Kosher Queers

51 — Bereishit: In the Beginning, There Were Boyfriends

October 15, 2020 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow
Kosher Queers
51 — Bereishit: In the Beginning, There Were Boyfriends
Chapters
Kosher Queers
51 — Bereishit: In the Beginning, There Were Boyfriends
Oct 15, 2020
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

Welcome to season 2! Today we're talking about how this season is going to work, along with the haftarah for Bereishit, I Samuel 20:18-42 (and if you're like, "hey, I have a different haftarah," that's cool! It turns out there's a bunch so we're going to tell you in the show notes each week what we're reading for next week.) Anyway, we're blessed to start off with maybe the Tanakh's gayest story of David and Jonathon, and also definitely the gayest rating scales we've ever had.

Transcript available here.

Next week's haftarah reading will be Isaiah 54:1–55:5.

When Lulav says "no disrespect to Schneerson," when talking about visiting Hasidic Crown Heights, she's referring to Menachem Mendel Schneerson, also sometimes called simply "the Rebbe," who was the leader of the Lubavitch/Chabad Hasidic group, and is sometimes on signs where people view him as the moshiach. The actor who played King Silas on NBC's "Kings" was actually Ian McShane, not Edward James Olmos.

Support us on Patreon or Ko-fi! Our new website, still somewhat under construction, is at kosherqueers.gay. Send us questions or comments at kosherqueers@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter @kosherqueers, and like us on Facebook at Kosher Queers. Our music is by the band Brivele. This week, our audio was edited by 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 (http://patreon.com/kosherqueers)

Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to season 2! Today we're talking about how this season is going to work, along with the haftarah for Bereishit, I Samuel 20:18-42 (and if you're like, "hey, I have a different haftarah," that's cool! It turns out there's a bunch so we're going to tell you in the show notes each week what we're reading for next week.) Anyway, we're blessed to start off with maybe the Tanakh's gayest story of David and Jonathon, and also definitely the gayest rating scales we've ever had.

Transcript available here.

Next week's haftarah reading will be Isaiah 54:1–55:5.

When Lulav says "no disrespect to Schneerson," when talking about visiting Hasidic Crown Heights, she's referring to Menachem Mendel Schneerson, also sometimes called simply "the Rebbe," who was the leader of the Lubavitch/Chabad Hasidic group, and is sometimes on signs where people view him as the moshiach. The actor who played King Silas on NBC's "Kings" was actually Ian McShane, not Edward James Olmos.

Support us on Patreon or Ko-fi! Our new website, still somewhat under construction, is at kosherqueers.gay. Send us questions or comments at kosherqueers@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter @kosherqueers, and like us on Facebook at Kosher Queers. Our music is by the band Brivele. This week, our audio was edited by 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 (http://patreon.com/kosherqueers)

Jaz: Hi Lulav. 

Lulav: Hey Jaz, welcome to season 2. 

Jaz: I'm so excited that we're starting season 2! 

Lulav: Yeah, and also sitting face-to-face which is kind of wild? 

Jaz: Wild. It's the first time we've recorded an episode in person. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: So I'm really excited about that. Slightly nervous for our audio but well see how it goes. 

Lulav: Uh huh. 

Jaz: Lulav, do you wanna tell the people about what we're doing for season 2?

Lulav: Well, for season 2 we are doing a haftarah cycle, which should be pretty fun. 

Jaz: So, the reason Lulav emphasized that (Lulav laughs) is last season we went through the whole parsha cycle, and the parsha cycle is like very straightforward — 

Lulav: And also the entire Torah. 

Jaz: Right, it's just the Torah broken up into divisions. That's literally what parsha means, is “division”, and so —
 
Lulav: Yooooooo. (laughs) 

Jaz: And so, this time we're doing excerpts from Prophets and Writings — from Nevi'im and Ketuvim — that have been compiled into what's called the haftarah cycle, but there's a bunch of different haftarah cycles that different people use that depends on whether you’re Ashkenazi or Sephardi or Yemeni, or any other place in the world, and also sometimes varies intra-communally, so there’s different Ashkenazi traditions. When we were double-checking which (Lulav laughs) haftarah portion we were gonna do today there were three different options that we looked at. 

