there.

B: Yeah, he gives him a month. He gives him a month to heal up and then they're gonna have a wizard battle. And I know a lot of times when we say that things are a wizard battle, and they are, we're not wrong, but they're not what you would think of as a traditional wizard battle. This is in every sense the most traditional possible wizard battle you can imagine.

C: No, this is dudes casting spells at each other.

B: They set up a cross from each other like cowboys.

C: They get into Pokemon Stadium.

B: They each set up their magical setup, which for the paritz ends up being a giant furnace on a platform in the courtyard. For the Besht, it is two concentric circles that he draws in the dirt.

C: I like this because the word gets out that this is happening, so it literally happens in an arena.

B: It says all the people in the village are sitting on their roofs to be able to see, to be able to watch what's going on in the courtyard.

C: It is wizard mania. Yeah, except for the Jews who are all hiding in their houses because they're worried about what the outcome is.

C: Yeah, all these tourists come to town to watch this wizard battle to the death that's about happen, but you can see the sign flipping to closed.

B: Yeah.

C: You know?

B: Yeah, for sure. All the peasants from the countryside from a distance of many miles came to see the Jew who would stand against the parites. The courtyard was filled with peasants, and the roofs of the houses of the village were covered with people. But the few Jews who lived in that place closed themselves in their huts and shrank against the wall and prayed.

C: The paritz, turning into a cat, not his only trick.

B: No.

C: He has this furnace that he builds and he stokes the fire so hot that no one could even get close to it. And then, have you seen the movie RRR?

B: Okay, I'm glad you also thought of that.

C: Have you seen Ruh Ruh Ruh?

B: You also had that image in your mind because that is absolutely 100% what came into my mind when I was reading this.

C: Yeah, my dude throws open the doors to this furnace and out of this furnace that is burning so hot that no one can get within 10 feet of it, My dude throws open the door, and out of the flames, there charged wild beasts, lions and tigers without number, who are presumably also on fire.

B: I have to assume that.

C: These are fire lions.

B: Fieger, fieger tires.

C: Yeah, as you said, the Baal Shem Tov has drawn two concentric circles on the ground that he is in the middle of, and they are unable to get past his magic force field.

B: Here it's like a force field. When the lions and tigers get close to it, They shrink from it as from the onslaught of slashing swords. Round one of wild beasts from the furnace doesn't work. They don't even penetrate the outer force field of the Baal Shem Tov.

C: Yeah, Rabbi Israel makes a kabbalistic sign and the circles become as a pair of immense and powerful jaws.

B: That's round two when that happens, where the second charge of beasts come out. Let me read the description of the second group of beasts that come out of the furnace. They're covered in iron scales and their heads are armed on all sides with tusks of steel. Chris, are these dinosaurs?

C: These are 100% dinosaurs.

B: A bunch of dinosaurs come out of a furnace and charge the best. And like you said, yeah, he makes a kabalistic sign. And then here, the force field, in a very green lantern move, turn into a giant pair of jaws and crush the dinosaurs.

C: I feel like it's like a bear trap. Like how when a bear trap is closed, it's a circle. And it just snapped shut on these dudes.

B: Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All right. I can see that. Round two did not make it. Round three, even more horrible beasts can't make it past the circle. Fourth army? Nope. Wave upon wave of horrors came and charged upon the circle of the master. They snarled, they roared, they tore the ground until clods flew all above the heads of the Baal Shem Tov and his students. They stamped and bellowed in rage. They vanished and came in renewed numbers, but they did not pierce the circle.

C: I do feel like if there is any problem with this narrative, and I feel like it's pretty solid throughout, I do feel like whoever is writing this down, not to say they're not recording exactly what happened IRL for posterity, because, you know, that's always a possibility here on the show. I do feel like this person was like, "Round one, lions and tigers on fire. Round two, dinosaurs. Rounds three to five. I can't even describe the animals." You ran out of steam.

B: Yeah.

C: Maybe you didn't know about sharks yet.

