Kosher Queers

29 — Emor: Ableism and Festivals

May 07, 2020 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow
Kosher Queers
29 — Emor: Ableism and Festivals
Kosher Queers
29 — Emor: Ableism and Festivals
May 07, 2020
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, we discuss asymmetrical priests, sex worker daughters, and the symbolic meaning of Lulav's name. Also, we talk about different Jewish denominations' responses to intermarriage and a good Tumblr post.

Full transcript available here.

You can buy Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman and support a queer Jewish author while enjoying a fun read. The article from Sinai Synagogue quoting William Herlands' idea of disabled kohanim being out in the community is here. You can also read "Towards Acceptance, Holiness and Removing Stumbling Blocks" by Lauren Tuchman, writing about stumbling blocks from a literal perspective, as a blind rabbinical student. You can read Avi Cantor Has Six Months To Live by Sacha Lamb, and also read their Tumblr post under the name kuzu. You can listen to Sefirat HOmoer here and follow them on Twitter here. Also, thanks to Mona @ediblesocks for the listener question! You can check out the work of one of the creators of the Trans Day of Torah project, Binya Kóatz, here.

Content note: general note for ableism mentions throughout the episode.

Support us on Patreon! Send us questions or comments at, follow us on Twitter @kosherqueers, and like us on Facebook at Kosher Queers. Our music is by the band Brivele. This week, our audio was edited by Lulav Arnow and our transcript written by DiCo and Jaz. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

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Show Notes Transcript

This week, we discuss asymmetrical priests, sex worker daughters, and the symbolic meaning of Lulav's name. Also, we talk about different Jewish denominations' responses to intermarriage and a good Tumblr post.

Full transcript available here.

You can buy Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman and support a queer Jewish author while enjoying a fun read. The article from Sinai Synagogue quoting William Herlands' idea of disabled kohanim being out in the community is here. You can also read "Towards Acceptance, Holiness and Removing Stumbling Blocks" by Lauren Tuchman, writing about stumbling blocks from a literal perspective, as a blind rabbinical student. You can read Avi Cantor Has Six Months To Live by Sacha Lamb, and also read their Tumblr post under the name kuzu. You can listen to Sefirat HOmoer here and follow them on Twitter here. Also, thanks to Mona @ediblesocks for the listener question! You can check out the work of one of the creators of the Trans Day of Torah project, Binya Kóatz, here.

Content note: general note for ableism mentions throughout the episode.

Support us on Patreon! Send us questions or comments at, follow us on Twitter @kosherqueers, and like us on Facebook at Kosher Queers. Our music is by the band Brivele. This week, our audio was edited by Lulav Arnow and our transcript written by DiCo and Jaz. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

Support the show (

Lulav: Hi, Jaz. 

Jaz: Hi, Lulav. What cool, queer and Jewish things have you been up to recently?

Lulav: Well, I just had the best Shabbat.

Jaz: Aww.

Lulav: I hadn’t really been keeping Shabbat for awhile because first of all, quarantine, but my general thing is, I executive dysfunction out of going to shul and because I executive dysfunction out of that, I’ll forget to light my own candles and it’s just a whole thing. But like, yesterday I made the active decision to do some work that I had been kind of procrastinating on all day, and when I finished that work, it was still before midnight.

Jaz: Yeah!

Lulav: And that felt so good so I lit the candles, said the bracha, and took some melatonin and cuddled up with a real nice book.

Jaz: Aww. 

Lulav: Namely, Knit One, Girl Two which you recommended to me of Shira Glassman’s works. 

Jaz: I did. Tell our listeners a teeny bit about the book?

Lulav: Yeah, Shira Glassman is an indie writer who puts her stuff up on Gumroad?

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And so I bought a couple of her books recently because supporting indie artists is good. So I asked Jaz which one of them I should read and they of course chose the ones that involved fabric artists.

Jaz: Look, two gay crafters fall in love. It’s so good.

Lulav: It’s so good. There’s like a small batch yarn buyer and a painter and they like, flirt and make each other fan art.

Jaz: And also they’re Jewish. It’s just real sweet.

Lulav: Yeah like very specific things about like not only feeling out how gay someone is who you are attracted to but also feeling out how Jewish someone is and how you need to accommodate their greater or lesser observance in your life.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Yeah it was just really fun.

Jaz: There were real cute and relatable moods around, does this person keep more kosher than me, how do I make sureIi’m respecting their observance and also not feeling inferior because of their type of observance. It’s great.

Lulav: Oh I got it, we’ll go on a date to the deli.

(both laugh)

Lulav: Yeah, it was just really nice and there was very much the feeling of oh no, this person is intimidatingly hot and accomplished and then you find out over the course of flirting with them that they think that you’re intimidatingly hot and accomplished.

Jaz: It’s a very good dynamic.

(Lulav laughs)

Lulav: So that was Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman. I read the whole thing as I was increasingly falling asleep due to melatonin. I tried to text Jaz about — 

Jaz: I got an adorably incoherent but comprehensible text about: It was really cute I’m gonna to bed, slurring over text.

Lulav: “ty so much foe suggestjkn of hcute story and hope u sleep good too,” blue heart.

Jaz: Yeah, yeah. That’s always what I want out of my book recommendations (Lulav laughs) Anyway, I love this story too. I bought it a few years ago and I reread it at least every six months. 