Lulav: Or more?

Jaz: At least three options. 

Lulav: So we're gonna try and let you know ahead of time what we're reading for the week and also once we have a website we'll have the entire schedule on our website. 

Jaz: Also that's a thing we're going to have now for season 2, is we're going to have a website which is very exciting. 

Lulav: kosherqueers.gay, which I can say with fortitude because I did buy those domains, so nobody's gonna scoop us. 

Jaz: It's very exciting. We will also refer briefly to what's happening in the parsha, because often the way that the haftarah portion is decided is that it is loosely thematically connected to the week's parsha. So, one of us will still do the short summary that you know and love (Lulav laughs) of the parsha, but then we won't go through it, we’ll go through the haftarah instead and also because it could be from anywhere in Nevi'im and Ketuvim, we'll like, tell you a little bit about what's going on around it since you won't have the context from the previous weeks. 

Lulav: You may notice that we’re not doing a short summary of the haftarah portion and that's because if you look at the readings, they're like, 20 lines long. 

Jaz: Yeah, they're real short. 

Lulav: For contrast, the parsha that I'm going to be summarizing today is 6 chapters and 8 lines long. 

Jaz:  The haftarah is much shorter but also there's less commentary on it so i'm excited to dive in. Also I’m excited for this week because it’s real gay. 

Lulav: Right. Yeah, so Jaz, has anything cool or queer or Jewish happened to you this week?

Jaz:  Well, as aforementioned we're recording in person this week, which is to say, Lulav came to visit me in New York. 

Lulav: Yay. 

Jaz:  So we're recording in my little New York apartment. 

Lulav: It's not as little as I was expecting. (Jaz snorts) It's less long but it's also way more wide. I was picturing my dorm room from freshman year of college. 

Jaz:  Oh, it's really not that bad. 

Lulav: Yeah. Which is different in that we’re not trying to fit two separate beds in there, but also I did not cozy up to my roommate for snuggles (Jaz laughs), so. 

Jaz: Also I imagine my room just kind of looks more like a home than a dorm room does. 

Lulav: Oh. 

Jaz:  But who knows. 

Lulav: Yeah. (laughs) That’s fair. Jaz has a lot of really cool wall hangings which have we — we've not really talked about on the podcast. 

Jaz: No, probably not. I have all my sticker walls up and I have a blessing that I drew and illustrated myself and some photographs. A wall of, like, plant-related art, and some knitted stuff — 

Lulav: Wait, you drew that?

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: What? Oh dang! I didn't realize that I thought that was like, produced by something. 

Jaz: No, no, no. I made it. 

Lulav: Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech haolam, shekacha b’olamo. 

Jaz: Really close. 

Lulav: Shekacha lo b’olamo. We're going to pretend I did that in one take. 

Jaz: Great. 

Lulav: Yeah, it's really pretty. 

Jaz: Anyway, it's been a delight to have Lulav here. We have done a number of things that have been both exceedingly Jewish and exceedingly gay (Lulav laughs), including a really lovely shabbat dinner with all of my friends, 

Lulav: Okay, I think what we should do — 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: — is each pick one thing — 

Jaz: Awww, okay. 

Lulav: (overlapping) Cuz we are recording an episode tomorrow. 
Jaz: (overlapping) Cuz we are recording an episode tomorrow?

Lulav: Note from the future, we super didn't. 

Jaz: Okay fine, um, you go first then. 

Lulav: Well today, we took a trip to Hasidic Crown Heights, and I am really glad I’m on fluoxetine because probably would have had a panic attack about all the unmasked people walking by us, which is not like, a just Hasidic Crown Heights thing but — 

Jaz: No, you find — 

Lulav: — there were more people. 

Jaz: — you find walking around New York at all — 

Lulav: At all. 

Jaz: — to be a stressful thing. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: There's just a lot more people around here. 

Lulav: Yeah. Please wear masks when you're going in public, because again, this is a respiratory pandemic and your breath doesn't magically disappear because you're outside. (both laugh) 

Jaz: Anyway. 