B: In the 30s, when this book was written, they had not heard of sharks.

C: Yeah.

B: But hey, we're not done yet because now night has fallen and you know what that means? That means the wizard is working on his night beasts.

C: Night came, but the paritz says, "I have not finished." He called upon the beasts of the night. What beautiful music they make.

B: Chris, can you please read the best paragraph in the English language now, please?

C: Uh, yes. "Then the forest was pierced with white staring glassy eyes that floated low and high. The forest was filled with chill, clammy winds, with shrill, long whistling sounds. From under the earth came groanings, and the ground heaved, as when innumerable dead strived to break out from their graves, and all the air resounded with the clanking of loose bones."

B: The clanking of loose bones. Sounds like a xylophone.

C: It's spooky scary skeletons.

B: Yeah. Just all around. You know the night beasts? The loose bones that clank around in the wind? a zombie horde, perhaps, is what he's summoning here. Doesn't matter. You know why? Because the Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer is the master of the good name. So he says not even the name, he says a name, but a capital N name. And what happens? Bye zombies, bye nighttime, it's day again, because that is the power of the secret names of God.

C: Rabbi Israel's podcast comes out whenever he wants, and it's always on schedule.

B: That's right. He defeats the night beasts with merely a word, one of the secret names of God. And then the second day the battle continues. Again, the wizard is having no luck against the rabbi. And by the third day of battle, he's starting to get tired. But the Besht and his students who have been around him saying prayers and chanting Torah and that kind of stuff around him to help give him power, they are unfazed. They show no signs of fatigue. They have not been harmed in any way. Yeah, now the paritz is gonna try his final move, his desperation play.

C: At this point, it's no longer like Rise of a Revolt. It's more like Sailor Moon-esque, because there is a dude with a magic oven that is like a magic microwave that's making monsters.

B: Wow, okay. It is like that. So he calls for more logs, big logs, get the fire as hot as it can be, so hot that no one can stand anywhere close to it except the paritz who walks into the midst of the flames and you know who's waiting for him there? That's right, it's Satan. And uh... Yeah, is this the part you read? "The two demons of evil stood in the flames, they laid all their powers together."

C: I gotta say, if you are working on an apocryphal text or any piece of religious text that you want to get a favorable review on this show, have the devil show up.

B: Yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. That will help in a major way. So, alright, Chris, let's think about this.

C: I've been thinking about nothing but this since I read it four days ago.

B: Yeah, yeah. So, round one of animals, flaming lions and tigers. Pretty cool. Round two, armored dinosaurs. Great. We don't know what three and four are. Five, we don't know. They're horrible. Eventually, we get to the night beast, which seems to be a horde of zombies. What is the final boss move? What do you go for in your summoning battle against the rabbi? That's right, everyone, I hope you all have it. Guessitron 5000, it's 40 to 50 feral hogs.

C: Yep. Now, I do love this. Yeah. 'Cause the first two hour modernize, it doesn't seem like the escalation from dinosaurs and a zombie horde.

B: Yeah.

C: But I mean, like, I'm not even making a joke. They're not kosher.

B: Yeah. It's a big thing because, like, pigs in a way, I feel like, are, like, the ultimate unclean animal, right? They're the prototypical one. They're the one you think of first, right? Even if you don't know that much about Judaism, you might know, "Oh, they can't eat pork." If that's the only kosher rule you know, that's the one you're going to know. And so, yeah, he takes a live pig, cuts open its belly, throws the entrails on the ground, at which the earth yawns open into a sprawling black gap full of crawling things like a festering wound and then a swarm of wild swine that breathe fire pour out of this hellhole that the paritz has opened.

C: You don't need an assault rifle. You just need to master the good name.

B: That's right. You just need to know the true name of God and you don't need to worry about Second Amendment. And so these fire breathing boars managed to actually burst, break through the first circle and they burn the earth. They swarm all around, but they're not quite able to get through the second circle, although their flames ate at its borders and its borders gaped with holes. At this point, the Besht raises his arms. The students see his face charged with the terrible light of heaven.

