Kosher Queers

50 — V'Zot HaBerachah: Snark for Screen Time & Sweet Send-offs

October 01, 2020 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow
Kosher Queers
50 — V'Zot HaBerachah: Snark for Screen Time & Sweet Send-offs
Kosher Queers
50 — V'Zot HaBerachah: Snark for Screen Time & Sweet Send-offs
Oct 01, 2020
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, we finish up season 1! We argue about the grammar of G-d, expand the scope of what constitutes a name, and compare divine blessings to reality TV. Plus, Binyamin is a baby who likes to cuddle on G-d's breasts.

We'll be taking a week break next week, and then we'll see you soon for season 2! In the meantime, we're open for guests on season 2 and you can apply or nominate someone else here.

Transcript available here.

You can subscribe to Meli's Weird Jewish Digest for their weekly emails. Notwithstanding Lulav's comments about a certain politician, you can get some help to register to vote here.

Support us on Patreon! Send us questions or comments at [email protected], 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. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union. 

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Show Notes Transcript

This week, we finish up season 1! We argue about the grammar of G-d, expand the scope of what constitutes a name, and compare divine blessings to reality TV. Plus, Binyamin is a baby who likes to cuddle on G-d's breasts.

We'll be taking a week break next week, and then we'll see you soon for season 2! In the meantime, we're open for guests on season 2 and you can apply or nominate someone else here.

Transcript available here.

You can subscribe to Meli's Weird Jewish Digest for their weekly emails. Notwithstanding Lulav's comments about a certain politician, you can get some help to register to vote here.

Support us on Patreon! Send us questions or comments at [email protected], 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. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union. 

Support the show (

Jaz: Hi Lulav. 

Lulav: Hey Jaz. Love that excitement, we are both chomping at the bit for our 50th episode, huh?

Jaz: It's true, it's very exciting. It's the last one!

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: We made it so far. 

Lulav: I’m almost certain there will be an episode immediately after this one, like a week later because we're rolling right into season 2. 

Jaz: I think we have a week break?

Lulav: We do? Okay, baruch Hashem. That's good. But yeah, whats like, cool and queer and Jewish in your life?

Jaz: Well, this is just a Jewish thing — 

Lulav: Oh?

Jaz: — but today I had my first day of teaching Jewish students Jewish content for my little online Jewish classroom. 

Lulav: I didn't know it was your first day! 

Jaz: Today was my first day. By the time people are listening, I'll probably have been like, doing this for a month and it'll be old hat but right now is my first day and it went, you know, pretty well actually for a first day. (Lulav laughs) So... 

Lulav: That's really cool. 

Jaz: Yeah. We mostly did, you know, getting to know each other things, but — 

Lulav: Yeah, nothing happens on a first day. (laughs) 

Jaz: Yeah, there's mostly some getting to know each other things, we had some tech stuff to work out, but at the beginning of class — we start every class with like, a check in and also a blessing. 

Lulav: Aww. 

Jaz: So today we started learning the blessing that we're going to do at the beginning of every class and it's the blessing that I stay every time I study Talmud. 

Lulav: Is it the kaddish derabanan?

Jaz: No, that's at the end of studying and it's kind of long for 3rd graders to do. 

Lulav: I thought so. (laughs) 

Jaz: The one before studying is only one line long and it goes like "baruch ata adonai, eloheinu melech haolam, asher kidshanu bmitzvotav la'asok b'divrei Torah". 

Lulav: Yeah, amen. 

Jaz: Thank you, and so it sounds very similar to other prayers that they've heard and just the last few words about studying Torah are new.

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: So we're doing that in front of every class because everything we did together, including the getting to know each other part, is Torah. 

Lulav: Aww, that's really cute. Also, it's good that you like, explicitly told them that it's the same prayer as a whole bunch of other ones just with some of the important words changed because I was talking with my best friend Mercury about differential equations classes in college and the first one that they did, the professor kept teaching them these different equations, and it was like, why are we using all of these different ones and they finally realized like, halfway through the semester that it was all literally the same equation, just with a couple of variables changed in each case — 

Jaz: Oh no! 

Lulav: Yeah. So, protip for other educators out there: if there are commonalities in your material, probably mention that. 

Jaz: Yeah! Lulav, whats something cool or queer or Jewish you did this week?

Lulav: Well, I... frick. (Jaz laughs) I, two days ago, went to Costco with the aforementioned Mercury, and we just like, wandered around Costco getting things and this wasn't particularly Jewish, cuz it was just like, two gays in Costco, but we tried to convey Pikuach Nefesh to this one dude who was wearing his mask on his chin (Jaz groans) in the middle of a box (Jaz groans), so that was kind of Jewish. And then there was also- like Mercury just moved to the midwest from Seattle which like, along with the other west coast places that they lived is warmer than it tends to get here in the winter. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: And so we got them some of their first like, winter specific stuff. 

Jaz: Aww. 

Lulav: Like not only a coat which they already had so they didn't need it, but like, we got gloves and so I had to figure out what makes a good fit for a glove and convey that to another person?

