Kosher Queers

40 — Devarim: R-r-r-recap!

July 23, 2020 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow
Kosher Queers
40 — Devarim: R-r-r-recap!
Kosher Queers
40 — Devarim: R-r-r-recap!
Jul 23, 2020
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, we start the last book of the Torah, and realize the five books have names that are super focused on words. We also learn about the philosophy behind audio editing, compare the geology of the Middle East to the "middle west" of Wisconsin, and find the true meaning of family (it has to do with hair, and also I guess choice and love and stuff). Plus, some shenanigans with parallel structures in grammar, and measuring the appropriate sizes of beds.

Full transcript available here

Jaz referenced meeting their friend Nora, who came on the podcast for Episode 14 —Va'eira: Enough Frogs to Overwhelm Our Oppressors. Lulav mentioned a recap episode of Friends at the Table that summarized the events of the Autumn and Winter seasons in Hieron; that episode is Spring in Hieron 00: What Came Before, if you want to jump in.

Some Tisha B'Av events this year: 

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 Jaz Twersky 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 (

Show Notes Transcript

This week, we start the last book of the Torah, and realize the five books have names that are super focused on words. We also learn about the philosophy behind audio editing, compare the geology of the Middle East to the "middle west" of Wisconsin, and find the true meaning of family (it has to do with hair, and also I guess choice and love and stuff). Plus, some shenanigans with parallel structures in grammar, and measuring the appropriate sizes of beds.

Full transcript available here

Jaz referenced meeting their friend Nora, who came on the podcast for Episode 14 —Va'eira: Enough Frogs to Overwhelm Our Oppressors. Lulav mentioned a recap episode of Friends at the Table that summarized the events of the Autumn and Winter seasons in Hieron; that episode is Spring in Hieron 00: What Came Before, if you want to jump in.

Some Tisha B'Av events this year: 

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 Jaz Twersky 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: Hi Jaz! Has anything cool or queer or Jewish happened to you this week?

Jaz: Hi Lulav! Sure, I've been doing some Jewish reading. I have a book about the Talmud that I'm working my way through and I recently ordered some new books. And one of them just arrived and I haven't gotten started reading it yet but I'm hoping too. It's called Ariel Sampson: Freelance Rabbi, a novel by MaNishtana and it's about a Black Orthodox rabbi and it looks really fun. 

Lulav: Yeah, you told me about this a couple days ago and I was really hype about it.

Jaz: Probably I told you about it yesterday…

Lulav: It was definitely Thursday.

Jaz: Okay well… (laughs)

Lulav: Cuz you told me about it when I met your parents. 

Jaz: Well! Yes. you are correct. 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay. Yeah, no if i could still physically read books I would definitely be picking that up right now. 

Jaz: So I'm excited about that! That was a good thing. And, oh! Also, I confirmed that when I move back to New York, I'm going to get to move in with some of my best friends in the city —  

Lulav: Yay! 

Jaz: — and as we’re like, narrowing down COVID precautions and stuff we had a moment where we were like, “So… the only people coming into our house are our respective girlfriends and maybe their roommates.” So that's my queer thing of the week. 

Lulav: (laughs) Cool. 

Jaz: Lulav, what about you? What cool or queer or Jewish things have you done this week? 

Lulav: Well, I had a really fun discussion with you a little bit before we started recording about various Rachel Bloom songs, which was interesting because you don't primarily know her from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” right?

Jaz: I mean, I do — I've just never seen “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” 

Lulav: Okay. Fair. I enjoyed it? There were some —  mm —  not great parts, but like as a whole, a comedic musical show about finding joy in suburbs and throwing yourself very heavily in relationships even though that's a bad idea and is actually a symptom of the fact that you have BPD — (Jaz giggles) it's a fun show and I enjoyed talking about various songs from it. 

Jaz: I have a quibble. 

Lulav: Including, “We Suffered.” 

Jaz: Oh, okay great. 

Lulav: What were you saying?

Jaz: I was going to quibble because this is very not queer, but that is Jewish, so I'll give it to you. 

Lulav: (laughs) Yes, okay so, speaking of “We Suffered,” Tisha B’av is coming up in a couple of days. 

Jaz: Oh yeah! 

Lulav: On the 29th of July, so we have that too… look forward to? Mourn? 

Jaz: Yeah, I think mourn is probably closer —  

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Have you ever done anything for Tisha B’av? 

Lulav: No, because I'm very bad at calendars. (Jaz chuckles) Have you done like, particular Tisha B’av stuff?

Jaz: Well, it's interesting because it falls during the summer and mostly my Jewish education was during the school year, I didn't do that much for it growing up. 

Lulav: Hmm. 

