Kosher Queers

52 — Noach: It's The Captivity, Hazel Grace

October 22, 2020 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow
Kosher Queers
52 — Noach: It's The Captivity, Hazel Grace
Chapters
Kosher Queers
52 — Noach: It's The Captivity, Hazel Grace
Oct 22, 2020
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, we spend like half the episode on background info, and in the back half casually try to figure out what love is, what our obligations to each other are, and if G-d can consent to people hurting us, so you know, just the easy stuff this week. Also, Lulav smushes together the English "Jerusalem" and the Hebrew "Yerushalayim" to create the word "Yerushalem" (thereby maybe accidentally re-creating Aramaic pronunciation?)

Transcript available here. Soon we're going to move all our transcripts to our new website, but for now they're still in Google Doc form.

This week's reading was Isaiah 54:1-55.  Next week's haftarah reading will be Isaiah 40:27–41:16.

Jaz is reading The Prophets by Abraham Joshua Heschel. Lulav makes jokes about the podcast "The Shrieking Shack" and about The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. For more of Jaz yelling at G-d, you can see their poetry included the zine Dodi.

Content note: this episode contains non-graphic discussion of cultural genocide.

Support us on Patreon or Ko-fi! Our new website, still a little bit 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

This week, we spend like half the episode on background info, and in the back half casually try to figure out what love is, what our obligations to each other are, and if G-d can consent to people hurting us, so you know, just the easy stuff this week. Also, Lulav smushes together the English "Jerusalem" and the Hebrew "Yerushalayim" to create the word "Yerushalem" (thereby maybe accidentally re-creating Aramaic pronunciation?)

Transcript available here. Soon we're going to move all our transcripts to our new website, but for now they're still in Google Doc form.

This week's reading was Isaiah 54:1-55.  Next week's haftarah reading will be Isaiah 40:27–41:16.

Jaz is reading The Prophets by Abraham Joshua Heschel. Lulav makes jokes about the podcast "The Shrieking Shack" and about The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. For more of Jaz yelling at G-d, you can see their poetry included the zine Dodi.

Content note: this episode contains non-graphic discussion of cultural genocide.

Support us on Patreon or Ko-fi! Our new website, still a little bit 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)

Lulav: Hi Jaz. 

Jaz: Hi Lulav. What's something cool, queer and Jewish you did this week?

Lulav: Well, okay. (Jaz laughs) So, you may be able to hear from the sound quality, I'm not sure, but the two of us are in different places now. 

Jaz: Sadly. 

Lulav: Yeah. Remember, probably a week before I came to New York I was like, "oh we're going to get so much work done (Jaz laughs) and record so many episodes together"?

Jaz: We did not do that. 

Lulav: The number of episodes was one. (both laugh) It was a good visit though. 

Jaz: Yeah. Listen, the quality of a thing is not determined by how productive you were!

Lulav: Yeah, right? Speaking of productivity though, we kind of had a schedule and went to sleep at night most days which is a novel concept for me.

Jaz: We went to sleep at night every day. 

Lulav: Okay, there was like a 2 in the morning one. That's a little — that's pushing it. 

Jaz: Once. (laughs) 

Lulav: (laughs) Anyway, point is that's like, more structure than I'm used to as a certified cave goblin, and so immediately upon coming back here I a) had not eaten all day because I went through an airport and didn't want to take my mask off or buy anything, frankly, and as a result when I got home, just like bought and consumed an entire pizza. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And then 2) I think I might have stayed up until like 7 in the morning, crashed for an entire day and yeah, I can't remember anything that's happened in the last two days, other than I think you called me while I was half asleep to talk about podcasting?

Jaz: (laughs) This tracks with my very rough understanding of your last couple days.

Lulav: (snorts) Good. But I think if we're talking cool and queer or Jewish, we had a pre-fast meal on Erev Yom Kippur.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: And that was really nice! And I am not used to like, being in other people's company and talking to them out loud, and so I was maybe a little like, self-assured in my knowledge base and talked over some of our companions. And you pointed this out to me later and I was like, “Oh. Oh I did do that, oh no!” And then I apologized for it. And that was good. Learning how to communicate as a human being with other human beings and apologizing for wrongdoings seems like a pretty good way to spend Yom Kippur.   

Jaz: Aww, yeah.

Lulav: So I guess, that wasn't like, cool in itself, but I did really enjoy hanging out with your roommates, so.

Jaz: Yeah. I was also going to talk about Yom Kippur.

Lulav: Jaz? Talk about Yom Kippur? No way!

