Kosher Queers

33 — Naso: More Like "Dropsy of the OVER IT"

June 04, 2020
Kosher Queers
33 — Naso: More Like "Dropsy of the OVER IT"
Chapters
Kosher Queers
33 — Naso: More Like "Dropsy of the OVER IT"
Jun 04, 2020

This week, we talk about water that's maybe poison, maybe magic, and maybe an abortifacient! But maybe just water. Also, we discuss people who are built-in societal dissenters because they're straight-edge genderqueer punks with long hair — I mean, nazarites who have taken a vow not to drink alcohol or cut their hair. Plus, there's a bonus priestly blessing origin story and the same thing 12 times with a different hat.

Full transcript here.

If you're enjoying our work, you should also check out the work of Black queer Jewish creators, such as...

  • Rabbi Sandra Lawson, including her podcast (sadly no longer running), music, and writing. 
  • Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, a Yiddish singer who combines traditional Ashkenazi and African-American musical traditions. You can buy his music here.
  • Michael Twitty has a book called The Cooking Gene about Southern cooking, family, history, identity, and more which you can purchase. He also has a blog here
  • Chris Harrison writes for the Union for Reform Judaism. His most recent piece is Black Jews are Tired
  • Y-Love, a formerly Hasidic rap artist, whose music you can buy here.

If you've got spare dollars, we're also donating to our local bail funds and urge you to do the same. Here's another list of Black-run orgs you can donate to (and some other additional resources, such as petitions to sign). You can also give directly to things like this fund for Black trans protesters. Also, a Native youth organization in Minneapolis was damaged and could use some help.

Find the Black-owned businesses in your city; here's a list for New York. Plus, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice has a script for NYC about defunding the police that you can adapt for your city, as well as this similar script. Here's an article about the Minneapolis Park Board cutting ties with the police and a petition to end the University of California PD; you can push that where you live.

Here's the children's blessing. The book Jaz read is Leadership in the Wilderness by Erica Brown. The strengths of different ages is from Pirkei Avot 5:21

Support us on Patreon! Send us questions or comments at kosherqueers@gmail.com, 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 Jaz Twersky. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

Support the show (http://patreon.com/kosherqueers)

Show Notes Transcript

This week, we talk about water that's maybe poison, maybe magic, and maybe an abortifacient! But maybe just water. Also, we discuss people who are built-in societal dissenters because they're straight-edge genderqueer punks with long hair — I mean, nazarites who have taken a vow not to drink alcohol or cut their hair. Plus, there's a bonus priestly blessing origin story and the same thing 12 times with a different hat.

Full transcript here.

If you're enjoying our work, you should also check out the work of Black queer Jewish creators, such as...

  • Rabbi Sandra Lawson, including her podcast (sadly no longer running), music, and writing. 
  • Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, a Yiddish singer who combines traditional Ashkenazi and African-American musical traditions. You can buy his music here.
  • Michael Twitty has a book called The Cooking Gene about Southern cooking, family, history, identity, and more which you can purchase. He also has a blog here
  • Chris Harrison writes for the Union for Reform Judaism. His most recent piece is Black Jews are Tired
  • Y-Love, a formerly Hasidic rap artist, whose music you can buy here.

If you've got spare dollars, we're also donating to our local bail funds and urge you to do the same. Here's another list of Black-run orgs you can donate to (and some other additional resources, such as petitions to sign). You can also give directly to things like this fund for Black trans protesters. Also, a Native youth organization in Minneapolis was damaged and could use some help.

Find the Black-owned businesses in your city; here's a list for New York. Plus, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice has a script for NYC about defunding the police that you can adapt for your city, as well as this similar script. Here's an article about the Minneapolis Park Board cutting ties with the police and a petition to end the University of California PD; you can push that where you live.

Here's the children's blessing. The book Jaz read is Leadership in the Wilderness by Erica Brown. The strengths of different ages is from Pirkei Avot 5:21

Support us on Patreon! Send us questions or comments at kosherqueers@gmail.com, 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 Jaz Twersky. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

Support the show (http://patreon.com/kosherqueers)

Lulav: Hey nerds, quick note before we start. We're releasing this episode 9 days after the murder by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, and amidst the nation- & worldwide protests, attendant retaliatory war crimes, and opportunistic white-nationalist arsons of the days that followed. I hope you're safe out there, and that the people you surround yourself with seek justice and a better world to come.

Avid listeners or people who know me in real life may remember that I live in Minneapolis. I want you to know that — for now at least — I am doing okay. Anti-anxiety meds super help, to be frank, and I'm far enough north & enough of a shut-in that I'm not exposed to the chemical weaponry that police have been unleashing on my neighbors — and probably yours — for the crimes of existing and demanding a better life.

I don't want to focus on me, though. I want us as a community to focus on tikkun olam — repairing the broken facets of the World-That-Is into a stronger and more beautiful World-That's-Coming. That work includes, but certainly is not limited to, the following three fronts.