C: Two episodes in a row: total Goku move.

B: His face is bathed in pure white fire, stronger and more consuming than all the fire of all the armies of evil. Then he utters the holy name, and as his mouth forms the word, the word goes forth, the evil fire dries in the mauls of the beast, their bodies fade to nothingness, the wound in the earth is closed and healed, the forest is transformed with peace. the end of the paritz's final move. So the paritz has to concede, "Your power's greater than mine."

C: "He fell to his knees outside the circle of the master and said, 'Your power is greater than mine. Look on me and annihilate me with a glance of your eye.'"

B: And then you guys won't guess this ending. You guys are not going to guess this ending.

C: No, this ending comes out of nowhere. I love it.

B: So the terms of this wizard battle, I can't remember if we mentioned, but the Besht says, "If I win, you have to promise never to do sorcery ever again." That's the terms. Leave the shtetl alone and the innkeeper don't kill any more of his children, etc. But instead, so he's like, just go ahead and annihilate me with your Holy Ghost powers. And the best is like, I'm not going to destroy you. Stand up. Look at the sky.

C: Yeah. You think like, Hey, I'm not going to kill you with my Holy Ghost powers. And you might be like, okay, yeah, I've seen endings like this before. No, no, you haven't. And I'll tell you who's never gonna see things like this again. Because what happens is he says stand up and look at the sky and then as he's looking at the sky, two eagles come down and rip his eyes out.

B: And that's the end.

C: The end. That's the last, like literally, and so two eagles took out the two evil eyes of the paritz. No more text.

B: Yeah, that's the end.

C: Great. A+.

B: A++++. So good.

C: These are both very similar in structure to "Hellboy Stories." And this is like one of those where a Hellboy like fights a monster, right?

B: Yeah.

C: And he beats it up with a big hand or whatever. And that's great. And I almost wish we had done these in reverse order because I feel like that is such an action movie of a story. It's great. Except for the second story is more like one of those stories where Hellboy is just hanging out around some creepy stuff. Except for the ending is even better than that.

B: Yeah. Oh man. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, this first one, actually now that you say it, it like specifically reminds me of the King Vold story, the Wild Hunt one, not Hellboy the Wild Hunt, but the one where the professor takes him to help witness the Wild Hunt, and it turns out the professor wanted him to try and get a reward from King Vold. And then at the end, King Vold tosses him a gold coin that burns through his hand. Do you remember that? Similar vibes here, right? The wizard, he gets his comeuppance with his eyes getting scooped out by eagles.

C: Sure does.

B: Amazing. Yeah, let's take a look at the next story, The Water Spirit.

C: The next story, "The Water Spirit, here the story is told of the revengeful lake that was angry because of the hideous sin that had been thrown into it and how Rabbi Israel saved the sinner's son." My question about this is, I don't know how to phrase this, it's like this story is about a metaphor except there is no metaphor in the actual story itself.

B: Yeah, yeah, it's very literalized. We might metaphorically think of our sins as a kind of pollution.

C: Yeah, or that you could do something that would result in, like if you steal something, then the thing that you steal becomes a sin. Or if you kill someone and you bury their heart under your floorboards.

B: Right.

C: You might be like, "Ah, yes, like the evidence of my sin." But that is not really what happens. Tell me a little bit about Reb Shmerl.

C: So Reb occurs here a lot, and it's just like, it's essentially Mr., right? It is related to the word rabbi, but it's almost exactly the same relationship in English as master to Mr., right? So rabbi is the master, Reb is Mr., right? So Shmerl, he's a sinner, he is a cousin of the Besht, and he's the one that lives in Old Constantine.

C: He's an enthusiastic and cheerful sinner.

B: That's right. You know why? Because it's convenient for him to purify himself of his sins because he lives near a lake, and he can just toss his sins into the lake.

