Jarrod Tanny introduces us to Seinfeld Yomi, a Facebook group devoted to watching and discussing the series day by day in the tradition of our greatest sages.
Welcome to Seinfeld Yomi!
Are there degrees of coincidence?
Is it permissible to parallel park headfirst?
Is it poor hygiene to “double dip” a chip?
How long must you keep a greeting card before you can throw it out?
Why does Jerry’s new girlfriend wear the exact same dress on every date?
Is it appropriate to say “God bless you” to a woman who sneezes if her husband does not?
If you named a kid Rasputin do you think that would have a negative effect on his life?
Did they have roommates in the middle ages?
Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country?
Why do these stories seem to be little more than a list of things in a messy apartment, which may or may not contain a chicken?
We at “Seinfeld Yomi” will systematically explore these puzzles in the tradition of the Babylonian sages of yesteryear whose debates taught us how to recite the Shema, to erect an eruv, and to purify oneself after a nocturnal emission. In the tradition of the Daf Yomi, we will be watching one “blatt” – one episode – of Seinfeld a day and discussing it here.
We will be following the order in which the episodes were originally broadcast, which is the same order they are found on Netflix. But of course, in the tradition of the sages, feel free to go off on tangents. We began watching our first episode on 1st November.
Below is a sample post:
Day 16, Tuesday 16, November 2021, s2e11, first aired on May 23, 1991
Is Seinfeld a show about nothing? “The Chinese Restaurant” certainly played a (to use the Babylonian Sages’ favourite word) seminal role in giving the show its well-deserved Talmudic reputation. I wonder if Resh Lakish and Rav Pappa would have agreed?
Khevreh, this “Chinese Restaurant” episode presents us with a bit of a conundrum, said Rav Huna, Dean of the Yeshiva at Sura.
I know, it makes no sense, said Hanan bar Rava.
That’s right. Absolutely nothing happened. Nothing at all interjected Resh Lakish. This 23 minutes of TV had less substance than even the most tiresome rabbinical debate over how many times Rav Pappa should cleanse himself after one of his seminal emissions before putting on his tefillin.
Three times, said Hanan bar Rava. Isn’t that right Pappa, you need to immerse yourself in the Mikvah three times after one of your nocturnal escapades.
Rav Pappa lowered his head in shame, albeit with a smile on his face.
No, you yolds, retorted Rav Huna, that’s not the issue. The problem is clear – why are a bunch of Jews eating Chinese food when it’s not Christmas?
Yes, the Mishnah is very explicit on this added Bar Kappara, citing Rabbi Tarfon who quoted Leviticus: “on Nittel Nakht and Nittel Tog one may indulge in won ton and kung pao, on all other days it is kreplach, gefilte fish and bagels. I am the Lord.”
So maybe we were wrong, said Rav Pappa. Maybe the “Seinfeld Four” aren’t Jewish?
We’ve established that Elaine is a shiksa, said Resh Lakish. Have you ever seen a bigger goy than her father, Alton Benes?
Is George a Jew? Inquired Rav Sheshet.
Cartwright? What kind of name is Cartwright for a Jew? Replied Rabbah.
But George said, “For 50 bucks, I’d put my face in the soup and blow” and then he only offered six dollars for the proposed bribe. He’s a bit, how shall I put this, parsimonious, said Rav Pappa.
Cheap, cheap, cheap, said the Sages in unison.
And he has so many “intestinal” issues, added Resh Lakish.
You’re right, Cartwright is definitely one of us, conceded Hanan bar Rava. Bowel ailments are discussed fifty times in the Mishnah.
And seminal emissions are discussed 41 times, added Rav Pappa. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve had to look this up.
Cartwright must have changed his name to disguise his identity, said Hanan bar Rava.
Just like Batman, added Shimon ben Pazi.
So when George said that he was Batman and had seen the Bat-Signal, hypothesized Rav Huna, he wasn’t making a joke – he was making a profound observation on the tragic assimilation of American Jewry.
Failed assimilation, interjected Bar Kappara. He may have changed his name, he may boast of having intercourse with shiksas, he may eat kung pao shrimp when it’s not Christmas, but nobody but a Member of our Tribe has such recurrent bowel and ejaculatory problems. Bat-Signal is code for the bathroom.
Poor Cartwright lamented Shimon ben Pazi. Oh, the wretchedness of our exile!
Poor Cartwright, echoed Rav Kahana, trapped in the Hellenized bowels of American Jewry.
I think we’re done here, concluded Hillel the Unhilly. Now let’s go grab a bite to eat. And it’s not my turn to pick up the check.