One: HaOlam HaBo does not have the carceral punishment system that is so pervasive in and out of America. See if there are ways you can advocate for divestment from police and prisons where you live — for instance, fifteen minutes ago the Minneapolis Park Board voted unanimously to sever its relationship with the police department, and that wouldn't have happened without fierce & uncompromising activism from people in the community. This is only the beginning — we can get cops out of schools, out of parks, and out of our cities & towns altogether.

A: There are people on the front lines of the struggle against police brutality who need resources to make that happen. If you have money to give, please spread it around your local communities: to the bail funds and Black-run advocacy organizations that Jaz has provided helpful examples of in the episode description, or to local minority-owned businesses that have been hurt by — sorry for this phrase — recent events.

Aleph: Jewish spaces and organizations tend to be white-led and majority white; if you, like us, are a white listener, now is an ESPECIALLY good time to work on making our Jewish communities explicitly anti-racist. Part of that is exposing yourself to the works of Black Jews — I know I could certainly be better about that — and to that end, Jaz has some inexhaustive recommendations that they have included in the episode description. Okay! Sorry I lied to you at the beginning about this being a *quick* note, and definitely *not* sorry to have brought you this call to action.

Lulav: Hi Jaz!

Jaz: Hi. 

Lulav: How's the Jewish-isms for you? 

Jaz: (laughs) Do you want to try that again? 

Lulav: Sure. Hi Jaz! How — nope. I really need to stop starting with how. Okay. Anyway, what up? 

Jaz: Hi. 

Lulav: (laughing) Hi. 

Jaz: I'll try this first. What's something cool queer and Jewish happening in your life this week? 

Lulav: Well I don't know that I can hit "and" on all of those, but I went outside during daylight hours for the first time in uhhh... a while yesterday. 

Jaz: Nice. 

Lulav: Yeah, it was nice. I like, walked. Mostly so that I could go get drugs and food (laughs), but yeah, it was fun and I just felt like, oh right, there's a whole world that is made and interacting with it is cool. 

Jaz: Yes. Also, prescribed drugs. Please clarify for our listeners. 

Lulav: Yes. Yes. So this is a deep cut, but instead of my normal supply of fluoxetine, they gave me six montys of an increased dose. 

Jaz: Congratulations. 

Lulav: So I just have so much fluoxetine and I could in fact ship some to Patreon donors. (laughs) 

Jaz: Oh my G-d. 

Lulav: But I won't, because I do need to take that, but I could. 

Jaz: (laughs) Excellent reference to... yourself some number of years ago?

Lulav: Yeah. In a thing that I am not showing any of our listeners. 

Jaz: (laughs) Okay. Great. It is an excellent video though — thank you for sharing it with me. 

Lulav: Yeah. The first time that I took fluoxetine, I did it as an unboxing video. (Jaz chuckles) This was like, peritransition, like I knew I was a girl but I wasn't on hormones yet. And so, I just don't want to show that to people (chuckles) unless I trust them. 

Jaz: That's really fair. The reference though, for the rest of you, is that somewhere in the middle of the video (Lulav laughs) Lulav goes, "hmm, I guess I could mail the fluoxetine to people on Patreon" and then pretends to fear a person offscreen and goes, "Oh what? that's illegal? Huh." (Lulav laughs) Also, you definitely didn't have a Patreon then, so. (laughs)

Lulav: I didn't. I showed this to Jaz without remembering that line in it, and they were like, "you should watch this again." (both laugh) So that's great. Anyway Jaz, what up with you? 

Jaz: May I do a couple things that happened? 

Lulav: Sure. 

Jaz: Okay, in chronological order, I have a weekly call with some friends who are basically all queer and Jewish and on this particular call, my friends pulled up a Kahoot, which is like, a quiz trivia game where you get to make the questions and then people pick the answers on their phones. I'd shown this game to my friends the week before. And then this week, Tori goes, "I made a Kahoot for you! We should all play it." (Lulav giggles) The Kahoot was about their relationship ,and it was like, please answer all of these questions about Talison, Tori and Alison — 

Lulav: Talison! 

Jaz: And it was like, what are their pet names? Which one of these four options are not a nickname they have for each other? And all of us got it wrong because all of us were like, Ping Pong Ball is not a real nickname, and Ping Pong Ball was a real nickname! (laughs)

Lulav: Oh yeah, that's obviously a real nickname. (laughs) 

Jaz: It is for Tori, who's sporty. 

Lulav: Good. 

Jaz: Anyway that was delightful. 

Lulav: Tori is the only one of these friends that I have not seen. 

Jaz: Oh, we can fix that at some point. But the other one was still with this group of friends and a couple more people. We were having a PowerPoint party, so we each made PowerPoints on whatever we wanted, and then we showed them to each other and each gave little presentations and it was great. My friend Danna did one on hydroponics and I learned a lot about growing plants with only water and nutrients (Lulav laughs) and one of my friends did one on best places to cry in New York — 

Lulav: Oh yeah. Honestly, those are two very useful topics! Hydroponics and crying! 

