Kosher Queers

38 — Pinchas: Dating, Death Prep, and Decadence

July 09, 2020 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow
Kosher Queers
38 — Pinchas: Dating, Death Prep, and Decadence
Kosher Queers
38 — Pinchas: Dating, Death Prep, and Decadence
Jul 09, 2020
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, we get some delightful gay personal news for both co-hosts on the podcast, learn about five sisters who change inheritance law, and derive prison abolition from the Torah's penchant for repetition. Plus, advice and perplexion on how to raise people to be Jewish, complaints about Yehoshua being a narc, and waaayyy too many bulls sacrificed.

Full transcript here.

Lulav's friend Khesed joined us for episode 15 — Bo: G-d Has Needs Too!!!. Around 19 minutes in, Lulav references the "Four Horsemen type people," who are Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett, who were the face of the New Atheist movement. The didactic story Jaz tells around 41 minutes in about a rabbi warmly greeting each person who comes with the same news can be found here. You can find your local bail fund here. You can check out some of Mariame Kaba's work at, and follow her on Twitter @prisonculture.

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 Ezra Faust, and our transcript was written by Reuben Shachar Rose and Jaz Twersky. 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 get some delightful gay personal news for both co-hosts on the podcast, learn about five sisters who change inheritance law, and derive prison abolition from the Torah's penchant for repetition. Plus, advice and perplexion on how to raise people to be Jewish, complaints about Yehoshua being a narc, and waaayyy too many bulls sacrificed.

Full transcript here.

Lulav's friend Khesed joined us for episode 15 — Bo: G-d Has Needs Too!!!. Around 19 minutes in, Lulav references the "Four Horsemen type people," who are Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett, who were the face of the New Atheist movement. The didactic story Jaz tells around 41 minutes in about a rabbi warmly greeting each person who comes with the same news can be found here. You can find your local bail fund here. You can check out some of Mariame Kaba's work at, and follow her on Twitter @prisonculture.

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 Ezra Faust, and our transcript was written by Reuben Shachar Rose and Jaz Twersky. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

Support the show (

Jaz: Hi Lulav. 

Lulav: Hi Jaz. 

Jaz: What is a cool or queer or Jewish thing you've done this week?

Lulav: Well, my friend Khesed had their birthday a couple days ago. Listeners, you may remember Khesed because… they're cool. I forgot which episode they were on. 

Jaz: They were on an episode that I don't remember either but will link to it?

Lulav: (laughs) Yes. So yeah, they had a birthday party, which was not in person and that meant that since they invited Jaz, I could introduce Jaz to my friends!

Jaz: And that was great. I had met Khesed before because they were on our episode, but I had not met any of the other people besides you?

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah, so there was Antoinette who was the first person that I met through shul, and… oh Brackett! Who was the last person I met through shul, right before the pandemic started! Also Antoinette's boyfriend Eli, whose name it did very much take me like three years to learn. (Jaz laughs) Who am I forgetting?

Jaz: Mia? 

Lulav: Yes! Khesed’s sister Mia. That may be a connection that you weren't aware of. (laughs)

Jaz: I picked up on it partway through. 

Lulav: Okay cool. I think that's everyone? That's not all of my friends, to be clear. And we all got to play jackbox games and Jaz brought, like, a pictionary website which was really entertaining. I absolutely wiffed at figuring out what a pimple was, based on the picture. 

Jaz: Can you clarify for our listeners what it was about this birthday party, that made it — I think we can get the cool part from the fact that they were your friends — (Lulav laughs) but what made it queer and Jewish?

Lulav: I mean, we’re all gay first off, and we’re all Jewish, second off (Jaz laughs). Like, all of these are shul friends. Literally everyone I've met through shul and continued relationships with outside of shul. It's really nice when Antoinette pulls together people to play RPGs, or Khesed is like, “Hey, I haven't seen you in a while, lets hang out.”

Jaz: Aww. 

Lulav: So yeah, that was my thing. Were there any highlights from that birthday party that you want to mention?

Jaz: Birthday party was lovely, I appreciated Khesed inviting me. I enjoyed in particular one of the jackbox games was the one where you have to make up a lie and try and see which one was believable. (Lulav laughs) People would vote for which one they thought with the true thing and they would be a true thing in there and then also everybody’s lies and I was not very good at figuring out the true thing, but I was decent at writing lies that some people believed, but in particular, like, I mostly caught you, and I was very proud of that. 

Lulav: Yeah, (Jaz laughs) I think almost every single round I picked Jaz's lie ‘cos it was very believable. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So yeah, that's the party. Jaz, what’s your cool or queer or Jewish thing this week?

Jaz: Well. I'm going to give you a Jewish thing and then a queer thing I separate things. So my Jewish thing was that I finished up the school year. So —

Lulav: Heck yeah! 

Jaz: I've been teaching at a synagogue all year and we are like now all officially done and we had camp with the students and now they're all done too, and then we had a paper work week of like, getting everything in order, and now it's summer vacation. So that's exciting and during the summer vacation I'm going to be looking forward to doing lots of different types of Jewish studies stuff, so I've been very Jewish oriented. 