Lulav: Yes, sorry, hi. It was a nice walk around, seeing people who live pretty close but are a different community. Point is, it was people that I definitely don't see in Minneapolis. 

Jaz: Mmm. Yeah. 

Lulav: And it was really interesting seeing some of the like, doctrinal accoutrements of, uh — 

Jaz:  Because we went to 770?

Lulav: — this particular sect of Hasidim, yeah. There was a lot about ha moshiach, one of the things that I care less about in Judaism and also we talked about the ambiguity of a lot of the statements but also half of them were accompanied by a literal dude, so, um. No disrespect to Schneerson. Um, Jaz, what do you think you want to like, isolate?

Jaz: Mmm. I think one of the things that's been really nice was when we went apple picking together. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: So, we had a double date with one of my roommates — with Tori and Alison and we went to an apple orchard and there are so many kinds of apples. We did apples because Lulav's here during the high holidays — 

Lulav: Yeah! 

Jaz: Uhm— 

Lulav: Also I've never been apple picking before?

Jaz: Really?

Lulav: Yeah! It was a fun experience. 

Jaz: The person at the front who greeted us was like, very eager to direct us and be like "this one is for sweet apples, and this one is for tart apples and I am sure you"— 

Lulav: ”Gotta have Cortlands for cookin'”?

Jaz: And we had a great time exploring the apple orchards. I put apple leaves in Lulav’s hair and we got so many apples. 

Lulav: (laughs) Uh, between the two couples we got an entire bushel of apples. 

Jaz: Yeah, we got so many apples. I made delicious apple sauce which I feel really happy about. I think Alison made some apple cakes; we gave some apples away; we’re maybe making some apple cider. It was a great trip. 

Lulav: Also so this isn't just Jaz hyping themself up; they did make really good applesauce. It's delicious. 

Jaz: Thank you, thank you (Lulav laughs) for attesting. 

Lulav: Yeah, another thing about both of those excursions that stands out to me is like, I got to be a tall girl with a short person and we got to walk arm-in-arm and it was just really nice and gay. 

Jaz: It was really good. I'm not that short. I'm only short comparatively to you. (both laugh) 

Lulav: Listen, I'm from the Midwest which is full of milk-fed beauties (Jaz laughs) and uh, we are gargantuan. 

Jaz: Fair enough. I am not a milk-fed beauty because milk disagrees with my system. (both laugh) 

Lulav: Wait, which came first, the lack of milk or the lack of ability to digest milk?

Jaz: The lack of ability to digest milk. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: I had milk growing up. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: And then I got hit with a bad case of Ashkenazi stomach. 

Lulav: (laughs) Crossing my fingers. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So do you wanna like, get into the haftarah? 

Jaz: I do! I understand that you wrote a summary for us of the first parsha. 

Lulav: I did. I also, with your help, wrote an introduction to our podcast. 

Jaz: Oh — 

[Brivele intro] 

Lulav: Welcome to Kosher Queers, a podcast with at least two Jews and generally more than three opinions. Each weeks 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. This week our chevruta is learning… how are we talking about this?

Jaz: This is a really good question. So, we, I think, can say we're doing the haftarah for parashat Bereishit — 

Lulav: Mm! 

Jaz:  — which is an excerpt of First Shmuel 20 — 

Lulav: 18 — 

Jaz:  — 18 to 42. 
 
Lulav: — to 42. Yeah. (laughs) So, it was very fun, very gay and uh, I can tell you a little bit about the much longer parsha that it’s connected to. 

Jaz:  Please, and then I want to hear your best theories about how it's connected. 

Lulav: Okay. So, can you give me 45 seconds? 

Jaz:  Yes. Ready, set, go. 

Lulav: One day, nothing flinched, and there the world was. Waters from waters, dark from light, crawlers from swimmers - we get a bunch of divisions, which explain the messy rainbow of phenomena in our world. Or maybe there's another story: of a specific man made from earth and breath to work a specific land; of this man naming the world's living things and finding no true companion; of one being crafted for him. The two learn a division by osmosis: good from bad. Because of this, they may have neither haven nor ease of life. The world's first fratricide occurs because, I mean, have you ever TRIED to keep kids from hitting each other with rocks when they're mildly disappointed? (Jaz snickers) We wrap this barn burner of a parsha up with a whole bunch of numbers, plus also it's Big Boy Season, plus also Hashem has depression.
[timer goes off]

(Lulav laughs) 

Jaz: That was great. 

