Kosher Queers

37 — Chukat-Balak: Flamiroads the Assspooking Angel

July 02, 2020 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow
Kosher Queers
37 — Chukat-Balak: Flamiroads the Assspooking Angel
Kosher Queers
37 — Chukat-Balak: Flamiroads the Assspooking Angel
Jul 02, 2020
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, we tag the parsha like a fanfic (with Major Character Death), treat Biblical poetry like commercial jingles, and conclude that Moshe can't lead anymore because he wouldn't abolish the police and thus isn't a comrade. Plus, there's an annoyed angel who Jaz wants to be friends with, and a posthumous punishment that Lulav disagrees with for unexpected reasons.

Full transcript here.

We discussed some of the conversations around defunding the police; New York just voted on its budget, which Mayor Bill De Blasio claims met activists demands to defund the NYPD by $1 billion, but in reality, a sizable chunk of that is just moving money around. We also talked about Avatar; the Last Airbender, which you can watch on Netflix now! The story of Onkelos talking with Titus and Balaam can be found in Gittin 56b and 57a. You can also check out Friends at the Table, the podcast with very long timescales that we discuss at the end of the episode, and follow it on Twitter @Friends_Table.

Content notes: non-graphic discussion of deaths of Miriam and Aaron from 11:24-13:55. non-graphic discussion of cities being destroyed and conquered from to 21:04-28:25, religiously motivated murder from 41:50-42:28, moderately gross and NSFW reference involving bodily fluids from 45:20-45:50.

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 Jaz and Reuben Shachar Rose. 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 tag the parsha like a fanfic (with Major Character Death), treat Biblical poetry like commercial jingles, and conclude that Moshe can't lead anymore because he wouldn't abolish the police and thus isn't a comrade. Plus, there's an annoyed angel who Jaz wants to be friends with, and a posthumous punishment that Lulav disagrees with for unexpected reasons.

Full transcript here.

We discussed some of the conversations around defunding the police; New York just voted on its budget, which Mayor Bill De Blasio claims met activists demands to defund the NYPD by $1 billion, but in reality, a sizable chunk of that is just moving money around. We also talked about Avatar; the Last Airbender, which you can watch on Netflix now! The story of Onkelos talking with Titus and Balaam can be found in Gittin 56b and 57a. You can also check out Friends at the Table, the podcast with very long timescales that we discuss at the end of the episode, and follow it on Twitter @Friends_Table.

Content notes: non-graphic discussion of deaths of Miriam and Aaron from 11:24-13:55. non-graphic discussion of cities being destroyed and conquered from to 21:04-28:25, religiously motivated murder from 41:50-42:28, moderately gross and NSFW reference involving bodily fluids from 45:20-45:50.

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 Jaz and Reuben Shachar Rose. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

Support the show (

Lulav: Hey Jaz, has anything cool AND queer or Jewish happened to you lately?

Jaz: Yeah! Um, only sort of. It's been kind of a week, (Lulav chuckles) but the other day I was at a PowerPoint party with my friends — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: you may remember from the PowerPoint party that you were also at, (Lulav laughs) that my friends who, are also like, mostly gay Jews, were sharing things that were like, our high school poetry or—

Lulav: Yeah…  

Jaz: (laughs),  or rankings of Broadway musicals. You know things of that nature, and at one point they saw a PowerPoint that I hadn't actually designed for them but was about my friends. (Lulav laughs) I had made a slideshow of all of my friends.  

Lula: You mean the one that you made for me so I could know who your friends were? (laughing)

Jaz: Yeah, that one. Listen, our listeners don't have that context so I was explaining! Anyway, I made a color-coded slideshow of my friends and in the corner, so that you'd have this context, I put a little set of two check boxes in a little grid, so I got to have one that was like, a little rainbow flag and a question mark, and a little Jewish star and a question mark, and then you get to check off did all the friends fall into those two categories or not in them.

Lulav: And as with anything that you make, there were a lot of non-binary answers (chuckles) within this binary structure.

Jaz: Yeah I put some asterisks. I was like, this friend will get mad at me if I don't note here that they're still in the process of converting, but I have to put them in the Jewish category because otherwise I would feel bad about it, so now you have both of those pieces of information. (Lulav laughs) 

Lulav: Baruch Hashem. 

Jaz: Yeah. And the follow-up to that the next day is that I was talking to a different friend and explaining fanfiction and one of my friends and I are going to do, for our next PowerPoint party, a presentation about fanfiction and how it works. 

Lulav: Yay!

Jaz: And then I got to read a friend's really really old gay fanfic from like, 2009 maybe? (Lulav laughs) I will not stay which friend in the interest of preserving her privacy but I had never seen that particular piece of media so now I'm watching it.

Lulav:  Okay, I have forgotten which piece of media it was.

Jaz: No you haven't! It was Newsies; we watched it together. 

Lulav: (gasps) Oh! (Jaz laughs) it was Newsies. We still have to finish that. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Oh my G-d, gay Newsies fanfic. (Jaz laughs) Tova would be proud. 

Jaz: Anyway, those I guess, are my updates so what cool queer and/or Jewish things did you do this week?

Lulav: Cool. I forgot to exist this week so I had a great time at the PowerPoint party and I have probably talked to people since then, but like really the only thing that I can think of that is cool and Jewish in my life recently is I was doing dishes and I just kind of broke out into the barechu (Jaz laughs), just like singing while doing dishes

Jaz: Awe. 

Lulav: And it sounded really nice. I love the barechu. It's probably inappropriate to do that with a single person but…  

Jaz: Wait, since we therefore both have our PowerPoints as one of our things of the week, should we tell the people what we each presented on?

Lulav: Yes, okay. Jaz, you go first.

Jaz: Okay. Mine was about my circle of friends who were there as characters from Avatar, from Avatar The Last Airbender, so I—

Lulav: Yeah, to be clear not the one with the blue people and the unobtanium. 

Jaz:  No no no, the good one. (Lulav laughs while going “ooh.”) I had recently finished watching it with my brother and his friend here and I know a bunch of them are fans of it so I put up the characters like, face and some descriptions of them, and based on that asked people to guess which friend it was.