Lulav: Yeah. What's it like having had summer vacation straight since you were like five years old?

Jaz: Wild. (Lulav giggles) It's great. I love it. It's great I love it I have for whatever reason just like always been on a school calendar partially because even though I was out of school last year I had a thing where like my job ended in June but my new job that I had lined up started in August so I like, still had a break and that's amazing. So I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate. Like, I would anyway, I think, because half of my friends have lost their jobs and I still have one and also I have a summer break so yeah anyway

Lulav: Yeah That's really cool. Not that friends losing their job. 

Jaz: No. That's terrible. 

Lulav: The you not doing so. What's the queer thing that you were thinking of?

Jaz: Oh did I say anything queer happened this week? What if nothing clear happened this week?

Lulav: What I totally thought you did. (Jaz laughs) You said there were two separate things. 

Jaz: Mmm did I? Did I say anything queer happened this week?

Lulav: I'm pretty sure! (Jaz laughs) I know that you were good at making lies that catch me but that's not working. 

Jaz: Fine, fine. So I got a girlfriend this week. 

Lulav: (gasps) That's so cool! Can I meet her? 

Jaz: It is very cool and I'm very excited, and um, babe you got to stop teasing our listeners like that. (Lulav and Jaz crack up) 

Lulav: Yeah. That's true. Hi Jaz and I are dating. It's fun. 

Jaz: It is fun! Probably not in a way that's going to impact our podcasting life in any discernible way but, yeah, is good. 

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah. Like, one of my main concerns is making sure that we can still make a really cool podcast together no matter what. And my other main concern is that Jaz is really cute and smart and I like them. 

Jaz: (laughs) Now that I'm blushing in a way that nobody can see (Lulav snorts) because we are an audio format, and we've talked about the Torah that we are making with our own lives, are you ready to talk about some text? 

Lulav: I sure 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 Pinchas.

Jaz: Yeah, and we talked about this dude last week because he murdered some people and today, we are gonna do more about that story to start off with. 

Lulav: In like, business meeting terms were going to circle back around about that. (chuckles) 

Jaz: Oh my G-d. Yeah, that is what we're gonna do. (Lulav laughs) I hate that. Are you ready to summarize for us?

Lulav: I sure am. Give me a minute? 

Jaz: Ready, set, go. 

Lulav: Last parsha ended with a gruesome murder, so we pick up with how it's good, actually! The Midianites are sentenced to defeat for the whole "enticement to worship Peor" thing. Before we do that, we gotta take stock of the remaining matot. We're reminded of Korach and have a sonless dude named Zelophehad pointed out to us. Note that the population has barely changed, but that Simeon has lost almost two-thirds of its people and Yosef's matot have switched order and size. The lots of land are to be apportioned randomly and evenly. Oh look, Zelophehad's daughters come up again! They inherit their father's share. Hashem tells Moshe "check out the cool land, and then die lol." Moshe makes sure that Yehoshua will inherit his leadership role, but it's gonna be shared with Eleazar to some extent. We're reminded of the sacrifices we gotta make on the regular, including for high holidays — Sukkot in particular burns through a LOT of bulls.

Jaz: Done.

Lulav: How did I do timewise?

Jaz: Exactly on time.

Lulav: Oh good. I realized I was stretching it out in the middle for a more conversational case And so the last couple of sentences I ramped up. So Jaz, do you want to hear that in a little more detail and with 100% more numbers? Wait.

Jaz: That doesn't make any sense.

Lulav: There will be at least two numbers. Okay. (laughing) 

Jaz: That's 200%!

Lulav: Fine, are you ready for a 255% increase in the numbers, because the integer got full up, and — (snorts) whatever. Point is Pinchas, son of Eleazer, son of Aharon the priest has turned back Hashem's wrath from the Israelites by displaying among them his passion for Me. Which, I want to point out in this case, means stabbing a dude and his Midianite girlfriend.

Jaz: Yeah, which is apparently what G-d is interpreting as a show of passion and I'm not about it.

Lulav: Yeah especially considering all the times in American history of which crimes and passion were used to defend the murder of gay and trans people and Black people and just a lot of people who really should be alive.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: So anyway, what Pinchas gets out of this is a pact of friendship. Basically, the priesthood is restated as a thing that his line, like, the descendants of Aharon and specifically of Elaezer and very specifically of Pinchas. They're going to be priests forever. And I want to focus on the fact that that is a reiteration of the Levite priesthood because of what comes next. We get the name of the Israelite killed, Zimri son of Salu, chieftain of Shimeonite ancestral house. So, Jaz, can you walk us back to who Shimeon was? 

Jaz: Sure, Shimeon was one of the brothers who are now each head of an ancestral house. He in particular was a brother who spoke up for Joseph.

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: What is it that you're trying to remind us of?