C: He lives on a lake that has been specifically ordained by God to wash away sins.

["Well, for starters, you have to purify yourself of the waters of lake Minnetonka."]

B: Right, so this is not completely out of left field, right? This is a real Jewish custom called tashlich. It's common on Rosh Hashanah or sometime during the high holy days where you basically go to a body of natural water, usually a lake or a river or the ocean or something, and you metaphorically cast your sins into the sea for washing and purification. You can represent that physically by throwing in pebbles or frequently pieces of bread, although I read that some communities discourage throwing bread into the water because fish might eat the bread and feeding wild animals is prohibited on Jewish holidays and Shabbat. So it could be pebbles or it could be nothing or you could do something else to wash away the sins. I saw a website for Jewish families that said you could have your kids write things down with sidewalk chalk and then spray it off with a hose or something. Right? So it's a metaphorical thing that here...

C: Go write your sins on the driveway, children.

B: Yeah, write your sins on the driveway for the whole neighborhood to see. That's the custom being referenced here, but it's extremely literalized.

C: Yeah, I'm glad that you mentioned that because not knowing that that was a thing, I wrote in my notes, "Is this like a goof on baptism?"

B: Oh.

C: And this is like Rabbi Israel being like, "Look at these idiots who think they can get dunked in a river and they they don't have any sins anymore. It's kind of what it felt like to me, but...

B: Sure. I mean, even prior to the development of Christian baptism, right, like, John the Baptist is largely responsible for what we think of, but I mean, he's already working out of a pre-existing Jewish tradition, right? Like, there's, you know, ceremonial and ritual baths of purification in Judaism and that kind of stuff before. And so, you know, there's other Jewish practices of purification during the High Holy Days, like Kapparot, one where you wave a chicken over your head and then you kill the chicken. Like that. So this is like that, except you don't kill a chicken.

C: So this dude, again, I'm confused as to what is meant to be actually happening in this story because Reb Shmerl says, "What does it matter if I sin twice or sin 20 times? At the end of the year, I take all my sins and drag them down to the edge of the water, throw them in the lake, and that's that. And from the new year, I am a clean man."

B: I have a question.

C: So it's like every time he does a sin, like a little thing pops out?

B: Yeah, it's like a little gray or black blob. But Chris, I have a question about the way this is phrased. Is 20 sins a year supposed to be a lot of sins?

C: I hope not. 'Cause honestly, that's like one sin every other week less.

B: Yeah, it's, yeah.

C: And like that's actually doing pretty good.

B: What does it matter if I sin 20 times? Wow, who could imagine sinning 20 times in the course of one year? I don't know. Is that supposed to... Is that a lot? Am I worse than Reb Shmerl? I don't know. Hard to say. But anyway, that's how he lives. Because he lives close to the lake, he's like, "No problem for me to just drown my sins."

C: He's got that lakefront property.

B: That's right. And so each year, the sea became a little blacker because of the sins he threw into it. And each year, the bundle of sins he brought down to the edge of the water was greater than the year before.

C: Sometimes up to 25 sins.

B: Wow. That's – who can – I can't even imagine. Are there even 25 sins that you could do? 25 individual sins? Just kidding. We all know there's over 600. His wife is a holy woman, right? She's a Tsadeket, so she's like a pious holy person. And she feels that it is because of the sins of Reb Shmerl that the two of them have not been able to have a child, specifically a son. So, Shmerl's like, "Eh." And then he does a sin that is so great it's huge and shapeless like a great sponge oozing and dripping with mud he hides it in his basement and then it floods his basement it's like the blob.

C: I picture it like the Pokémon Muk.

B: Yeah or Clayface

C: Or Clayface also a good one but, yeah. Yeah, like it's a real nasty oops sin ooze.

B: So, you know, beware of the sin. It creeps and leaps, glides and slides across the floor, right through the door, all around the wall, a splotch, a blotch. Be careful of the sins of Reb Shmerl. I don't know if that pop picked up on the microphone.