Lulav: It was very cute. Also, you did assign yourself Zuko which, like, says a lot about your self-image.

Jaz: (laughs) Well, in fairness, I do love Zuko (Lulav laughs). He's terrible, but I do love him. 

Lulav: True. 

Jaz: I aspire to love myself as much as I love Zuko. (laughs) 

Lulav: Okay, that's beautiful. So anyway I didn't get a chance to do a PowerPoint but I did get a chance to just off-the-cuff give the talk that I was going to do about reaction diagrams involving like, potential energy and stuff and how they can be used as a metaphor for talking about executive dysfunction because I found that personally useful when talking to therapists, so yeah. That was a fun thing and I was very anxious because it involved a lot more just talking then everyone else's did, and it seemed like the reason that people weren't saying things is that it wasn't like a super relatable topic on the face of it rather than that I was saying something boring, so that made me feel better. 

Jaz: I didn't think it was boring, I did think that you were like, I think this is a helpful metaphor because of like the metaphor itself, and I think that that's maybe true but I also think maybe it's a helpful thing to convey to your therapist so that they understand that you think in chemistry metaphors.
Lulav: That's also very true. 

Jaz: Not that it's not useful for other people, but also you specifically think in chemistry metaphors. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Anyway, are you ready to start the episode?

Lulav:  I think I am.

[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 we're here to joke about Judaism and talk Tanakh together! Today, our chevruta is learning Chukat-Balak. 

Jaz: Which is so long.

Lulav: Also, if this were a fic on Archive of Our Own, it would be tagged with major character death. 

Jaz: Ahhh. Yeah that's true. 

Lulav: So just know that's what we're getting into this week. 

Jaz: More things should be tagged with Archive of Our Own style tags. 

Lulav: Okay I thought you were going to say more things should be tagged with major character death and I was like —

Jaz: No!

Lulav: Okay?!

Jaz: Nooo! 

Lulav: Jaz is out here being bloodthirsty.

Jaz: Nooo! 

Lulav: (laughs) I got you. 

Jaz:  I did hear somebody asking, “Why can't I shop for real books with tags like I can for fanfiction?”

Lulav: Okay, I love that idea.

Jaz: Right? Anyway… 

Lulav: Speaking of Archive of Our Own, how many seconds would you like to read the summary at the top of your fic?

Jaz: (laughs) I didn't time this one but it's long ‘cos there's two so maybe 75 seconds.

Lulav: Okay, yep we are back in the land of actual narrative. On your mark, get set, go.

Jaz: Chukat: Smash cut to 38 years later, where they have wandered around and came back to exactly the same place. First, Moshe and Aharon get some ritual rules involving cows, corpses, and cleanliness. Then Miriam dies super unceremoniously. Then the people complain because they have rules but no water, so G-d tells Moshe to ask a stone for water but speak nicely and Moshe hits it instead because he’s angry at the people, and G-d says because of that, Moshe can’t enter the promised land. Moshe begs a lot of kings to let the Israelites through, and they do not. With king one, they go away, with king two, they destroy his whole city, and with king three, they take over and colonize it. Bards sing about the victories. Also, in the middle there G-d announces its time for Aharon to die and he goes on a mountain and dies, with great fanfare. Balak: The king of Moab hires a wizard-prophet named Balaam to try to curse the Israelites (Lulav giggles) and he’s on a first-name basis with G-d, who says, “you can’t do that!” but he tries really hard. G-d sends an angel and the donkey Balaam is riding on refuses to move, leading to centuries of jokes about hitting that ass (Lulav laughs), and then Balaam stands at three places to try to curse them and instead blesses them and prophecies doom for other people. The parsha ends with a bizarre story that’s maybe about manipulated assimilation and maybe just about getting killed for intermarriage.  

Lulav: Alright! Where are (timer rings) There we go, okay. Perfect timing (Laughs) 

Jaz: I did it in time, yeah. 

Lulav: That was amazing? 

Jaz: There's so much happening! 

Lulav: There's so much happening. Jaz, can you walk us through Chukat-Balak? 

Jaz: Yeah. First, G-d speaks, this time both to Moshe and Aharon, not just Moshe alone — interesting — and says tell the Israelite people to bring a red cow that's got no blemishes and walk through this whole thing of slaughtering it and burning up all of the pieces of it and then the priest has to completely wash up. They keep referring to it as “the water of lustration.” (Lulav chuckles) The priest has to completely wash himself and his garment. 

Lulav: Just pointing out, that's the JPS translation. They say that literally it is “water for impurity.” 

Jaz: Yeah, well, that's not even the JPS translation. It's also here in my little Reform one. I don't understand why they use this one. As far as I can tell, the word in Hebrew is “niddah.” 

Lulav: Oh, okay. 

Jaz: So it's just the same word for purity that's used for menstrual blood and stuff. 

Lulav: Yeah. "Lustration" means "to purify by propitiatory offering or other ceremonial method." Okay, fine. 

Jaz: Right, so, except when I looked that up, because I didn't know that word in English, the first thing that came up is actually a policy about like, getting rid of people.

Lulav: Okay! 

Jaz: So it's kind of an intense choice. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Anyway. They use this same like, purifying water when people touch corpses too, and they get rules of touching corpses as like, you're impure for seven days, stuff like that. 

Lulav: It was my understanding that they only use the “water of lustration” for cleansing of people who have touched corpses. 

Jaz: Yeah, I mean there does seem to be this focus on using them for people who have some way encountered corpses

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But I wasn't 100% sure about that, because when it's introduced with this red cow and things, (Lulav chuckles) the context isn't explicitly spelled out —

Lulav: Yeah

Jaz: So I wondered if it might apply to other types of impurity. 

Lulav: Oh. Yeah. I mean, they introduce it like, bring a red cow —

Jaz: Yeah.  

Lulav: And I totally thought this was a one-time thing, but then it was like, this shall be a permanent law for the Israelites and for the strangers who reside among you. 

Jaz: Yeah. They don't introduce the ritual with like,” and here's when you do it,” (Lulav laughs) but the next bit is about a corpse, so… 

Lulav: To be fair, do they ever introduce the ritual with “here's when and why you do it?” 