Lulav: I mean, he also spoke up with his sword after his sister was raped.

Jaz: Oh, you're trying to remind us of Shechem?

Lulav: Yes, I'm trying to remind you of Shechem, because he and Levi were the two who murdered everyone in Shechem. So we see brothers who stood up for Yosef, who avenged their sister which was supposedly a good thing and they made it through the wilderness. I mean, they died, but they both formed ancestral houses. But Levi is the one that has the priesthood and Shimeon on doesn't really have anything.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: So I think the story is trying to justify that. Two brothers who were in the narrative so far treated as inseparable are very separable in their legacies. 

Jaz: Yeah, they sure are. So it does achieve that by having this thing of making Levites into the priests and making these into the warriors and loose cannons.

Lulav: Yeah. Did you have any other questions?

Jaz: Yeah. Before we move on from that we get the name of the Midianite woman who was killed, Cozbi, and we don't get the names of that many women so it's notable to me when we get them. But what do you make of the fact that we get her name very specifically when she's being killed here which we didn't get last time?

Luav: I'm actually not sure. Off the top of my head the two things are: maybe there's something etymologically happening, which I would be interested to hear if Cozbi or Zur are important words. But the second thing is, her father is noted as the tribal head of an ancestral house in Midian, so we might be getting her name specifically because it's associating the enticement to worship another G-d with a tribal head. 

Jaz: Oooh. 

Lulav: Did you have commentary on this, Jaz?
Jaz: When you look up her name, Cozbi notes that it would translate literally to “my lie.”

Lulav: (laughs) Of course everybody has diegetic names. 

Jaz: Everybody's name means something. Yeah. Actually our listeners might be familiar with, it's possible from the song Ma’oz Tzur, that “tzur” is rock. 

Lulav: Ahhh. Okay. My Lie, bat Rock. 

Jaz: Usually that's a positive thing.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: But not always, right, like we also have stoning as a thing and who knows. 

Lulav: Yeah I think the daughter's name is important here wordplay-wise. So yeah, then Hashem says “assail the Midianites and defeat them. They assailed you with that whole worshipping Peor things.” I'm not sure personally if the affair of Peor is referring to the whole thing with Balak and Balaam, or if Peor is just the god that the Midianites were supposedly enticing the worship of.

Jaz: Well, it could be both of those things, right.

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: I mean like, Peor is the place and Baal is kind of a common name for gods in that region, so lots of different areas would be like “the Baal of the North” or “the Baal of the south” and so this one is “the Baal of Peor.”

Lulav: Yeah, “the god of the opening” is what Peor art means. Do you have any other questions about this part?

Jaz: Just, it seems like they're being killed for their involvement with other people and worshipping false deities and there's an obvious negative reading of this, of, “this is a horrible thing to do” and I'm wondering if for you, there is any less obvious positive reading?

Lulav: Okay, so in defense of war crimes, it wasn't that they just worshipped a different god and therefore must be killed, it's that specifically they brought nice Jewish boys to vacation Bible study and tried to make them Christian, which in this metaphor is like, they had relations with Israelites, but more importantly they used that sexual bond and relationship to get them to violate the covenant that their people had made. So instead of just being like these people are existing independently and that's bad, it's “these people have infringed upon our ability to exist independently and therefore we're going to defeat them.” 

Jaz: I didn’t mean it to be like, in defense of war crimes! That wasn't the thing I was going for. Just that, you know, when we read text to try and find what is a modern-day applicable thing, you know — 

Lulav: Oh, like what can we compare it to in modern times! I see. 

Jaz: Yeah!

Lulav: The analogy I use of nice Jewish boys being convinced to go to vacation Bible study with their girlfriends or whatever — 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: is relevant here because there's a thing with generational turnover where there can be parents who are like, really into their religious practice and that turns their kids off of it. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Or parents who are doing their own religious practice but not really carrying that on to their kids and so their kids are more likely to choose something else in their lives. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: So, I think making sure that you have a very clear dialogue with children who you are raising, like, why you are Jewish and also giving them the freedom to choose what they want, means that they're more likely to stay part of the community and be really into being Jewish themselves. Do you think that's fair?

Jaz: Yeah. I think that's beautiful. I also know that I grew up sometime part of Jewish youth movements and stuff and there is a certain thing about like, kids whose parents were rabbis had like a whole nother level of stuff to deal with that the rest of us did not have to deal with and it seemed harder. 

Lulav: Yeah. (laughs)

Jaz: So, you know that's one of the things that I think about in terms of like when you're building to Judaism for the next generation, what are the things that they like have to feel pressured to look up to and what's the things that they just kind of get to choose or not. I chose a lot of the ways that I want to be Jewish but I didn't get a choice in whether I was Jewish or not; that would not have flown in my family.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: And I'm grateful for that. 

Lulav: Where do you think you would have ended up without explicit guidance of like, “no, you're going to be Jewish” as a child?