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Yeah, it was just fun like, testing stuff out and having them have the assistive technology they need to live in this state. (laughs) 

Jaz: Yeah. That seems good and important. 

Lulav: And then the last thing is that, Sim Kern, I’m probably hyperforenizing that last name, but — 

Jaz: I really think so, but... 

Lulav: Hi Sim. Uhm (laughs) this is especially funny because my best friend in elementary school was Richard Kern, so you think I would be used to saying that last name all normal like, but... (laughs). Anyway, point is, they recently released a book called Depart, Depart and I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet because my phone is bad at epubs, by which I mean it refuses to open epubs so I had to wait until I got to my computer just now, but I did open it up and I looked at the author’s note and like, that alone makes it a touching experience worthy of reading. 

Jaz: Please share. 

Lulav: Yeah, so Sim has kind of a similar background to me. They grew up as a patrilineal Jewish atheist. They had a much rougher childhood it seems like, what with antisemitism and stuff, so I haven't read enough or like, talked to them about this but like, it was a very good author's note. I felt both seen and like, welcomed into somebody else's experiences and I can't wait to read the fictional story that is attached to that author's note which also looks pretty good. 

Jaz: Yeah, I think that we could safely say that it is a goal for both of us to have it read and talked about within the next couple episodes. 

Lulav: Yes. Absolutely. 

Jaz: Great. 

Lulav: I was going to try to have it for this episode but, as Jaz said after I expressed this to them — 

Jaz: I was like, you'll either have it read completely or have not started it.

Lulav: (laughs) No in between. 

[Brivele intro] 

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 V'Zot HaBerachah.

Jaz: Yeah, which means "and this is the blessing".

Lulav: It's like, a really simple name? When I say simple I mean like, I did about 60 days of modern Hebrew duolingo and I was like "oh! Literally that's just like, this is the blessing".

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: V'Zot HaBerachah, so... similar to how straight forward the title is, this is a pretty short, straight forward parsha. Can I have 50 seconds to talk about it?

Jaz: Oooh. You sure can.

Lulav: This is less because there's actually 50 seconds of general content to talk about —

Jaz: And more because you riffed?

Lulav: I did riff, but I was gonna say, I am expanding the bounds of this audio format of short summary. (laughs)

Jaz: Oh no.

Lulav: It’s very high concept, pushes up my glasses.

Jaz: Oh no. Listen, I did a whole poem —

Lulav: You did.

Jaz: — so, you gotta match that.

Lulav: Uh oh. Okay. Well, I will try.

Jaz: (laughs) Alright, ready, set, go.

Lulav: We get a blessing for all 12 ancestral houses, which if you imagine it as Hashem going down a line and shaking peoples hands, sounds something like this; Reuven, Yehuda, LEVI, HOW ARE YA? REMEMBER ALL THOSE TIMES YOU WERE A MENSCH? Benjamin. YOSEF MY BOY, LOOK HOW VIRAL YOU ARE! HOW ARE THE KINDELAH? Zebulin. Gad! Dan, Naphtali, Asher, glad you all are here today, which by the way would never have happened if I weren't so good at making you fight people. After zot habracha, we get zot hamavet. Moshe goes up near Jericho, looks upon the whole of the land and bites the anonymous dust despite how spry of a 120 year old he is. Pretty rad guy all told. 

[Timer goes off]

Lulav: Hazach, hazach, beni hazech. 

Jaz: Okay, okay. 

Lulav: Yeah. Do you have any commentary on that?

Jaz: I- wh. Eh- are you casting the parsha personified as a politician or just Moshe?

Lulav: Yeah, I think so. Lets see here, what would the bumper sticker say? Zot habracha 1700 or something? 

Jaz: (laughs) Why 1700? 

Lulav: I'm just guessing! I don't know where in the like, Hebrew calendar chronology this was supposed to have been taking place. 

Jaz: 1700 sounds like, really late. 

Lulav: 4000 years ago?

Jaz: Oh.

Lulav: It's only 4000 years ago, that's like 2000 years before the whole temple thing. 

Jaz: Yeah, maybe. Okay. 

Lulav: So, yes. Zot habracha 1700 is the bumper sticker (Jaz laughs) of this short summary. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Are you ready for this at a little more length?

Jaz: Please. 

Lulav: Okay. So, we just came off of a fun little poem and we get this different kind of poem, specifically a deathbed blessing kind of like we got with Yaakov. 

Jaz: Except that we got Yaakov’s when he was actually literally on his deathbed, and then this one Moshe's dying but he like, doesn’t die in a bed, right? He's like dying and then he goes off onto the mountain on his own. 

Lulav: That's a technicality. 

Jaz: Okay! 

Lulav: I feel like if you make a speech and then you wander up to the top of a mountain and then just die somewhere where people can't find you, then the podium counts as your death bed. 

Jaz: Does it? (Lulav laughs) Uhm, okay. 

Lulav: The sages do not concur. (laughs) So, basically this starts with Hashem is coming from Sinai and Seir and Mount Paran and Ribeboth Kodesh and there's lightning flashing at them from his right. So the meaning of the lightning flashing at them from his right line is uncertain — 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: — and the NRSV translates it as something like "the many holy hosts were gathered around him" but that's a very Christian way to phrase it. 