Jay: Sometimes! That's how holidays work. 

Lulav: Okay. Yeah, that was unfair of me. (laughs) 

Jaz: Okay, after we do that part, there's this bit that says, the Israelites arrived at a place called Kadesh, and I only mention the name of the place because we've seen this place name before. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: It's the same place where they were before all their wandering, basically. (Lulav laughs) So, they came back to the same spot. 

Lulav: Good. 

Jaz: Also Kadesh, I think, just means "holy,' like they're back at a place that just means — 

Lulav: Yeah! 

Jaz: Anyway, and then we get this one line that says Miriam dies there and was buried there, and that's all we say about Miriam's death. (Lulav snorts) 

Lulav: This actually, now that you mention that we're looping back to a place, it really reminds me of how Avraham was buried in the same place as Sarah, which was kind of a looping back — I can't remember. 

Jaz: He was definitely buried in the same place as his wife. Isaac and Rebeccca are also buried there. 

Lulav: There we go. Yeah. Unfortunately, Miriam gets significantly less ceremony than any of them did. (chuckles)

Jaz: Yeah. All we know is that she's buried. We had all these laws about what you do with a corpse and we had that stuff that Julia had said when she was on — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: About like, how the community didn't move on until Miriam was better, but like, this time she just kind of dies and is buried. If you'll permit me to go slightly out of order — 

Lulav: As you wish. 

Jaz: A little bit later, Aharon dies — 20:24 is when that bit starts — and G-d like, speaks to Moshe and Aharon and says he can't enter the land, so strip him of his vestments and put them on his son and then he’ll die, and that's basically what happens. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: He takes off his priestly garments and they get put on his son and then Aharon goes up Mt. Hor and he dies there and then the whole community knew about it and they mourned him very loudly. 

Lulav: For 30 days! 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Miriam didn't get this. 

Jaz: Or at least, it doesn't say that she does. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: That is a little bit one of those like, absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.

Lulav: Mm hmm 

Jaz: So we don't know that they didn't mourn her but it definitely doesn't go out of its way to say that they mourned her in the way that it does go out of its way to say it here.   

Lulav: Yeah. And interestingly, the Aharon death is framed kind of as punishment for the incident that we're skipping over. 

Jaz: We’ll come back to it. 

Lulav: Whereas Miriam just died. 

Jaz: Yeah. Yeah, what do you make of it? 

Lulav: I mean, we're reading a story that is told by the people carrying on the specific tradition of Aharon and we also know from numerous examples that they are misogynists, so it might just be that they're focusing specifically on Aharon, rather than — yeah. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: Like, they're just focusing on what happened to their guy, but it's also important to mention that another important figure that has shown up before did die. 

Jaz: Yeah.    

Lulav: So what happens in the middle, that leads to (page turning) Aharon's death? 

Jaz: Yeah, so the bit in the middle that we skipped: there's an incident where the community does not have water to drink, and they're like, “you have given us rules but not water — this is not good enough.” And they're again, like, “you could have left us in Egypt if you were just willing to let us die like this.” (dramatically woeful voice) “There's not grains or figs or vines or pomegranates and not even water!” And so Moshe and Aharon are like, (woefully) oh no. (Lulav laughs) And they fall flat on their faces with comedic dramatic, “what are we going to do?” 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: G-d shows up, and is like, (echoing) "Tell a rock to give you water and it will, and it will give you enough for everybody, and take the staff." (modal voice) I think it's implied, (echoing) “the one that you used to to get out of Egypt" (modal voice) but Moshe is mad at the people and so instead of just asking the rock for water, like G-d said, he like, shouts at the people and calls them rebels (Lulav laughs) and he's like, "shall we get water for you otu of a rock, you rebels?" and then hits the rock. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And lots of water comes out!. And G-d is like, (echoing) "Oh, you shouldn't have done that." 

Lulav: (chuckles) What is the exact thing that Hashem says in 20:12?

Jaz: Xe says... "Because you did not trust Me enough to affirm My sanctity in the sight of the Israelite people, therefore you shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them." 

Lulav: Jaz, is that necessarily talking about this incident? 

Jaz: That's a really good question!

Lulav: Because I was thinking, in the context of having read Korach just last week — 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Maybe this is the straw that broke the camel's back. Like, the proximal incident was that Moshe wasn't listening to the instruction and just kind of lashed out at the things around him and made a bad example. But I think, viewed in the context of like, there are people who are trying to democratize the worship of Hashem, and Moshe and Aharon ardently shut that down —  

Jaz: Mm 

Lulav: In a way that may not have been G-d's intention, I think this may have been, (echoing) "Hey, you didn't trust Me enough to affirm that I am going to take care of people no matter what." (modal voice) So I think that yes, this is punishment for losing at Simon Says, (Jaz snickers) but also, this is punishment for a more general thing of starting to care more about peace which is the absence of justice rather than peace which is the presence of it

Jaz: Fascinating! That's a really interesting take. 

Lulav: Thank you! 

Jaz: I am also thinking about what "affirm my sanctity" might mean, given that interpretation that you just gave. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: The thing Moshe does is not speak badly of G-d, which he does never, (Lulav chuckles) it's speak badly of the people. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And of G-d implicitly by saying could we get water out of a rock, like isn't that ridiculous, but he's doing so in order to mock the people. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And I think you could argue there that this thing about trusting G-d and this kind of being the straw that broke the camel's back, is that this is sort of a, hey, you can't lead these people because you don't trust them, and in not trusting them, you're not trusting Me. 

Lulav: Yeah. Also, it does kind of smack of saying like, I'm going to cut 11 million dollars from the police budget and put it into housing. Meanwhile, that's like a 1% cut. 

Jaz: Oh, say more? 

Lulav: I mean, we're recording this one the 5th of June, at which time a lot of mayors are talking about changing police budgets. I think — what was the 11 million dollar one — was that LA? New York? 

Jaz: New York they said a sort of similar thing but with 24 million, I think? 

Lulav: Okay. Which, again, is a pittance compared to the like, three billion dollars? 

Jaz: It's six billion, I think. 