Jaz: I don't know. I’m glad that I got explicit guidance. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And it wasn't just “you’re going to be Jewish;” it was “you are Jewish and you will always be Jewish and we are Jewish.”

Lulav: Okay. I gotcha. 

Jaz: It's in the family line and in the family lineage and that's who we are. And that might look a lot of different ways for you, like, we're not prescribing what it will look like for you, but you are Jewish.

Lulav: Yeah, that's really cool

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: I had a very laissez-faire religious upbringing, Such that my dad at one point was like, “huh what if I do Unitarian Universalism?” And I was like, “Yeah, sure, I'll come along for that.” But nothing was ever really strong for me and so like choosing Judaism really actively as like, a practice rather than just a community, is a new thing for me.

Jaz: Mmm. Yeah. 

Lulav: And I think that there are many timelines in which I just didn't choose to be more Jewish later in life.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: So the last thing I want to say is the main example I think of here is Madalyn Murray O'Hair who's not Jewish but she was like a major atheist activist who challenged the city school system practice of Bible readings in public schools.

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And there were a lot of things about the way she talked that led to the Four Horsemen type people like Richard Dawkins, who I am very not fond of, and that harshness with her son led to her son later being Baptist, so yeah that's rough. (laughing)

Jaz: Yeah! Yeah.

Lulav: If you're too strict your kids will become Baptist ministers.

Jaz: Well you know that's also interesting in the fact that I grew up in a family where one of my mom's grew up Orthodox and in her family there were three of them and one of the three of them is Orthodox and one of the three of them is my mom and the other one (Lulav giggles) became completely unaffiliated with Judaism whatsoever. Didn't practice anything else but just doesn't associate religiously. 

Lulav: Oh yeah!

Jaz: So there is also a certain amount of like, people are going to be who they're going to be (Lulav laughs), And also other things influence people as well.

Lulav: Yeah. So after that incredibly long tangent —

Jaz: Great. 

Lulav: — they have to take a census again because a whole bunch of people have died. 

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: And also because they're about to go into battle so they need to know exactly who is able to bear arms so they do accounting and I'm just going to skip over this unless there is anything that you want to like zoom in on that I haven't already mentioned.

Jaz: If you're skipping over all of the different things, I’d just mention that we have in this accounting of who's in all of the things, it breaks down so like, if overall we're looking at Issachar which is one of the groups, then you have within there the Tolaites and the Punites and the Shimronites. And we haven't gotten this level of detail before. 

Lulav: Have we really not?

Jaz: We have really not. We have never gotten these names before. 

Lulav: Huh! 

Jaz: We have gotten lots of other things, and these numbers are very familiar and the breakdown of like, how many people and stuff, but the specific like, “and here are the subdivisions within all of them,” I believe we've only gotten for the Levites up until this point.

Lulav: Yeah. So there are four things I want to point out. I'll see if I get to four without under or over shooting it. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: One is when they're talking about the descendants of Reuben, they repeat the bit about Korach. The fact that of the sons of Eliab, two of them, Dathan and Abiram, agitated against Moshe and Aharon as part of Korach’s band and that they died, but that the sons of Korach did not die. So it's just reminding us you will not continue to be part of the Israelites if you challenge the authority.

Jaz: I disagree a little bit — 

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: in that you said it as reminding us, and I think it is actually doing some revisionist history here. My understanding from the actual parsha of Korach’s family does go into the earth with him. 

Lulav: Oh yeah! 

Jaz: And here they're saying “oh, but his children didn't.”

Lulav: Yeah, that's interesting. 

Jaz: I mean, I know that this is probably in some respects two different texts being reconciled here, but I also think that that's a cop-out answer in terms of what is the meaning we can draw from that.

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: But what do you think is the difference in that respect? Like, if you're trying to analyze the story between trying to say “and his children went into the earth with him” verses “and his children did not?” 

Lulav: So, midrash: all of them got swallowed up but Korach specifically died in the collapse and all his sons didn't die. 

Jaz: Oooh. 

Lulav: I don't know that that has like, deeper meaning, but that certainly reconciles the fact that they mention the sons did not die but that band died. 

Jaz: Mmm. May I offer one? 

Lulav: Yes, please. 

Jaz: I know that Xava loves Korach, and I also do, but if you are going to look at it from the interpretation of him as a person who did wrong and was swallowed by the earth, then the version where his children are noted as his children and as connected with him, but they're not subject to the same thing that he's subject to — 

Lulav: Mm! 

Jaz: is a meaningful one in the sense that it says like you are accountable for your history but also children can make different decisions from their parents, and —

Lulav: Okay! 

Jaz:— we are not punishing you on account of your family.

Lulav: Good interpretation! So, number two. They do the descendants of Shimeon, and then they say that there are 22,200 Shimeonites. I want to point out that this is significantly fewer than the almost 60,000 that we had at last census. A whole bunch of Shimeonites have died. 

Jaz: Yeah, what do you make of that?