Lulav: You told me before I opened it up that you have re-read it multiple times, and I was like, oh, okay, this must be an old book! And it was made in 2017… so, like, Jaz recommended.

Jaz: Yeah. I used to reread books all of the time.

Lulav: Oh.

Jaz: And now there’s just too many books and also books take a long time to read. But I own this one and it’s on my phone so it’s really easy to carry around and also it’s really short and really cute and it’s just a nice pick-me-up.

Lulav: That’s so good. Jaz, what cool things that are queer or Jewish have happened in your life recently?

Jaz: I think the one that I want to highlight this week and it’s a short one this week, that I have mentioned I think that I have been doing Jewish study through a queer Jewish study group with Svara. It’s a half hour that I’m doing each day and yesterday my mother joined me for the first time and that was super lovely. I always thought she would be interested in doing Jewish study with them but I had sort of thought that would be in person that we would do that together, but she came to the digital thing and she enjoyed it, and might be back so that was really nice.

Lulav: Jaz, which mother was that?

Jaz: This is my mother Jill, who I call Lily, and it was great, it was really lovely to have Lily join me.

Lulav: Hi, Jill! Hope to see you at one of the future Svara things.

[Brivele intro music]
Lulav: Welcome to Kosher Queers, a podcast with at least two Jews and generally more than three opinions. Each week, we bring you queer takes on Torah. They’re Jaz
Jaz: And she’s Lulav
Lulav: And today we’re going to talk about Emor, also known as ableism and festivals
Jaz: Yeah… 
Lulav: So this is gonna be a thing.
Jaz: It’s gonna be a thing.
Lulav: You told me that you wanted 30 seconds, is that still true?
Jaz: Let me try it in 25.
Lulav: Oooooh. Ready? Set? Go
Jaz: Priests and their families get extra rules. They’re about all of the important things: death, marriage, food, bodies, donations. The people get a couple more rules about sacrifice and then G-d invented the calendar with a bunch of pre-programmed holidays in chronological orders: Shabbat, Pesach, the Omer, Shevuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Also, someone was rude about G-d and Moses asked G-d what to do, and G-d said, “Treat everyone the same and also kill him!” So the people pretended to stone him.
(timer rings)
Jaz: Done.
Lulav: Nice.
Jaz: So let’s go through that a little more slowly.
Lulav: Yeah. So first can we talk about the chapter letters. The Hebrew letters look exactly like in Talmud when somebody’s like talking to somebody else.
Jaz: Mm hmm. And they say amar. Well in Talmud usually you might say “amar Rabban Gamliel” and “Rabban Gamliel amar” and that means “he said it.”
Lulav: Yeah. Thus said.
Jaz: Or you might have, “Amar Rabban Gamliel amar Shmuel,” “Rabban Gamliel said that Shmuel said,” but here our opening is vayomer Hashem el Moshe emor el hakohanim bnei haAaron amartah velohem. And so emor is that fourth — fifth word there but so like we start with “and said G-d to Moses emor.”
Lulav: So is this different from how Kedoshim begins? Because in there the Lord speaks to Moses saying Speak to the whole Israelite community
Jaz: So Kedoshim begins with "vayedaber Hashem el Moshe lemor." It's a different form of the word I guess, but it is the same root. 
Lulav: It's just wild that so far, we've had like, unique words that really set the parsha apart and now we're just getting, “speak to the priests.” 
Jaz: Yeah, now we're just getting speak as our opening word, which is not particularly unique. I think it is maybe a note for us to think about speech in this parsha — 
Lulav: Mm!
Jaz: And how it plays out. (Lulav gasps) We're going to get a bit at the end about the importance of particular types of speech. 
Lulav: Jaz, hot diggity, that's such a good insight!
Jaz: (laughs) Thank you! That's my guess.
Lulav: So what "emor Moshe lekohanim?"
Jaz: That's — alright, so — (both laugh) 
Lulav: I don't have the Hebrew in front of me. I no longer only have the NRSV. Khesed gave me their large copy —  
Jaz: (overlapping) Is your JPS only in English? 
Lulav: It's only in English. 
Jaz: Ahh. Okay. 
Lulav: Listen, if it were in Hebrew also, it would be 1200 pages long. 
Jaz: Yeah, no, a Tanakh is huge. The JPS online, on Sefaria, does have the Hebrew online, if you ever want it. 
Lulav: That's true. I could just use the computer that I'm sitting in front of (Jaz laughs) and talking directly too. Ugh. (Lulav laughs) 
Jaz: Also we should just get you a Torah. (Lulav snorts and then giggles) Not like — whatever. I'm reading a Torah commentary that has it in Hebrew and English. I do not have a full Tanakh with me. 
Lulav: Mm hmm.  
Jaz: But that's a problem for another day. (Lulav laughs) So, in the beginning of this parsha, the instructions to the kohanim, the Levites, the sons of Aharon, these are all the same people, (Lulav giggles) start with ritual defilement via touching dead bodies. The Talmud will later elaborate lots of complicated rules for what different levels of ritual defilement are, related to death
Lulav: Hmm.