C: It did, it did.

B: Nice.

C: So finally, the new year comes, And so Rip Shmerl took hold of the sin in both his arms and by pulling with all his might, managed to squeeze it through the door of his house. Which at this point I'm like, okay, so not a metaphor at all.

B: No, no, no.

C: He got out of the house and rolls it down the hill towards the lake, where he just kicks that bad boy in the water. And he literally says, "There, rid of that." But this lake is very angry with this because the sins are nasty and the lake doesn't like them, even though it is the lake's job to clean off the sins.

B: It does even say in the text, right, that when waters were created on New Years, they have to receive into themselves all the sins of mankind.

C: But the deed of Reb Shmerl was not forgotten. The waters waited for vengeance.

B: I mean, the years pass by, their hair becomes gray, the wife has passed her best years, very rude, they still had no children. And so it's only at this point that Reb Shmerl goes, "Oh, yeah, my cousin is a famous miracle worker. Maybe I should ask him." So he travels to Medzhybizh, and he says, "Hey, cousin, can I have a baby, please?" The Besht at first is like, "Thank you. I know about your giant sin blobs."

C: You're still making nasty, nasty sin buckets in your basement?

B: Then he remembers Shmerl's wife is a pious and holy woman, and he's like, "for her sake, you will have a child. Go home. I promise you'll have a son." But you can tell that there's regret in his voice when he's saying that because he knows something he's not saying. But Reb Shmerl does not notice the subtext in what the Besht has said, and so he dances home. And it's true.

C: Like Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2. Just cha-chaing all the way home.

B: That's right, like Dracula in Oldhead.

C: Yes.

B: That's a reference to another different podcast that Chris and I recorded. And then yeah, the promise of the Besht comes true before the end of the year. Shmerl's wife has a baby and is a strong and beautiful boy. And so he goes back to Medzhybizh to say thank you to Rabbi Israel for giving him this strong and healthy baby boy. When he gets there, finally he notices that Rabbi Israel doesn't seem happy about this news. And he doesn't know why, but he sees the sadness in the best's eyes it overwhelms him to the point that he himself, Shmerl, starts to weep like a child. So the Besht tells him what he's sad about. He's like, "You have this healthy, strong, and beautiful son. He's going to continue to be strong and happy and healthy and beautiful, but on his 13th birthday, he will be drowned because the lake is mad at you."

C: You have angered a body of water.

B: Yes.

C: And there's really only one way that goes.

B: Exactly. Shmerl falls on his knees, he begs and says, "Please help me however you can." And he says, "The sea is angry with you because of the terrible black sin that you threw into it, there's only one way to save your son. On his 13th birthday, make sure he does not go into the water." And he's like, "Okay, sounds great. Wait a second. That's almost 13 years from now. How am I going to remember that?" And also, Rabbi Israel is like, "Yes, you are a forgetful idiot, so I suspect you are fully going to forget this."

C: Go get that Garfield calendar.

B: This is the reminder he sets for him. He says, "One day, you're going to accidentally put two socks on the same foot, and you're going to spend an hour looking for the other sock. And when that happens, that's the day your son is going to die, so make sure he doesn't go into the lake."

C: Also, it's going to be your son's 13th birthday.

B: Right, that seems like that would be enough.

C: Maybe try not being a terrible father.

B: Just remember what presumably you're paying for a bar mitzvah at this time. That's the day. Just don't worry about the sock thing. Just remember it's your son's birthday and that a water monster wants to consume him. And yeah, but he's got to rely on the sock gimmick. And the sock gimmick, even then, almost doesn't work. Because as Reb Shmerl is going home, He's like, "That sock thing is so dumb. I don't need that. I don't need to tell other people in my house to remind me that on the day that I'm looking for a sock that's already on my foot, that my child is in danger on that day. I don't need to tell anybody that. I'll remember."

C: It's very important.

B: It's important. And yet, he forgets because Reb Shmerl sucks.