Jaz: (laughs) Yeah, it was delightful. Oh, and for reference, mine was an intro to linguistics. I mostly made it an intro to phonetics, because linguistics is a big topic and doing it as an intro to phonetics meant that I got to make all my friends do the thing where — 

Lulav: ee. eyyy. ooo. (Makes strange sounds like experimenting with phonetics) 

Jaz: (laughs) Where they tried to make different sounds with their mouths and pay attention to where your tongue is in your mouth, which is really discomfiting if you've never done it before (Lulav laughs) and stuff like that. It was great. Makin' faces throughout my whole presentation. 

Lulav: I'm so glad. 

Jaz: It was delightful. And number 3, I don't know if you saw this Lulav, but it a little bit made my day today, (Lulav gasps) but on our Twitter, one of our listeners was talking about how they basically finished their conversion process — 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Like, they can't go in a mikvah, but they can go in front of a beit din, and they picked a Hebrew name that we helped them find, because it includes Bezalel in it! It's Ammitai Bezalel, I think? 

Lulav: Yeah! 

Jaz: Which is such a lovely name and I was really excited about it, and so, if you're listening, congratulations again. 

Lulav: Shoutout to Rose, or, Ammitai Bezalel. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

[Brivele intro music] 
 
Lulav: Welcome to Kosher Queers, and 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 we're here to joke about Judaism and talk Tanakh together. Today our chevruta is learning Naso. You may notice, listeners, that we have a new intro. We added a line. That's about the only thing that's new. (chuckles)

Jaz: Yeah. I wanted to give a more comprehensive introduction, in case people were popping in in the middle and didn't know what we're doing, because I love our intro but it doesn't give very much information. 

Lulav: Yeah. And it's important to us to note that we're talking Tanakh together, like, as a whole community. 

Jaz: And also that we're not teaching it to you from on xai — okay. (both laugh) 

Lulav: You were thinking too Jewish. 

Jaz: Yeah, I was, definitely. Anyway. We're just chatting and figuring it out as we go along. 

Lulav: Yeah. So Jaz, tell me a little bit about Naso! 

Jaz: Do I get a time frame for this one? 

Lulav: Heck, you totally do! I am a mess. 

Jaz: I don't have any idea how much time this is going to take. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: So give me 45 seconds? 

Lulav: Yeah! 3, 2,1, go: 

Jaz: G-d says “Take their heads” but means “take a census!” They count between 30-50 feral Levites — I mean, they count Levites between the ages of 30 and 50, (Lulav laughs) sorted by ancestral house and each gets a special mishkan job. Quick reminders to remove anybody who might be contagious from camp and to properly and publicly make up for it when you do something wrong, and then a brand new procedure is introduced to determine whether someone has been adulterous or their spouse is just being jealous, involving trial by hydration. (Lulav laughs) The laws of nazarites inform us that you get special status if you’d just take an oath to not drink wine or cut your hair. Then we get the origin story for the priestly blessing and then all the Levite families give the same donation sacrifice to the mishkan but at length and Moshe would go there and chat with G-d. Done.

Lulav: Good! You had two seconds left!

Jaz: Great.

Lulav: That's amazing. (Jaz laughs) So, I just want anybody listening to know that 30-50 feral hogs was an old, ancient meme by the time we recorded this. (Jaz laughs) We don't record that far in advance. 

Jaz: Yeah, that's still a throwback. (Lulav laughs) But listen, it was honestly probably still in this year! Right, like it's just that this year feels like many years.

Lulav: Uh, definitely this Jewish year.

Jaz: You don't think it was in 2020. I think it was in like, January.

Lulav: Oh no, it was in August.

Jaz: Okay, well.

Lulav: It was the first or second week of August, 2019.

Jaz: Oh my G-d. Okay. Well, time is wonky. Listen, you laughed. It still worked.

Lulav: Oh yeah, it was very funny. I will never stop laughing at 30-50 feral hogs, unless I get trampled by real feral hogs (Jaz chuckles) in which case a) I'll probably be dead and b) it'll be a little less funny to me. (Jaz laughs) Anyway, let's —

Jaz: Let's go through that more slowly?

Lulav: Yes! 

Lulav: (Speaking slowly) So 30-50 feral hogs was a meme — (speaking at normal speed) oh, sorry, you meant Naso.

Jaz: (chuckles) We're starting with Naso, which, just because we were talking about where words come from, we actually don't get "Naso" in the first verse. The first verse is just a very generic "Vayedaber Adonai el Moshe lemor" — or, sorry, the first verse —

Lulav: Not even lemor!

Jaz: Yeah it is.

Lulav: Really? The JPS translation only has "The Lord spoke to Moses"

Jaz: Yeah. That's the "emor." The verb is at the end.

Lulav: What’s the verb "dibur"?

Jaz: Ah! You're right. The English doesn't include it.

Lulav: Oh!

Jaz: “Vayedaber Hashem el Moshe lemor” — “and G-d spoke to Moses, saying,” is what it says in the Hebrew, and the English has just omitted the "saying."

