Ask Avigail: The saddlebag thighs have turned into the whole horse!

Dear Avigail,
I know I probably shouldn’t say this, but there was one good thing about slavery –it kept you in shape. Now that we are wandering in the Wilderness, the pace is slow. It is very strenuous for our Elders. As a matter of fact, the magazine, ARTHRITIS TODAY, asked them to do a pictorial essay on their journey. Anyway, we make camp frequently, and there is no shortage of blisters and bunions, and the subsequent whining, shrieking and kvetching, which really gets on G-d’s nerves. The Hebrew sojourners badmouth Dr. Scholl for taking August off. We sit around the fireside, and we wait for the words – “it’s a go”.

Without the strenuous, backbreaking toil of bondage, it was hard to keep the weight off. When I was in Egypt, I didn’t have an inch of fat, anywhere. Of course, it may be due to the fact that my taskmaster flogged it off, along with my tan. I was so statuesque that men would bow down and pray to me, and then, throw their hut keys at my feet.

Being that bone-thin, my husband once mistook me for dead. He had thrown me out and into the cart of Dick Sackoff, who had yelled, “throw out your dead and old newspapyrus; they will attract ants.” We shared
quite a laugh at that one, we did!

But now, I am phobic about entering the Promised Land, looking like this. How can I stand in front of our Creator, with each thigh casting a shadow over the entire Roman Empire, and Persia* My swollen veins look like a map of the Silk Trade Route.* I didn’t get the nickname, the Varicose Vixen for nothing. It got so bad, that I refused to cross the Red Sea because I had to wear a bathing suit. Lucky me, it had horizontal stripes.

I said, “I am in my “time”, now.” Of course, the fact that I was 102 didn’t lend itself to any credibility. Gloria Butinsky chided me, “Dora, you’re having your period again? Maybe it’s stigmata?” Worse, an ex-friend, Shirley Slotz, whispered to someone, “Her saddlebag thighs have turned into the whole horse.”

Despondently yours,

Dora Weingarten

Dear Dora,

Did you know that a recent survey has found that, almost ½ of each of the twelve tribes has a significant battle with obesity. We rank second to the reigning Blubbertons, from the nebulous North. In fact, the High Priests have to re-anoint themselves with oil, just to fit into the sacramental garments.

The ancient bubbamycins* that blame obesity on: a. sluggish thyroids, b. big-boned frames, and c. I am built just like my Aunt Gertie, just doesn’t hold water. Even my cousin, Shelly, started letting herself go, after she gave birth to her 38th. Let’s face it; most of us resemble the Pyramids we left behind. We are barraged with quick weight loss schemes, diets, miracle breakthroughs and scientific testimonies. Figs will promise instant results, as illustrated in these before and after henna cave drawings. Most of us swear to start a diet and exercise regime, the first of the month. But which calendar are we talking about? Mayan? Sumerian? These cellulite miracle plans are endorsed by highly respected publications: wasted TIME MAGAZINE, WHAT IF, WEEKLY (caters to the obsessive compulsive anxiety type), and THE MESOPOMANIAC, geared for the frenetic lifestyle. We are deluged with so many diet scrolls; but, IF WE WANT TO BE KNOWN AS ISRAEL LITES, we have to slenderize those cows into calves….

Unscrupulous shamans and prophets, who can spot easy prey, live amongst us; they may offer us remedies which are dangerous, but even more important, ineffective. Some questionable medical degrees have surfaced and proved themselves to be falsified. Being the janitor in an Egyptian funereal parlor, and messing with the embalming bandages, doesn’t necessarily make you a doctor.

Recently, there was quite a scandal in the Fertile Crescent. A Dr. Fuller Crapkin claimed a pill which allowed you all the goat innards you could eat, and still lose weight. This all-protein diet produced acid in your blood, until you became “acidic.” (This does not mean that your platelets suddenly developed a habit of wearing black hats and thick glasses.) This process could even lead to a coma. Dr. Crapkin argued against his critics that the coma was a major factor in weight loss. One patient of his, when roused from a coma, described his experience as being “out of body”; coincidentally, his own body. His body followed a light, which led to an all night, 24 hour Mexican Happy Hour. In this state, he suddenly found himself in the grips of a major flatulence problem, and a violent case of hiccups, which made things worse. Crapkin determined that his spleen was damaged, and had to go; but, his spleen had already been removed. Was it borrowed, and not returned? However, the doctor found evidence of clotted beef jerky, which had calcified and had to be immediately defrosted, if it was to be tonight’s starter course.

So Dora, I will give a bit of advice. When your next portion of manna arrives from Heaven, ask to speak to the Chef, to find out how it’s prepared. And when the Sabbath comes, and portions are doubled, restrain yourself. Push yourself away from the mat and stop eating like an animal. And remember, G-d loves you, even if He pulls His back out, trying to lift you in a Fatherly embrace.


Manna: A divine food staple supplied by Heavenly Caterers. After a rather hasty departure from Egypt, nobody remembered to bring the wax paper to keep the perishables from turning bad. And G-d heard their cries, and delivered sustenance in the form of manna. Some turned their noses at the tofu-like meal. And Hashem was vexed. He had forewarned them not to ask for the vegetarian option, as He had gone to too much trouble, cooking the Manna to perfection, from his Grandmother’s recipe.

Persia: Fourth world country, even by primitive standards. Eventually would change its name to Iran, after boasting about winning the Greek Olympic Fast Sprint Competition.

Silk Trade Route: A shortcut to Mongolia, though the Spice Trade area. Neighborhood is “iffy”, so be sure to buy some ground hot pepper, before entering.

About the Author
Shashi Ishai is a former stand-up/cartoonist from Teaneck, N.J. She resides in Netanya with her husband, Yacov; daughter, Zehava; son Zaki and dog, Stanley .Shashi is the author of ASK AVIGAIL: Advice from a Biblical Era Sagette, available on Amazon.
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