Jaz: But in the meantime they just start here, with a priest could only touch the dead bodies of a parent, a child, and a brother and a unmarried sister. 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: Priests aren't otherwise supposed to get close to dead bodies, but they wave that for people who are their immediate family. Not more distant family, no grandparents or siblings or anything like that, but — 
Lulav: So it makes some sense that they're not allowed to defile themselves with the dead bodies of siblings in law. 
Jaz: Mm hmm.
Lulav: But why is it specifically an unmarried sister?
Jaz: (sighs) Well, because…  
Lulav: Uh oh. 
Jaz: Well, the note that my thing had was connecting it to this idea that once someone went off and married, they were more associated with their husband's family, and so they no longer counted in the same way as immediate family, because they had went and joined a different family. 
Lulav: Which makes sense… but also, like, why can't that be true of men as well? (chuckles) 
Jaz: I mean, we know why. (laughs) 
Lulav: (sing-song) Sexism! 
Jaz: (laughs) I wonder, and it doesn't say this here so I wonder if it says it anywhere else, if it's because the relatives of a priest are all still in the priestly family, like, they're still part of the Levite class, or whatever. 
Lulav: They can eat donations. 
Jaz: Right, and I wonder if it's like, once you're no longer in a Levite family, it's different. You've left the priest domain and gone onto somebody else. Although, I don't know, you'd think in that case they'd specify it would matter whether or not the sister married a Levite. (Lulav chuckles) Okay, then you have a commandment to grow payos, (Lulav chuckles) which is in modern times, mostly Orthodox people but sometimes non-Orthodox people would have sideburns growing. They just never cut that and so it grows really long and sometimes gets all curly and spirally, so you have spirals on the corner of your face. (Lulav laughs) And anyway, those are called payos.
Lulav: Yeah, they're a wonderful sight. 
Jaz: Yeah, it's delightful. My brother had them briefly, not as a religious choice particularly, but as an aesthetic thing. 
Lulav: Thanks David Nathan. 
Jaz: Yeah, it was very cute. Then there's stuff about who a priest can marry. 
Lulav: Uh huh. 
Jaz: Yeah. They can't married divorce people and they can't marry sex workers. 
Lulav: Uh huh! (laughs) So interestingly, all of these are rules for priests. 
Jaz: Uh huh! Not for literally anybody else! And notably, we do not have priests anymore, so do whatever! (Lulav laughs) 
Lulav: Good. But yeah, we continue on with talking about sex workers bringing blasphemy with line 9. Can you give us your read on that? 
Jaz: Yeah. I mean, I don't like this line. There's lots of lines that I struggle with, (Lulav laughs) but this one, my translation renders as, "When the daughter of a priest defiles herself through harlotry, it is her father whom she defiles." 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: "she shall be put to the fire." So, um, it's bad. 
Lulav: (Laughs) So, Khaver, khaver, Talmud me a Talmud (laughs) what happens if the daughter of the priest, who is a sex worker, is married to a non-Levite? 
Jaz: Mmmmm. As in, who does the defilement go to? Her father or her husband? 
Lulav: Yeah, I guess? Because the way it's stated is just “when the daughter of a priest?” 
Jaz: Okay, I have a flippant interpretation for a you and then a — 
Lulav: I need that. (laughs)
Jaz: Alright, my flippant interpretation is because it's translated here very specifically as "the daughter." Why does he only have one? Hmm. The Talmud questions this. And also we know that the priests are the caste where they live off of donations, they live very well — 
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: But this person is like, supporting herself. 
Lulav: Oh! 
Jaz: And not living on the donations given to priests, so her father has decided to not hold up his end of responsibilities toward her is my guess, and so she has decided well, what is a way to get back at my father, and the way to get back at my father is to go about my life and understand that this will disqualify him from being to be ritually pure enough do his job since he's failing at his job of taking care of me. 
Lulav: Whoa. So does that reading interpret "she shall be put to the fire" as like, she won't be considered part of his family? 
Jaz: Oh. I didn't — 
Lulav: Or literally thrown in the fire? 
Jaz: Mostly, this reading was focused on the front half of it. 
Lulav: (laughs) Okay.
Jaz: I, uh, prefer to believe that she's like, lounging casually in front of the fire. (Lulav laughs) I don't want her to suffer in this particular version.
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: Yeah, I don't know, I just think the idea that anything that she does redounds to her father is a ridiculous one and so I would like to see instead her weaponize that one. 
Lulav: Yeah. That's a really cool story. And then the basic reading is, when she marries a non-Levite, that's on him, rather than on her dad? 
Jaz: Yeah, I mean, I think the idea — no, actually. I mean, I think the idea is it seems to me like it wouldn't matter. 
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: This only seems to matter to priests and if she marries somebody who's not a priest, it seems like it'd be a non-issue. 
Lulav: Right, exactly! So then what happens, I say, pretending as though there is narrative here rather than just more rules?