Lulav: I mean I think this is part of that narrative, of like, two brothers both alike in dignity go in very different directions, because the Shimeonites weren't involved in massacring a bunch of people when the golden calf was made, and they were involved in this whole thing with Peor. So I think that this is, not only do they not have the priesthood but also their number is greatly reduced. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Three, the total number if you scroll all the way down to the bottom, which is quite a lot of scrolling, is 601,730 Israelites. 

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: And that is not that much different from the 603,000-ish Israelites that we had at last census. So like, even as there have been these gigantic losses among the Shimeonites, other ancestral houses have grown a little bit or shrunk a little bit and then there are ones that have grown a whole bunch like Asher. Okay, so it is going to be significantly more than four points. Um, number four, formerly we took census of Ephraim and then Menasse. Now, we take census of Menasse and then Ephraim. And they have opposite directions in which their population has grown; Ephraim's population has shrunk a little bit and Menasse's population has almost doubled. Do you make anything of that Jaz?

Jaz: It's an interesting note for sure because they are the two that are always grouped together and it is odd to see them like that move in different directions. It almost does echo what we were saying earlier, of what happens when you have people start at basically the same place and then —

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: — they go off in different directions.

Lulav: And I think this does kind of mirror the giving of the birthright, and the blessing and stuff because the one who was formerly first is now last, and yeah, there is blessing for the younger.

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Is that the birth order? I always forget which one between Ephraim and Menasse is the first kid. 

Jaz: Ephraim is the younger, and Menasse is the older. 

Lulav: Okay, interesting. So the older brother has had a run of good luck and the younger is back in the place? Is that relevant? Is this anything? (laughs) 

Jaz: Maybe? We often side with younger siblings. 

Lulav: Uh huh. To my great chagrin. 

Jaz: I know, we're both older siblings. (Lulav laughs) It is kind of an interesting note that most of our heroes are younger siblings. Have you heard some of the theories of birth order and how it impacts people's lives?

Lulav: Including that the more older brothers you have the more likely you are to be gay?

Jaz: Including that! That wasn't what I meant to be referring to but also that. 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay. 

Jaz: I just meant that there are studies that show that older siblings are more likely to be kind of conventionally successful, by like, measurements of the world, but also more likely to do things like be responsible for taking care of their parents and stuff. 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: Though, that kind of data also gets skewed by gender in both directions.

Lulav: What? You mean an entire class of people has been assigned the role of caretaker throughout history?

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: No way!

Jaz: Anyway, you had another point?

Lulav: Point five, Zelophehad son of Hepher. He had no sons, only daughters. The names of them were Machla, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. And they are part of the clan of Manasseh, the one that has increased so much in population.

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And so, When I was reading that the first time I was like okay are we doing anything with this? No? Cool. But we go through another Levite census, everybody's dead, and then we get to the part where the Zelophehad is important. 

Jaz: Wait! Before we get there, because I do think that's important and I want to give it its proper time, but you were talking about Shimeon and the Shechem earlier and it was like a fighting thing and losing Shimeonites, and in the descendants of Menasse, we have a person called Shechem who creates a group called the Shechemites again.

Lulav: Oooh. Okay.

Jaz: Which is a really strange thing for them to do.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: But they are here within another group and especially within Menasse which is a group that has grown.

Lulav: I see.

Jaz: I wonder if this is an indication, since we've been thinking about the ways in which they've moved at this point in the story from a family to a nation — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And we're talking about them as also being warlike and making decisions that are maybe really bad ones for the world and for people also, (Lulav giggles) if there is an indication that they have absorbed Shechem, which they are fighting against as being like a bad force earlier, now like, the Shechem is in your heart or whatever. 

Lulav: Huh. Okay. Yeah, I don't know what to say to that other than, (surfer voice) “dude.”

Jaz: But continue with what you were going to say about the daughters.

Lulav: Right, so we get to the daughters of Zelophehad and I said before that we were talking again about Zelophahed, but really we're not. He's dead. Like super dead. And the only people surviving him are Machla, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. So they stand before Moshe and Eliezer and Chieftains and everybody who gathered around at the mishkan, and they're like, “Hey, our father died in the wilderness, not because he was rebellious or anything, he just died. And he doesn't have any sons so when he parcel of this land our family isn't going to get anything.” Specifically the way it's phrased is like, “let not our father's name be lost to his clan just because he had no son.”

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: But the really important thing here is “give us a holding among our fathers kinsman.” And so this is one of the real big cases for Moshe. At this point he's been delegating for years but this is a case that he brings before Hashem, and Hashem says, (echoing voice) “Yeah, that plea is just. You have to give them a hereditary holding.” Notably, I do want to point out, not individual holdings because they are their own people, but the property that would have been assigned to Zelophehad is assigned to the five of them. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: So like, it's great that we're making sure to look after orphan ladies, but also they are not considered full people. 
Jaz: Right, they don't each get holdings. 

Lulav: Right, so we talked about this whole agnatic-cognatic primogeniture, wherein if he doesn't have a son, his daughter gets it, if he doesn't have a daughter, his brothers get it, and if he doesn't have brothers, his father's brothers get it. 