Jaz: Like, my family didn't do stuff for it, so the only times that I've really done any kind of Tisha B’av anything is when I moved to New York, and last year I went to a protest on Tisha B’av. 

Lulav: Oooh okay. 

Jaz: And one of the things that we do for Tisha B’av is read Eichah, Lamentations.


Lulav: Mm!
Jaz: And this was a protest against the concentration camps —
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: — for undocumented people, so there was an incoprerationg of Lamentations, both from the original liturgy and with ones particularly about what was happening to people.
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: And it was a powerful event. It was also the first event that I'd ever done jail support for.
Lulav: Mm!
Jaz: And it was also the event where I met Nora, who came on our episode.
Lulav: Oh, wonderful!
Jaz: Yeah.
Lulav: She was on episode 14, Vayeira.
Jaz: Yeah.
Lulav: Sorry, I'm looking at the podcast schedule right now.
Jaz: Great, I'm glad that you remembered because I did not remember which episode she was on. Yeah, so I do think of it as like, a poignant holiday I guess? I've gotten into arguments with a friend of mine over whether it's appropriate to do mourning-type rituals like that for people who aren't Jewish, since it's just a very specific type of holiday about like, mourning bad things that have happened to the Jewish people.
Lulav: Uh huh. I feel like you were on the side of no, that's very important, right?
Jaz: I was, yeah.
Lulav: Okay. (laughs)