Lulav: (whispers) Six billion! Oh my G-d! But yeah, 11 million dollars is a lot for purposes who don't have it, like, people who don't have water, striking a rock for water for them is going to be helpful, but if at the same time, you're condemning them as rebels and saying, “Oh, this thing that I am doing is such a stretch,” that's ridiculous. It's not enough and is not just. 

Jaz: And is an argument that you shouldn't be leader, because you're not really on the side of the people. 

Lulav: Exactly. (laughs)

Jaz: And therefore G-d is like, mm I think you're wrapping up your term here. 

Lulav: (laughs) May it be so. So, then what happened? 


Jaz: Okay, and then they name the place the waters of arguing, which is great.

Lulav: (laughing) Though which Xe affirms Xer sanctity.

Jaz: Yeah. Moshe's like, alright, and sends out some messengers. First messenger to the king of Edom and is like, “hey, so the Isrelites have been having kind of a hard time. We were in Egypt, we were in a rough spot, now we're out of there, can we — can we go through your country? We just want to pass through. Like, we won't bother you at all.” And the Edomites are like, “No, you cannot. Stay out.” So the Edomites come out with a show of force and the ISraelites are like, alright, and they go away. And then they go on to the next place —

Lulav: Um, quick question.

Jaz: Uh huh.

Lulav: Are the Edomites the descendents of Esau?

Lulav: Okay. (laughs)

Jaz: Yes.

Lulav: Okay. (laughs) Is that a thing you want to talk about later or now?

Jaz: We can talk about it now!

Lulav: Yeah! So like, this is kind of a greatest hits tour from Bereishit, all of the people who are descended from Avraham but are not the mainline Jews are showing up in this parsha. It's interesting that they lead with, "thus says your brother Yisarel."

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Was it Yaakov who was Esau's brother?

Jaz: Mm hmm

Lulav: So thus says your — hmm. We are the people who are descended from the brother of your ancestor.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: And so hey, we've been having a tough time, can you let us walk through?

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: We're not going to touch you.

Jaz: Yeah, the argument is, we're cousins, please let us go through your house.

Lulav: And I think fairly, considering all the tricks that Yisrael played on Esau — (laughs)

Jaz: They're like, this is a trick.

Lulav: Like, no, no you can't go throw. If you do, we'll fight you.

Jaz: Yeah. I mean, it is a little bit of a like, you're turning away the people who, as far as you know haven't done anything, but considering what they do to the next king (Lulav laughs) the Edomites seem a little more justified in that decision.

Lulav: Right. Also interesting to note that in this case, even though the Edomites are going out against them in heavy force, strongly armed, am yisrael is just leaving.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: They just turned away.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: So how is it different with the second king?

Jaz: Okay, so the second one they do basically the same thing? Well — that's not true. The next place they go, they go into the Negev and this one they don't even ask to cross. This king, when he learns that they're coming, goes out to take them in battle and capture some of them and the Israelites are so upset about it that they're like, “G-d, we would like to have victory here. We swear we will utterly destroy.” And then they utterly destroy them.

Lulav: Yeah. The JPS translation renders it as "proscribe."

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Which seems a little tame. I think "raze," R-A-Z-E, is more appropriate here.

Jaz: Yeah I had to look up proscribe, (Lulav laughs) but it's “utterly destroy,” yeah.

Lulav: So I think one of the things here is that Arad just fights them immediately.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Like there is no recording of any conversation.

Jaz: Yeah. What feels notable to you about that?

Lulav: I mean, the first line is when the king learned that Yisrael was coming by the way of Atarim, he engaged them in battle and took some of them captive.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: And the note says that the meaning of “hatarim” is uncertain, but Targum and other ancient commentators render it as "the way taken by the scouts," so it seems like he sees that there are some people feeling out what's in the area.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: And instead of trying to communicate with them, he just immediately marches people out and attacks them.

Jaz: Uh huh.

Lulav: So preemptive strikes are trief

Jaz: (Chuckling) Okay. 

Lulav: (snorts) is what I think is notable about that.

Jaz: That's great. Okay.

Lulav: It's 2003 again.

Jaz: So — oh yeah, okay. Before we get to the third king —

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: There's this interlude with the snakes. (Lulav giggles) Which is like, people are complaining about food again and are like, the only thing we have to eat is manna and we're sick of it, and G-d sends snakes out to bite the people and lots of them die and the people are like, oh no, please get G-d to take away the snakes and Moshe intervenes and G-d's like, well, make a snake out of copper and Moshe does and anybody who looks at it recovers.

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And then they keep the copper serpent around.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And only after that do we get to the next king.

Lulav: I think the most significant thing there's this is like the 5th time or something that they've complained about manna.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: And so now it's not even like (echoing) "okay, you can eat your fill of quail! you'll eat qualis until there are quails coming out of your ears." It's just like, okay, if you complain, serpents will bite you.

Jaz: It's a lot. I — yeah.

Lulav: (laughs) As somebody who has learned to recognize the boon of never going hungry — 

Jaz: Uh huh.

Lulav: I don't have much patience for people who complain about having nutritionally balanced food in sufficient quantities. 

Jaz: Mm hmm

Lulav: So I don't know. This is one thing where Hashem does a thing and I'm like, okay, that’s fair.

Jaz: Well, I have mixed feelings about that, a little bit.

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: Look, I'm not an expert, but I did a little bit of work at some food banks and stuff, and one of the things they were talking about was about how you actually do need to have appropriate food for the people you're serving.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: It's not just nutritionally balanced food, but the example is you dod a mostly wheat-based and pasta-based thing to a population that's more of a rice-based —

Lulav: Oh.

Jaz: You know, if you try to give culturally-divergent food to a population, and are like, here's all the raw ingredients you need and those aren't the things they're accustomed to cooking or eating —

Lulav: Okay!

Jaz: It's actually not nearly as helpful —

Lulav: Right.

Jaz: as if you do things that they are accustomed to cooking and eating, so there is something to be said about you still gotta think about what the food is, not just is there food.    

Lulav: Yeah. Very true. I do want to point out that as we'll see in the next parsha, everybody from Egypt has died already, so like, most of the people complaining have been eating manna all their lives.