Jaz: What? 

Lulav: I can look up the specific phrasing if you would like. 

Jaz: Thats wild. 

Lulav: It is. But yeah the original Hebrew is mimino eshtaf so that's fun. 

Jaz: Yeah. My copy writes the word differently, like it doesn't vowelize it —

Lulav: Oh?

Jaz: — it's like, in grey instead of black, — 

Lulav: Oooh. 

Jaz: — they've set it aside as like, we don't really know. 

Lulav: Oh because the vowel markings are not necessarily a thing that was in the original texts?

Jaz: Right. And modern Torah scrolls don't have vowels so these are things that we do our best to interpret onto them but, (Lulav giggles) yeah. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And also like, they have a note that's like, it was originally read as like, eish daat, as two seperate words? This does not clarify the matter, like eish is fire?

Lulav: Uh huh. Oh! I like the JPS translation then of lightning flashing at them. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: That makes sense. So I am looking more specifically at the NRSV and first of all, the Christians have a different line for "and approached from Ribeboth-Kodesh. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: That's the one that gets translated as "with him were myriads of holy ones"? 

Jaz: I mean it's possible in that like mit Ribaboth-Kodesh like, kodesh is holy, rav is sometimes translated as like, great of many and like, that beginning prefix, they can be reading it as nominalizing, right? Like, many ones, like many individuals. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: It's not a terribly unreasonable reading, it's just that we don't read it that way. 

Lulav: Yeah, and the way I read it in the Christian context involves angels maybe?

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: And it makes a lot more sense in this context for it to just be like, there are a bunch of really cool people who Hashem brings with. 

Jaz: Yeah, I'm also not sure about the grammar. Like, I have a little bit more instinctive trust in Jewish translations from the Hebrew, just because — 

Lulav: Oh G-d, yeah. 

Jaz: — I think that they’re more likely to do it based on the nitty gritty of biblical grammar. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. Speaking of nitty gritty of biblical grammar, still in this intro part which I didn't even mention in the short summary we have a bit where who it’s speaking to is not quite clear?

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So, the JPS's preferred translation is "lover in deed of the people, their hallowed are all in your hand. They followed in your steps, accepting your pronouncements. When Moshe charged us with the teaching, as the heritage of the congregation of Yaakov, then he became King in Yeshurun". And they have an alternative rendering in the footnotes. Do you have this same rendering Jaz?

Jaz: Where there's an uncertainty about whether its G-d that's being referred to?

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Okay, yeah can you read that?

Jaz: So, I have exactly the same wording for most of it except they do render it as "then G-d became king in Yeshurun". 

Lulav: Oh, okay. Cuz, in this copy, the alternative rendering is "then were, oh lover of the people, all his worshipers in your care. They followed your lead, accepted your precepts. Moshe charged us with teaching as the heritage of the congregation of Yaakov, thus was he king in Yeshurun". So, basically the difference in these renderings is the preferred one speaks to G-d, they have "your hand and your steps" capitalized?

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: But the note seems to be speaking to Moshe? Or maybe like a generalized Jewish listener?

Jaz: Yeah, I mean so, mine has a note basically that they think that like, the verses are obscure and many amendments have been offered to make sense out of what is evidently a corrupt text. 

Lulav: Oooh. 

Jaz: There is definitely a you happening in there, like the things have indications that they’re in second person singular. The question is partially like, who is the you? And it's not clear. 

Lulav: Yeah, because like, capitalizing the pronouns and possessives is very much an English thing, right? There's no difference in writing you, Hashem vs you, Moshe in Hebrew. 

Jaz: There is not. Yeah. 

Lulav: Which I like. 

Jaz: Oh? Say more. 

Lulav: I think the English trend of having like, royal pronouns and possessives sets Hashem at a particular remove which I don’t think is necessary. It's a very hierarchical thing. 

Jaz: Hmm. 

Lulav: It just reminds me of early Christian philosophers who are like, there is a scale of goodness that everything can be rated on and G-d is obviously of the best of those, and those mathematical definitions never really worked for me? And the hierarchy especially doesn't. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: In my theology we choose this G-d because it's the coolest G-d, and we like it very much. 

Jaz: Hm. 

Lulav: Not because it's like, objectively the best thing and so we must serve it?

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Does that make sense?

Jaz: Yeah! I like the capitalization because I feel like it's humanizing, and I like the idea of connecting to the humanizing aspects of G-d in the way that we capitalize people's names. I know that we don't capitalize everybody's names, that some people write their name in all lowercase and also that this is English specific, but given that were (Lulav laughs) talking about writing it in English, you know, obviously Hebrew has no caps anyway, I like that we capitalize names of G-d like we would capitalize names of people and — 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: — I like that given that G-d has so many possible names and that a pronoun is just a way to refer to your earlier referent in the sentence, its antecedent, that it’s like an additional reminder that that's just as much G-d as any other title. 

Lulav: So, basically you're saying that atah is one of the names of G-d?