Jaz: Yes. And also if he doesn't have brothers, then it goes to the closest relative, which could include if he had granddaughters or whatever, or a mother —  

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: The only way in which it goes to them is sort of after the rest of that inheritance.

Lulav: Yeah. Which as far as I remember from playing Crusader Kings II, is how that usually goes. Do you have anything? 

Jaz: Yeah, I was going to ask about how we felt about them being able to inherit property and asserting that to Moses, to having Moses go before G-d specifically to ask about this question? 

Lulav: So are you asking what's up with Moshe not just making a decision himself? 

Jaz: Yeah, like how did they know that this one was so important and what can we gather from the fact that it's so important? 

Lulav: Okay. I mean, usually the way that it goes is they'll bring problems to the judges and the judges will pass it on up to Moshe. So this is clearly a novel case and so none of the people that Moshe had delegated to felt comfortable taking it. 

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: But also I think in the text of the story, they just show up at the Mishkan. So it may be that they directly escalated their claim, instead of letting it be handled unfavorably by a lesser judge.  

Jaz: Nice! They sort of showed up and occupied the place and demanded direct intervention. 

Lulav: Yeah. If the only way you get listened to is by burning down Wendy's, then there are going to be a lot of Wendy's burnt down. 

Jaz: Yeah, sure. Continue? 

Lulav: Yeah. So then, we have a new story. Hashem says to Moshe, ascend these heights of Avarim and view the land that I have given to the Israelite people. When you've seen it, you're going to die, just like your brother, for in Zin, when everybody was arguing, you disobeyed my command to just be chill and you struck that rock in anger. And so Moshe takes this in stride. It seems like he's gotten used to the idea that he's going to die before entering the promised land. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: And so, he just says, let Hashem source of the breath of all flesh, appoint someone over the community who will take care of them, so they may not be like sheep with no shepherd. And in this particular narrative, it's Hashem who tells Moshe to single out Yeshoua, son of Nun. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: An inspired man. And as previously mentioned every time that Yehoshua comes up, I hate this dude. (Jaz laughs) He's such a narc. Yeah, he doesn't really say anything in this parsha, but he gets really talked up by G-d and by Moshe and the thing with succession here is that Hashem is saying, like, make sure you have a ceremony where you are passing on the commission of leading the people to Yehoshua. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: But also, it's not just going to be his commission. He's not as cool as you. He's not going to be the leader and the judge. Every time that he wants to make a big binary decision, he should consult with Eliezer who will cast Urim and Thummim. 

Jaz: Right. We have sort of a breaking up of the power structure. 

Lulav: Right. Which in general, is a good thing, because usually, after you have one charismatic leader, if that wasn't horrifying enough, you get charismatic worse leaders. 

Jaz: And there is something to be said here for like, Moshe is building a thing that says, I would like the group I have made to outlast me, and so we actually do need some structures not just some good intentions. 

Lulav: Yeah. That's a good elaboration on what I said, thank you so much. So then we have just a whole bunch of meal offerings. And the one thing that stood out to me about this absolute wall of text that goes all the way to the end of the parsha is that in Sukkot, you start off sacrificing 13 bulls and then you just decrease it by one every day, for how many further bulls you sacrifice. That's so many. (Laughs) 

Jaz: There's so many. Also it's very (sings, the tune of the 12 days of Christmas) "And on the sixth day of Sukkot, I sacrificed —" 

Lulav: (laughs) Good! So if you start off with 13 and end with seven, that's 20 times seven is 140 divided by two is 70 — so in total on Sukkot, you sacrifice 71 bulls.

Jaz: That's so many. Thank you for doing that math. 

Lulav: Yeah! I remembered a thing from 6th grade math. (laughs) Which is not to be like, (Patrick voice) "it's 6th grade, Spongebob," (Jaz laughs), rather to be like, oh hey, Gaussian summation is really helpful. Anyway, any question you have about this end of the parsha? 

Jaz: So I have a couple. One, Sukkot’s kind of your holiday, yeah? How do you feel about this being the part they emphasize? 

Lulav: The sacrifice of everything? 

Jaz: Yeah, that we don't do anymore. 

Lulav: So, two things. One, I feel okay with it because this entire section is about “on this holiday, you sacrifice this.” So it's not like Sukkot is super special in that it's about sacrifice. All of these are apparently about sacrifice. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: The second thing is, that's so many bulls! No! Let them live, so that you can eat them later. (Jaz chuckles) Yeah, I think part of the thing with having a harvest festival is that it is a festival of conspicuous consumption. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Like, you're making huts for fun out of agricultural products 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: So I think the massive number of sacrifice bulls is very in keeping with that spirit of like, hey, we had a good season, let's celebrate it. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: I'm just glad that we don't sacrifice animals anymore, and instead just order a specific kind of citrus from Israel. 