Lulav: Thank you. 

Jaz: I feel vaguely reminded that in the distant past of about a year ago, we didn't actually write a proper summary because for our first episode we just kind of — 

Lulav: Were stumbling through it?

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: So thank you for that beautiful summary. 

Lulav: Awe, thank you. I mean you're welcome. I’m great. (laughs) 

Jaz: You're great. 

Lulav: Jaz — 

Jaz: How do — 

Lulav: How does it connect? 

Jaz: How does it connect?

Lulav: Right. We're still getting used to this format too. So, when I think about the parsha Bereishit, I think about the creation of the world and Adam and Chava, but I think this connects a little bit more to the Cain and Abel story. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Because in the Cain and Abel story, Abel brings some really nice offerings and so Cain is jealous of how much attention he gets and kills him for it. In the bit that we're about to read, you have David who has just come from a bunch of military victories that get him a lot of acclaim from the people of Israel and that makes King Saul very mad at him and he wants to kill him. 

Jaz: Sure, yeah. 

Lulav: Does that seem like a reasonable connection?

Jaz: It does seem like a good argument. 

Lulav: Heck yeah. (laughs) 

Jaz: My only additional thing to add — 

Lulav: Oh?

Jaz: Is that in the parsha, we’re dealing with the creation of the world — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — and here we're dealing with our first on-screen gay romance (Lulav laughs) and the — 

Lulav: (laughing uproariously) Yeah, that's probably fair. 

Jaz: So it feels like an appropriate way for us to open season 2 and I'm so delighted that we get to go right from, "hey the beginning of the world!" to (snaps) "hey here's the first Jewish gay people that we know about" even though — hm. Even though — 

Lulav: Yeah I — it was like, haven't we seen a whole bunch of Jewish gay people — 

Jaz: Yeaaah. 

Lulav: — already? But that was all subtextual, this is like — 

Jaz: This is like, very textual. (Lulav laughs) The others like, listen, we can read ourselves into our other historical figures and — more power to all of those readings. I have seen really beautiful ones — David and Jonathan did not require any subtextual reading, they're just very blatantly there. 

Lulav: It in fact requires subtextual reading to think they’re not gay for each other. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: (laughs) So... 

Jaz: On that note — 

Lulav: Can you tell us a little bit of the context around —

Jaz: Right, so we plop into this excerpt that were reading for the haftarah 20:18, and actually for this week because its our first week of the haftarah, I want to say a little bit more about like, just how a haftarah works for people who might not be familiar with it because I first encountered the idea of a haftarah when I was preparing for my b'nei mitzvah at like, age 13, and so a haftarah portion is chanted like a Torah portion, and they use the same markings but they sound differently. 

Lulav: What? 

Jaz: There's a few differences between them but one of the differences is that Torah trope is kind of chanted in a major key and haftarah's in a minor key. 

Lulav: Woah. 

Jaz: I'm not a music person. 

Lulav: I took intro to music theory, and that's definitely a thing that exists, but I couldn't tell you more about it anymore. 

Jaz: Last time I knew a lot about the major differences between major and minor key was when I was like, playing piano when I was like 13, so. (Lulav giggles) But, it is like a different set of tunes?

Lulav: Oh, I think it's like the number of half steps between notes in the chord?

Jaz: I really don't know. Uhm—

Lulav: It's been a minute. (laughs) 

Jaz: But they have a different tune and a different intro blessing, — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — and if you're at a weekend service, like a shabbat service, there will be the Torah reading and there will be, like, the different aliyot of people who come up and read different sections of the parsha, and then they'll read the haftarah in the different trope at the end after the parsha. 

Lulav: Oh, and because it's only like 20 lines, that’s a nice wrap up to — 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: — aww, that’s cute.