Jaz: More rules, yeah. Okay, so then there is more stuff about who then a priest can marry. Do you have any questions about stuff we've talked about so far? 
Lulav: I mean, in that last bit that we just talked about, 21:14, the second half says that only a virgin of his own kin may he take to wife 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: And that seems weirdly restrictive? 
Jaz: It does. I mean, my guess is that means he can only marry another person from a priestly family, not — 
Lulav: Yeah, but those are just Levites! 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: That's like 1/12th of all Israelites! 
Jaz: Well, yes, but there is a point at which they're conceived of which as different tribes and throughout history, you know, different people have had different practices of whether you marry exclusively from within your particular group or intermarry with other local groups. 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: I don't know. It seems — yeah, I don't know. 
Lulav: It's weird to me because previously, all of the instructions about not marrying outside of the family have been like, Israelites generally, and so to have it be like, he needs to marry specifically a Levite only in the family, it's just strange. 
Jaz: Well, you could be wrong! It doesn't say only Levites anywhere specifically. 
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: So it could mean he can only marry Israelites, other people can intermarry, in the same way that rabbinic — heh — like, there are Jewish denominations which will say they'll do intermarriages but they won't allow themselves to have intermarried rabbis. 
Lulav: Mm! Interesting.  
Jaz: I'm not, you know, on principle, super down with that either, but, um —
Lulav: Is that — which movements have that sort of prohibitions on intermarried rabbis?
Jaz: The Reform.
Lulav: Wild!
Jaz: Oh, most of them do. THe Reform is unusual in that they will have their rabbis perfrom intermarriage ceremonies but they won't allow themselves to have rabbis who are theemelsves intermarried.
Lulav: I did not know that!
Jaz: Everybody else does not allow intermarriages at all. They won't allow their rabbis to perform them either.
Lulav: How do Reconstructionists feel about that?
Jaz: Reconstructionists currently have the only rabbinical school where you're allowed to have non-Jewish partners.
Lulav: Uh huh.
Jaz: They perform intermarriages, they have intermarried rabbis, they are —
Lulav: I love it.
Jaz: I spoke to a rabbi there who was like, yeah, when we began doing that it really brought lots of people who also had converted or brought a lot more people who felt like they could talk about the full spectrum of their Jewish life and experience —
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: —  into the rabbinate and that's something we care about.
Lulav: That's so cool.
Jaz: We want to be as interested in Jews as they are now as part of a living civilization than we are about the Judaism that may have been evolved earlier.
Lulav: Yeah. So what's the next thing that Hashem says to Moshe?
Jaz: Right, the next things is —
Both simultaneously: Ugh.
Jaz: Say to Aharon, you will have descendents who will be priests and only descendents who have no physical disabilities will be able to serve in the Holy of Holies in the Temple.
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: And here are all of the things that count as physical disabilities that disqualify them. And they include people who are blind, or have a short leg or a broken arm or is a little person or has a growth in their eye, etc etc.
Lulav: Which is ridiculous?
Jaz: And gross. Yeah. That they would treat a person like that.
Lulav: Like, why would you need to be symmetrical to be a priest? (Jaz laughs) And of course, the answer is ableism, but.
Jaz: Um, yeah. So we were both quite unhappy about this one, (Lulav laughs) I went and tried to do some research on disability scholarship on this parsha. There's not — (Lulav chuckles) I mean, maybe there's more out there and I just didn't find it. Listeners, if you have suggestions, reading that you have done or know of or scholars to recommend, but I found some! Would you like to hear?
Lulav: (gasps) I would love to hear.
Jaz: Okay. So one of them was this really interesting idea. So I was reading this dvar from a place called Sinai Synagogue, which I'll link to. It was written in 2016, and in this dvar, they quote a person named William Herlands.
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: So I couldn't find William's Herlands's original dvar, but I found this quoting of this idea.
Lulav: Okay.
Jaz: "For the average Israelite, the temple existed on the fringe of society." Average people didn't really go into the temple very often. The kohanim worked behind this veil of holiness. But most people would interact with kohanim in the local towns — 
Lulav: Oh.
Jaz: where local kohanim received regular tithes of bread and fruit. They may have functioned as religious authorities, much like local rabbis today, teaching lessons and educating children, and so since these disabled priests would have been able to do those things, but not be in the temple, they would in fact have been the most visible representations of priesthood, rather than sequestered from public view.