Jaz: I took his point about like — 
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: — there's value in mourning our specific losses. I just felt like, okay, but we could tie that to the horrible things that are happening even if they're not currently being primarily or exclusively targeted at us.
Lulav: Like, in the context of our cousins being forced into concentration camps and killed, the people who are currently being forced into concentration camps and killed are uhh… maybe good to mention.
Jaz: Yeah. I don't know what's happening for Tisha B'Av this year although I'm sure there will be different kinds of things in terms of both protests and then online ritual components also.
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: If we know of any, maybe I'll try to link them.
Lulav: Cool.
Jaz: But I don't know of any this far in advance by the time we're recording.
Lulav: (laugh) Because yet again, we are recording (cool kid voice) a month ahead of time.
Jaz: Yeah.
Lulav: (still doing the cool kid voice) Alright. (laughs) 
Jaz: We are going to be talking, speaking of your analogy of cousins though, about interesting dynamics of how we relate to family and other peoples who aren't us in this week's parsha.
Lulav: Boy howdy, we sure will. (laughs)
Jaz: So are you ready to get started?
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 Devarim. 
Jaz: Yeah! Lulav, do you know what Devarim means? 
Lulav: These are the words.
Jaz: Yeah! Or things, honestly, is the other way that “devarim” can mean, but in this case, words. 
Lulav: Okay. The five books of the Torah, right, are “In the beginning,” 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: Names — oh man. What was the third one? 
Jaz: Vayikra. 
Lulav: Vayikra... and he said? Is that a fair translation? 
Jaz: Not said, but maybe legislated? 
Lulav: Okay. It's like a past tense verb, yeah? 
Jaz: Yes. 
Lulav: Okay. So in the beginning, Names, Legislated, In the wilderness and Words. 
Jaz: (delightedly) Yeah. 
Lulav: Which is very word-heavy, I think. We've got two things about what we call things. In the case of Shemot it was like names, but in the case of Devarim, it's the way that we conceive of our history. 
Jaz: Yeah. It's very intense. 
Lulav: I don't know if that'll be a thesis for the entire book, but certainly for this parsha I think. thinking of these words as specifically words we use to talk about recent history and the particular perspective that we do that from. 
Jaz: Yeah. How long do you need for your summary? 
Lulav: I need 25 seconds. 
Jaz: Ooh. Alright, ready, set, go. 
Lulav: Recap episode!! Moshe settles into his role as crotchety grandpa and starts the book with an abridged summary of how we got here — mostly focusing on how the Israelite people didn't keep the faith. We get new information about the path the people have been on, including explicitly naming Seir as Esau's land & Ar as Lot's land, now and in the future. The message here is that your cousins did genocide, so you should too! We fix a CinemaSin by saying that of course the shock troops are still employed, (timer rings) and end with a restatement of how cool Yehoshua bar Nun is. Oh no, I should have asked for thirty. 
Jaz: (laughs) you should have asked for 30. 
Lulav: (chuckling) Honestly, I could have done this in one second with, "Recap episode!" (Jaz laughs) Do you want me to tell you about that a little more in detail? 
Jaz: I do. Please take us through it. 
Lulav: So we have a really interesting framing. Whereas for the last two books of the Torah, we've often started with like, “the Lord spoke to Moshe, telling him to say” to whatever specific party.
Jaz: Uh huh. 
Lulav: But here we start with, "These are the words that Moshe addressed to all Israel" and the words that he says start off with, "The Lord spoke to us at Horeb." 
Jaz: Mm hmm.
Lulav: So it's like he is saying what G-d was saying for him to say and do.
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: So it's a really interesting nested perspective that we get at the very least throughout this parsha and the next one. Do you have any questions about that, like, meta-remove? 
Jaz: Yeah, I guess so! So, spoiler I guess, but most of this parsha is Moshe speaking and recounting and recapping everything. 
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: We know in the past that he had a stutter and used to speak through his brother, but his brother is dead and as far as we can tell, he's just speaking for most of this parsha.
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: Other thing we were discussing aside from Rachel Bloom, shortly before we recorded today, is that you do audio editing and I write transcripts and everybody speaks in such a way that they have to be edited.
Lulav: (laughs) Yeah. 
Jaz: So, I gotta ask, drashmaker drahmaker drash me midrash — should we think of this as a redacted and edited version of Moshe that edits out his stutter or should we conclude that he talks differently now? 
Lulav: So, I take issue with thinking of it as a redacted version.
Jaz: Okay. 
Lulav: The process of editing is not necessarily redaction; it is refinement of the things that are supposed to come through. Certainly when I edit, if I'm cutting out entire conversations like I have done fairly often, that is a redaction, but I think that the way he actually said it involved a lot more like, pauses and rephrasing and saying the same words over again until he figured out what words would follow. Which is to say, I think that the text of Devarim is like listening to an episode of Kosher Queers and the original of Devarim is like listening to raw audio of you and I talking. 
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: Which is to say, there are still wisdoms, it's still really interesting to see where he's coming from, but also, the way that this is set up, in plain straight-forward language with full sentences, does help in reading it, I think. 
Jaz: Yeah. So you're of the opinion that he did stutter; the text just does not transcribe his stutter. 
Lulav: Yeah. Cuz I think that the other reading, wherein he just doesn't stutter anymore, is unfortunate. I think that stutters are a thing that you are more likely to work out over the course of your life — 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: But also I like having an icon who doesn't magically get better. 
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: We don't see any of the work that he would've had to put in to not have a stutter anymore, to streamline the way that thoughts coalesce in his head and come out through his lips. 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: And the fact that we didn't get any of that means that I don't want it to be part of the narrative. 
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: Cuz I don't think that having all our disabilities healed is a reward that we receive for like, being cool or whatever. 
Jaz: Yeah! Yeah. 
Lulav: In the World to Come, there are still disabled people, but there is less the social disability of society not being built for you. 
Jaz: Right. You can still stutter; people just actually listen to you. 
Lulav: Right. (laughs) 
Jaz: Also, we know that there can be times when people change their voices and that's a good thing. Not in a disability way — I'm thinking about some of the folks that we both know who have changed their voices for gender-related reasons and stuff over the course of our lives. 
Lulav: (very sweetly, and with pitch slightly higher) Yeah, I have no idea who you could possibly be talking about with that. (Jaz laughs) I don't really know anybody who has made intentional changes in how they talk to people. (Jaz laughs and then Lulav laughs) It's actually really unfortunate because I do have a lot of vocal dysphoria but usually (louder) when I'm talking to you on this podcast I just like you so much that it comes out very conversationally.
Jaz: I'm sorry! 
Lulav: It's fine. If I ever feel bad, I just listen to the audio sped up by 30% and then I sound nice and high-pitched. (giggles) 
Jaz: Yeah, well, I listen to our audio slowed down by about 50%, so I get the reverse thing. 
Lulav: The handclasp meme — (both laugh) you get it from there. 
Jaz: Yeah. Okay so, I think we're ready to move on. 