Jaz: So, when I was preparing for mine, the way that we did it was I read one of the aliyot for the parsha itself and then I did the haftorah. Okay, but so back to this week. David, who you may remember from the famous story of David and Goliath, is an initially like, non-famous guy who then ends up as King David and we are in the intervening years when he has sort of risen through the ranks and he’s both a soldier in the armies of king Saul and he is I think, I actually didn’t double-check this so I don’t remember if he’s yet married to Saul’s daughter.

Lulav: Not that, you know, comes up in any way (laughs) 

Jaz: It hasn’t come up in this story, but I think he is married to Saul’s daughter already

Lulav: Which would actually explain one of the lines that Saul says, right? We’ll get there. 

Jaz: And David’s very very popular with all of the people and Saul is very worried about his popularity. There’s a famous line where like, they both get welcomed back to the city after a military campaign and the people are singing “Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands.” 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And Saul is like, oh no. They’re going to make him king. Also Saul is like pretty textually devolving into paranoia and like—

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: — deep-seated mental illness and like, pretty explicitly losing his ability to be the ruler he previously had been. And that’s where we start this week. 

Lulav: Can I give a little context for my reading of this haftarah portion? 

Jaz: Please.

Lulav: So, most of my imagery for this comes from the NBC show “Kings” which I believe we’ve mentioned on the podcast before but I’m not entirely sure. So any time that Yehonatan is mentioned, I’m picturing Sebastian Stan—

Jaz: Oh no. 

Lulav: And (laughs) any time that Saul is mentioned, I’m picturing Edward James Olmos.

Jaz: Okay! What about David? 

Lulav: He was just some (laughs) milk-fed beauty from the Midwest I think. 

Jaz: And what was the NBC show KINGS, for the people didn’t watch that show that ran for like one or two seasons — 

Lulav: (overlapping) It was pretty short-lived. 

Jaz: Yeah, a decade ago. 

Lulav: It was like a modern retelling in like a weird fantasy — like, very low fantasy? It wasn’t magical, it was just like, this is unlike the world, but also they have aughts-era skyscrapers. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And When David slays the Goliath, it's— instead of a big man, it's just a tank that he like, as an infantryman exploits turn radius of and blows up. `

Jaz: Fun okay.

Lulav: And so, I think the equivalent to like, Saul has slain his thousands and David has slain his tens of thousands is they were like, at a fundraiser and it was like, Saul has raised his millions but David has raised his tens of millions.

Jaz: Ahh. (both laugh)

Lulav: Which was hilarious. Uhm, anyway, we can get into it.

Jaz: That's a delight. Okay, David has just said to Jonathon, "I have to hide away because your dad is going to kill me." And Jonathon is like, "My dad wouldn't kill you! He would tell me if he was going to kill anybody! He tells me stuff like that!" And David —

Lulav: Can't you just imagine how wounded Sebastian Stan is? (giggles)

Jaz: David's like, "he wouldn't do that, because he knows you liiike me." (Lulav snorts) And so Jonathon's like, "okay okay, we'll test it. You should hide out for a couple days, and if my father gets upset about it, we'll know he did intend to hurt you, and if he's chill about it, we'll know he didn't intend to hurt you." Then they like, pledge this deep commitment to each other, and note again that Jonathon loved David as himself. So that's where we pick up. Jonathon says to him, tomorrow will be the new moon and you will be missed and then they come up with this plot where Jonathon...

Lulav: Is a sporty boy.

Jaz: (laughs) Yeah! And Jonathon's like, I'm going to shoot some arrows and depending on which instructions I call out to the servant whose job it is to go pick up the arrows, you'll know whether you should run away because my dad wants to kill you or whether it's safe for you to come home. And David agrees to this coded message and plan.

Lulav: This is a level of coding that I'm like, impressed by? Like, for people who presumably haven't been under threat of being killed by King Saul before —

Jaz: It's true, and —

Lulav: Good operational security.