Lulav: That's really cool and not like, a thing I knew about kohanim, that they would like, be out in the community? Because everything we've heard about kohanim so far has been about, you are in this one specific tent.
Jaz: Yeah, but we did have that stuff about the priests being the people who would go and check on folks with leoposr, to see if they were ready to be brought back in the community and go to check houses to be like, is there mold in your house? Do we have to throw away the whole house? (Lulav chuckles) So also if they're checking in on people who are sick, if that's like a big part of their role, there is sort of a nice aspect to the people who are going and checking on sick and disblaed people also being sick and disabled people.
Lulav: That's cool. Also, you know what this reminds me of?
Jaz: Hmm?
Lulav: That book you were talking about in Tazria Metzorah, True Sex.
Jaz: Yeah.
Lulav: Where you have the academic study of transmasculine subculture being mostly focused on cities, where a bunch of trans people can gather together, and in the same sense, a lot of what we talk about with kohanim, at least so far, has been imagining them at the center of things, all grouped together at the mishkan, but there are also individual kohanim who go out to the country and live with people and are accepted in their communities.
Jaz: Yeah! I like that parallel.
Lulav: Aw, thank you.
Jaz: And I like particularly the idea that the priests who go out and are part of the communities, are like your local disabled transmasc folks hanging out there. (both laugh)
Lulav: Good.
Jaz: And also being leaders. Great. Also lots of the disability scholarship I found while browsing wasn't linked to Emor specifically, it was about other stuff, but I also think it was cool and so I'll also drop some extra reading in the show notes.
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: There was a piece that was talking about Kedoshim which we talked about last week which talked about putting a stumbling block before the blind and it was written by a blind rabbinical student who was like, people keep interpreting that really metaphorically and I would prefer if you interpreted it very literally and made things more accessible.
Lulav: Yeah, fun fact: places of worship are not required by the ADA to be accessible to people with mobility impairments.
Jaz: That's messed up.
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: And I've also — I can't remember who I first saw this from so I can't credit them, but a thing about if your synagogue has a ramp to the pews or whatever, but it doesn’t have one up to the bimah, it's not accessible.
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: If not everybody can lead, you haven't done it.
Lulav: That's so good.
Jaz: Yeah. I mean, obviously you need more things. I want to throw in one last thing and then we can move on, which is as I was browsing these things about disability, I stumbled on Sefaria to a thing that linked to a Tumblr post which is from the Tumblr of kuzu, who is also a cool queer and trans Jewish author.
Lulav: Yeah. Who, we've read a post from on this show before, right?
Jaz: Sacha's just very cool?
Lulav: Yeah. (laughs) So we're going to link Avi Cantor Something Something in the show notes.
Jaz: The name of the things they wrote is Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live. It's like a story with two gay boys, one of whom is trans —
Lulav: Uh huh.
Jaz: And also there's magic and Judaism. It's good? I — yeah.
Lulav: It's really good, yeah.
Jaz: Anyway, but this particular post —
Lulav: Yes please.
Jaz: goes like this: "God: needs a giant multi-colored post-it in the sky to remind it not to destroy everything / Also God: forgets Sarah, forgets the Jews in Egypt, probably forgets other things that I’ve forgotten about / ALSO God: breaks a jar full of divine light and can’t pick up the pieces itself /" (Lulav laughs) "We are all created (echoing voice that layers Jaz’ and Lulav’s voices) b'tzelem Elohim / In the image / Of executive dysfunction."
Lulav: That's really cool.
Jaz: It's really cute.
Lulav: Also I'm looking at the tags on this post and it says "#fun side note that is gods grammatically plural name   #which is cool to think about in the context of its having as many shapes as there are humans."
Jaz: Yeah. Also I'm chuckling about the fact that Sacha decides for the purposes of this post, G-d's pronouns were "it." 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: Um, great. Okay, and then —
Lulav: What is Moshe instructing Aharon about? 
Jaz: Be careful with the donations. 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: Also if you eat any of the donated things — they subsist off of donated sacrifice food, I think is the implication. 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: So there's this thing of like, if you do it while impure, that's bad, and you'll have to go away. We have this thing about if you have an eruption or a discharge (Lulav chuckles) and also there are two ways that one of them can be ritually impure. One of them is touching a corpse. The other one is emission of semen. Wild that those are the two sources. So only the priests eat it and their family. They don't give it to the people that they're paying, but if the people do eat it, they don't get in trouble for it. If the priest has a daughter there, like a young one, she can eat it until she goes off to be married but if something happens to her marriage and she moves back in with her parents, she can eat it again. And... yeah. Thoughts, questions? 
Lulav: Make sense! 
Jaz: Yeah, but other people aren't supposed to eat them. G-d has set them aside specially for the priests. 
Lulav: Mm. Oh, it is an interesting thing to me that the sacred donations can be consumed by the family as well, not just the priest.
Jaz: Well, what else would they eat? 
Lulav: I don't know! Don't priests also get paid? Is that a thing? 
Jaz: Well, isn't this what they get paid in, sort of? 
Lulav: Yeah, good point. But where's the, like 1/5th of the value of things that people are donating going? 
Jaz: Oh, that's a good question. Maybe it's temple upkeep. 
Lulav: Mm. Yeah. Like paying not-priests to upkeep the temple? 
Jaz: Yeah, because the not-priests do work there, because we get things about how there are laborers. 
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: And they don't get to eat those things, so they have to eat some other way. 
Lulav: Oh and I guess you do need to make, like, clothes that aren't accounted for in any of the donations. (laughs) 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: Okay, so then what? 
Jaz: So then we have a small bit about if you have offerings, they need to be pure ones and expensive ones. You can't offer things from the herd that are blind or injured or maimed. 
Lulav: Hey Jaz? 
Jaz: Yeah? 
Lulav: Why do the priests and herd animals need not to have crushed testes to be acceptable? 
Jaz: Umm…  
Lulav: This isn't like, a setup to a joke or anything, it's just like — 
Jaz: Aw, I wish it was a setup to a joke. 
Lulav: (laughs) Bofa deez nutz. (Jaz laughs) Yeah, it just — like, on the list of things that count, the crushed testes just seem totally different? 
Jaz: How so? 
Lulav: Like, you — generally, I hope, you cannot see the testes of a priest. 
Jaz: (laughs) That's true. 
Lulav: Especially since they're wearing underwear. 
Jaz: All the other things are visible. Like, boil scars and broken arms and stuff. 
Jaz: Mm hmm.
Lulav: It just — it seems weird that crushed testes are also on there. You can see the angle to that dangle on an ox, so like, it makes a little more sense there, but still. 
Jaz: Here's my real answer, and I don't know if this is satisfactory, but — 
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: I think it's because they can't have children and I think the idea of the sacrifice is you are supposed to be legitimately sacrificing something. 
Lulav: Ohh. 
Jaz: Like, you're not supposed to be giving away the worst of your flock, which is why you don't want one that has things that are injured or whatever. You don't want to be giving the Temple and G-d a thing that you would have tried to get rid of anyway. 
Lulav: That's a great explanation. Thank you so much. 
Jaz: I don't have as good of a one for the humans, except I do wonder if it continues to have something to do with, like, they want to ensure the continuation of the priestly line. 
Lulav: Mm hmm. Also like, priests are in some sense a sacrifice of the comeliest, (Jaz chokes) I guess? 