C: He sucks real bad.

B: And his child, his son, who never gets a name, he takes to the water like a fish. He would dive to the very bottom of the sea, he would swim around seeking beautiful stones that he would bring home to his mother. A good boy. He learned to stay under the water for many minutes.

C: And he grew up to be Guybrush Threepwood.

B: I feel like relatively recently on Ajax, you and Matt were talking about the record for holding your breath, right? I think there was a Batman comic or something where he holds his breath for three minutes and you were like, "Is that possible?"

C: He holds it for eight minutes.

B: Is it eight minutes?

C: Yeah.

B: And I knew at the time if you hold your breath while underwater, like your body reacts in a way that you can hold your breath for longer. And so I was like, I got to look this up. So currently, according to GuinnessWorldRecords.com, the longest time breath held voluntarily by a male is hold on, Chris, toss out a number. What do you think it might be?

C: 15 minutes.

B: 15 minutes? 24 minutes, 37 seconds.

C: That's so long.

B: It is so long. It is so long. It's free diving. It has to be underwater.

C: That's what happens in the first issue of The Question.

B: Oh, man. I haven't read that in a long time, but yeah, that makes sense.

C: When the first issue of The Question ends with The Question getting shot in the head and jumped in the river.

B: Yeah, yeah.

C: And then that series continues for about 36 more issues. And Denny O'Neill has to go into the letter column and talk about how, No, I read about this thing. It's because it was a small caliber handgun and also there's this thing called the diver's reflex. Look it up.

B: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

C: Denny gets pretty defensive in that letter column.

B: davidblaine.com asserts that David Blaine tried to break the world record for breath holding. Apparently not underwater. He succeeded in holding his breath for 17 minutes using oxygen assisted static apnea.

C: I feel like it's a lot easier to maybe set a record for holding your breath when you're not underwater?

B: Yeah.

C: If you know what I mean, it's maybe a lot easier to game that system.

B: Yeah. Yeah.

C: Just thinking out loud. Especially if you are like a professional liar.

B: Are you implying that David Blaine has ever gamed a system?

C: That's what illusions are. They're things that aren't real.

B: They're just fancy lies.

C: Just fancy lies.

B: Anyway, so my point is this boy learned to cycle his breath using the diver's reflex for up to 25 minutes, and the fish would come in and out of his hands and play with him. Reb Shmerl is so happy to see his son growing up strong that he completely forgets that he's doomed to die on his 13th birthday. Then the sock thing happens. It does happen, right? The day is really hot, and he's so hot and sweaty that he's wiping off the sweat and doesn't notice that he puts two socks on the same foot.

C: Even if I didn't think it was going to happen, because Reb Shmerl leaves and says, "What a foolish thing the rabbi said about stockings. Even if I didn't think it was gonna happen, I would come home and tell my wife, "Hey, you will not believe what the Rabbi Israel said."

B: Yeah, yeah, right? Yeah.

C: But no, he just fully does not tell anyone.

B: Then it happens, and it takes until he's hopping around the house with one barefoot and one socked foot for his wife to go, "You dummy, you got two socks on the same foot." And that's when he goes, "Wait, there was a death prophecy that I completely forgot about for some reason."

C: That I was very upset about for about five minutes.

B: Yeah, and so he rushes to his son's room and his son is not there. And he's like, "Where's the boy?" And the mom is like, "He went to go swim. He loves to swim." And he's like, "No, the boy's already on his way to the lake."

C: Yeah, 'cause it's the hottest day of the year.

B: It's the hottest day of the year, right? It was so hot that Shmerl didn't notice that he was putting on his socks weird.

C: Which you would think, like, if it's that hot, you would immediately notice.

B: You would notice that you had two layers of socks.

C: You had extra layers, yeah.

B: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So with two socks, one foot, no sock, other foot, he starts to run after his son who's on his way to the lake. He can't catch up to the boy. So he cries out to the Rabbi Israel, who of course is many miles away, but he hears him nonetheless and he responds in the way that a miracle worker does, he makes the boy fall down.