Jaz: (chuckles) Listen, I don't know that our listeners like fully know this about me, in the way that you know this about me, but Yom Kippur is a really important holiday to me because of the idea of like, having intentional time set aside to work on making yourself into a better person, because the project of making yourself into a better person is one that's very important to me personally.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: I recognize that by the time this episode goes up, this is no longer topical, but I don't know, we're still starting out the year, and so like, it still feels like a decent time to be talking about like, starting the year off properly. And also like, for this Yom Kippur in particular, I know for a lot of people, it was hard to do high holidays remotely. It felt like it wasn't the full experience.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: Or they were trying to do stuff sort of in person by doing the liturgy with just their household or — you know, different things. And to me — so I have a stomach condition that tends towards extreme nausea.

Lulav: Yeah

Jaz: And vomiting when not treated properly. And I am now on proper meds for it, and last year was the first year I did Yom Kippur with proper meds, (Lulav chuckles) but last year I was also running around taking care of children — 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: For my job, so I was more fatigued and also I didn't get to go to services and also it was harder on my body. And this year I did some virtual events for children some of the time, but I just wasn't moving very much and I got to do services for the parts that I wasn't with children so physically, this was the best Yom Kippur I've had in years.

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah.

Jaz: And also I took a nap in the middle of the day, which I do most Yom Kippurs, but I don't do most days, like it's hard for me to relax enough for me to do that often (Lulav chuckles) and I did it with you next to me, and so it was like a very deeply relaxing part.

Lulav: Restful?

Jaz: Yeah, in a way that I don't always associate with the work of becoming a better person. And that felt like a little bit of a theme and was a thing we were talking about, about how for me, this year, part of what my project of becoming more of the person that I want to be involves slowing down a little bit.

Lulav: (Chuckles) Yeah.

Jaz: And not just trying to work my way out of every problem.

Lulav: Good.

Jaz: It was like a nice start to the year and then as you said, we did pre-fast with friends and then break-fast with friends and so it was really nice.

Lulav: Mm. So yeah, just a note that I am no longer in the same physical location as you and therefore you are responsible for suplexing yourself into bed, (Jaz laughs) so good luck with that.

Jaz: Aww. (Lulav giggles) Anyway, Lulav are you ready to take us into the episode?

06:18 

Lulav: Welcome to Kosher Queers, a project — what? No. It is a project, that much is true. Um, however— (Jaz laughs) 

[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 the haftarah of Noah. 

Jaz: Which is Isaiah 54:1-55 — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — and this is a good time to note, we talked a little bit last episode about how different communities have different haftarah portions (Lulav giggles) and this is the first one that we became aware of. There are different ones for last week’s as well but we were not as aware of those when we first started making the schedule, but so some people only do Isaiah 54:1-10, so as we're going through it, we'll demarcate when we finish that part because some people only do that first part. 

Lulav: No carbuncles?

Jaz: (chuckles) I had to look up what a carbuncle is. 

Lulav: I am definitely not currently looking up what a carbuncle is. (Jaz laughs) That's not right. Anyway. (Lulav laughs) 

Jaz: It's a gross thing on your skin, like a boil. 

Lulav: Yeah, but I swear it's — 

Jaz: Also it's a kind of gem. 

Lulav: Okay, (googling) “carbuncle precious stone”. Any red gemstone, most often a garnet. Okay. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Good. So, can you tell us a little bit about parashat Noach and how it connects to this 10 or 30 line reading?

Jaz: Are you asking me to summarize the parsha?

Lulav: I sure am. 

Jaz: Okay, please give me like, mmm, 15 seconds? I didn’t give this one a lot of thought because I was like — 

Lulav: Okay wow!

Jaz: — people know this story. People know the story of Noah! 

Lulav: I'm just saying you know now why I was groaning when I was like, "hey, so did you write your summary?" (Jaz laughs) Okay, 15 seconds on the clock. Ready, set, go. 

Jaz: Story of Noah, including animals, world drowning, a bunch of merisms, promise to never again do the world-drowning thing, some creepy stuff with Noah's children and bonus genealogy. 

Lulav: Okay that was 10 seconds. 

Jaz: Yeah! (Lulav laughs) I didn't want to say 10 seconds because every time I do something like that I'm overly optimistic about my abilities. 

Lulav: Okay, so the extra five seconds here are going to retroactively apply to some of the season 1 things (Jaz laughs) where you were exactly five seconds over. 

Jaz: Thank you. 

Lulav: Good. 

Jaz: Thank you. (Lulav laughs) But like, I figure that mostly people know the story of Noah, and they're not — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — very subtle with it, like, the connection to Isaiah is mostly that they reference the promise never to drown the world again when they're making a different promise. 

Lulav: Hmmm. Yeah, that's a really good thing to read then, I guess. 

Jaz: I will say, the haftarah usually has some thematic connection; in this case it's just the story of Noah is referenced in this segment so they're like, "ah, we’ll pair it with the story of Noah."