Jaz: Yeah. (Lulav chuckles) Well, one, Moshe was in Egypt, so he's still there.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Also, what do you think about this snake thing? It reminds me of that story of, the people were complaining, and so the rabbi says what if you bring the goat into your house and what if you bring the chickens into your house and what if you bring the cows into your house and the guy is like, oh this is so much worse. Why was I complaining about the level of noise in my house before?

Lulav: Oh no! That sucks!

Jaz: And then the rabbi is like, okay, you can take them out now, and then the guy with like 6 children and stuff with a busy house and stuff is like, ah, peace and quiet in the same situation as before.

Lulav: I — yeah. I feel like the important thing is to accept the way things are and want them to be more amenable to you.

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: So like, if there are things that are messing with your ability to just exist, like people being loud constantly so you don't even have a chance to think or like, people giving you exclusively pasta when you're used to cooking rice, you can accept that that's the way it is at the moment but also be like, hey, let’s have some quiet time as a family, or hey, we really need rice because that's what people know how to cook.

Jaz: Mm. Alright, let's do the last king. They send messages to Sihon, who attacks and the Israelites fight them on the battlefield by sword and then take possession of their land.

Lulav: Yeah. So that's a thing.

Jaz: Okay, quick recap of the three kings they encountered. There was the one who was like, no, you can't go through, cousin, and the Israelites are like, hmph and go around, and there's the one who just attacks them immediately and they raze it to the ground, and then there's the who they send messengers, but also fight them.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And they take over their town.

Lulav: Yeahhh. I am trying to figure out if they Amorites are related at all because this might just be a thing where like, oh, they're people who aren’t related to us, therefore they're fine to murder.

Jaz: (groaning) Mm. I don't know that, but I don't think they're related.

Lulav: Oh, okay, so they are described as descendents of Canaan the son of Ham.

Jaz: Oh no!

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah!

Jaz: Isn't Ham the one who gets attributed, historically speaking —

Lulav: Uh huh.

Jaz: — to be punished forever and therefore sentenced to slavery and therefore also was therofre in teh American south associated with Black people?

Lulav: Mm hmm! That's the one!

Jaz: Yeah, okay. Also the Amorites, who get razed to the ground. That's a horrifying piece of new information that I didn't know.

Lulav: Yeah. According to the story, they are related people, but farther back related.

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: And especially people who it's fine to mess with.

Jaz: That's a lot. Okay. Ah, mm. Okay, maybe the one advantage of that, if i'm trying to find a silver lining, because I'd really like to find one, cuz this is real bad (Lulav snorts) is they're sort of firmly associated with these people who, as far as I know, are not like, an existent people. Right, this isn't the same as like, and now they're associated with modern-day horrors.

Lulav: Mm.

Jaz: Just biblical horrors.

Lulav: Yeah, that's true I think.

Jaz: Okay. Uh, let's wrap this one up

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: So that we can move on to the second parsha, because there are two parashot.

Lulav: There is poetry though.

Jaz: There is poetry though.

Lulav: How do you feel about that?

Jaz: Listen, I like poetry in general. (Lulav laughs) This is war poetry.

Lulav: It is.

Jaz: Which is less my thing. It's like military poetry, which honestly feels to me like kind of a contradiction. People who do military stuff don't do poetry.

Lulav: (chuckles) You were telling me about the fact that there was poetry in this parsha like a week ago.

Jaz: I was excited about the poetry in Balak, to be clear, not this poetry.

Lulav: Right, but you did sing to me in kind of a travel commercial tune, like, (sings) "come to Heshbon, firmly built, and well-founded in Sihon's city" (Jaz laughs) or something.

Jaz: That's about right! I'm glad that you did that, so that I didn't have to.

Lulav: Right. It was cute when you did it! (Jaz laughs) Probably cute when I did it, I don't know.

Jaz: It was cute when you did it.

Lulav: Aw, thanks. So yeah, from that couplet I assumed that it was going to be like a travel commercial for Hesbon (Jaz laughs) but instead it's about how fire went forth.

Jaz: Yeah, it's like, less fun to do the travel voice thing when it's like, (sing-song) "his sons are rendered fugitive and his daughters captive."

Lulav: (laughs) Oh G-d! (Jaz laughs) No!

Jaz: Yeah no, it's real bad.

Lulav: (laugh-sobbing) Oh!

Jaz: Anyway. So then Balak— Most of this is at least just one story all the way through. (Lulav laughs) It is a story of how, Balak, a king of Moab, sees all of this happening and it's like uh uh, uh uh, uh uh And hires Balaam who is famous for being able to curse people and hires him to try and curse the Israelites and it does not go well. (Lulav laughs)

Lulav: Oh it doesn't?  

Jaz:  You know so it's very funny because like they pair up with Moab and the Midianites — I guess Yitro is gone — anyways the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian come to Balaam to say that Balak wants to hire him for a lot of money. 

Lulav: Oh of course he goes right away right?

Jaz: Basically honestly? And he sleeps on it and overnight G-d shows up and they just chat like there's no astonishment as far as I can see? (Lulav laughs) They're like, friendly  already. G-d shows up and is like, “what do they want with you?” Tradition tends to interpret this as a pretty rhetorical question much like, “where is your brother?” asking Cain. Like, just seeing how they'll answer. But anyway, Balaam is just very straightforward about it, like, “oh yeah, I'm supposed to go curse these people” and G-d is like, “don't,” and Balaam doesn't go with them immediately, but then Balak sends more dignitaries who offer him more money and stuff and Balaam is like “no, couldn't do it, not even if you paid me a whole whole bunch.”

Lulav: Well, I want to point out that he doesn't say he couldn't do it, he says that even if you paid me a whole whole bunch, I couldn't do something contrary to the command of Hashem. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: (Mickey Mouse voice) This is a surprise tool that will help us later. (Jaz laughs)

Jaz: Anyway and is like, you can stay over and see what G-d says to me when we chat tonight and then they chat that night and G-d’s like, “well, still don't like it but you can go! You just can't do anything on your trip that I don't let you.” It's a little bit the mom voice of like, “well you can do it you just have to call me every hour,” like — 

Lulav: Oh No! (laughs) I feel like it's less, “call me every hour” and more like, “if I call you I need you to pick up souvenirs for me.”

