Okay, first we’ll clear away the SpellCheck possibility: this is another Horror from 1978. This is a Mistake.
Dare we venture into a punchline like “Rabies, schmabies, what’s the difference?”?
I really can’t imagine how my student came up with rabbi, a word that I’ve heard pronounced both “raaa-bye” and “rahbbie.” “Ray-bee” never. Besides, the shot is a rabies shot, a shot to prevent the development of the disease rabies. One of my relatives died of rabies. It’s a terrible way to die.
Anyway, at first glance we read that the shot is called a “rabbi shot.” The standard treatment for dog-bite. One “gets” a rabbi shot as one gets a vaccination, a root canal, a haircut, a ticket. The misspelling, or the mis-chosen word, just makes the name of the shot funny.
But here’s a second level to the sentence: “shot” can be a noun, or it can be a past participle. Does one “get” (another versatile word in terms of its meanings) a rabbi shot the way one gets a tooth pulled, a leg amputated, a splinter removed, an identity stolen?
The picture that forms with the first interpretation of the sentence is a little girl extending her arm to a doctor wielding a hypodermic needle that’s wearing, perhaps, a tiny yarmulke. The picture that forms with the second is a little girl crying, off in the corner, teeth-marks in her arm, and looking hopefully on as someone aims a revolver at a reluctant rabbi. The first is some form of modern medicine; the second, perhaps a magical ritual.
Neither seems particularly efficacious for the bite, although the latter seems especially futile— exchanging one life for another (and most likely losing both).
How did they choose the rabbi, anyway? As it was a random dog, did they choose a rabbi at random?
Well, neither procedure sounds like modern medicine to me. And if a dog bites me, it’s modern medicine I want. I wish that relative of mine had had access to it.