Lulav: Mm hmm. There is a style of literary analysis I've learned in which you think of the themes, characters and facts (Jaz laughs) and this one, rather than being connected in themes is more connected in facts. 

Jaz: Yes. Arguably also in characters. 

Lulav: (laughs) Good. 

Jaz: That one's a deep cut. 

Lulav: Anyway, (Lulav laughs) do you want me to tell you what this is about?

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: Okay. So we're going to zoom out a little bit. Remember last week when we were talking about David and Yehonatan?

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: Okay, so that was somewhere around 980 BCE, so about 3000 years ago. The kingdom of Yisrael had a very hallowed history that lasted about 100 years and then there was horrible strife that lasted for a couple centuries. So, after the death of King Solomon, there was the Davidic successor, Ravom I think? And he was continuing the high taxation policies of Solomon and most of the people didn't like that, so instead of backing the Davidic successor, they backed Yerav'am, just some guy who came from Egypt or something? I'm not entirely clear on what this means. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: But basically, he was like, an alternative king and most of the ten ancestral houses backed this Yerav'am guy. It was only the house of Yehuda and then later the house of Binyamin who backed the Davidic successor. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And so this split the united kingdom of Yisrael into the northern kingdom of Yisrael and the southern kingdom of Yehuda. And this is a split that continued for about 200 years, from like 930 BCE until like 723 I believe? Jaz, do you know what happened in 723 BCE?

Jaz: Is this about Assyria?

Lulav: Sure is. 

Jaz: Yeah! So the kingdom of Assyria is like the empire of its day, and it sweeps in to take over because it smells blood. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. So, “smells blood” is an interesting way to put that. (Jaz laughs) We're going to zoom down a little bit. This very contentious history between Yisrael and Yehuda had lasted for 200 years of them just bickering, and the latest bickering was that the northern kingdom of Yisrael which was currently headquartered in Samaria was trying to reconquer Yerushalem and the whole kingdom of Yehuda and the current king of the southern kingdom of Yehuda was like, "Oh no! We can't have this. Hey, Assyrians and specifically Tiglath-Pileser, the third of his name, what if you just helped us out and fought these, can't say the a-word — uh, buttheads (Jaz laughs) who we have been butting heads with for centuries?" 

Jaz: Cute. 

Lulav: A note: Tiglath-Pileser is the more Hebrew version of that name. I asked Cassidy about this because she is very smart and she said that the original Akkadian is Tukultī-apil-Ešarra. 

Jaz: Oooh. 

Lulav: Jaz, do you have any idea how you got from Tukultī-apil-Ešarra to Tiglath Pileser?

Jaz: My guess is that it's because there's too many consonant clusters (Lulav laughs) in the original, and Hebrew can't accommodate that so it — 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: — assimilated it to the phonetic patterns that Hebrew works with. 

Lulav: I like that. (laughs) I love hearing how people say a name in one language and it just becomes something totally different. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Anyway, point is, Tiglath-Pileser III came in and he was like, oh yeah this is a great opportunity for the Assyrian empire. And so, he conquered the northern kingdom of Yisrael and deported a bunch of Jews across the empire. It's unclear to me if this was to break up the conquered people’s culture or to get labor across the empire or what?

Jaz: My vague impression is that it's like, capturing them as spoils of victory almost?

Lulav: Mmm. Mm hmm. So that's definitely the case in 722 BCE when the capital city of Samaria finally fell, and Sargon II records that he sends 27,000 Jews to be servants elsewhere, which implies that the two decades of initial deportations probably had larger numbers? So yeah, this is like, displacing hundreds of thousands of people, and the way that we talk about this in the modern day is like, the 10 lost tribes?

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Like, clearly there were still Jews left. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: But, the basic idea here is that so much of a generation was lost and the remnants had to live in conquered territory that we essentially see those 10 northern ancestral houses as gone. 

Jaz: Yeah. I mean, and sufficiently so that sometimes in modern day, like, there's a group of people who have practices that seem similar to other Jewish communities that we know about as Jewish communities, and they'll say, "oh, we’re one of the 10 lost tribes."

Lulav: Nice. 

Jaz: I don't know a lot about this, it is not my area of expertise but I remember there being a thing a few years ago about like, there being a Chinese community that said, "oh yeah, we're one of those 10 tribes." 

Lulav: That's fun. 

Jaz: Right? And I don’t think there's any way that I know of — I'm not like an anthropologist or whatever — of knowing the technical truth or falsity of something that's so long ago. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But, I think the idea captured there of like, we were so scattered and then those people went somewhere, (Lulav laughs) you know? And maybe they just assimilated into the cultures where they were sent and maybe they formed new Jewish communities along the way, but Judaism has changed so much over the centuries— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — and maybe whatever their practices are have as well, but they might, you know, still be our cousins. 