Jaz: Yeah. I mean, David is a soldier. He's also like, a musician and like, a —

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: But he's not exactly "a lover, not a fighter," you know what I mean? Like — (laughs) anyway, so then David went and hid in the field for a while. The new moon came and they were going to have like these three days of feasting. On the first day, David wasn't there and Saul was like, “hmm, maybe he's just missed it by accident.”

Lulav: This is what I'm talking about with the good operational security. They wait a second day. (laughs)

Jaz: Right. And then on the second day, David also wasn't there, and Saul asked Jonathon, "Oh, why didn't he come?" and Jonathan said, "well, he asked if he could go visit his family, because they're having the festival celebration too, and I said sure, you can go visit your family for a few days." And Saul is apoplectic (Lulav laughs) and does this entire homophobic rant.

Lulav: Mm hmm. I see it less as homophobic?

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: But that might be part of it.

Jaz: Mm, what do you see it as?

Lulav: Okay, so can you first point out what parts of this read as homophobic?

Jaz: Um, when he curses out Jonathon, he does so as "you ‘son of a perverse, rebellious woman,’ you're siding with this other boy, and it's your shame and the shame specifically of ‘your mother's nakedness.’” I think it is an implied, 1) you have chosen this person over your family, 2) you have done so in a way that involves sexual shame.

Lulav: Mm! Okay. I just don't think there is 3) the sexual shame comes from the variety of sex itself, the fact that it is with a man. I am very much reading 1 and 2 though.

Jaz: Well, I think it is partially because if he had slept with a woman, or fallen in love with a woman, Saul would not have seen his kingdom as being at threat, right? He sees his kingdom as being at threat specifically because David's a man.

Lulav: Partly, yes. But also, isn't he married to his daughter?

Jaz: Yes?

Lulav: And aren't there prohibitions on doing sexual things with the sibling of your spouse?

Jaz: Probably.

Lulav: Right. So I think that's what "to the shame of your mother's nakedness" is referring to.

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: Is like, “Hey, you were kissin' on this boy — he's married to your sister. You can't do that.”

Jaz: Mm.

Lulav: And then, as a separate thing like, as long as the son of Yishai lives on earth, neither you nor your kingship will be secure because like, this guys super popular and he's married into the royal family so you have to be especially careful with how you treat him.

Jaz: Sure, but it wasn't you have to be especially careful about how you treat him because the next line is "bring him to me and let me kill him".

Lulav: Yeeaaah. Um, also one other thing that I want to mention is: I don't think there's homophobia here necessarily; there is misogyny. (laughs) Like, ah yes, of course it is his mother's fault. 

Jaz: Why is it his mother's fault? Yeah. (Lulav laughs) Yeah. Yeah. You're right.

Lulav: Also, again, we haven’t looked into the whole story’s context but maybe his mom was also gay, in which case there would be homophobia here. Alas.

Jaz: I like that belief because I am here for second-generation queers.

Lulav: (snorts) Always in favor of gay moms?

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Yeah?

Jaz: Also Saul seems like an unfortunate person to have to be married to at this particular moment.

Lulav: Yeah, like given how he takes out his anger on his son, can you walk us through that part?

Jaz: Yeah. So, Jonathan is arguing and is like "well why should he be put to death? He hasn't done anything to us", and Saul throws his spear at him! Like, as if he's going to kill him. And Jonathans like "oh wow, he uh, really is gonna kill David, huh?". (Lulav laughs) So, (Lulav laughs) so Jonathan leaves furious.

Lulav: Side note: do you think that this is literally he was throwing his spear at him to kill him or is it like when men punch the wall and it's basically a sign that like, hey could be hurting you but they decided to take it out on inanimate objects instead?

Jaz: I've seen different interpretations and I, I don't know about you but I have read versions of this story that have been like, fictionalized —

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: — a couple times like, there are novelizations of David's life of varying quality (Lulav laughs) that exist out there and I hope that there's one that like appropriately handles his relationship with Jonathan but most of them that I have seen do not, like —

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: — the one that I remember most vividly is focused on Michal’s perspective, and that's cool.

Lulav: Who is the sister?

Jaz: Who is the sister.

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: And she's cool. I’m happy to have a book from her perspective.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: She does definitely believes that David and Jonathan are in love, like that is part of what's happening in that book but it’s like not from either of their perspectives—

Lulav: Right.

