Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter


By Rochel Burstyn

In honor of Purim — and Bigsan and Teresh’s foiled attempts — we’re exploring poisons…

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

 Mishpacha image



on’t touch that! It’s poisonous!”

We know to stay away from poisons. But slight problem: poisons are everywhere! There are poisons right this very second in your kitchen. Your garage. Your bathroom. Maybe your backyard or local park. Probably in your briefcase. Eek! Well, you know what they say: know the enemy, so you know what to avoid.

What is a poison?

Basically, it’s something that can hurt you in any way.

Poisons come in many forms and is found in many everyday products. They can be a smell (like bleach), or a gas (like carbon monoxide). Poisons can be found in cleaning supplies, pesticides, supplies for the car, and even makeup.

Poisons can also be found in some mushrooms, plants, and even trees. You’ve probably heard of poison ivy, but have you heard of the manchineel tree? It’s the most dangerous tree in the world. Its sap is so poisonous that the slightest touch can cause a breakout of blisters.


It’s even dangerous to take shelter under it when it rains because the raindrops might contain blister-causing tree sap. The tree grows small green apples, commonly called “death apples” because even a single bite can cause severe pain and even death.


Especially Australia…

Ever gone to your local zoo, checked out the most dangerous snakes, and said, “Hey, a lot of these seem to come from Australia!” If so, you aren’t mistaken. Nobody quite knows why, but Australia has the deadliest snakes, spiders, and jellyfish on the planet. It even has venomous ants. There’s even a jellyfish smaller than a human fingernail that contains venom 100 times more poisonous than a cobra and 1,000 times more powerful than a tarantula.

Poisonous or Venomous?

The truth is, many people use the words interchangeably, but they do actually mean different things.

Venomous creatures stab, sting, or bite to do their damage, so they generally have teeth or fangs.

When an animal is poisonous, you have to bite or touch it to feel the effects.

Why do people use poisons?

In the olden days, it was common to shoot a poison-tipped arrow at an animal while hunting… or serve a disliked dinner guest something you wouldn’t eat or drink yourself. It became a popular way of getting rid of an enemy, but as poisons became more popular so did the cures for these poisons (called antidotes) and folks began surviving their murder attempts.

Mithridates VI (135 – 63 BCE), the king of Pontus (much of the area surrounding the Black Sea), was famous for his fear of being poisoned and always looked for antidotes. He used to test different poisons on criminals facing execution (Hey, they’re going to die anyhow…) and then try out the antidotes on them too (Ooops, he survived… great, I’ll keep this one!). He’s also famous for testing poisons on himself. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 699)

Related Stories

DBTalk: Module 4: Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills, Part 2

Yael Dorfman and Bashi Levine, LPC, ACT

Say goodbye to passive, doormat, steamrolled, and stressed Shalva who never says no to anything. Say...

Special Story Subsection: It’s Purim Unmasked!

Teen Pages Contributors

Exchange a smile for a frown, though life may look upside down. It’s only He who runs the show; grab...

Face Painting!

Malky Lowinger

Face painting is a fun and popular activity. If you’ve never done it before, Purim is the perfect ti...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you