Lulav: Yeah, so, one other thing that I wanted to address before talking specifically about Isaiah—
 
Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Purportedly as a response to Yerushalem being held by the kingdom of Yehuda, pretty immediately Yerav'am turned the state religion to one of embodied gods, and worship of Ba’al, rather than Elohim. So that was an interesting thing. We get all of these warnings about, "hey, if you do idol worship again, you are just gonna be smushed and in exile for generations on generations,” and so I don't know that we can trust that this was a thing that happened, because that might’ve been a backformation of like, "oh, why did our northern neighbours get completely conquered? Ah, it's because they were idol worshipping". But also there might be a figment of truth there?

Jaz: Well, okay so I'm not sure which sources you were reading from. 

Lulav: Mostly Wikipedia. 

Jaz: Okay, so I was doing a little bit of reading in Abraham Joshua Heschel's book The Prophets — 

Lulav: Hm! 

Jaz: — and I wasn't reading for history quite so much as reading for theological and interpretive ideas?

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But there was some amount of history threaded through— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — along with notes about the job of a prophet, right— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — like, were in a text that's doing something fundamentally different than the text of the Torah and we’re in a text that's doing something fundamentally different than acting as history but it does upbring a historical context so there's notes that Isaiah is speaking at different times in his career as a prophet— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — when the land and kingdom that he's living in is under different conditions. Sometimes when it's very prosperous, and sometimes when it's like, really not and teaming up with a local power that be for military advantage. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And when it's really prosperous, he's like, oh no people are not good enough. This is terrible. They're being mean to each other. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And when it's teaming up with a powerful ally that's an idol worshipping one, (Lulav giggles) he's like, “Oh no, don't put your faith in military power and also alliances with idol worshippers, put your faith in G-d.” 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And, Isaiah is not ever happy is like, I think a thing to keep in mind? (both laugh) Uhm — 

Lulav: It's the job of a prophet not to be happy! 

Jaz: Yeah! That's also a part of Heschel's thing is like, a prophet feels things very strongly and even though in this section that we're about to read, it's as if G-d is saying all of it, also it's Isaiah saying all of it, and so like, you can't ignore that the person who says it has some influence. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But there is something to keep in mind, the external circumstances do shape this but they are not the only thing that matter, right? Like, Nevi'im the prophets is still part of our sacred texts and so you can still do interpretive work on it the way we did with the Torah, of like, taking it into our modern day and seeing what a verse looks like in isolation as well as seeing what a verse looks like in its historical context, but Isaiah is really concerned also like, concretely about these military alliances with other nations and relying on those military alliances. Not even just because the military alliances are with nations that he regards as idolatrists— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — but also just in the fact that you're relying on the military alliances at all, that that in and of itself is kind of suspicious and semi-idolatrous. 

Lulav: Yeah. I am just doing a brief skim of all of our portions because I did wanna talk a little bit about the prior context to this portion?

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: So, I'm just gonna talk a little bit about 52 and 53, the two chapters that immediately precede this. One thing that I wanna point out is 52:4, “for thus said Adonai of old my people went down to Egypt to sojourn there, but Assyria has robbed them, giving nothing in return". Basically, this is the idea that like, there was a reason that the house of Yisrael went to Egypt, and in some ways sold themselves, but in this case Assyria just swept in and took over the stuff that they were asked to come for and then took over more. So that's one connection that I wanna make, 2 chapters back, and then the previous chapter, 53, talks about a person upon whom the arm of Hashem has been revealed, who's really ugly, a man of suffering. And so, this seems to me to be an analogy for the northern kingdom of Yisrael. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: He was despised, shunned by men, a man of suffering, yet it was our sickness that he was bearing. So this imagery, as far as I can tell is talking about the northern kingdom of Yisrael because they were the ones who got conquered and they are also being promised "hey, we are going to come back from this". 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Is what I'm reading there? How do you feel about that?

Jaz: Well, the job of a prophet is to offer — is to not be happy, like we were saying, but it is to offer both like, condemnation and hope?

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And Isaiah is delivering on both of those things, in the same breath as he's being like, “all of you did not live up to what you should be— “

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — he is also saying, “and that great empire? It's also going to fall into ruin.”

Lulav: Yay. So that's like the previous two chapters. Can you walk us through the actual reading that we actually did?

Jaz: Yeah. That was so much, I don't yet have a sense of how much we're always gonna talk about (Lulav giggles) all of the background? I also feel like it’s worth noting that excerpts from Isaiah are like a full back half of a year, like a lot of the year— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — is gonna be Isaiah, also next week is Isaiah, (Lulav laughs) but then there's a bunch of not Isaiah in the meantime. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And we will in general try and give you context? Yeah, I don't have a sense yet on how that's always gonna look. 