C: Yeah, which is pretty good. This entire sequence is maybe funnier than it is intended because it's Reb Shmerl like running after his doomed to die son, like only two socks on one foot, and yelling, "Come back!" And the boy answers, "But it's hot!"

B: Yeah.

C: Very 13.

B: He prays to a miraculous rabbi who makes a root come up out of the ground so the boy trips on it and falls down. And so that allows Shmerl to catch up with his son, and he drags him home, kicking and screaming, and he locks him in a hot room.

C: Yeah. And he won't even give him a glass of water on the hottest day of the year because he's worried-

B: That he might drown in the glass of water. Yeah.

C: Which he never bothers to tell anyone about this death prophecy, by the way. Because I bet if you mentioned it to me once or twice, that I would die if I went swimming on my birthday, I would maybe just go find a tree and read a book in the shade.

B: Just enjoy an otter pop or something? That might be good. A little orphan orange or whatever. So he locks him in the room.

C: Orphan orange?

B: That's the orange flavor otter pop.

C: One of the otter pops has parents that are dead?

B: It sure does.

C: That's wild! That's some wild Otter Pop lore, my dude.

B: Yes.

C: Did the Otter Pops walk down Crime Alley?

B: They did, yeah. They walked down Otter Crime Alley.

C: Joe Chill! It was right there!

B: Yeah.

C: Unbelievable. Anyway, yes. He locks the boy in the room.

B: He locks the boy in the room until the next day. The boy eventually becomes out from screaming, let me out of my room, give me some water. I'm dying of thirst until he eventually falls asleep. The next day they wake up and everyone else, cause it's hot, is going down to the lake to bathe, to swim, they're sporting in the cool water as the sun reaches its zenith in the sky. Nearly everyone is there. And then, um, and then a giant, uh, water monster comes out of the water. I don't know how else to put it. That is what happens.

"At exactly the hottest moment of noon, a disturbance began in the water. Ripples grew in circles around a certain spot near the shore, as though a stone had been thrown into the water. The ripples widened and became a swirl, and out of the midst of the swirl, a hand appeared, reaching up from the water. Then a second hand appeared. The two hands rose upward, reaching, the full arms appeared hairy with greenish seaweed, and after the arms came long floating seaweed hair. A head rose from the water and a neck and shoulder and the upper part of a body, all hairy with greenish seaweed." And it looks around, this giant seaweed monster. Yes, old Greg, there I've acknowledged it. It looks around at all of the swimmers and is like, "One is missing!"

And then goes back into the sea, because the boy's not there for him to drown.

B: It's interesting that you interpreted that, because I thought it was a much more sinister, "One is missing."

C: Oh, yeah.

B: And then it just leaves, and that's such a good ending. That was my sinister voice that didn't come across.

C: For you, yeah.

B: And so since the boy survived the cursed day, he survives. They wake him and they have a party. He eats some dainty things and they have a bar mitzvah.

C: And Reb Shmerl learns absolutely nothing.

B: Learns nothing. He didn't even see the sea monster, right? Like, that should have been part of it. Reb Shmerl crapping himself.

C: Reb Shmerl is a real angel from the Rockford Files, where it's like, this guy shows up and you're like, "I am sick of your shenanigans."

B: Yeah, he learns nothing. Hopefully he does not have any additional children that he could be so negligent toward. That's it. We did two spooky stories. We had an evil wizard. We had a lagoon creature, which I don't think anyone was expecting lagoon creature from Jewish legend, but here it is.

C: Yeah, like I said, didn't even do a Gill-man Bar Mitzvah song. The only thing that is wrong with this story is that the Baal Shem Tov does not show up and fight the lake monster.

B: Yeah, yeah.

C: The lake monster just leaves and I guess is still out there.

B: Yeah, still angry.

C: And that's why you can't go swimming today.

B: That's right. That's why no one has gone swimming since the early 18th century. No one in old Constantine.