Jaz: Yeah, fair enough!

Lulav: Cuz it's not like, “you shall only do what I command you,” it's “whatever I command you that you shall do.” 

Jaz: Fair enough, yeah. Okay, so then Balam gets going and G-d, who said he could go, is mad about it and sends an angel down to stop him on his way. Balaam can't see the angel but the donkey that he's riding can see it and it's like, “oh no, not going anywhere near that big flaming angel with a sword” and keeps like trying to go around or like squeeze into a corner or like — 

Lulav: Just lies down.

Jaz: Yeah it's great and Balaam is like, “I don't know what's happening but it's definitely the donkey’s fault,” and keeps hitting her and G-d is like, well, and gives the donkey the power of speech temporarily. And she's like, “it is not my fault! I have always been good at my job. Why are you attacking me?”

Lulav: And then Balaam takes it in stride and is like, “you were mocking me. If I had a sword I would totally kill you.” To a talking donkey!

Jaz: Listen he's on a first-name basis with G-s, and kind of chill about it so maybe he's like, you know — 

Lulav: What up ‘Shemy?

Jaz: Well, it reminds me of when I was little and I would read The Wizard of Oz books — like, the extended series, not just the first one. And Dorothy goes through all of these different magical countries where there's a bunch of different talking animals and finally one of them says to her, “why doesn't your dog talk to you?” and she's like, “oh Toto doesn't talk” and one of the talking animals is like, “okay but you came here with the other animals and they started talking when they came into this land of talking animals; your dog doesn't talk to you because he doesn't want to.”

Lulav: Oooooh. 

Jaz: Not because he can't. And she's like, “I don't think that's correct,” and it was sort of definitely covering up a plot hole of like, “hey why did these other animals talk when they entered this land and Toto didn't” and eventually she's like, “talk to me, talk to me!” And the dog doesn't and then he sort of barks out, “don't want to!” and then runs away. (Lulav laughs) And then from then on they chat. Alright, so then Balaam is able to see the angel that his donkey could see the whole time. He's like, “oh no,” and bows and the angel’s like, “why did you attack the donkey again? It was my fault and also I don't want to be here either.”

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah, literally! “The errand is obnoxious to me.”

Jaz: Also this is funny because the lore of angels is that they have one thing to do. Like, this is the angel’s thing.

Lulav: Yeah this is a donkey distractin’ angel.

Jaz: Yeah, also they are sort of like pure beings of obeying G-d. It's wild that like, she's got one thing and she doesn't like it, and also, this is all she will ever do. Also, I don't know why I decided this angel used she pronouns; it doesn't say that anywhere in the text.

Lulav: But it is Torah nevertheless. Listen, you can be faithful and also like, drag your feet.

Jaz: Yeah, anyways, I want to be friends with this angel. I just vibe with this idea of like, yes, doing Jewish things that you're supposed to do is very good and important, and I will of course do it, but it is annoying also.

Lulav: What is this angel's jellicle name?

Jaz: Mmm. I can't answer that question. You gotta answer that question.

Lulav: Let’s see here… Flamiroads the Assspooking Angel. 


Jaz: Great.

Lulav: Is the jellicle name of this... cat? We gotta keep moving. 

Jaz: Okay and then Balaam does however arrive despite the angel. Balak is excited about it. They do sacrifices, lots of sacrifices. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Seven altars with seven bulls and seven rams and Balaam is like, I don't know exactly what will happen. We'll see. And G-d puts words in Balaam's mouth. They are basically like, “I have come to curse you and this is a people that dwells apart. This is the first of his poems and it ends, who can count the dust of Jacob, number the dust-cloud of Israel. May I die the death of the upright; may my fate be like theirs.” 

Lulav: Lots of wordplay here. Well, a little wordplay. My copy of the JPS notes that "upright" 

Jaz: Mm hmm 

Lulav: The upright is "yesharim" which is a play on "yesharun," another name for Ysrael. 

Jaz: Fun. The Hebrew also is beautiful, 

Lulav: What is beautiful about the Hebrew to you? Does it just sound good or is there something specific about this type of Biblical poetry? 

Jaz: I am really really not qualified to speak about Biblical poetry. (Lulav giggles) It's like, extraordinarily difficult. 

Lulav: Mmm hmm.

Jaz: Like, I'm sure that I don't understand most of the things that are happening at work here. 

Lulav: That's fair. 

Jaz: So I mostly know that it sounds nice and also it has really hard grammar (Lulav laughs) and also sometimes there's wordplay like that. 

Lulav: Jaz, holding a potato on which has been inscribed "Biblical poetry:" (Marge Simpson voice) “I just think it's neat.” 

Jaz: Yeah!

Lulav: So how does Balak respond to this? 

Jaz: Balak is like, kind of bewildered! He's like, wha- why- why have you done this? I thought you were going to curse my enemies and instead you blessed them! And Balaam's like, “I dunno dude, like, I told you, I can only say what Hashem told me to say.” And is like, “well, lets try again. Maybe G-d will be feeling a little different if we like, go to that hill over there.” (both laugh) 

Lulav: And then they go to Makeout Point, right? 

Jaz: Uh huh! 

Lulav: Oh sorry, lookout point! (Jaz laughs) My bad. 

Jaz: And uh, have a beautiful time! (Lulav snorts) And blesses them, but actually specifically the way he does it is like a retort to Balak, is like, “G-d is not human to be capricious or mortal to have a change of heart. My message was to bless, you know, no harm is in sight for Jacob.” 

Lulav: Okay and after this, Balak clearly just packs up and goes home, right? 

Jaz: No! Then they try it again from another place. 

Lulav: What! (Laughs) 

Jaz: Rule! of! Threes!

Lulav: Fair. (laughs) Okay, but he's not like, wasting another seven bulls and seven rams though, right? 

Jaz: Definitely is. 

Lulav: Ugh. (Laughs) 

Jaz: I also want to be clear that like, the first half of poem number two was like, “G-d is not going to change Xer mind about it” and the second part is, “Israel will leap on you like a lion if you keep going.” 