Lulav: Okay. So Moshe is bringing the story all the way back to Hashem speaking at Horeb, being like, “Hey you’ve been here long enough. It is time to actually like, go to the land promised to Avraham and his descendants.” And so Moshe is like — not in response to G-d — but Moshe points out here that he was like, “oh, I can't take the whole burden. You are so numerous.” (Jaz giggles) “I just can't count all the stars in the sky and you are as promised, as numerous as the stars in the sky, so I need helpers.” 
Jaz: Mm hmm
Lulav: So this is like recounting the whole thing — I think way back in Yitro maybe — where Moshe gets people to make decisions for him on a more local level. 
Jaz: Yeah, I think that was in Yitro because we talked about Moshe learning to delegate. 
Lulav: Okay yeah I think that was specifically where we set up the system of chiefs of thousands and of hundreds and of fifties and tens. 
Jaz: Mm hmm. Which is cool! It's a cool idea to have problem-solving at different levels depending on what you need. 
Lulav: Yeah. And also, I think a theme of this speech is relying on people who are set up as experts in their field. 
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: Because we see then that they come to the hill country of the Amorites and he's like, “Okay, let's just do this and not be dismayed,” but he recounts that the people came to him and said, “Hey, we need scouts.”
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: And they sent the scouts and the scouts had a report. But then he gets to the point of, “You didn't follow the advice of the report. You just sulked about how everyone was so strong.” 
Jaz: Before we keep going — 
Lulav: Mm hm. 
Jaz: I had a question for you a little bit further back. 
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: When Moshe first started speaking, and said the Eternal our G-d spoke to us at Horeb — so in 1:6, Moshe phrases it as Adonai our G-d, and in 1:9 he phrases it as "Adonai your G-d and in 1:11, as Adonai, the G-d of your ancestors." 
Lulav: Okay... 
Jaz: And changes within the same paragraph basically, how he's referring to G-d in this progression of “ours,” “yours,” and “of your ancestors.”
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: And I was wondering what this progression might be doing here, what it tells us about the relationship that Moshe is trying to set up for the people? 
Lulav: So I really want to hear your throughline on this, but what I am seeing is that in 1:6, he's talking about like, this is a thing that happened to all of us. In 1:10, he's talking about, you have multiplied, and so we're specially saying, um, "Adonanu?" I don't know enough Hebrew to do it, but like — 
Jaz: The thing they have here is "Adonai Eloheinu." 
Lulav: Adonai Eloheinu! Yes, okay, as opposed to like… what is it in 1:6? 
Jaz: 1:6 is Adonai Eloheinu, and in 1:10 there is Adonai Elohechem. 
Lulav: Elohechem! There we go. (laughs) Okay. I really need to start doing modern Hebrew on Duolingo again. (Jaz chuckles) Okay, I do see kind of where you're going with Moshe trying to set up the relationship. 
Jaz: Yeah, and then over here in 11, it's Adonai Elohei Avotechem. 
Lulav: Okay! That's fun. Cuz the way it is in the English, I thought that was kind of an appositive with a different name, but it's very much in the same structure as the other two. 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Cool. I just think that these are different names depending on what he's trying to convey. 
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: Like, the speaking came to all of us. The multiplication came to you, and the promise of blessing came to your fathers. 
Jaz: Mm. Okay. When I read it, I think of partially when Julia was here — 
Lulav: Mmm hmm.
Jaz: She was talking about how it felt like there was a transition happening for moving from G-d having more responsibility to people having more responsibility, and we've talked before about how this started out as a narrative of a family and is now a narrative of a nation. 
Lulav: Yeah!
Jaz: And it feels like there's a thing happening here of: Moshe has been the leader and is soon going to not be. Like, most of his generation is gone. 
Lulav: Yeah. He's literally the only one — well, Yehoshua is still there. 
Jaz: I think Yehoshua might be a later generation 
Lulav: Oh! 
Jaz: I am not certain of this, but I think Yehoshua might be the next generation. 
Lulav: Okay, so if that's true, Moshe is between 50% and 100% of his generation. 
Jaz: Yeah, Caleb might still be around.  
Lulav: Right. (laughs) 
Jaz: But yeah, I wonder if there is this transition of: this is the thing that happened to all of us, me included, and moving from a community of all of us to a community that's just you, because I'm leaving; I’m going to die. I'm not going into the land with you. I'm not going into the next stage with you. I'm setting you up to be a people with a relationship to G-d that doesn't include me. 
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: And then the last one is G-d of your ancestors to sort of tie it together, to say, “You have had continuity; you have had one G-d and one relationship from the time we were a family until the time we are a nation, and so I'm going to be gone, but your connection to the past and to G-d is still going to be there — 
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: “As you move forward. It's your G-d but it's a god that connects you to the past also.”
Lulav: Cool. I like that. May I continue? 
Jaz: Please. 
Lulav: So we pick up again with Moshe talking about how everybody was sulking because the people in the land were tall and Moshe portrays himself here as very steadfast in his dedication. (Jaz chuckles) He says, have no dread or fear of them! None other than like, yud-hay-vav-hay will fight for you, just as He did in Egypt, so I think that that is in keeping with the phsat, wherein Moshe's consternation was not with the task to be accomplished — which, side note: genocide — (throat clear) but his consternation was with the consternation of the people. So yeah, I think this is a reasonable interpretation of what was going on at that time, where he's just like, “it's going to be fine,” and everybody else was like, “no it's not.” (Jaz laughs) So he covers the fact that upon hearing the complain, no one except for Calev was going to see the promised land, and — 
Jaz: Yeah. This is why I thought that maybe Yehoshua was younger, because — 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: This line here in 35 is like, “not one of the men in this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your ancestors except Caleb.” 
Lulav: Yeah! 
Jaz: And then two lines later, (Lulav laughs) "Yehoshua, son of Nun, who attends you, he shall enter it" so I wondered if this was, he's Moshe's chosen successor and he's not of that generation. 