Lulav: Oh! Saying. Okay. Gotcha. I misconstrued what lemor meant this entire time. So, what's G-d saying?

Jaz: Naso begins the next verse, 4:22.

Lulav: Oh. Is that the word for census then?

Jaz: Not exactly. There isn't a word for census that's used here as far as I can tell. This is not my area of scholarship, but when I looked up the word “naso,” I mostly found that it was related to "to lift" or "to bear up" or "to take" and it's like "naso et rosh," rosh like head, like in rosh hashanah, head of the year, and when it says take a census, it is sort of more literally saying, "take their heads" bnei gershon, like Gershonites, by which they sort of mean, take a count of how many heads there are.

Lulav: Yeah. Not to be confused with the taking of heads that the Levites did after the golden cow incident.

Jaz: Yeah, that's a little more Queen of Hearts of them. No, this one is just like, a counting of them. But they're only recording the ones between the ages of 30 and 50. We already know roughly how many Gershonites there are from an earlier census, I think last parsha.

Lulav: One month or older, yeah.

Jaz: Yeah. But this is just ages 30 and 50 because they have a specific job and if I remember correctly (page turning noise), yeah, there are 8580 of them.

Lulav: Okay. Yeah.

Jaz: So, still a bunch, but. Okay, so we count the Gershonites and then we count the Mararites?

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: Okay. (Lulav chuckles) And they do work in the mishkan specifically. And they have it in English as "labor and porterage"

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: Which I think in the English that I actually speak means they work there and they carry stuff around.

Lulav: Good. What's the union where they carry stuff? Is that a porter's union?

Jaz: I think there's a porters union! Or there used to be, for like, trains?

Lulav: Okay. (typing sounds) The union... where... you lift... stuff. (Jaz laughs) I'm going to remember this word later. I'm just going to yell it at the end of our recording.

Jaz: Oh my G-d.

Lulav: So yeah, everybody's doing porterage tasks. (laughs)

Jaz: Yup! No, they've just decided who is doing the cleaning, basically, and then they count all of the other Levites, like, by ancestral house, in the same way.

Lulav: Mm hmm

Jaz: But particularly, the Gershonites and Maraites are highlighted. Do you have any questions about this part?

Lulav: No, I don't, aside from, why are they so old?

Jaz: Like, that there's that many of them between the ages of 30 and 50?

Lulav: I was more talking, like, why choose 30 to 50?

Jaz: Oh!

Lulav: Not to imply that 30 is actually old (Jaz laughs)

Jaz: Yeah, you're awfully close there.

Lulav: Uh huh. I keep thinking I'm 30.

Jaz: You're not 30! I keep aging myself up by a year too.

Lulav: Good.

Jaz: I don't know why. There was a thing, because I ran it by my students earlier this school year — it's definitely not the school year by the time this comes out — about the different ages. This is the age of wisdom and this is the age of most strength and this is the age of you know, like — they note "At five years of age the study of Scripture; At ten the study of Mishnah; At thirteen subject to the commandments; At fifteen the study of Talmud; At eighteen the bridal canopy; At twenty for pursuit [of livelihood]; At thirty the peak of strength; At forty wisdom; At fifty able to give counsel; At sixty old age; At seventy fullness of years; At eighty the age of 'strength;'"

Lulav: What? (laughs)

Jaz: It's in quotes! In the English. (Lulav laughs) "At ninety a bent body; At one hundred, as good as dead and gone completely out of the world."

Lulav: (chokes) Okay! (Jaz laughs) It's interesting that you have the peak of wisdom and then the ability to give counsel.

Jaz: Yeah, right.? You have a whole decade of being wise but not being ready to give counsel.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Well, so anyway, they become porters at the peak of their strength.

Lulav: Yeah, that totally makes sense.

Jaz: Anyway, that bit that I was reading was from Pirkei Avot 5.

Lulav: Yeah, wanna move on to chapter 5?

Jaz: Yes! So... then... (page turning noise)

Lulav: it looks like these are just law restatements. I don't know if Moshe spoke directly to the Israelites before.

Jaz: Mm. Yeah, I mean, it's the same outline as the stuff earlier in the chapter. It opens again with “vayedaber Hashem el Moshe lemor,” and then gives us more rules.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And this feels like a quick reminder of rules that we had previously. If someone has an eruption or discharge or touches a corpse to move them outside —

Lulav: I believe Metzora was the one where we talked about having people with scaly affections stay outside of camp.

Jaz: Thank you. And then, here's what you do when you've done wrong, which I think we've talked about more at length, but I still do like it.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: That there's a way to publicly talk about wrongdoing where the focus is on you making it up to the person you hurt and then to the community if you can't make it up to them.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: So do you have any questions about the restated bit before we get to the new bit? 

Lulav: Nah.  