Lulav: The reason that you've gotten half an hour of context is this history of the two kingdoms is something that I've been intending to read up on since our pilot episode (Jaz laughs) and have not done because, as aforementioned, cave goblin. 

Jaz: It is super interesting and relevant to Jewish history, and also, I don't know about you Lulav but like, I didn't really learn about it you know? Like— 

Lulav: Mm!

Jaz: — we learn Torah stories and stuff but I didn't learn so much about the prophets. 

Lulav: Yeah! 

Jaz: So, I'm excited to have reasons to dive into it. 

Lulav: Oh, thats cool. Yeah, I think that it can be kinda hard to figure out the thrust of the prophets because a lot of the particulars are just yelling about big imagery and so any given quote you get is going to be part of a larger metaphor rather than some specific thing that you can learn about our history. 

Jaz: Yeah, that's true. Isaiah is also, I just wanna say, incredibly quotable. Like, if you just wanted (Lulav laughs) to take a line of Isaiah, you super can. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And when I meet with my biblical Hebrew tutor— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — he has had me walk through the beginning of Isaiah and read it for working on my grammar. 

Lulav: Awe. 

Jaz: On which note, it's worth mentioning, prophets are mostly, and Isaiah definitely, mostly in poetry. 

Lulav: Yeah, I noticed some very weird capitalization and punctuation in the Sefaria copy. 

Jaz: Yeah, it's because Isaiah's writing in Hebrew poetry and they're trying to translate some of that sense to the English. 

Lulav: Okay. One other thing that I wanna mention, when you say that Isaiah is very quotable, Christians love this. 

Jaz: Do they?

Lulav: They really do. Isaiah 54:17 in the King James Bible is "no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement, thou shalt condemn," and that's a thing that comes up a lot in bible-thumpin'?

Jaz: Wild. 

Lulav: And also I think part of Isaiah is like, talking in veiled terms about recent political events?

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: And so that gets interpreted by Christians as like, prophesying the coming of Jesus rather than actually being read in its proper context. 

Jaz: That’s wild. 

Lulav: Yeah. So, “Shout, O barren one?”

Jaz: Yeah, so that's how this one starts, although I don't know where the “O” comes from? There's no like, “O” in the Hebrew. 

Lulav: It's poetic! (Laughs) 

Jaz: Yeah. So, it is addressed to a barren person who has borne no child, who has no children. Then there's this formulation of like, you who aren't the formal proper spouse, your children will outnumber the one who has pride of place. Do you disagree with my rendering of this?

Lulav: Ohhh! Okay, I was having a lot of trouble reading the Sefaria translation for “the children of the wife forlorn shall outnumber those of the espoused”?

Jaz: It's an incredibly poetic way of saying, as far as I can tell, you're the secondary partner (Lulav laughs), who feels inferior to the primary partner, but you’re going to do better. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Which is harking back to the Leah and Rachel story. 

Jaz: Yeah. In which Leah does in fact have more children and is less loved. (Lulav laughs) Sucks, anyway.  (Lulav laughs) Yeah, and then there's like, so build your house up because your children are gonna do so well. (Lulav giggles) And then they get a little bit more explicit about the fact that this is a metaphor because it's like, don't worry, don't think of yourself as disgraced, and don't think of yourself as like, a widow because even though your spouse kind of abandoned you, your spouse is G-d and your spouse will take you back, and it's like a metaphor of Am Yisrael is married to G-d. 

Lulav: Okay. So, are you saying that it is a metaphor and you put the Assyrian captivity between your teeth but you don't give it the power to captivate you? 

Jaz: I... didn't say that. You can't make me say that. 

Lulav: (laughs) Good. 

Jaz: Although it does go right into like, can you ever really forget your first love? (Lulav snorts) And it's decided that G-d can’t. G-d loves us too much. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. With vast love. This is so poetic. 

Jaz: (laughs) Just a note there— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — that there's a bunch of things that Sefaria renders as love, and I don't understand why they're rendering them as love. (Lulav laughs) Like, when you say that line is "with vast love", normally the word we have for love is ahava, and I think the thing they're translating as "vast love" is this thing that's like, v'rachamim gedolim, and that’s like, “great compassion” usually.

Lulav: Hm. Okay! 

Jaz: Which is a very normal way to refer to G-d. It's not a way that you would normally fit into the like, lover metaphor that's happening here, which is I think why they do “love”, but it comes up a couple times, like a little later—

Lulav: Uh huh. 

Jaz: — they have a thing where Sefaria’s translation renders it as "my covenant of friendship" and "who takes you back in love", and the words there are “brit shlomi,” which I would have rendered as like, covenant of my peace?