Jaz: Sure. Okay! And my other question is this is a long repetitive section at the end of a long repetitive parsha, so I want to ask about how you feel about repetition as a mode of storytelling and of learning? 

Lulav: Oh man. Repetition does nothing for me. That is mostly because of ADHD. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: I just don't learn well by repetition. I learn well by novelty. And so, having the same thing over and over again, with slight variations, that's not helpful to me. It is my understanding that it is very helpful for continuing an oral tradition throughout history and across a bunch of different cultures. But yeah, I almost failed sixth grade math because I didn't do my timed multiplication tests fast enough. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: And it was because it was boring! I didn't want to memorize multiplication facts. I've known how to multiply for years! 

Jaz: Well, how do you square that with, right before we were recording, we were talking and I said to you a thing that I'd definitely said to you before.

Lulav: Uh huh. 

Jaz: And you were like, Jaz, you've told me that before, but also, it's okay for you to say it again. 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay, yes. The particular thing I said was, “just like the Tanakh, when there is repetition, it means that you should remember a thing.” That wasn't the exact wording, but like... 

Jaz: Close enough. 

Lulav: Yeah. I think, when you have repetition, sometimes the particular thing that gets repeated or emphasized is important, and that is novel enough to be like, oh, this is a new thing on top of an old thing.  

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: So like, did we have all these bull sacrifices in the original statement of Sukkot? 

Jaz: I don't think so. I think this is an elaboration on what you do about Sukkot. 

Lulav: Yeah. So it's new information and it stood out, but at the same time, it's reinforcing a thing about how festivals involve sacrifice, and… yeah. I don't have a single gleaming distillation here. Do you have anything that you wanna add? 

Jaz: Well, the Torah does have lots of repetition in it — sometimes the Talmud too — but much has been made, meaning-wise, about why there is this repetition. And sometimes it's like, people picking up on small differences to say, can we find meaning in how it's said very similarly here, but then a little bit different? 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: I was reading a story and it's this didactic little story — 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Where a rabbi was about to convene a beit din of distinguished scholars and then somebody knocked at the door! And the person at the door says, “Rabbi, I hate to interrupt you, but I was sure you'd want to hear the good news. Chaim has been released from jail!” And the rabbi is so happy and hugs the person and says thanks so much for bringing me this good news, and then asked for details and gave the person something to eat and drink and then sent them along. So then they sat down to convene the beit din and then somebody else came, to be like, “Rabbi, did you hear the good news? I had to come tell you, Chaim's been released from jail!” And this happens a few different times. (Lulav laughs) 

Lulav: And every time, the rabbi's like, oh, come in, have snacks? 

Jaz: Yeah! And he's like, this is wonderful, I'm so excited to hear it! 

Lulav: We ordered falafel from Holy Land, come have some — 

Jaz: Yeah! Yeah, and eventually the other members of the beit din, who are there to do something else, are like (Lulav laughs) “So, Rabbi, why don't you just tell these people that you know that already now?” And the rabbi’s like, “Well, I really like that they wanted to come tell me and they wanted to make me happy and it is news that makes me happy, and if I didn't react that way, the next time, they might not come tell me, and I want them to, and it's okay if I react to it as good news all of the time.” 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And there's this little note that's like, “So, did I technically lie?” And it goes, “Nu, so I lied! G-d will forgive me for pretending not to know if it makes another person happy.” (Lulav laughs) I also like that this example involves getting people out of jail. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: That's the other reason why I like this story, because it's also one of those things about like, listen, anybody we save from an unjust system is worth rejoicing from, and it's worth rejoicing from every time. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Donate to your local funds. Anyway! 

Lulav: Also, in case we haven't explicitly stated this, Kosher Queers supports complete abolition of prisons. 

Jaz: Yeah. (chuckles) Thank you for stating that out loud. I feel like we've probably said that before? But…  

Lulav: Probably! (Jaz chuckles) But just in case. 

Jaz: So I liked this example of like, there's value in hearing something even if it's not the most original thing.

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Even if it's not the first time you hear it, and that can be true on our radical fronts as well as our Jewish fronts, and that it is also a thing you might think about on the queer front. You might think about, do we see just the same two gay people or same two types of gay people on TV over and over again? Is that the only kind of repetition we see? Or do we see ones with variation as well. 

Lulav: Well, Jaz, we do see approximately three year cycles of discourse. 

Jaz: (groaning) Ahhhhh. 

Lulav: Ther's can bisxual people be lesbains, are asexual people queer, uhhh, what's other stuff that is ridiculously nitpicky and gets people yelling at each other for no good reason… (both laugh) I swear, it just cycles every three years. 

Jaz: It's just the same ones. It feels like it's new people who weren't here the last time, that we’re like, why are we yelling about this again?

Lulav: Literally since the 70s! Probably before, but the 70s are when I have seen recorded arguments of this stuff. 

Jaz: But also this is wild because there was a moment where I was like, maybe this year we'll skip some of the Pride month discourse, because Pride month discourse is when we have to argue should police be at Pride? 