Jaz: — so I...

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: But, that interpretation if I remember correctly had it framed as like, really Saul was kind of praying and having a time so it wasn’t so much a like, “I am determined to kill him” so much as like, “I am furious and this is not a gesture of intention one way or another —

Lulav: Mmm.

Jaz: “— so much as just like, an impulse gesture of fury.”

Lulav: And is that your favourite reading of this particular bit?

Jaz: I think it depends on how you wanna read Saul, and I think there are a couple really valid ways to read Saul —

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: — here and I, I do think that there's something to be said for reading where his paranoia has gotten the better of him and is slowly eating away at the best parts of himself such that first it turns on David, and then it starts turning on his own family as well.

Lulav: Yeah. And like, ugh, I think I like a reading- cuz, okay, what ever member of NBCs KINGS is that Saul had really inconsistent characterization.

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: Which I think was consistent with the original text but it was like a very facile reading, I guess? I think a reasonable way to read this is that Saul is actually like… not capital-P but capital-p paranoid?

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: That like, he's having increasingly bad mental illness, and —

Jaz: But I also think there's a version of this like, I don't want to be like, “he’s mentally ill and therefore dangerous” —

Lulav: Right.

Jaz: — right? And that's partly why reading it as homophobia is useful to me.

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: Like, it's not that he was mentally ill and that was the problem, it's that he was powerful and bigoted —

Lulav: Right?

Jaz: — and when he began to lose some of his inhibitions, those things just came to the forefront very strongly —

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: — and so he acted in a way that was always within him —

Lulav: Absolutely.

Jaz: — because that was the type of person he was, like, he lost some of the social graces that allowed him to get away with it and became just much more nakedly the person he was.

Lulav: Yeah. Thank you for phrasing it that way. I was having a hard time making the words be a thing, so.

Jaz: But anyways, so Jonathan leaves, like, I am out, and—

Lulav: Sebastian Stan's eyes are just glistening with tears.

Jaz: And does this code thing with the servant boy that's like, I had shot some arrows and Jonathan calls out, "Hey the arrows are behind you! Quick, quick, hurry up, don't stop" and therefore David knows, "Oh, I gotta keep running. I can't stay here."

Lulav: Yeah, that was part of the code that they hadn’t agreed to was the like "quick! Hurry up! Don't stop," so like clearly he's really shaken by that particular encounter.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: And probably feeling really betrayed because this is the same Sebastian Stan who started, a little before this portion saying, "no, my dad would never kill you, that's ridiculous, I would know about it."

Jaz: So —

Lulav: And one other thing that I just wanted to point out is you told it kind of in reverse order. What does it say here?

Jaz: "He said to the boy, ‘run ahead and find the arrows that I shoot,’ and —”

Lulav: Right?

Jaz: Uh huh.

Lulav: Like present-tense shoot.

Jaz: Uh huh. "And as the boy ran, he shot the arrows past him."

Lulav: (laughs) Which is, please don't do this to your caddies. Not like anyone listening to this probably has caddies but if you are ever in an archery range, stop firing when there are people walking on the range to retrieve arrows.

Jaz: The only comparison I know of like, a thing where people use caddies in more modern day, I mean maybe I just don't know that many archers, —

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: — uhm, but like, golf caddies are also a thing?

Lulav: Oh yeah, that's why I was saying caddy.

Jaz: Okay. But like, cute, but also probably not a great idea to do to your golf people either, you can get hurt by being hit in the head with anything if it's going fast enough.

Lulav: (laughs) True, also again, I'm pretty sure nobody here like, play golf at the country club but tip your caddies. Especially during a pandemic? We're getting way off topic. (laughs) 

Jaz: Anyway so, David and Jonathan go meet up and this is the very end of our haftarah segment for the day. I just wanna read it directly in the English for you: "David flung himself face down on the ground and bowed low three times. They kissed each other and wept together. David wept the longer. Jonathan said to David 'Go in peace, for we too have sworn to each other. May G-d be between you and me and between your offspring and mine forever.'"