Jaz: Is this like feeding a princess to a dragon but instead you're feeding a priest to G-d? 

Lulav: (laughs) Yup! Both burn people up in fire. 

Jaz: Mm. Not not true. Aharon's sons were burned up in fire two parshas ago. (Lulav laughs) Yeah, I mean, people have offered explanations about the knowledge that we are all imperfect compared to G-d’s perfection?

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: I don't know. I don't have a clean answer there. 

Lulav: Anyway, I'm mailing you some salt right now. (Jaz laughs) Then what happens?

Jaz: There's a little bit more logistics about how long a baby animal stays with its mom. When you sacrifice something, make sure that it can be accepted. We're all done with the sacrifice stuff and then G-d speaks again to Moses and tells him this time, don't just speak to the kohanim, speak to all of the Israelite people and say, These are my fixed time, the fixed times of the Eternal, which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions," and that's what I meant when I said G-d invented the calendar (Lulav laughs) First on the 7th day there shall be a Shabbat. Do no work. And then we start getting holidays. The first one is Feast of unleavened bread, which is Passover ,and then stuff about harvests and you have to count the days, 50 of them. This is what we have now, is the counting of the omer. 

Lulav: Yay! How many is the Omer? 

Jaz: 50. 

Lulav: What? Wait, we just finished counting the Omer? 

Jaz: No, there's 50 days. 

Lulav: No, I knew that! (laughs) 

Jaz: I don't understand. 

Lulav: Which day of the omer is it? 

Jaz: When we're recording, it's like day 2. When this airs, it's... I don't know. Like day 30-something? I didn't check. 

Lulav: We're very proactive about recording. 

Jaz: There is — okay, I have to admit, I haven't listened to it yet, but there is another podcast out there that's called — 

Lulav: Sefirat Homoer. 

Jaz: Something like that, which is a gay omer podcast. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Yeah, you should probably check that out! I am going to check that out, I'm just a couple days behind. I am sure we'll be tweeting about it more. 

Lulav: Yes. 

Jaz: and on various social media platforms. Anyway! Right, so then after the omer then you have Shavuot, which is about harvesting stuff and gets a little bit repurposed later, because here we get more harvest stuff about like, when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges or gather the gleanings. Like that stuff we had last time that was near the 10 commandments repetition. And then — 

Lulav: I'm bouncing up and down. 

Jaz: And then, we have a complete rest, which is Rosh Hashanah, and then Day of Atonement, do no work — 

Lulav: Vibrating harder.

Jaz: And whoever does any work will perish from among the people. And I think that's the last — 

Lulav: Nope! 

Jaz: Nope, we get Sukkot. Next is Sukkot.

Lulav: Yay! (laughs)    

Jaz: (laughs) Apologies for almost skipping your holiday. 

Lulav: Yeah, so there's Sukkot! The feast of huts. Or booths, or tabernacles. 

Jaz: Uh huh. Yes. I have it in my heart as the feast of booths, mostly because I knew people with the last name of Booth and I thought it was very funny.

Lulav: Oh, that's cute. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: I call it the feast of huts because "huts" is a funny word.


Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Also they are, like, a sukkah is just an open air kind of hut, you know? 

Jaz: Well, I like the idea of it being a booth in some respects because people do actually live in huts, and that seems like you can make that a permanent dwelling. 

Lulav: You're supposed to live in a Sukkah as well. 

Jaz: But you're only supposed to live in it for a week and you're supposed to be able to like, pick it up and move with it.

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: It's supposed to be more evocative of like, a temporary dwelling. That's part of why you have it, no? And this reminds me of like a farmer's market booth, (Lulav laughs) something you cannot live in, which is more of what like, a sukkah is. 

Lulav: Yeah, that's fair.  So the reason that Sukkot is so important to me is my name's Lulav! And that's what we talk about in 23:40, is compiling the lulav. 

Jaz: Sure is! Do you want to talk about this one? 

Lulav: Yes! So on the first day of Sukkot, you take the product of gadar trees, which are like fruits, you know, which you can eat and which smell good, branches of palm tree, which are fragrant but you can't really eat them, boughs of leafy trees — I, okay, between the last two I can't remember which you can or can't digest and willows of the brook and you combine all four of those together and rejoice before Hashem seven days. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: It's fun. I just like shaking the agricultural products. (Jaz laughs) 


Lulav: And so, I named myself after the branches of palm trees because I am good at learning things and making arguments and stuff but it is a difficulty in my brain to actually do things.

Jaz: Do you want to walk people through the traditional analogy there that you’re drawing on?

Lulav: Oh yes, sorry, I missed a step. So I was telling you about, like, smelling good and tasting good with all of those four species and there’s an analogy that we draw from that which is that a community of Jews needs all kinds of Jews to be complete. You need the people who study and do mitzvot but you also need the people who don’t do either, and you need people who are good at doing one but not at the other.

Jaz: Yes.

Lulav: It’s all important and we’re all Jewish

Jaz: Right and yours in particular symbolizes: 

Lulav: The study and not the doing.