Jaz: Yeah! 

Lulav: Thats cool. I see what you mean by humanizing then. 

Jaz: So, what happens next?

Lulav: So, we've got this introduction of where we're coming from and then there are just these 12 different blessings for the 12 different ancestral houses. So, may Reuven live and not die, though few be his numbers, which is a very underwhelming way to start blessings?

Jaz: It sure is. 

Lulav: It's just like, oh buddy, hope you survive. That's going to be your blessing, is hanging in there. 

Jaz: It's kind of nice. I don't know about you but I feel like I end a lot of calls with people these days by just being like "be well!" 

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah. 

Jaz: It's a very all purpose type of deal, it doesn't feel like, grand prophecy it's like, the sort of well wish that you might give another person. 

Lulav: Yeah, that's fair. 

Jaz: It's odd in context. 

Lulav: But then of course you get Yehuda. 

Jaz: Right. (laughs) 

Lulav: Which is less underwhelming. It's basically like, hear the voice of Yehuda and restore him. Make his hands strong for him and help him against his foes. So this is the kind of thing I would expect where it's like, ah, have strength and may your voice be heard. Levi is one of the ones where we got kind of a lengthy blessing here. There's a lot here about like, let your yes and no be with your faithful one that you tested at Massah and challenged at the waters of Mervah, who said of his father and mother I consider them not, and I was very confused about what this means? Like, I remember the waters of Mervah as the place where Moshe struck the rock instead of asking it nicely —

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: —and I think more importantly to the narrative, called everybody rebels. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: But I was really confused about the "I consider them not" about the father and mother because that's like, a commandment?

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: Did you like, right away have an understanding of this Jaz?

Jaz: No, I did some research on it because I was confused as to whether they were being scolded or praised. 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay. I think the "be with your faithful one" indicates that its praise which is why I was so very confused, and so I unfortunately read Rashi's commentary on this (Jaz laughs) because he has commentary on every line. 

Jaz: Got some feelings about Rashi you wanted to air out there?

Lulav: (sighs) Yeah. (Jaz laughs) It's mostly the homophobia thing and also the like, my dude we don't need to cinemasins this (Jaz laughs), you can just like, comment on the important stuff. And yes, yes, I know, every word is important, but like. (Jaz laughs) Anyway. So, the thing about considering not your father and mother disregarding your brothers, ignoring your own children?

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: That refers to way back during the golden calf incident when Moshe asked who is with G-d, and the Levites according to the story every single one of them said " I am!" and then set about murdering like, all of the people who were idol worshiping?

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And so this is like, even if somebody is your father or mother or brother or child, you, the people of Levi, like, cleaved to the covenant. You are particularly faithful. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: And I think the waters of Merava thing- okay there are two tacks on this. Rashis thing was Moshe called everybody rebels, but we know from the text in Shemot that uhm, none of the Levites were idol worshiping. They were all toeing the party line, and so to call them rebels was a falsehood. It's a challenge which shouldn't have been made. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: The way that I read this is like, Moshe is a Levite and so are Aaron and Miriam. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And I think the way that he was challenged at the waters of Merava, it's like, he was faithful but he wasn't perfect. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And so maybe this is saying, hey house of Levi, I know you're not perfect, but you're still really faithful. 

Jaz: Mmm. Hmm. 

Lulav: How do you feel about that reading?

Jaz: I think that's really interesting. I like that interpretation. Also, you know how this bit is really long and the next one that's really long is about Joseph? 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: So, have you ever watched new reality TV. 

Lulav: I have watched the first season of The Bachelor. 

Jaz: Okay. I have not so I dont have this one as a point of comparison but it might do the same thing, 

Lulav: (chuckles) Okay. 

Jaz: Okay, so I've been recently watching Project Runway. 

Lulav: Ooh. Okay. 

Jaz: Mostly because I like getting to see people do wacky things with fashion (Lulav laughs) in like, constrained amount of time?

Lulav: (laughs) Good. 

Jaz: I think that it's fun. 

Lulav: Oh, just like you like watching people do wacky things with bread in constrained times. 

Jaz: Yeah, but one of the downsides to reality tv is that you don't just get to watch people make bread or clothing in constrained amount of time and make cool things, but also there's a competition happening and people are snarky about it (Lulav laughs) and judges are rude, and anyway — 

Lulav: Yeah, Paul! Sorry. 

Jaz: — and anyway, on Project Runway, there's this whole thing where the people who make kind of middle of the road designs get dismissed and they go off screen of a while and the people who make like the best ones, or the worst ones, or who are the snarkiest about other people's designs— 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: — get the most screen time because the judges are either saying nice things about them or saying mean things to them or they’re saying mean things about the other people 

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah. 

Jaz: So that feels like kind of what's happening here. 

Lulav: Yeah. I think that does fit with The Bachelor because most of my knowledge from that show comes from listening to Rose Buddies, which was Griffin Mackleroy and Rachel Mackleroy like, recapping episodes of the Bachelor and they had a fantasy league where you got points if the people you had drafted did good kisses and stuff, but you also got bad girl points (Jaz laughs) if they like, insulted other people or swore on national television (Jaz laughs), so yeah that's very much a true thing of reality TV. Can you wrap that back into your thesis?