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: And m'rachamech Adonai, which is like, again my compassion, not love. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: So, I just think it is an interesting thing to think of in terms of what the words also mean. 

Lulav: Other question about words, is v'rachamim related to b'racha at all?

Jaz: I don't think so. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Because I think the root of b'racha is bet-resh-haf, and the root here is resh-het-mem. 

Lulav: Okay. Thank you. 

Jaz: Good question though. Anyways, so there is this thing happening though of like, questioning what kind of relationship should G-d have with the Jewish people—

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: —and implicitly like, what kind of relationships can be used as a metaphor between lovers, or also friends, or also just like, people who have an agreement between them, and one of the things that I enjoy here a little bit, like as were thinking about queer interpretations— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — is that it is clear that what's happening here is like a really important life-defining relationship. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: What kind of relationship seems honestly, extraordinarily ambiguous to me. 

Lulav: Mm hmm! 

Jaz: Like is this first love and then the person you're not in love with any longer but still feel like, obligated to? Is this like, your long time spouse? Is this like, your ex who you’re still really good friends with?

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Or is this just like, your friend or some kind of queerplatonic partner? There's a lot of ambiguity happening in these terminologies here of like, the nature of the relationship, —

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: —that we have with G-d and that's a model for the most important relationship in one's life and I kind of think that's cool. 

Lulav: Do you think part of the ambiguity is that the model for relationships of the people writing this did have more of a like, duty aspect to it? Like, one of support rather than necessarily romantic love?

Jaz: It's a good question. There is always the question of what was just like baked into the culture as assumptions that they brought to it— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — and what's baked into the culture of assumptions that we bring to it. 

Lulav: Cuz we definitely have a lot of romantic love in how we interpret this and the translation lends itself to that. 

Jaz: Yeah, but there is definitely an aspect of maybe there was duty that was happening?

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But there is also like, emotion happening as a framework because even though I would argue that this isn't maybe love in the way we tend to think of love, or isn't just that, they do have this idea of like, G-d was angry for a moment, and then retreated. They have "I hid my face from you, but I'm coming back" G-d said, and then here's our connection to Noah. "As I swore that the waters of Noah nevermore would flood the earth, so I swear that I will not be angry with you or rebuke you".

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: I don't know like, that feels to me like a paradigm like we're figuring out what is our obligations to each other as well as what is the kind of emotional relationship we have to each other. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Like, what's the foundation that we're building here, cuz like, the story of Noah is really foundational in terms of, you trust that the world will not be flooded, and this is a less concrete and more metaphorical and more emotional type of deal. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Though, it is interesting to me partially because I don’t think Isaiahs the first prophet, (Lulav laughs) and I don't think Isaiah's the last prophet, and I also don't think this is the last time Isaiah rebukes anybody? 

Lulav: (laughs) We're 54 chapters deep and there's no end in sight. 

Jaz: Right, so I wonder what sort of, rebuke is doing here as well as like, anger, but if you're thinking of it as the frame of like, duty and commitment and when they say like, I hid my face from you—

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: G-ds not promising to never be upset, but is promising to not leave like that again. 

Lulav: I think, where we have previously seen hiding its face from you, that's like, a thing for preservation of life? I don't know if this is like, a good connection but Hashem just didn't interact with the people other than with Moshe specifically. Xe hid xer face, and that was a way of making the connection more distant but also in the long run, sustainable. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: So, maybe this is implying something about kings and the idea that what we had fell apart, but in the long run it's going to be more sustainable without— 

Jaz: Rulers. 

Lulav: These specific rulers. (laughs) 

Jaz: Yeah. Yeah. I like that. And there is this like, for the mountains may move, and the hills may be shaken, but my loyalty shall never move from you. And then there's like a note, that's sort of is almost like a coming back to reality where it says like, “unhappy storm-tossed one, uncomforted.” There's like a, I get it, you're having a rough time. It may be good in the future, but like, I get it you're having a rough time. But then there are these promises of like, things will be better. 

Lulav: It's interesting that you phrase that as "coming back to reality" when the promises of things being better is like, you are going to get so many gemstones. (Jaz laughs) We're going to make your building foundations out of airplane skin. 

Jaz: Yeah. (Lulav laughs) I get it, it's like grand promises, but it feels to me... I don't know like, if they're continuing with the idea that this is metaphorical or even like a relationship metaphor, it feels to me the way that like, when you read kind of old timey books, you have people who say to their spouses like, yeah and then someday my ship will come in and I will dress you in diamonds (Lulav laughs) and mostly what they mean is like, if they have a good harvest that year, they'll buy their spouse a pretty necklace. 

Lulav: Yeah. (both laugh) Oh good connection. 