Lulav: Which is adorable. It’s like, if you — who are apparently a gay man — tell your gay male partner like, “I want to be in the nursing home on rocking chairs with you and just talkin' about our kids who also love each other.”

Jaz: It's cute.

Lulav: Yeah. So, I don't think that this was accurately represented in KINGS, but “David wept the longer”? That is just a gifset caption? Like, I can see a tumblr where you're just scrolling down and it's just like, David all messy and flinging himself face down on the ground and lots of kissing and... just "David wept the longer." (Jaz laughs) So yeah, that's the haftarah.

Jaz: Incredibly gay. I don’t— we don’t even like— I think there will be times when we have to do more interpretive work. I feel like there have been people who have went out of their way to find a reading of this that wasn’t gay. (Lulav laughs) It's just like, right—  that's the surface meaning of it.

Lulav: Mm hmm. (Jaz laughs) And like, sure there are cultural differences with what it means for men to kiss other men… they're gay. C’mon.

Jaz: David and Jonathan are also the ones where they say pretty clearly later like, I think it is David who when Jonathan dies is like, so torn up about it and then writes heartfelt poetry about it and then says sadly to somebody else, "You know, his love was precious to me than the love of any woman."

Lulav: Right? Right?! You have to try and also fail to find a heterosexual reading of that.

Jaz: They swap clothing at one point not on page right now. (Lulav laughs) Uhm...

Lulav: They do! G-d. Okay. I think this brings us to a segment called “Rating G-d’s Writing”, where we invent very basic scales and just ask each other to rate the haftarah on them. So Jaz, out of three arrows and three kisses, what would you rate this haftarah?

Jaz: I would rate this haftarah portion 2 kisses and 3 arrows. I think it's great. I really liked it.

Lulav: Cool.

Jaz: I'm excited that we got to start with it. I have some hesitancy about giving it arrows. They seem to not have very good safety practices with it, but, I think it definitely deserves a full two out of two kisses, one for David to give to —

Lulav: Wait. Three?

Jaz: You gave me two kisses and —

Lulav: Did I?

Jaz: three arrows!

Lulav: (gasps) Oh no, okay. Keep going.

Jaz: One kiss for David to give to Jonathan and one for Jonathan to give to David.

Lulav: That’s cute.

Jaz: Um, and arrows that they can use to fight off all of the homophobia of their dad’s veneer of caring falling away.

Lulav: Yeah. So what do you have for me?

Jaz: So for you, out of one outfit that— that you've swapped with a partner, what clothing pieces would you give to this haftarah? What is it wearing?

Lulav: Um, it is wearing official What Pumpkin merch Hero of Breath hoodie.

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: Because that is the gay article of clothing I gave to you.

Jaz: Uh huh.

Lulav: Yeah, there's clearly… these two people mean a lot to each other, and—

Jaz: Uh huh.

Lulav:— oh my G-d, this is so gay, I'm sorry. (Jaz laughing) Yeah. Clearly they mean a lot to each other and like, they want a life together even if that means going against the literal king and also father of them. So, is there any other part of the outfit...?

Jaz: I feel like probably one of them has to be wearing something else in addition to a hoodie, but—

Lulav: Probably some nice socks, which is drawn from fiction.

Jaz: Okay. Great.

Lulav: Cuz I only wear tights. (both laugh)

Jaz: Great. I think that brings us to the end of our episode. It's a little bit shorter than our parsha episodes, which is exciting.

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

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

Lulav: All I can think of is like, Riley from Buffy but those might have been two separate milk-fed beauties? I — I just don’t know. 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: And — hopefully, soon? — on our website. So that will be exciting.

Lulav: Heck yeah.

Jaz:  I’m Jaz Twersky and you can find me @WordNerdKnitter on Twitter.

Lulav: I’m Lulav Arnow and you can find me @spacetrucksix on Twitter, or yell at me @palmliker!

Jaz: We recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Lenape people. Have a lovely queer Jewish day!

[Brivele outro]

Jaz: This week's gender is: sorry, already promised elsewhere. 

Lulav: This week's pronouns are: lee, lim, and lis.