Jaz: Okay, so then we get a new one, which is what if there is a married couple and one spouse thinks the other one is cheating on them, but can't prove it. There are no witnesses. And, what if in fact, the spouse has been cheating on them? So in both cases, whether it's just jealousy or actually true, they go to the priest and the priest does a prayer and a spell, kind of. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. (chuckles) 

Jaz: And the spouse who's a little bit on trial here says "amen" to the prayer and then drinks some special bitter water and then some magic is supposed to happen. G-d's supposed to intervene, and if the spouse is innocent of having deceived their partner, then literally nothing happens, you just get a little more hydrated maybe, (Lulav chuckles) but if the spouse has done something wrong, something happens. There's a curse and it's actually a little unclear totally what happens. 

Lulav: Is it? 

Jaz: There's a — 

Lulav: “The spell-inducing water shall enter into her to bring on bitterness, that her belly shall distend and her thigh shall sag.” 

Jaz: So what do you think that means, then? 

Lulav: I think it's water that makes you ugly if you're a cheater? 

Jaz: Oh, I don't think so. 

Lulav: Not to say that those are ugly traits. 

Jaz: I hear you. I don't think so. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Because the thigh thing — remember we talked about this when Abraham had Eliezer swear on his thigh? 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: The thigh is usually a euphemism for talking about something else (Lulav laughs) and my text notes that it's probably a euphemism here too. It might be talking about some sort of physical, something's supposed to drop out of the body or it might be like, referring to infertility or something like that. 

Lulav: Yeah, and it does seem like infertility just based on — 

Jaz: Context, because you think you'd be able to see it. 

Lulav: The next line is “if the woman has not defiled herself and is pure, she shall be unharmed and able to retain seed.”

Jaz: Yeah, right. So they were noting it might have been a — therefore here about like, "a dropsy of the ovaries." 

Lulav: (laugh) That sounds like something that Victorians made up. (laughs) 

Jaz: Well, I think it depends what you think is trying to happen here? Like, if you think it's just referring to getting swollen from water, and if you think it's referring to something else, it's a different thing altogether, and partially that depends on what the water is supposed to do. Like, if they fed this person poison water, it might have some physical effects. And if they fed this person, like, just regular water, it probably doesn't do anything. 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: So it's a little bit of a, like, do you think it's rigged to accuse somebody of cheating (Lulav laughs) or do you think it's rigged to let them go clean? 

Lulav: I prefer the latter (laughs) because that's just hilarious. 

Jaz: I also do. It's like, rigged so all you have to do is drink some water. 

Lulav: Uh huh. Though, the placebo effect can be strong, so like — 

Jaz: Maybe if somebody did cheat and then drank some water that's like, supposed to reveal it — 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: They would be like, I'm sorry! 

Lulav: Another possibility: this was kind of a preexisting thing, the like, test of the water of bitterness, and the women who were put to the test were like, oh yes, if we're guilty, all of this nasty stuff is going to happen. Like, my entire vagina is going to drop out (Jaz snickers) and then it just never happened? And so the priests were like, yeah, sounds good. One of these days it's going to happen. 

Jaz: (laughs) Okay! So, I will also own that when I summarized this, I framed it as "if one spouse brings one spouse," but it is not a gender-neutral thing in the text. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: It's like a, "if a husband accuses his wife of cheating on him, this is what happens." 

Lulav: It's very gendered. 

Jaz: There's no equivalent thing here, if a woman is like, well, my husband's sleeping around and I don't want him too. 

Lulav: Yeah. I think that may be because the important part of marriage for a man is to provide for a wife and for a woman, it is to be faithful and help keep a Jewish household. 

Jaz: Oh, I disagree. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: I think this is specifically about children. Like, they're definitely her children. They're less definitely his children. My impression is part of why, traditionally, we had matrilineal descent is that you could confirm matrilineal descent. 

Lulav: Ooh. 

Jaz: You could confirm who the kid was born out of, but you couldn't necessarily confirm whose sperm it was, you know what I mean? So — 

Lulav: Yeah. In that vein, this might be an abortifacient? 

Jaz: Say more? 

Lulav: If a husband thinks that a wife has been cheating, they can attempt to abort the pregnancy and start over again. 

Jaz: Ooh, yeah. That's true. 

Lulav: Because the thigh to sag might be a miscarriage. I don't know. 

Jaz: Yeah! That seems really plausible. And that would explain bitter water, not just like, water. 

Lulav: Yeah! Yeah. 

Jaz: And you might not get the same — that might have physical effects and wouldn't have physical effects if she wasn't pregnant. 

Lulav: Yeah. Also, abortifacients really suck. 

Jaz: Yeah. Oh yeah, terrible for your body under any conditions. 

Lulav: Yeah. Anyway. Would you like to move on, Jaz? To the fun pile of hair people

Jaz: Yeah! So the next bit, G-d speaks to Moses and says, here is a thing that any of the adults among you can do and it is to utter a particular vow of the nazir and become a nazirite. And if you do that it's usually for a particular period of time, not for your whole life.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And during that time, you don't drink any wine or any alcohol or even anything that's related to grapes, no other grape products (Lulav chuckles) and also they don't shave any hair on any part of their body and they don't go near any dead people. It's stricter even than the Levite thing. They don't go near any dead people, even their own close family. So they're visibly a nazarite because they're not cutting their hair (Lulav chuckles) and also if somebody dies nearby, they have to start over, like, do a sacrifice and then start their vow over, because they've kind of broken the terms of it accidentally —

Lulav: From the beginning.

