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Is making a joke in the Talmud something Chazal would do?

What makes me wonder is the gemara in Pesachim (9b), which, in discussing the concern that a weasel may drag chometz around the house and leave it in a spot already checked, makes the following exlamation:

וכי חולדה נביאה היא

Is a weasel (chulda) a prophetess?

It happens to be there is a prophetess who was named חולדה, as in מלכים ב' פרק כ"ב פסוק י"ד, so... yes, חולדה נביאה היא. So, it seems to me that either Chazal were willing to put puns into the Talmud, or this was a highly coincidental unintended pun. Which is it?

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Rabbi Norman Lamm, former president of Yeshiva University, once remarked that he knew of only one joke in the Mishnah: the statement that “scholars increase peace in the world.” -- chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/2477311/jewish/… –  Menachem Feb 26 at 22:26
aren't many of the "al tikri" statements (banayich/bonayich) examples of wordplay? –  Danno Feb 27 at 1:56
@Danno I was asking about jokes. –  YeZ Feb 27 at 3:51
Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/48918/5323 –  Shokhet Dec 1 at 4:26

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

This article from the OU's magazine “Jewish Action” says that there are jokes in the Talmud,

“It is related that Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan was once asked if there are any jokes in the Talmud, and his response was, “yes, but they’re all old.” Jokes with a “Hechsher” A cursory reading of the Talmud’s text validates that assertion. An informed reading may yield that jokes are not only present in the Talmud, but abundant.”

The article quotes the Chulda pun as one example.

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