Jaz: So the people who get the longest blessings here are either being lowkey condemned (Lulav laughs) or they’re being praised to the hills and honestly, about Levi, it's not immediately clear for which one even though it becomes clear later, and when you were doing your summary and then you were like, and then shakes hands with these 5 people in a row and just says their names, those are the mid-lane ones. 

Lulav: Yeah. Exactly. I love that. So yeah, it's like, hey you did all of this cool stuff. As I said in the short summary, remember all the times you were a mensch? And basically there charged with teaching the laws to all of Yisrael and offering incense to savor and then finally they’re protecting by smiting the loins of his foes such that his enemies may rise no more. So, you can tell this is written by men. Then we get to Benjamin. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: And this is varying keeping with what we got during Bereshit which is just like, beloved of the Lord, he rests securely beside him. He dwells amidst his slopes. That sort of thing. It's interesting that like, you know, the favourite child, Benjamin, is lumped in with these middle of the pack people. 

Jaz: Yeah. Also there's some ambiguity about the last line just has pronouns, not names, — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — so it's like, there's a little bit of ambiguity of like, is G-d on Benjamins slopes, is Binjamin on G-ds slopes (Lulav laughs), not totally clear. 

Lulav: This is why you have to define your antecedence. 

Jaz: It's true. Also, to me, it really really makes Benjamin sound like, I don't know a nice way to say this. It makes Benjamin sound like a baby, like —

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: — cuddled up between his mother's breasts, except his mother is G-d. 

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah, okay I see it. He's the baby of the family. But then we get the other baby, Yosef, and he gets more lines than his little brother. Basically like blessings of the land, the bounteous crop of the moons, and all that. And then we get to a fun thing which is bull imagery. We talked about this before in the context of Moshe coming down from talking with G-d and having light about his face, which got interpreted as having horns about his face?

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And we get very much the same thing here, it's like, he has a crown like a firstling bull in his majesty. Horns like the horns of the wild ox that he can gore people with, and it's just like, okay I guess that's a blessing? (Jaz laughs) But those two horns are interpreted of course as Ephraim and Manasseh and their many thousands. 

Jaz: Quick plug here, I have a friend named Meli, who looks really good in horns and wears horns in their profile pictures and stuff. 

Lulav: Okay, I thought that, yeah, okay. 

Jaz: Who has a newsletter called like, Weird Jewish Things or something like that that also talks about what's happening during the week Jewishly and like, gives you links to online events and stuff, and sometimes has commentary on the parsha. Anyway, it comes out on Fridays and you should subscribe to it maybe. I'll link to it. I dont 100% remember what it's called. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Sorry Meli, I think it's called like, Weird Jewish Things, (Lulav laughs) but I'm not sure. Anyway, how do you feel about literal wearing of horns?

Lulav: Hm. Wh- elaborate? (Jaz laughs) Like, do I think it's cute, or like... do you wanna know if I would wear horns?

Jaz: Sure! Would you wear them?

Lulav: Probably? I don't know if i've mentioned this before but like usually with autistic people there are like two different ways that you can go. Either people really like, you know, being covered in stuff and having a lot of even pressure across the body — 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: But there's also the kind of autistic person who doesn't want anything touching them except for maybe a little bit sometimes. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: But mostly just like, skin open to the air — 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: — and I am that latter type. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Which means, I don't like wearing things around my very big head because it hurts, but I do look cute. (laughs) 

Jaz: Okay! 

Lulav: I don't care for the general imagery of virility that you get with horns?

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: There's also the whole meme of the cuckold’s horns, which is just like, why. 

Jaz: Is that a thing?

Lulav: Yeah. When's the last time you read Chaucer?

Jaz: Never! 

Lulav: That’s fair! 

Jaz: Okay, I’m going to say a wildly uneducated thing because I dont know anything about Chaucer, but I do know a little bit and that is my guess, is that he stole it from antisemitic things about Jews having horns and then just plopped it on another category (Lulav laughs) of people he wanted to disparage.

Lulav: Okay... 

Jaz: Jews having horns was a thing for old timey Christians. Also sometimes modern Christians. 

Lulav: It would be really interesting to look at the development of horns as a symbol throughout history. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: And like, exactly who that got stolen from. (laughs) 

Jaz: Yeah... well I know there was stuff also about, Christians had stuff about Jews wearing horns because of a misreading of some of these texts. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But also probably there was stuff about like, virility from older pagan stuff?

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And like, the people I know who wear horns as a fun thing now don't do it for either of those reasons. (Lulav laughs) At least I don't think so? But I do think there's a little bit of a fun reclamation thing there in specifically Jewish people wearing horns. 

Lulav: (chuckles) Good. Are you saying it's cool when Jewish people have troll-sonas? 

Jaz: I was trying not to say that. 

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah. I know a lot of people were really excited when we dipped into Homestuck briefly a while back. I just wanted to shoutout to those folks. 