Lulav: Yeah, that's a really good interpretation that I definitely didn't notice when we were originally talking about Yehoshua and Calev. 
Jaz: I'm not sure if it's in the previous parsha. Like, I wonder — 
Lulav: I remember us talking about how in one part, it was like, “Calev and Yehoshua are spared,” and in another it was, “Calev was spared.”
Jaz: Right. 
Lulav: So I'd have to go back and look at it to make sure that this is the case, but like, the interpretation that Yehoshua is from a different generation and that's why he wasn't mentioned in one of those things — I like it. 
Jaz: Mm. What does it tell us if this leader is from a new generation? Like, what are the implications of that? 
Lulav: So I think there are two implications. One is just the implication that it's not a horrifying amalgam story, where it used to be just Calev and Yehoshua was tacked on after. There is an implication that this is less the case if this is true. And the more important implication is, following with this theme that we've had for the last book or so, of, “there will be a future and it will be good but you're not going to be the one who finds that future.” 
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: You're just finding a way there. 
Jaz: Alright! Let's keep moving. 
Lulav: Yeah! So, G-d punishes them for not being chill about this. And it's interesting that the whole thing with striking the rock in anger and being cursed for that, that this is all boiled down to, “because of you, the Lord was incensed with me too.” (Jaz laughs) Moshe is definitely offsetting the blame here. Like, it's okay that he has emotions, but the specific emotional reaction that include negative externalities to a rock, (Jaz laughs) that's the problem. And he’s not really acknowledging that?! So that's part of why I call him crotchety grandpa in this particular parsha. 
Jaz: He doesn't have great emotional maturity; is that what you're saying?
Lulav: (laugh) Yeah, I guess he's just in his age of quote, "strength," end-quote. (Jaz laughs) So continuing on, the people are like, “okay okay, you're right, we're guilty, but we can fix it. We're just going to go fight, like you've been telling us.” And Moshe says that Hashem specifically says to warn them not to go and fight and then Moshe spoke to them, but they did it anyway and got absolutely crushed. 
Jaz: Mm. Before the bit where the people say that they're guilty and they're going to go fight — 
Lulav: Mm hmm .
Jaz: There's this little bit that I think you skipped over that says “Moreover, your little ones who you said would be carried off, your children who do not yet know good from bad, they shall enter it; to them I shall give it and they shall possess it.” 
Lulav: Mm. 
Jaz: The bit I'm interested in is this "they do not yet know good from bad." I checked the words here. 
Lulav: Okay 
Jaz: It's lo hayu hayom tov v'ra. 
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: So it's literally translated as, "they do not know the day good and evil." (Lulav chuckles) 
Jaz: And I did check, so “tov” and “ra” are the same words that are used for the tree in the garden of Eden. 
Lulav: Definitely about to mention that, yeah. 
Jaz: Yeah. And the parallel there was once you ate of that tree, you would be like G-d, knowing good and evil, so what does it mean to say that the children, who I think are being portrayed here as innocent and that's why they get to go in, don't know it? 
Lulav: I think innocent is a loaded term.
Jaz: Okay. 
Lulav: But certainly the children are not the same people who heard words so godly that they died and came back to life. 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: Everybody in Moshe's generation, according to the story, knows what they should be doing. And they might have like, some difference of interpretation, but it's pretty clear that they shouldn't make an idol of the god that they worship and they do that anyway and they are led through the desert for so long by a cloud that tells them when to go and when to stop and showers them with manna and yet they complain about the manna and they ignore the guidance of the cloud. So I think a lot of what this is talking about is them making decisions contrary to what is pretty common sense the right thing to. 
Jaz: Mm.
Lulav: Whereas their children are getting a lot of this second-hand and they're going to have to puzzle out things on their own. But also like, because they're going to have to be the generation that lives in this land, they will learn tov v'ra on their own with hands-off guidance from G-d. 
Jaz: Nice. Okay. 
Lulav: So then, they fight, they’re routed, and we resume telling the story with some new information, specifically the fact that they've been skirting the hill country of Seir, which you may remember, is the place where Esau lives, and here it is explicitly linked to the fact that that was Esau's land. 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: And it said I have given the hill country of Seir as a possession to Esau. 
Jaz: Yeah, it owns it. 
Lulav: Unlike this other stuff, where you puzzle out your own interaction with the inhabitants and probably end up completely displacing them, this is something where you do not fight. What food you eat, you obtain from them for money. Even the water you drink, you shall procure from them for money
Jaz: Yeah. They want you to be additionally respectful of these people because they're like extended family. 
Lulav: Yeah. And it would be really cool if we could think of all of humanity as extended family and not do genocide, but I guess that's what we're doing anyway! Yeah, we have this bit about Seir and how it is the land of Esau. And also after that, after they're skirting the hill country, they come to the wilderness of Moab and that is the land of Lot. 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: Who is like a more distant cousin. 
Jaz: I don't think so? 
Lulav: Nephew? One of those? So like, somebody who was a cousin or nephew once removed. (laughs) 
Jaz: A couple generations prior. 
Lulav: Yeah. He was still connected to the dude who the pact was made with. 
Jaz: Right. 
Lulav: And so his people are safe, even though there was some really interesting stuff happening with Lot! That we didn't care for when we read it!
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: So moreover, not only are these currently possessed by them, we talk about who previously lived there and how the descendents of Esau dispossessed them, wiping them out and settling in their place just as Yisrael did in the land they were to possess. 
Jaz: Yeah. It's sort of an interesting thing, in that they do talk about it as this idea that on the one hand, places can be destined for a group of people, (Lulav chuckles) and on the other hand, places are transitory 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: And different people might live there at different times and having that be the place where they live. 