Lulav: Oh G-d. 

Jaz: And I was like we're not even having Pride this year. We don't have to argue about whether police should be there. Fortunately, this year we're having a better argument, of — 

Lulav: Should police be... at all? (both laugh) 

Jaz: (laughing) Should police be... at all? To which the answer is also still no, but at least it's not the same argument that we've been having. 

Lulav: (laugh) Yeah. Anyway, our other explicit statement of policy is if you got rid of every single cop in America right now, that would be a less harmful reality than the status quo. 

Jaz: One of the things that I am thinking about, on that note — are you familiar with the work of Mariame Kaba? 

Lulav: I'm not sure? 

Jaz: Okay! She's on Twitter @prisonculture, something like that. She is an abolitionist whose been doing this work for years, and one of the things she's talked about, particularly recently, is like, yes, we want to get rid of all of these systems, and we do want to replace them with better systems. It's not like there would be no way to hold people accountable. Like we do want to hold people accountable. The trouble is, if you’re saying, but how are we going to hold people accountable without the current bad systems we have, you also have to compare them to, are we holding people accountable with the current system we have? 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: And the argument is the good things we say we want, we don't have now, (Lulav laughs) and we do definitely have the bad things 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: So we definitely yes, absolutely have to work towards the good things, we just shouldn't pretend that we have them and are sacrificing other things for them. We don't have them. 

Lulav: Right. If anybody feels genuinely protected by police it is likely that they are doing economic violence to the people and communities around them — 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: is my take on that. So! 

Jaz: Oh, also, this reminds me. We had a listener note this week — 

Lulav: Yeah! 

Jaz: which I wanted to bring up at the end because it was related to the thing that we're talking about at the end, which is what's the value of repetition? 

Lulav: Yeah! 

Jaz: Which is, back in Naso, we also had a really repetitive parsha because it was the one where everybody brought an offering, from each mateh, so somebody wrote into us. The thing I didn't get an opportunity to ask for was whether they were okay with sharing their name in public, but what they said was, "Just a fun side note about the very long chapter with all the Gifts™️, someone in my queer text study group mentioned that it may be reiterated every time and spaced out as one offering per day to emphasize that every offering was equally important!" Which I think jives really well with this idea that every time somebody comes to give you good news, that we've gotten more people out of the prison industrial complex, we celebrate. Each time it's important, and every time somebody gives you good news, you can celebrate it as if it's the first time. And we can see more than one type of deal and that there can be that kind of value in repetition. 

Lulav: Yeah. So speaking of repeating, do you want to head on over to Rating G-d's Writing, the segment that we've definitely never forgotten in the course of this entire show. 

Jaz: Oh my G-d. (Lulav laughs) Yeah! This is Rating G-d's Writing, where we pick two scales and rate the parsha based on them. 

Lulav: Okay. So Jaz, out of 22,200 country Simeonites who are making do, how many Simeonites would you rate this parsha? I'm just going to send that to you over Discord so you can see the number. 

Jaz: Thank you. (Lulav laughs) You know my foibles. I would rate this one 18,000, because it was not my favorite parsha, in that it's got a lot of things going ton, and lots of them are just numbers and repetition, and that is sometimes hard for me.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: But I also think it's building the life of the community, which is why I'm giving it a multiplier of 18, because it's about life — 

Lulav: Ohhhh. 

Jaz: their real life, and I think that it was a good spark for conversation about what it means to give a good and proper type of life. 

Lulav: Yeah. Also, unlike a whole bunch of other parashot in this recent stretch, nobody died in this one! 

Jaz: Nobody died in this one! (Lulav laughs) And also there was some bonus, women got to do things! (Lulav snorts) And that's nice! 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: We don't get enough of that. I'm a fan of those five sisters banding together to do stuff. We could have a sitcom about them. 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay, Jaz — 

Jaz: Sorry, yeah. 

Lulav: Hit me with your rating. 

Jaz: Out of 71 bulls offered on Sukkot, how many bulls would you rate this parsha? 

Lulav: Ehhhh. Okay, so what's the least number of bulls... I think it's seven on the seventh day? Yes. So I would rate this parsha 50 bulls. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Because instead of doing the whole thing, we're just going to sacrifice seven each day and one on the last day. I didn't think that this was worth the whole triangular number thing. I think it's solidly worth half of the bulls for each day. And there are some things that are really interesting that we could really zoom in on to give us new insights and there are things that repeat the darkest interpretations of previous chapters. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: So that's where I'm at, is 50 out of 71 bulls. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: You ready to take us to the close? 

Jaz: Okay, 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 our excellent audio editor, Ezra Faust. 

Lulav: Our transcript team of Jaz, Reuben, DiCo, and Khesed brings you full transcripts of every episode. You can find a link to those in the episode descriptions on Buzzsprout.

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

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

[Brivele outro music]

Lulav: This week's gender is Haha I’m your girlfriend now.txt. 

Jaz: This week's encoding is UTF-8 so you can save emoji.