Jaz: The etrog is the one that’s like do both and I actually don’t remember which order the other two are in.

Lulav: Good, okay, we’re on the same level here.

Jaz: Okay (laughs)

Lulav: Jaz, which one do you relate to most?

Jaz: Ah, I… don't know?

Lulav: Okay, cause you definitely feel like an etrog to me.

Jaz: Awww.

Lulav: I’m really inspired both by how studious you are and how much direct action you do.

Jaz: Awww. Thank you. I feel like I am still working on both of those things.

Lulav: So are we all. 

Jaz: But I like etrog as an aspirational one. Alright, so once we have Sukkot, they’re like that’s all the holidays that we need. Editor’s note: It was not. We added more later.

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah, where’s the other trees?

Jaz: (laughs) We have so many holidays. So we have a thing about, have a light kindling forever and then a bit of narrative.

Lulav: Whoa! No way!

Jaz: The narrative goes, once upon a time, among the Israelites, there was a man who mother was Israelite and whose father was Egyptian, and a fight broke out in the camp between that guy and a different, also Israelite guy.

Lulav: That’s mean! They shouldn’t be fighting!

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: I figured since you started with “once upon a time,” I should play the third grader.

Jaz: So anyway the narrator’s like, well, the person whose father was Egyptian said G-d’s name and wasn’t supposed to, and it was blasphemous. And the people didn’t know what to do, so they brought him to Moses and — 

Lulav: He doesn’t get a name.

Jaz: He does not get a name but his mom gets a name.

Lulav: Cause she’s Israelite.

Jaz: Her name is Shlomit bat divri, and I’m just going to take a little side note here because we talked at the beginning about how “emor” was about saying and her name —

Lulav: (gasps)

Jaz: Is “peace daughter of words.”

Lulav: What?

Jaz: Shlomit bat divri.

Lulav: Amazing.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: of the tribe of judge.

Jaz: Yeah, fascinating.

Lulav: Thank you for looking that up. I’m spooning more salt into the envelope. 

Jaz: Awww.

Lulav: I’m not actually going to send — I might send you a little salt — we’ll see.

Jaz: (laughs) So that’s fun. Well so normally we have this whole thing about Moshe makes decisions and how he’s delegated a lot of stuff, but this one is big enough that the people don’t know what to do that they take it right to Moshe but he doesn’t know what to do either so he asks G-d directly and G-d says, (echo voice) “Take the son of Shlomit bat Divri outside camp and let the community leadership stone him. And tell the Israelite people that anybody who is a blasphemer is guilty and you have to have the same rules for strangers or citizens' ' They have here, and then they repeat that one again, with the punishment for killing a person or a beast. And then we have this line about “fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, the injury inflicted upon a human being shall be inflicted in turn.”

Lulav: Mm hmm, 

Jaz: Okay, and now that they’ve received holy instructions from G-d, 

Lulav: You said that they pretended to stone him? 

Jaz: Well, (laughs) so the thing is the narrative is very clear that G-d said stone him. Do you know what it means to stone somebody?

Lulav: You partially bury somebody and then you chuck rocks at them?

Jaz: You don’t. It actually means you throw them off of a cliff. 

Lulav: What?

Jaz: Like, onto stones, and then push a big stone on top of them.

Lulav: What???

Jaz: And they definitely don’t do that here. They just kind of throw stones at him.

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: So my argument is G-d said, “Stone him!” And the people were like,w e like him, so instead of throwing him off a cliff and pushing a big boulder on top of him, they just kind of fling some pebbles at him and call it a day.

Lulav: They make him trip pand they sprinkle pebbles on him. (Jaz laughs) “The Israelites did as the Lord had commanded Moshe.”

Jaz: Anyway, within the letter of the law, I’m just saying it’s very clear, it says they pelted him with stones. And that is not —- 

Lulav: Uh huh. It doesn’t say how big they were.

Jaz: Also, that is not what stoning is. Do you have questions about this other thing though? About punishments for blasphemy or same rules for stranger and citizen?

Lulav: What does it mean to blaspheme? How does one pronounce the Name in blasphemy?

Jaz: Uh.

Lulav: Is it just like trying to pronounce the Tetragrammaton?

Jaz: I really think that that’s it, and in this particular case probably not trying, probably doing so, probably correctly. That is a thing that they have at this point. They have the legit pronunciation; they’re just not supposed to use it. And maybe they’re fighting and this guy tries to call down G-d to be on his side with G-d’s true name and G-d is like, you cannot do that.

Lulav: So basically don’t ask G-d for your sports team to win.

Jaz: Yeah, don’t do that maybe. 

Lulav: For something that’s completely inconsequential and you’re just asking for, I don’t know, personal wielding of power? It makes sense that the way in which one blasphemes is by calling on G-d to do things.

Jaz: Yeah, yeah.

Lulav: Like telling somebody “G-d damn you” is blasphemy because it is requesting a specific action that only Hashem Themself has purview over. So, are you willing to move on to Rating G-d's Writing?  


Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: Okay. Welcome to Rating Gds Writing, a segment where we name two scales, which may or may not be scales depending on how avante garde you want to go, and we have each other rate the things on them. 

Jaz: Alright. 

Lulav: I know words. 

Jaz: (laughs) Okay, Lulav. 

Lulav: I'm stealing this before you inflict it on me. (Lulav laughs) Out of the four symbols of Sukkot, which one would you use to rate this parsha? 