Jaz: Yeah. And then at the end of their term they shave their head and then they bring a sacrifice marking the vow period.

Lulav: Yeah. So, we have talked previously about explicit vows. Have we talked about the nazir?

Jaz: I don't think so.

Lulav: Like, what it means to be a nazarite?

Jaz: I don't think so.

Lulav: Okay! (laughs) I mean, we also didn't talk about, like, in explicit terms, what a burnt offering or a sin offering is. That was something that we kind of had to puzzle out between us.

Jaz: Mm

Lulav: Do you know what the root nun... (uncertainly) tzayin? resh is?

Jaz: For nazir?

Lulav: Yes.

Jaz: You know, that's a good question. I didn't look. But I can go do that. Do you know?

Lulav: No, I didn't look that up because I don't have a... Jastrow? Is that what you look that up in?

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Okay. (laughs) 

Jaz: Well, so, okay, I am looking it up in a Jastrow.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: I should probably be looking it up in a BDB because that does more Biblical Hebrew and a Jastrow is a little bit more, like, rabbinic/Talmudic Hebrew.

Lulav: Yeah. Like Aramaic and stuff, right?

Jaz: And also Hebrew! It's just later Hebrew.

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: So things can be a little different. So, if I have a little more notice, I'll try to look things up in the BDB, but the root that the Jastrow notes here for nun-zayin-resh is consecration or crown or separation or nazariteship. (Lulav laughs) So, but it's a sign of consecration. It's also used for women's hair and also used for priests and Nazarites. 

Lulav: Cool! Yeah, that makes sense. This is like, when you do the hair vow, you're called a hairman. 

Jaz: I mean, we have other words for hair.

Lulav: Yeah, true, you're not called a hairman, you're called a vowman. (Jaz and Lulav chuckle)

Jaz: Well, one, it looks like it's more like consecrated. Not like, anointed — obviously we have that, but like —

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: It's specifically relating to being consecrated and set apart.

Jaz: Did you have any other questions about the nazarites or should I share the thing that I was reading?

Lulav: I would love to hear the thing that you were reading.

Jaz: Okay so I've been reading this book to prepare for us reading Bamidbar because I so didn't know anything about Bamidbar going in.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: The book is called Leadership in the Wilderness: Authority and Anarchy in the Book of Numbers by Erica Brown.

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: It's an interesting book. I don't cosign all of it. It did give me some thought-provoking thing to ponder about like, what makes a good society

Lulav: Cool

Jaz: Even though I think she was talking a little bit more about what makes a good leader.

Lulav: That sounds right

Jaz: Yeah. But she offers this vision of the nazarite as someone who is there as part of the community and important to the community who's there to challenge the status quo.

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: That they are built-in dissenters. They’re there partially to say, hey, what the rest of you are doing isn't good enough — I'm going to go harder on it by swearing off drinking. We don't usually have asceticism as a value within Judaism 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And there is a note in fact that by the end, the nazarite comes back and offered a sacrifice, almost as if making an apology (Lulav giggles) for their period of thinking themselves better than everybody else

Lulav: Yeah

Jaz: And also swearing off joy in the way that wine is usually treated as part of joy, like, we have it in Passover and in Shabbat and stuff like that.

Lulav: That's a really interesting take on it.

Jaz: Right?

Lulav: And especially something that I was thinking of was the fact that we do kiddush every Shabbat.

Jaz: Right.

Lulav: And that's like, on wine. 

Jaz: Right. What does it mean to not get to participate in that? And that's part of what I think she's talking about. There's this implication that you're a built-in dissenter because you're not participating in kiddish, you're standing a little notably outside, and maybe it's not because you have to but because you've chosen to and that's one of the ways in which you make yourself visible as a person who's taken an oath and the other one is by long hair!

Lulav: Yeah!

Jaz: That's another way that you make yourself visible to the community. And that everybody would have been able to recognize, like, that person’s a nazarite and probably wouldn't have offered you wine.

Lulav: (gasp) That's true. That's cool.

Jaz: Yeah. It is also thought-provoking to me, because I now, because I have been fortunate to fund good Jewish communities (Lulav chuckles) will often go to a Shabbat dinner and there will be offers of both wine and grape juice that people have brought there, so that you don't have to drink wine to make kiddush or be apart of a community.

Lulav: Yeah! Oh speaking of, I picked up Shabbat supplies yesterday and I got a ginger kombucha instead of, like, grape juice or wine.

Jaz: Nice.

Lulav: So, that counts, right?

Jaz: Yeah! And so, like, the nazarite was part of the community and we're in the desert now — they're in the wilderness, bamidbar, you know, and it's a hard condition and people react to hard conditions in lots of different ways.