Jaz: Uh huh. Uh huh. 

Lulav: Anyway, moving on, we had a blessing for Zebulon, and Issachar — woah! I just noticed that Issachar just got like, folded into the blessing for Zebulon. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: Issachar is just folded into another blessing, which I guess makes it okay that I missed that in my short summary?

Jaz: Yeah, he's very unimportant. 

Lulav: But it is a blessing where it's like, you know, you partied down and have like, hidden treasures and stuff. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: For Gad, this is the longest of the middle performers. 

Jaz: Uh huh. It's the longest blessing for a nobody. 

Lulav: Yeah. Uhm, and I don't think necessarily this is nobody because remember the Gadites were part of the shock troops, so this might have been a thing like, hey Gadites, you did really well! 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: And therefore you know, blessed be he who enlarges Gad. Poised is he like a lion to tear off arm and scalp. 

Jaz: If you were comparing things to a lion  — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — do you think the first thing you would do is "like a lion, you know, tearing off arm and scalp".

Lulav: (laughs, then sighs), So, I dont have the same sensibilities of the people who wrote this blessing poetry. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: There's a lot more male bellicosity than I would include in my own blessings for people. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: Which is to say and answer your question, no I don't think that's a particularly flattering thing to say. (Jaz laughs) Yeah. I think this is born out of he executed the Lord's judgements in his decisions for Yisrael. Uhm, so when we talk about Gad as like, part of the shock troops, that makes a lot of sense to me. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: That this is what it's about, this whole blessing of striking quickly and strongly. Yeah, I don't know. I don't have anything more coherent to say about that.

Jaz: Okay, can I... Well actually do Dan and then I'll ask you this rude question. 

Lulav: Uh oh. Okay. Of Dan he said, Dan is a lion's welp that leaves forth from Bshan, which in contrast to the one you just called a lion is, again, underwhelming,. 

Jaz: (laughs) It is. 

Lulav: What were you going to say?

Jaz: I was just going to say, they’re both compared to lions — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — and we have words that are animals that are used for gay men but lion isnt one of them, so if you were going to make up a stereotype, what is a person who is a lion?

Lulav: Ugh, okay. First we need to figure out if we're going with more of the Gad or the Dan. I would say, using kind of the Dan imagery, he'd be a twink but short. 

Jaz: (laughs) Okay. 

Lulav: Yeah. (laughs) Under 5"3 is a lion. 

Jaz: Is he like, real fightey about it?

Lulav: He can be, I don't know. I am not qualified enough on like, gay male culture to say much more than that. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Because I don't know the like, wealth of stereotypes about twinks but... 

Jaz: The stereotype you are inventing doesn't have to be for a man, you could apply it to somebody else. 

Lulav: (laughs) Sure. You did ask me like, gay stereotype though, 

Jaz: I just was drawing from, most of the rest of us don't have animal words to draw from. 

Lulav: Awe okay. Are you asking because you want to be a lion?

Jaz: No! 

Lulav: Okay. (laughs) 

Jaz: I don't think it suits me. 

Lulav: Thats fair. 

Jaz: Would you like to go on to Naphtali?

Lulav: Yeah, Naphtali is saited with favor and full of the Lord's blessing, taking possession on the west and south which i'm not sure about but that does seem like, when we were talking about the directions in which the different staffs are, I think the west and south might have been the rear guard, or is might have just been one of the sides. I don't know. Asher gets a really nice blessing. "Most blessed of sons be Asher may he be— 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: — the favourite of his brothers and dip his foot in oil. May your door bolts me iron and copper and your security last all your days". 

Jaz: Mmm. He's like a reverse fairy. 

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah, clearly Asher is the one who sells home security systems and so everybody in this apparently suburban family now bought home security systems through their brother and got the family discount. 

Jaz: Do you know anybody named Asher by the way. 

Lulav: So, fun fact when I was figuring out gender stuff and was like, definitely nonbinary, hadn’t figured out the girl stuff yet—

Jaz: Yeah?

Lulav: — I went by Asher for a while. 

Jaz: Oh, wild! Thats cool. 

Lulav: Yeah. (laughs) Why do you ask, who do you know?

Jaz: Well, I ask because I didn't know anybody named Asher when I was growing up — 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: — and now there seem to be a bunch of children with that name, it's like the new cool kids name for Jewish children. 

Lulav: Yeah, I swear there's a Philip Roth book that is related to that. 

Jaz: You might be thinking of the Chaim Potok book, My Name Is Asher Lev? 

Lulav: There we go, it is the Chaim Potok book which is much better than Philip Roth. 

Jaz: It is, yeah. (Lulav laughs) I have My Name Is Asher Lev. I really liked it. 

Lulav: Oh cool! Do you have it in New York?

Jaz: Yeah, you can read it when you're here. 