Lulav: Mm hmm. Lots of words for lion in this chapter. 

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Because there's the phrase king of beasts several times but apparently in the second poem and the third poem, it's a different word, "ari" versus "lebi."

Jaz: Mm hmm. And those aren't even all of the words we have for lion. There are more.

Lulav: So lions are apparently the pumas of Canaan. 

Jaz: Yeah, exactly. They're mountain lions and pumas and cougars and… great. Okay. Anyway, and so this time, Balaam doesn't like, go off in search of, what are the signs. He just kind of looks at them and takes up his theme. And the first thing he starts with is "I am Balaam and I always speak truly. I am in connection with G-d so I'm really really right," (Lulav giggles) and then says this beautiful thing that's actually part of our standard daily blessings. I grew up singing what starts here as Mah Tovu, part of the morning blessings. 

Lulav: Okay, because this does sound like war poetry. 

Jaz: It does — the bit that we incorporated into the morning blessings is not the war poetry, (Lulav laughs) it's the aspect of just beauty in 23:5, (sings) "mah tovu ohalecha, Yaakov mishkenotecha, Yisrael." Great, okay so that bit is, “how fair are your tents, oh Jacob, your dwellings, oh Israel.” 

Lulav: Hmm! 

Jaz: And the next few lines are "like palm groves that stretch out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by the Eternal, like cedars before the water, their boughs dripped with moisture, their roots have abundant water." 

Lulav: Oh that's pretty! 

Jaz: And then we move into the war poetry part. But the bit that we've incorporated into standard liturgy is just the bit about like, beautiful and thriving 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And not so much the bit about they shall devour enemy nations and crush their bones and smash their arrows. 

Lulav: Sorry, I accidentally skipped ahead to the crushing. I didn't see the really nice pastoral stuff. So where does this story go from there? 

Jaz: So Balak was like, you were supposed to curse them! And you blessed them! And Balaam was like, “eh, I can only do what G-d lets me do! I told you, even if you gave me a house full of gold and silver.” (Lulav chuckles) And then he keeps singing these prophetic verses and they're about how bad things are going to happen to everybody else while Israel is triumphant. 

Lulav: Like, especially the descendents of Esau. 

Jaz: In particular they start with Amalek and then the Kenites — I actually don't know who most of these people are. 

Lulav: It says, “Edom becomes a possession, yae Seir a possession of its enemies,” and those are both names that referred to the nation that came forth from Esau. 

Jaz: That's true, but the ones who get destroyed —

Lulav: Yeah.  

Jaz: Are like, Amalek, who isn't related. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. So this sucks. 

Jaz: It does. You know, part of what's interesting about this is that later tradition has interpreted Balaam as being absolutely one of the worst people that we encounter in our history

Lulav: Really? Balaam is the cursey prophet, right? 

Jaz: Yeah! Who really doesn't do that much. 

Lulav: So tell me why he comes across as one of the worst people in our history? 

Jaz: They connect him with the next bit, which is not obvious to me, but it is all in one parsha, so I think they connect him with the ending story here

Lulav: Okay 

Jaz: And the ending story is the men of the Israelite community hook up with the Moabite women and the Moabite women invite the men to their own religious ceremonies, which the Israelite men participate in, and G-d is really upset about that, and is like, “take everybody who was a leader who did this and publicly impale them.” 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And then some people die. 

Lulav: (snorts) Yup. Specifically the son of the new high priest sees a dude hanging out with a Midianite woman and just stabs them both. 

Jaz: Yeah. This is Aharon's grandson. Yeah. And then there's this line which is like, the plague against the Israelites was checked, and I didn't know we were having a plague up until then. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: There's some suggestion that there used to be more to this story and then it was taken away over time. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Anyway, also, later interpretation has suggested that Balaam was responsible for intentionally trying to recruit the Israelites away from being Israelites by getting them to assimilate with the women, that the women are like spies. 

Lulav: Hmm. 

Jaz: My mother has been reading books about spies in like, the world wars and stuff. (Lulav giggles) There's apparently a real thing that happened in history where certain British authors, often children's authors — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: were instructed by the British government to go over to the US and seduce a bunch of women into supporting entering the war on Britain's side. 

Lulav: G-d. 

Jaz: And they were to do this to important women whose husbands were in politics so that the women would tell their husbands to support entering the war on Britain's side. 

Lulav: (sigh) Listen — (Jaz laughs) maybe I'm just too much of a dyke, but I don't think British men are hot enough for that. 

Jaz: The only reason I remember this story was that Roald Dahl was one of the authors 

Lulav: G-d! (Jaz laughs) Of course he was. 

Jaz: And wrote to the British government and was like, hey can I quit this job so I don't have to do this anymore? And they were like, no, (Lulav laughs) you are too good at it, we're making good progress. 

Lulav: Uggghhh. Kay. Can't believe that Roald Dahl was responsible for like 30% of British stores of vitamin D. 

Jaz: Anyway, the Talmudic analogue here is that Balaam is Britain, saying please go seduce these people into being on our side.  

Lulav: He's literally talking to G-d! 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: Like, the Tetragrammaton. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: So I don't see how that is textually supported, but okay. 

Jaz: There's this story, that's in Masechet Gittin, and related to, like, a Roman guy Titus, who was a huge oppressor of the Jews. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And this guy Onkelos raises people from the dead who were terrible for the Jews and asks them questions. 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay.

Jaz: So like, he goes to Titus and says, "who's most important in that world where you are now," like behind the veil or whatever? And Titus is like, “the Jewish people.” And Onkelos is like, “hmm, should I convert then, to Judaism?” And Titus is like, “they have too many commandments and you won't be able to do them, (Lulav snorts) so you should instead go fight against them.” (Lulav chokes) And Onkelos is like, “hey Titus, how are you being punished?” And it's like, he is being burned up and his ashes scattered every day. (Lulav laughs) And then, the next person Onkelos raises through necromancy is Balaam, and he asks him basically the same questions, like, “who's most important?” And Balaam is like, “the Jewish people.” And Onkelos is like, “should I convert?” And then Balaam is like, “you shall not seek their peace or their welfare all of the days.” And Onkelos is like, “hey Balaam, how are you being punished for what you did?” Do you want to guess how Balaam is being punished? 