Lulav: Yeah. As we saw with Noah. (laughs)

Jaz: Yeah! And one of those ways might be to say, hey, the regular rules and formats aren't enough for me; I need more things. Or similarly, by an alternate reading of this, you could say hey, just following regular leadership isn't good enough for me; I need to be a dissenting and opposing force and have my own moral weight that's separate from the mishkan that we see earlier.

Lulav: That's cool.

Jaz: Because the mishkan — the Levites who are inherited leadership are our initial moral leadership and then later in this same parsha we get the nazarites, who are doing their own thing.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: Just my last point is that anybody is allowed to become a nazarite, unlike the Levite stuff we had earlier, which is like, men from 30 to 50 from certain ancestral houses, nazarites can be anybody of any gender from any Israelite group.

Lulav: That's cool.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Thank you for bringing that reading, Jaz.

Jaz: Thank you.

Lulav: What's next? I'm seeing some blessings right after the nazarite bit.

Jaz: Oh yeah! Next we get this blessing, the one that goes Y'varechecha Adonai v'yish'm'recha, Ya-er Adonai panav eilecha vichuneka, Yisa Adonai panav eilecha, v'yaseim l'cha shalom. And if that sounds familiar — if that doesn't sound familiar that's fine — (Lualv laughs) but if it does sound familiar, it's because it's the priestly blessing and we say that on a number of different occasions, including, if your family ever does the children's blessing on Friday nights, this is part of the children's blessing that you say over not just priests or whatever, but over any children.

Lulav: Yeah! That makes sense because the justification is "thus they shall link my Name, (Hashem) with the people of Israel and I will bless them"

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: So it's like instructions on who to thank, I guess, and who's doing the blessing and protecting.

Jaz: Mm. Yeah.

Lulav: So this was not a thing that I recognized, but I thought it sounded familiar... ish? (chuckles)

Jaz: Yeah. The priestly blessing just comes up in a few different places, and this is its origin, so.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: The children's blessing is a little bit longer because it's —

Lulav: More stuff, right?

Jaz: Yeah. Remember when we talked about Ephraim and Menashe? That's also part of the children's blessing.

Lulav: Yeah! Jaz, please bring upon us the longest chapter heretofore in the Torah.

Jaz: Oh my G-d. Okay, so it works like this. First, finally the mishkan is all set up. They're properly making camp and Moses gets it all anointed and consecrated and brings heads of each different tribe and brought offerings and it works like this: (pages rustling) "The one who presented his offering on that day was X son of Y, of the tribe of Z. His offering: one silver bowl weighing 130 shekels and one silver basin of 70 shekels by sanctuary weight, both filled with choice flour with oil mixed in, for a meal offering; one gold ladle of 10 shekels, filled with incense; one bull of the herd; one ram and one lamb in it’s first year for a purgation offering, one goat for a purgation offering; and for his sacrifice of well-being: two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs. That was the offering of X son of Y." I say it like that because we get that exact thing (Lulav laughs) with just the names swapped out twelve times.

Lulav: I feel, not cheated per se (Jaz laughs) but I did read every one of them closely to see if there was a difference and there was not.

Jaz: Oh I did too! (Lulav laughs) Yeah! There is not!

Lulav: Okay Jaz, without looking at the text, what did Nachshon son of Minidab of the tribe of Yehuda bring?

Jaz: I just said this. Do you want me to try to do it without looking?

Lulav: Yup!

Jaz: Arrggg. Okay

Lulav: That's my most official question of this episode.

Jaz: Okay! Okay, I'm not looking... he brought 130 shekels of... silver? in a basin? And 70 shekels in a different thing (Lulav chuckles) and a ladle full of gold that's 10 shekels (sigh), two oxen and... five he-goats? (Lulav chuckles) and a lamb... and... uh... a bowl and... I don't know, five she-goats? (Lulav laughs) I give up.

Lulav: Okay, so you brought a couple extra goats (Jaz laughs) but that's okay because you forgot the five yearling lambs.

Jaz: Ugh! Oh, and the incense, I forgot about the incense.

Lulav: And you were missing a ram (Jaz laughs) but like, you got all of the parts of it.

Jaz: Great.

Lulav: One thing that I will note is that it's not like a bowl and a basin containing 130 shekels and 70 shekels of silver respectively.

Jaz: Yeah, no, it's like —

Lulav: It's like the bowl is 130 shekels of silver.

Jaz: Yeah, it's by weight.

Lulav: And they have oily flour in them. (chuckles)

Jaz: Yeah. Thank you for the clarification.

Lulav: Because that was a thing that I had to squint at, like, are the shekels inside or no? No? Okay. It's just silver.

Jaz: Yeah. It's just a big basin.

Lulav: So yeah, that was a little better than I would have done, I think.

Jaz: (laughs) Oh, do you want to close your book and try it?  

Lulav: Okay, sure. (Jaz laughs) So, his offering was a silver bowl weighing 130 shekels, a silver basin weighing 70 shekels, a gold ladle weighing 10 shekels that has incense in it; backing up, the bowl and the basin both have oily flour in them, (claps) and then you have one bowl, one ram, one... lamb?