Jaz: Like, I remember reading a story when I was little where like, the kid heard this and was like, and then I imagined a great ship sailing up into the harbor that was gonna come and be filled with diamonds, and my father was gonna give them all to my mother and it's like, (Lulav laughs) that wasn't what he meant. You know, like- (both laugh) he was just speaking poetically. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. Do you have anything else to say about the next 5 lines?

Jaz: We should say probably, right after the bit about the waters of Noah, when Isaiah’s saying in the name of G-d “I swear I won't rebuke you” — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — if your haftarah stops at 54:10, that's where it stops. 

Lulav: Um, your numbers might be off. 

Jaz: Why?

Lulav: Wait, okay. So count from the top. 

[pause]

Jaz: What? Why is that like that?

Lulav: I don't know—

Jaz: That's so wild. 

Lulav: — I'm so sorry. 

Jaz: Okay. Weird tech glitch. It ends on where there is the, in my opinion, weird translation (Lulav laughs) about covenant of friendship and taking you back in love. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Lets keep going then! 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: So, there's this line, right before the bit you said that Christians love, (Lulav laughs) that they render here as "surely no harm can be done to you without my consent"?

Lulav: Woof. 

Jaz: Obviously this brings up a bunch of things. I don't know if this is one of the things it brings up for you, but one of the things it brought up for me is that kind of preachy saying that floats around sometimes that says no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. 

Lulav: (disgusted groan) Yeah. That. 

Jaz: Yeah, also there's like other stuff here about like, what does consent mean?

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Which is like a big queer concept, (Lulav laughs) but what does it mean?

Lulav: So, I think that this is a natural progression from the very transactional way of looking at things where being good as a nation means that only good things and no bad things will happen to you? I disagree with this as a theological conclusion but it's definitely like, in keeping with things that we were reading all throughout Torah. I just hate it because just like you were saying with like, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent, it's like a really weird way to blame the victims of harassment for feeling bad about the harassment. Similarly here, it's like, no harm can be done without my consent, like, if you are experiencing bad things that's on you. 

Jaz: Except, isn't it on G-d in this version of reality, like if you say surely no harm can come to you without my consent, if the "my" there is G-d, wouldn't it imply that any harm that does come to you, G-d agreed to it?

Lulav: Mmm. Hmmm! 

Jaz: Either you have to say G-d didn't agree to it, or it isn't really harm, or there is something of a what does consent mean, right? Like, if G-d passively stands by and it happens, sure, but then consents not a meaningful term that's happening there. 

Lulav: So, I think there's another potential reading which is just that this is like, good things will happen and no bad things will happen because this is right after a line that says you shall be established through righteousness and safe from oppression, so if we don't read this line just on its own with its really sketchy theological implications, this is just saying, "hey you're going to be okay, bad things aren't going to happen because I don't want bad things to happen to you." 

Jaz: I just think that's a cheating reading. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: I think there is value in grappling with the idea of what does it mean to have the idea of consent baked in here and also especially this idea of somebody else giving consent for you which is an inherently sketchy kind of thing. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: So I wonder, instead if there is a notion here of, if there's harm happening, you have to be able to think really clearly like, where is it coming from? Who is responsible for it? Who agreed to it to make this happen?

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: If you say it can't happen unless things align to make it happen, you have to think about like, okay so where is that harm coming from. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And, you're allowed to yell at G-d about it. G-d said so, right there. 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: If harm befalls you, you're allowed to be upset about it because G-d implicitly agreed or at least didn't step in to stop it, but also like, you're allowed to then think about who are the other people who had to implicitly give consent. Not like— 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: — G-d in the metaphysical sense, but like, who else had to conspire? Real people who had to conspire to make that happen. 

Lulav: Explicitly seek harm. 

Jaz: Right. Explicitly seek harm or even in the way G-d maybe didn't do it, but also did not prevent it, who are— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — the other people who maybe didn't do it, but also could have prevented it and didn't. 

Lulav: Insert weekly reference to the democratic party here. 

Jaz: Ooof. 

Lulav: (laughs) So... 

Jaz: Right, so the next bit is the, like you were saying, G-ds speaking and saying I created all the tools, and if there is bad things happening, I created the instruments for that to happen, —

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — but none of those will work against you. I will be here for you. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And then we pivot really dramatically, it feels like to me, (Lulav giggles) and it is like, all who are thirsty come for water, even if you don't have any money, have food, have drink, have luxurious food and drink. Why are you spending money on things that aren't those types of lovely life essentials, like, eat delicious food and like, I'll, uhm... 

Lulav: Give you meats?

Jaz: Yeah, but also then there's back to like, I'll make a covenant with you for forever, and the way David thrived, you'll also thrive. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. Can you tell me a little bit about this last line, "so you shall summon a nation you did not know, and a nation that did not know you shall come running to you". Are they gonna do essentially the same thing as the kingdom of Yehuda did at the outside of the Assyrian conquest? Which is like, hey other major power in this region! Help us out. 