Lulav: Every day, he wakes up and every single bone in his body breaks and re-heals constantly. 

Jaz: That's very Spongebob. 

Lulav: (laughs) How is he being punished? Is it the ashes thing again? 

Jaz: No, he's being cooked in boiling semen. 

Lulav: Huh. 

Jaz: Because he — 

Lulav: See I wouldn't boil semen. I think that would kind of ruin the taste. 

Jaz: (chokes) Okay, alright. 

Lulav: Sorry, I took that at face value. (laughs) 

Jaz: Anyway, the reason they give for that is they think he caused this bad behavior with Moabite women. 

Lulav: Sure. Sure. Okay. I just — hmm. 

Jaz: Uh huh? 

Lulav: My interpretation of Balaam is that his services are retained to an unjust purpose and he just kind of trolls his employers — 

Jaz: Yeah! 

Lulav: Until they stop. And he wastes a bunch of their resources, which is the morally correct thing to do if you are an independent contractor who is engaged by basically any government in the US. 

Jaz: (laughs) The argument is like, he did okay here. He did in fact do good for the Israelite community even though he wasn't supposed to. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. And I feel particularly justified in this reading because the way that the parsha starts off is, "Oh, now this sword will lick clean all that is about us as an ox licks up the grass of the field," and it's like, textually, okay, they are coming to literally replace you, but like, if you ignore that it's just a bunch of refugees. 

Jaz: They are! They've been wandering in the desert since they got out of slavery! 

Lulav: And like if your immediate instinct is to just curse them, that's bad. Maybe don't, 


Jaz: Yeah. I know it's a small thing, but I am sad that the Midianites are against them. Like what happened to Yitro? Why did he die offscreen? 

Lulav: Wait did he die — I thought he died on screen! 

Jaz: He just kind of left. Or, we weren't sure what happened to him. 

Lulav: Right, he was like we're going back home and Moshe was like, no, don't go back home and then nothing happened. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: And I thought he left and you were like, I think he stays there.

Lulav: Yeah. So I don't even know. The sense of scale that the Bible has for like, groups of people is similar to the sense of scale that Friends at the Table has for dates. 

Jaz: (laughs) Okay, for our listeners, Friends at the Table is a very good, uh — 

Lulav: Friends at the Table is an actual play podcast focused on critical worldbuilding, smart characterization and fun interactions between good friends. My handle on Twitter is actually a friends at the Table reference. 

Jaz: It is? 

Lulav: Spacetrucksix? Yeah! Did you ever listen to COUNTER/Weight?

Jaz: Yeah. Even though I very much respect Friends at the Table there's like a million pieces of lore all of the time and I cannot keep up with them. 

Lulav: (laughs) That's fair. 

Jaz: Yeah, anyway, the thing that you were talking about there is that sometimes they'll be like and this happened 30,000 years later, which is an absurd timescale for anything to happen that involves human beings. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Human civilizations — human languages evolve at a rate where like, they are thoroughly incomprehensible after a thousand years. (Lulav laughs) It is utterly impossible to have any continuity, like we've been doing the same thing for 10,000 years — anyway. 

Lulav: Especially with the introduction of the Perennial Wave! Whatever. (Jaz chuckles) Okay. Enough Friends at the Table digressions. (both laugh) I love you, Austin. 

Jaz: You were making a point about it, and I wanted to explain your point, (Lulav chuckles) because I don't think it was obvious to people who hadn't listened to it.

Lulav: Thank you so much. That was very helpful. Now we come to Rating G-d's Writing, a podcast focused on critical worldbuilding — (laughing) 

Jaz: Nope! Stop! (laughs) 

Lulav: No, that's the wrong one. Rating G-d's Writing. That's us, and if you're listening, it's you too? (chuckles) 

Jaz: Stooop! (laughs) 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay. Uh, Rating G-d's Writing is a segment where we make up scales and rate the parsha accordingly. Is that right? 

Jaz: Thank you. 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay, cool. Jaz, out of 21 bowls and 21 rams sacrificed to an independent contractor who already told you that he wasn't interested, how many bulls and rams would you give this parsha? 

Jaz: You said of 21? 

Lulav: Twenty-one of each. 

Jaz: Yeah yeah yeah. I'm giving it like 20 rams — 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: and like five bulls. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Rams seem fight-ier to me and there is a lot of fighting happening in this parsha. 

Lulav: It is a very fighty parsha. 

Jaz: And also I kind of want to fight this parsha, so… (Lulav laughs)

Lulav: Yasher koach. (Jaz laughs) 

Jaz: But five bulls because I do have a lot of issues with it and I don't necessarily want to give it nice things, but I still want to give it some, because we had that bit earlier about how cows can purify things and I think that there is good opportunity for interesting purifying thought to happen here, of people refining and taking beautiful nuggets from this out of the muck. 

Lulav: Yeah. That's very fair. As an Aries sun, I do just want to say I like rams better. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: But it's your rating. 

Jaz: Fair enough. Lulav, out of three kings, how many towns, invaded or not invaded, (Lulav laughs) would you give this parsha? 

Lulav: Oh man, okay. So I would rate this parsha towns of three kings, but rather than being razed, they are sacked in retaliation for attacks. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Which is to say, these are people trying to find their way in a new place, and like, there is an undercurrent of possession and destruction that I really really dislike. I think it is antithetical to justice. And on the other hand, these are people still trying to survive.

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: And so I think, responding to violence with violence, but otherwise making very clear that you are just going to not mess with people, you just want to get by — 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: That's the sort of rating that I would give this parsha. 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: It's summer and I am covered in some water of lustration. Our transcript team of DiCo, Jaz, Khesed, and Reuben, (pause) is really cool. I love them. (Jaz laughs) If you are looking for those full transcripts, you can find those on in our episode descriptions.

Jaz: Thank you. They're also on our Patreon, if that's an easier place for people to find them.

Lulav: Very fair.

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. Have a lovely queer Jewish day!

[Brivele outro music] 

Jaz: This week's gender is (GPS voice) default settings. 

Lulav: This week's pronouns are choose one.