Jaz: Yes! (both laugh)

Lulav: And then... two oxen, five rams, five he-goats and five yearling lambs and I think that's it.

Jaz: There was one goat that you missed.

Lulav: Nooooo!! (laughs)

Jaz: But otherwise, yes! (both laugh) You did so good!

Lulav: Truly I will be consumed in flames!

Jaz: If you were here in person I would give you a high five. That was great.

Lulav: Nice. (Jaz laughs) Hey, you deserve a high five too, or a high four. (Jaz laughs) A high  four and the thumb of the other hand (Jaz laughs) so it adds back up to five.

Jaz: That sounds like a rating, and we're not there yet. (Lulav laughs and then Jaz laughs) There's one last bit.

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: Which is, now that they've dedicated the whole thing and brought a bunch of burnt offerings and had a whole big ceremony, now that the mishkan is finally officially done —

Lulav: Baruch Hashem.

Jaz: Now whenever Moshe goes into the mishkan to have a chat, he can hear G-d's voice talking to him from the cover that was on top of the ark between the two angels.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: Yeah. That's the whole thing. 

Lulav: That's the whole thing!

Jaz: Are you ready for Rating G-d's Writing.

Lulav: So now, we come to Rating G-ds Writing, where we high five each other.

Jaz: Aww! 

Lulav: Jaz, 

Jaz: Mm hmm 

Lulav: How old is the priest that related this parsha to you? 

Jaz: Why do you always do this to me? 

Lulav: It's between 30 and 50! I want to be clear about that! 

Jaz: Oh, it is? I thought it was any age of priest.

Lulav: I guess if you have a really young priest for some reason? But no, I was talking about the Levites that were counted in the census. 

Jaz: Oh, okay. Alright, so I have a scale of between 30 and 50. I will give it a solid 45. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Mm, maybe a solid 43. I was about to say it gets a couple points off for being repetitive (Lulav laughs) and a couple more points off for misogyny. 

Lulav: Ooh, yeah. 

Jaz: And I actually meant to double-check this and didn't. (pages rustling) My translation of the English is like, a fairly nice one and I'm wondering if the same stuff shows up in the Hebrew, that makes the jealousy thing fairly narrow. 

Lulav: Mkay. 

Jaz: It phrases it as, "If any wife has gone astray and broken faith with her husband, in that a man has had carnal with her unbeknownst to her husband, and she keeps secret the fact that she has defiled herself without being forced." It sort of carves out exceptions here — 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Of like, it's only if she knowingly set out to deceive him — like, if they have an open relationship it's cool and also if somebody took advantage of her it's not her fault, you know, stuff like that. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: I don't know if that's in the Hebrew but I wanted to give it a couple points for that one. 

Lulav: Cool. So, I just want to clarify — 

Jaz: Yeah? 

Lulav: Do you think that a 50 year old priest is the best and a 30 year old priest is the worst? 

Jaz: Yeah, I thought that was the implication. 

Lulav: Okay. (laughs) Not necessarily! I was more asking do you think this parsha is strong, wse, or good at giving advice. 

Jaz: Ah. (Lulav laughs) Well, I think it's better at giving advice than at being strong. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Because it still includes this bit about here's what you do if you've done wrong. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And also it's taking a pretty careful note of what everybody's there and what their jobs are and like, giving everybody a role and figuring out a way to resolve conflicts in the community between married couples and like, I don't know. It's doing its best. 

Lulav: Yeah. Forty-three is a good age then. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Sorry for breaking your brain almost every week. 

Jaz: I... yeah. (Lulav laughs) Okay, I don't have that in me as a scale, so out of 8,580 priests, how many priests would you give this parsha? 

Lulav: Oh, I guess we should clarify that they're not in fact priests and are Levites... right? Because that would be a lot of priests. So, I'm going to give it 8,050 because I thought it was a really solid parsha. I previously wrote you a five-point list of the things in this chapter. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. Would you read it? It was a good one. 

Lulav: Uh, sure. I said, “The parsha is 1) middle-aged Levite census, 2) law restatements, 3) adultery spell, 4) nazirites, and 5) consecration of the altar."

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So yeah, it was simple, varied, and had some really interesting things to talk about, but (sigh) I thought we said we didn't like wizards here. (Jaz laughs) So yeah, the extra 500 priests or whatever had disagreements about whether the adultery spell counts as wizardry and split off to form their own temple. 

Jaz: Beautiful.  

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 patreon.com/kosherqueers, 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 kosherqueers@gmail.com, 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: Oh! Teamsters (Jaz bursts out laughing and Lulav can't resist giggling a little in response) Our full transcripts are done by DiCo and Jaz and, as with every episode, are definitely accessible through our episode descriptions on Buzzsprout!

Jaz: (still laughing) 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.

Both: Have a lovely queer Jewish day! — 

[Brivele outro music]
 
Jaz: This week's gender is 100, but not yet dead and gone out of the world

Lulav: This week's pronouns are thon and thons.