Lulav: Okay. So I think I'm going to rate this parsha the lulav (Jaz laughs) because a lot of it is about setting apart a class for aesthetic reasons and doesn't seem very focused on justice when it talks about the ways in which the priesthood are disallowed from like, having physical deformities or doing all the stuff that they're not allowed to do. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: I enjoyed, like, a lot of this? 

Jaz: Okay! 

Lulav: And I think there are parts that are focused on justice, but yeah, there was a lot of cosmetic stuff, and so, not to be selfish or anything, but I'm rating this lulav (Jaz laughs) out of group noun lulav. 

Jaz: That's the most self-deprecating Rating G-d's Writing we've ever had. (Lulav laughs and then Jaz laughs) 

Lulav: We'll see about that. So Jaz, 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: Out of six days work may be done but a seventh day where there shall be a Shabbat of complete rest, a sacred occasion, how many days would you rate this parsha? 

Jaz: Mm. I would rate it six days but not Shabbat. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: And like, Shabbat is the best part, so — (Lulav giggles) I think that there's interesting things happening, but it takes a lot of work in some ways to get there. 

Lulav: Yeah it does. 

Jaz: We found interesting things to say about disability, but we had to really work for it. (Lulav laughs) 

Lulav: In a way that probably wasn't intended by the text even a little bit. 

Jaz: Listen, the Torah was given at Sinai (Lulav laughs) and it was given into my hands and this is what it says now. 

Lulav: Baruch Hashem. And yasher koach. 

Jaz: I really do feel like I've been reading all of these Talmud interpretations where they just assert things and I was recently reading a book by an Orthodox rabbi who just asserts things! Like, sometimes there's a basis in text, and sometimes it feels like he just says things, and they get away with it (Lulav laughs) and we get questioned for it, and look, I get to make pronouncements too. 

Lulav: Good.   

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Yes you do, to be clear. (Jaz laughs) Hard agree. 

Jaz: (laughs) Yeah, so I would say, six out of seven. There's good stuff here but you gotta really work for it. 

Lulav: Okay. Can we have a fun little day of rest with a listener question? 

Jaz: Oh! Yeah sure. 

Lulav: So we don't really have time to dig deep on any actual topics, but we had trans day of visibility at the end of March. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: And my friend Mona @ediblesocks on Twitter asked, "When's Trans Day of Judaism?" 

Jaz: Aw! 

Lulav: And it was just a really funny question and I wanted to pose it to you. Jaz, when is Trans Day of Judaism? 

Jaz: Uh, that's beautiful. There was a project, and I don't know if it super happened, but there was a project that was by Binya Kóatz and Cole Krawitz that they were going to have, like, Trans Day of leadership in synagogues, where they pciked a parsha and everyone was going to do that one, and it was the one about Jospeh becuse Binya was like, this is a hella gay and hella trans ancestor (Lulav laughs) and trans people should lead all the serveices or however many they want and give dvars and stuff and I was like, that's a lovely idea. 

Lulav: Okay.   

Jaz: So that's my answer, is pick a real gay parsha and also put all the trans people in charge of leading stuff, and that one's Trans Day of Judiasm. 

Lulav: What was the parsha with Yoseph? 

Jaz: I think it's the one where he gets his fancy coat and also gets thrown in a pit? Whichever episode we had DiCo come on for, because — 

Lulav: Vayeshev. 

Jaz: Yes, because coincidentally, that was the one he was doing. 

Lulav: So Trans Day of Judaism this year was December 19, 19— Not 1991, oh my G-d. (Ja laughs) 2019.   

Jaz: Great. What do you think? When would be Trans Day of Judaism in your estimation if you wanted to pick one? 

Lulav: So, a) that's a great thing that you just said, and b) Trans Day of Judaism is everyday because like so many trans people I know either are Jewish or want to be Jewish. (both laugh) It's wonderful.

Jaz: Being Jewish is trans culture now. 

Lulav: It is though. (Both laugh) Sorry about using a cop-out of just being like, all of the days, but. (laughs) 

Jaz: Cute. Love that. 

Lulav: Jaz, can you take us to the close? 

Jaz: Yeah! Thanks for listening to Kosher Queers! If you like what you’ve heard, you can support us on Patreon at, which will give you bonus content and help us keep making this for you. You can also follow us on Twitter @kosherqueers or like us on Facebook at Kosher Queers, or email us your questions, comments, and concerns at, and please spread the word about our podcast! Our artwork is by the talented Lior Gross. Our music is courtesy of the fabulous band Brivele, whose work you can find on Bandcamp. Go buy their album, they’re great. Our sound production this week is done by my lovely co-host, Lulav Arnow. 

Lulav: I don't qualify for the priesthood for multiple reasons. (Jaz laughs) Our full transcripts, as with every episode, are done by DiCo and Jaz and definitely accessible through our episode descriptions on Buzzsprout!

Jaz: I’m Jaz Twersky and you can find me @WordNerdKnitter on Twitter. I recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Ohlone people. 

Lulav: I’m Lulav Arnow and you can find me @spacetrucksix on Twitter, or yell at me @palmliker! I recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Wahpékute and Anishinaabeg.

Jaz: Have a lovely queer Jewish day!

[Brivele outro music]

Lulav: This week's gender is well-rested for the first time in like a month

Jaz: This week's pronouns are lang and guid.