Lulav: Yeah. I really don't like lands being promised on a genetic technicality? I think “if you use [sic] the land, you are no longer entitled to it,” is maybe a reasonable proposition, but “because your great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather made a pact, you deserve it,” that's not really my thing. 
Jaz: Mm. What do you mean by the bit of "if you use the land you're entitled to it?" 
Lulav: If you use the land improperly. If you're, I don't know starting proxy wars in South America to get banana prices lower, or intentionally spreading plague and then putting the people who you just killed with plague into mission schools and refusing to let them speak their languages — Just like, you know, all the horrific things that our nation has done — 
Jaz: Uh huh. 
Lulav: — in order to be a nation and to continue being one. I think that having somebody else dispossess you of that seems fine. 
Jaz: Sure. there's this bit here as they're talking about going through these different groups and trying to pass through these different lands. 
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: I think it's in line 2:13 and then again in 2:24, where they have this bit in the Hebrew. In 13, it's like "ata k'mo v'iru lachem et nachal zered," and that's like, mm, like stand up and cross over the river. 
Lulav: Oh, is the name for "wadi" "nachal"? 
Jaz: Yes, it is. 
Lulav: Cool. I was wondering why they had an Arabic word in the translation from Hebrew and that makes a lot more sense. So where were you going with that, sorry? 
Jaz: So the reason why this is interesting to me, and they have a very similar setup over here in 24 where it starts with "k'mu seu v'ivru et nahal arnon" but the stand up part of kmu is still there and the "vivru" and "ivru" is like, cross over but the people are that same root, that word there, "ivri." 
Lulav: Mm! Okay. 
Jaz: That's the word that you might use for the Israelites at this time, or the “Hebrews” more accurately. They are the people who cross over. 
Lulav: Yeah! Which I think we talked about like really early on when we were talking about Shifrah and Puah. 
Jaz: Maybe. 
Lulav: (laughs) So yeah, I think that these exhortations are framing parts of history because the crossing of nachal Zered is like 38 years after they had just been turned away from the promised land and it focuses on the hand of Hashem rooting them out from the camp entirely and then we move to crossing the nachal Arnon.
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: And the way that it's framed, like, "see, I give into your power Sihon the Amorite, King of Heshbon and his land," this is much more of a, like, okay, now we can try again. 
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: Were there other things that you wanted to say about this that I either didn't respond to or didn't bring up?
Jaz: No, that was good. 
Lulav: Oh thank you! Yeah, so we get to the crossing of nachal Arnon and just for anybody who hasn't googled this, a nachal or wadi is a valley, ravine or channel that is dry except in the rainy season. 
Jaz: Yeah. I mean, I think they call it a wadi here because wadi is a word that we use in English as well. 
Lulav: Okay 
Jaz: Even though it's an Arabic word because there's not a lot of other good ways to discuss that particular geological formulation. 
Lulav: Okay. Cool. I only knew of this word from my grandma's Scrabble dictionary
Jaz: Oh, okay. 
Lulav: I think. Or maybe that was a different thing. 
Jaz: Well, when you go to the Middle East, lots of places are called Wadi Something. 
Lulav: Okay. I live in the Middle West, in which we don't have particularly arid locations. I mean, or — 
Jaz: Or flash floods.
Lulav: I guess we do have flash floods. Wisconsin especially has been completely underwater in rainy seasons for the past two years. But yeah, I'm just not as used to dry channels that flood in the rainy season when all of the water for the year comes around. (giggles) 
Jaz: Right. So it's about to tell us terrible things that they are going to recap about the things they did to the people who they don't have an ancestral connection with. 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: So since we already talked about that last week, can I ask a separate question, which is, that the text here is prioritizing familial connections and you made a quip about what if we could think of the whole world as a familial connection? 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: And I am curious about how you think of family? Like, what makes a good family? 
Lulav: Ooh, what makes a good family. Okay. I think people who, even if they don't 100% understand you, make an effort to do so and who will help you out when you're on hard times and who want a good future for you. 
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: Note that this definition of family excludes a lot of arrangements where you are connected to people by blood and includes a lot of connections where you are not. 
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: Which is not to say that all parents are bad, it's just that a lot of people do choose their own family and I think a world in which we are all each other's family, instead of prioritizing and splitting into factions — that seems like it would be a better world. 
Jaz: (with emotional resonance) Mm. What do you think about that in terms of ideas of committing to the people in your family then? If you're talking about people being there in hard times and people who want the best for you, is a family a fixed unit or a moveable one? 
Lulav: I think it's fairly moveable. Like, there's the family who you would throw down for and there's the family where like, you see them at a gathering and it's like, “Oh hey, I’ve never met you before but your my, like, 4th cousin, what's up?” 
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: And you are just positively disposed towards them in general. 
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: When I talk about everybody being everybody else's family, a lot of it is that 4th cousin relationship. 
Jaz: Okay. 
Lulav: Because I don't think there is a way you can hold like eight billion people or however many there are in the world now as significant others. I think that they are gonna be by and large, generalized others. But there are some people who are your significant others, who you actively interact with on a regular basis and then there are also people who aren't necessarily your immediate group but you have each others’ backs. 
Jaz: Mm. This is the person who is maybe the cousin you see once a year but like, you love them. 
Lulav: Yeah! Yeah, exactly. 