C: That's why you always need to go with an adult if you're gonna go swimming.

B: Yeah, exactly. But I guess we learned a lesson about pollution?

C: Sure.

B: Okay. But yeah, that's it. Cool stories. Pretty solid bangers. IMHO.

C: Hard degree. Like, I kinda wanna only read Balsam Tove stories from now on.

B: For like the whole for the rest of the show.

C: Yeah.

B: I kinda wanna space them out. We can continue doing them as Halloween specials. But like, not all of them are as long as these. Some of them are only like a paragraph long. There's only so many. Although, this book does also contain, you know, stories of Nachmanides, right? The Rabbi Nachman of Bratislava, who is the descendant of the Besht. And so, he's got some stories, although I haven't read any of those and I don't know if they have any spooky stuff in them or not. You know, we can keep doing these for a while if we do them annually.

C: Which we will, almost assuredly. We will be back next year with another one. But you know, we covered a good bit of what happens in this book. Did you have anything that you want to talk about that we didn't get to?

B: No, I think we were pretty thorough. Definitely my favorite part was the sound of loose bones. Definitely my fave.

C: Pretty good stuff.

B: Did you Do you have a quote that we didn't hit?

C: Yes. Reb Shmerl is a very frustrating character, and I think it is hard to identify with Reb Shmerl, who is worried about being able to remember his child's birthday, which is also when he is prophesied to drown in a lake. Two things that a parent should remember, but I will say there is this bit. "He felt very uncomfortable. He felt he had not slept enough. He was angry because the sun had awakened him and his head hurt with the heat." Same.

B: Yeah.

C: Same dawg.

B: Yeah.

C: We hope you enjoyed these scary tales of the Baal Shem Tov. I know I did. Benito?

B: Yes, Chris.

C: Where can everybody find us online?

B: Please find us, at least for now, on the bad, the worst website, twitter.com, @apocrypals. You can also find us on Tumblr at apocrypals.tumblr.com and on Discord you can go to apocrypals.com/discord or apocrypals.chat or just Google apocrypals discord and you'll find the invite link that will lead you there. Additionally, you can also go to the apocrypals wiki which is apocrypals.wiki, the fan run repository for all the-- I forget what Matt says about on War Rocket Ajax but it is a fan run repository of quite a bit of information, including links to things like Twitter, Tumblr, and the Discord. And you can also see books we have covered and books we have not yet covered, all that good information. You can also contribute and become an editor to the wiki. Please join the wiki as an editor because who doesn't want a robust repository of information? Yeah. Also find us on TeePublic, our merch store. You can find that link in the show notes on every single episode or in the pinned tweet on our Twitter.

Otherwise, if you're looking for me, your friend Benito, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram at Benito underscore Cereno, or you can find me on Patreon at patreon.com/benitocereno. All one word. I'll have a lot of cool stuff coming up for the Christmas holiday season. So if you are interested in hearing what I have to say about that stuff, please consider subscribing to my Patreon. Chris, what about you?

C: Everybody can find all of my stuff by going to the-isb.com. That has links to all the things that I do around the internet, things that I've recorded and written for you to enjoy. That's going to do it for the 105th episode of Apocrypals. Keep that Halloween spirit in your heart all year round, if not your brain chemistry. Good luck with it, if that's where it is. We will be back next time. And then by then, it will be time for some holidays. Somebody rustle us up another Maccabees.

B: Yeah, that's right. If you guys can find me an in-print version of one of the Maccabees or Maccabines we haven't covered yet, that would be great. I got plans for our Christmas episode, so don't worry about that. So join us next time.

C: Until then, folks, don't forget Black Lives Matter. Trans rights are human rights.

C: Abortion rights are human rights.

B: And cops are pee-pee-doo-doo.

C: They sure aren't your friends. For Benito Cereno, I've been Chris Sims. Benito, peace be with you.

B: And also with you.

C: Thriller eyes!