Jaz: Well... 

Lulav: Is “the nation you did not know” Babylon in this case? Or is it just people that you didn't know you could depend on within Am Yisrael?

Jaz: I'm not sure, and I think this is a thing that has had some commentary on it. Not that much of the commentary that I have direct access to is in English, — 

Lulav: It is not. 

Jaz: — so. 

Lulav: Only Ibn Ezra

Jaz: Right, and Ibn Ezra mostly takes it to note that this bit of a nation that you did not know shall come running to you takes that to be the messianic age. 

Lulav: Okay

Jaz: Which I don't know that we have a clear reading for. (Lulav chuckles) I don't know, I'm thinking about it sort of in the sense of the relationship metaphor we had before, a little bit, sort of in the sense that G-d left and then came back and now there's this whole new person who's the nation of Israel in this case.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: People, and also nation-states I guess, grow and change and evolve and they're different now and you don't know them now.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: So I think it's like this idea of like, we're in this state of commitment, like it's right after this thing about renewing a thing about an everlasting covenant — 

Lulav: Mm hmm

Jaz: —and enduring loyalty promised to David, but G-d has made these everlasting covenants with like, a lot of different Jewish people at this point — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — and there's reading that talk about how the reason we repeat things, like "G-d of Abraham, G-d of Isaac, G-d of Jacob, G-d of Sarah, G-d of Rivka, G-d of Rachel, G-d of Leah —" like, the reason we say "G-d of" each time is because those are different relationships. It's all a Jewish one but —

Lulav: Every time a new covenant is cut.

Jaz: Yeah. Like they're different each time and in this one, it's like, even if you think of it as like with the whole nation, the people and therefore the nation, change over time, so it is both eternal and also like, has to be constantly renewed and changed. And so it's like constantly a nation you did not know and also one that doesn't know you and also simultaneously everlasting.

Lulav: Cool. Does that bring us to Rating G-d’s Writing?

Jaz: I think it does. This is the segment where we pick two scales and rate the hatrafah based on them?

Lulav: So do you want a number or a short answer?   

Jaz: Either one.

Lulav: Okay. What instrument of havoc is this haftarah portion creating for you?

Jaz: Im, I think it's creating a clarinet (Lulav bursts out into muffled laughter) because you asked for an instrument and also because I'm a little wary of clarinets at the moment —

Lulav: Oh?

Jaz: —because they just blow air at you.

Lulav: Oh, yeah.

Jaz: But also because they make this beautiful and regal noise if used properly and also if you've ever heard somebody just learning how to play the clarinet —

Lulav: Couldn't have been me.

Jaz: It's like a — not all that fun! And I like that this haftarah feels to me like working out the intricacies of how a relationship works

Lulav: Yeah

Jaz: In ways that are like, messy and beautiful and also like, maybe you gotta work through some stuff.

Lulav: Yeah. Did I ever tell you that I played clarinet in middle school?

Jaz: No.

Lulav: Oh good. It is just very funny that that's the "instrument of havoc" that you chose for this.

Jaz: Maybe you'll have to play clarinet for me, in what I'm sure will be terrible.

Lulav: The after-times. (laughs)  

Jaz: Okay, if this haftarah portion was a home that you were building with someone important to you, what would the home look like? 

Lulav: Aww! That's sweet. So I think we're keeping the original color of walls, at least for the living room, because we need to remember the things that have come before that have made the situation we have now, but also a thing about me creating living spaces in concert with people I care about is that they tend to have much more stuff to hang on the walls than I do. And so I think that's part of it, is like this haftarah portion promises good things to come in very like, flowery language and similarly, I think any home that I would build with someone I care about has a lot of specific well-wishes for a generally good future. You know? 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: Just like, lots of art is what I'm feeling. 

Jaz: Good. 

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

Jaz: Yeah. Thanks for listening to Kosher Queers! If you like what you’ve heard, you can support us on Patreon at patreon.com/kosherqueers, which will give you bonus content and help us keep making this for you. Also, if you can’t commit to ongoing support but would still like to contribute, you can give to our Ko-fi, which is at ko-fi.com/kosherqueers. 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 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 and soon on kosherqueers.gay, which we did very much buy.

Jaz: I'm so excited about it. (Lulav laughs) We're going to have a website!

Lulav: You can also type in kosherqueers.com and it will redirect you to kosherqueers.gay, but, you know.

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

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

Both: Have a lovely queer Jewish day!

[Brivele outro music]

Jaz: This week's gender is: real cave-goblin hours.

Lulav: This week's pronouns are: “she” in writing, but no speech shall profane the goblin hours.