Jaz: Yeah. Or the equivalent. 

Lulav: (laughs) Do you have stuff that you wanted to say on this topic?

Jaz: Oh, I have lots of thoughts about what makes something a good family —  

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: when you prioritize one. I know that there would have been sort of a point in history in which family was a unit that protected the most vulnerable in society by design. Or, didn't always, but it was supposed to! (Lulav laughs) that's what it was supposed to do as part of its social role, that's why the Torah has stuff and the Talmud has stuff about Levirate marriage. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: You want to build a structure for people to be protected and you do that within the family. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And in some respects we have moved beyond that in a number of ways and I would like us to move beyond it more so we have, like you're saying, more generalized social safety nets.

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: So you're less dependent on the particularities of an individual family. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But I also think having people who are consistent and caring and are the people you can turn to in any kind of emergency is a thing that we would need and value and really desire no matter how much we did a good job of building a solid safety net. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And so I think that incorporating people into your family and having one based on love and connection is really important, and that's how I grew up. Because when I was little, there were lots of ways in which my family was not a legally recognized family. We have become more, sort of — 

Lulav: Legally recognized as such? 

Jaz: Legally recognized and legally legible and I know that there are families that don't have that still, and I think that having that conception of, “we're a family no matter what anybody else says because we're a family and we love and care for each other and are there for each other” was a thing that I was fortunate to grow up with. 

Lulav: That's really cool. I'm so happy for that. The one other thing that I wanted to mention on this topic is, I may or may not have previously said on this podcast that I always wear a head covering in public but that I take it off among people who I consider my close family and yeah, that's just like, a thing that I think about a lot is like, if I am comfortable enough to know that you will see me as the woman I am. 

Jaz: Mm.

Lulav: even with a significantly receding hairline —

Jaz: MM! 

Lulav: I will uncover my hair because you're one of my people. 

Jaz: (tenderly) Mm! 

Lulav: So yeah. Okay, wrapping up. The one thing that I want to say about the rest of chapter two is that it notes that G-d hardens King Sihon of Heshbon's heart. So this is like, yet another comparison to coming out of Mitzrayim except for its coming into the promised land.

Jaz: Mm.

Lulav: And then there's a whole bunch of like, “haha these people were so big but they're dead now. Check out this gigantic bed frame.” (Jaz makes an upset noise) And then they talk about apportioning the land so we have a recap of the whole thing that happened with the Gadites and Reubenites and Menasseites.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: And the thing that I talked about as a CinemaSin was like, “Wait a second, did they already finish conquering all of the promised land so the shock troops can just go home? Sin!” (Jaz chuckles) And the way that it explains it here is, “Your wives, children, and livestock can totally be left in the towns that I assigned you here. That's fine. But the shock troops are going to come with us.”