Lulav: Yay. (laughs) Yeah, I think its really cool, its a good name and if youre Jewish and nonbinary and you want a name, you could be the one who dips your foot in oil. (Jaz laughs) It's pretty cool. Anyway, it ends with just like, oh Yeshrun, which is a poetic way to refer to Am Yisrael that only shows up in these last couple chapters of Devarim. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Oh Yeshrun, there is none like Hashem riding through the heavens to help you through the skies in his majesty. So it's basically just like, some very chariot cavalry imagery? A lot of stuff about destroying enemies, about keeping you safe and untroubled, and being a protecting shield, a sword triumphant. And lastly in this blessing we get your enemy shall come cringing before you and you shall tread on their backs, So, don't love that?

Jaz: It's a lot of war imagery. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: Especially to end with, and then you'll go crowd surfing?

Lulav: (laughs) Good. I mean I think it's been pretty well established that I don't like, you know, mistreating people who are different from you. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: Hence why I am so down on this last stanza but, I don't know. It's a decent blessing. I wouldn't have ended the Torah on it, but it's a decent blessing. 

Jaz: They didn't end the Torah on it exactly, there's a few more things. Wanna take us through that few more things?

Lulav: Yeah! So Moshe went up from the steps of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the summit of Paskah opposite Yeraho and the Lord showed him the whole land. This is basically what Hashem has been promising to do for the last like, 10 parshot. Show Moshe the land, and then not let him enter. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: And we have this as a very sudden thing where he's shown the land, and then the next line is, so Moshe the servant of Hashem died there in the land of Moab at the command of Hashem. Fun thing here, which I said as like, bites the anonymous dust, Moshe is buried in the valley in the land of Moab and no one knows his burial place to this day. 

Jaz: Yeah, so, Lulav if he was buried there, who buried him?

Lulav: So, okay. First I have a question. 

Jaz: (laughs) Uh huh. 

Lulav: Does the Hebrew actually say that he was buried? 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: Okay. Remember that imagery that we had, again harking back to the whole halo horns dichotomy. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Where I was like, it's kind of like Moshe does up on the mountain and G-d has ADHD and can't sit still while talking to him and so they give him a full face of makeup and he comes down glowing. I think that particular personification, the kind of G-d that like, sits on Moshe's bedside and just chats with him while doing cosmetic things, that's who buried him. 

Jaz: That's very charming! (Lulav laughs) I like that. 

Lulav: Also, my most cynical interpretation here — 

Jaz: Oh no. 

Lulav: — is, you know how there are basically fifteen different Spears of Longinus, like, the spear that supposedly pierced Jesus on the cross?

Jaz: No. 

Lulav: Oh. Okay, well here's the things. Catholics have a  bunch of relics. Like, a bunch. And many of them are overlapping in mutually exclusive and there's like, no way to figure out if any of them are the actual thing they’re reporting to be and like, which of them. (laughs) 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And so I think maybe this line is trying to avoid that thing, where somebodies like, ah Moshes buried in my backyard, and another person is like, no Moshe is buried under my front stoop! And they’re all like, arguing and making these sites of pilgrimage. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: Instead of having that very mortally focused memorial for Moshe, it's just, he died and has buried somewhere. No one knows. 

Jaz: Right. We have other locations that are like important sights but they’re not mostly about individuals, they’re like, you know, nation sights is the idea. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: I guess there's exceptions to that, in that like — 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: — there is the cave where the matriarchs — 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: — and patriarchs are buried. 

Lulav: But that's a bunch of people! 

Jaz: Oh true. 

Lulav: And it's a very specific cave that's in the text as that cave. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: And so like, this whole last bit of the parsha is just saying Moshe was cool. We have, oh, at line 34:10, never again did there arise in Yisrael a prophet like Moshe, who the Lord signaled out face to face for the various signs and portents. 

Jaz: Before we get there, Moshe dies at 120. He's super old. Not as old as some of the people really early in the text but, you know, still. 

Lulav: He has a spring in his step. 

Jaz: Yeah, and there is like, in some circles like a thing of like, a blessing of like, may you live will 120. 

Lulav: Awe. Oh! Okay, yeah! I was always wondering about that cuz it's like, oh you want they should die at 120? (Jaz laughs) But, yeah that being Moshe's exact age, that makes sense. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: May you have an arc similar to the greatest of our prophets. 

Jaz: Right. (Lulav laughs) So it's very sweet, and also I like this bit about like, he died at 120 and he was still like, really important and really great and they all mourned for him and they have this bit about his eyes were undimmed and his vigour unabated and some commentators take it literally and say its about his literal eyes but a lot of them taking it metaphorically. 

Lulav: He didn't have cataracts. 

Jaz: Right, but a lot of them take it metaphorically and that speaks to me a little bit more. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Not as being like, his body didn't age or, you know, he didn't have health problems but as like, he had like an inner light that was shining out of him continually in spirit. 

Lulav: RIght. 

Jaz: And like, that feels better to me, and I also like the idea that like, he was still really important when he was older like that there is, one of the thing that some of the spaces ive been in are like, young queer people who dont know any queer people who are much older than them. Like, I had a friend who was looking for a couple that was older than them in which both members of the couple were trans. 

Lulav: Nice. 

Jaz: And just didn't find any, right?

Lulav: Un-nice. (laughs) 

Jaz: Right, just like, to talk to somebody, you know?