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: And then we end with a restatement of how cool Yehoshua Bar Nun is — I guess less how cool he is —

Jaz: Yeah!

Lulav: And more Moshe specifically charging him with like, it's gonna be okay.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: And that's the parsha

Jaz: That's the parsha! I think that means it's time for Rating G-d's Writing, the segment in which we pick two scales and rate the parsha based on them.

Lulav: Sure is.

Jaz: Lulav, out of one person left of a generation, how many people would you rate this parsha?

Lulav: I would rate this 73, because even though we only have one person from that generation, we had 72 people given prophecy.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: Plus Moshe himself.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: And all of that memory is here, informing what the people are doing in the moment of the story. I don't know how that works as a rating (Jaz laughs) but that's certainly the metaphor that I'm putting in here. (laughs)

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: Like is that good? Bad? Who knows. In anime terms, I really hate recap episodes. (Jaz laughs) Usually there's one or two details that you have to watch through an entire half hour of things that you've already seen to get those additional details and it's just not worth it to me.

Jaz: Have you ever seen a good recap episode that you enjoyed?

Lulav: Uh Friends at the Table; starting out Spring in Hieron there was an episode that recapped Autumn and Winter. That was a great episode.

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: Cuz I had no idea what happened in Winter even though I listened to the entire thing. (both chuckle)

Jaz: I didn't make it that far — I didn't get to Spring.

Lulav: Fair.

Jaz: But the most recent recap episode that's in my memory —

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: Is the one in Avatar where shortly before they go fight the fire lord, they go watch a play about their adventures up to this point.

Lulav: Ohhh, okay.

Jaz: And they like, see actors who are playing them and they have quibbles about it and it's kinda cute.

Lulav: Yeah, I think this chapter is much more comparable to “The Ember Island Players” than it is to like… does Bleach have recap episodes? Dragon Ball Z? I don't know. One of those.

Jaz: I wasn't into either of those. I don't know the answer to that question. (Lulav laughs)

Lulav: Neither was I, to be fair. (laughs) So yeah, that's my rating, is 73 out of one.

Jaz: But also bad.

Lulav: Yeah. I mean, as recap episodes go, this was entertaining. I was also cooking dinner while watching it.

Jaz: Sure.

Lulav: Which in real terms was, I skimmed about half of the words. um... (laughs)

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: So we come to the rating for you, which is difficult because there are many fewer numbers in Devarim than there were Bamidbar. Hmm... (page flip) oh, okay. So Jaz, taking into account that a gigantic bed frame is nine cubits long and four cubits wide by the standard cubit, how big is the bed frame that you gift this parsha in thanks for its wisdoms?

Jaz: (groaning) Oh my G-d.

Lulav: And I will type that in Discord so you have the numbers.

Jaz: (laughs) No, I got it! It was 12 square cubits.

Lulav: (in joking distress) Was it, Jaz?!

Jaz: It was 36 square cubits.

Lulav: Cool.

Jaz: Cool. This bed is 36 square cubits. How big is the bed that I would give them? I think this parsha — like, it was a recap episode, and therefore there wasn't that much new in it, and therefore it deserves only a little twin bed where only one person can comfortably fit.

Lulav: (chuckling) Amazing.

Jaz: I don't know how long a cubit is, so I don't know how many cubits that is.

Lulav: About the size of a man's forearm. Oh, not a man, but I do have a twin bed here and a forearm.

Jaz: Okay!

Lulav: So I'm going to (voice getting more distant and farther away from the mic) check that out. Uh, one, two, that looks about three cubits long and two wide. (Jaz laughs) So what is that, like a 6th? Yeah, you gave them a bedframe a 6th of the size.

Jaz: Okay, great.

Lulav: That sounds cool. You can still sleep on it. If you're like 22 and just living on your own for the first time, you can have a partner sleep over with you in it. It's just, you know —

Jaz: Terrible.

Lulav: There are better beds.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: (laughs) Okay.

Jaz: So I think that brings us to the end.

Lulav: It does. Can you roll us into 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 our excellent audio editor, Ezra Faust. 

Lulav: Our transcript team of Jaz, (abruptly louder) Reuben! (normal volume) 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.

Both: Have a lovely queer Jewish day!

[Brivele outro music]

Lulav: This week's gender is a sexually explicit, decade-old YouTube video about a sci-fi author.

Jaz: This week's pronouns are sa/sap.