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And I know people like that but I didn't know anybody older. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And so, I think it's a nice thing to be like we value the wisdom and experience of like, the people who were older than us and like their spirit and we care about it when they die. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Especially where we live in a world where sometimes people are like, well they were old and so it's fine and it's like, Moses was 120 and we were still out to mourn for him. 

Lulav: And not only were we out to mourn for him but like, he could have kept going. 

Jaz: Mmm. Do you wanna talk about the very end of the parsha?

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Which is, there was nobody like Moshe and we end with the last words in the Torah, there's nobody like him— 

Lulav: Oh. 

Jaz: Kol Yisrael, in all of Israel. In a way that is ambiguous whether it was like, the place or the people. What do you think of that being our closing words?

Lulav: So, it is a reform tradition to not only say v’al kol Yisrael in shabbat songs, but to add after v'al kol yoshvei tevel, and throughout the whole world. That's what is makes me think of here?

Jaz: I don't think that's a reform tradition but that's okay. I mean they might do it in your reform synagogue. 

Lulav: Yeah, might be a reconstructionist thing actually. 

Jaz: I have not researched it, but that would be my guess.

Lulav: Okay. I say that by way of saying like, often times in the text well get Israel and it'll be like, oh they are probably talking about one specific place, but I always read it as just, you know, not just the promised land but all of the people who wrestle with G-d, and then there is also the reading of like all of the people who wrestle G-d as literally all of the people and I think holding that scope, like simultaneously thinking about how Moshe displayed this before all Israel and also how Moshe was a person in the world, in the whole world who made some cool stuff happen. I think holding those different scales is cool. 

Jaz: Mmm. Thank you. 

Lulav: Thank you. 

Jaz: Lulav, I think that means we're maybe ready to move onto Rating G-ds Writing, the segment in which we pick two scales and rate the parsha based on it. 

Lulav: Good. So, Jaz, from Isachar who is mentioned as an afterthought to Yoseph who is exclusively promised good things and called virile, what would you rate this parsha?

Jaz: I will rate this parsha Zebulon, who gets like, one line of his own and that line is "rejoice on your journeys" because I feel like mostly this parsha is a send off and it’s a send off to us as were ending the book, it's a send off the Moshe as hes ending his life and it's like, one with hopes for the future. So, I would put it there. Yeah. 

Lulav: Cool. 

Jaz: Lulav?

Lulav: Yes, Jaz?

Jaz: Out of politicians who are shaking the hands (Lulav laughs) of all of the sons of Jacob, which modern politician would you rate this parsha?

Lulav: Which modern politician would I rate this parsha?

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: Uhm, I think I would rate this Joe Biden, because it gets very up in peoples business and also is a hawk. Not The Hawk, she’s cool, I mean like— 

Jaz: Like a war hawk. 

Lulav: — a war hawk, somebody who starts and prosecutes a bunch of wars. 

Jaz: Really didn't like this parsha. 

Lulav: What I will say is this parsha is a disappointment. 

Jaz: Ohh! 

Lulav: There are aspects where if I squint, it is a really good send off if I look at just specific things, but in general it's focused on lineage in a way that I dont always love and there's favoritism. Yet again, Yoseph gets the most unequivocally good blessing and he's been dead for several hundred years. And yeah, it's an okay parsha. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: It's better than any alternatives we had to end this (Jaz laughs) but I feel like if we had planned ahead and not just been slotted into a blessing for the 12 children of Yaakov, maybe we could have had an even better end that takes all of the piddling good things that this parsha has and mixes them together with even better good things. 

Jaz: (laughs) Ahhh. 

Lulav: But there also is a sense in which all blessings with which you could end a story are a sham — 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: — and the real work is the stories we tell each other even after the text ends. 

Jaz: So, on that note Lulav, I have a bonus rating scale for you. 

Lulav: Oh okay. 

Jaz: Out of 50 episodes of Kosher Queers (Lulav laughs), how many episodes would you rate this season?

Lulav: Okay, I would rate this 45 episodes. I am including our first episode, our 0th episode basically, and there are probably about 6 episodes in there where we were just kinda phoning it in a little bit (laughs), but yeah, overall I feel like we did a really good job and I've had a wonderful time making this project with you. 

Jaz: Yeah, me too. 

Lulav: Oh good. 

Jaz: In that case, I think we're ready to wrap up season 1! 

Lulav: Yeah. Thank you everyone for taking this journey with us, and learning Torah with us. This has been a wonderful experience and I look forward to hopping around Nevi'im and Ketuvim with yall next year. 

Jaz: Yeah, it'll be great. 

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, 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, and evidently books at [email protected], 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. Also, this week, the application to be a guest on next season is live and linked in our show notes. If you think you would like to be a guest or have a recommendation for somebody to be a guest, please go fill that out. It'll be quick. Our sound production this week is done by our excellent audio editor, Ezra Faust. 

Lulav: Really excellent. Like, just before recording this episode I listened to what he had on the High Holidays episode so far, and it was stunning. Also, our transcript team of Jaz, who does a ton work, Reuben, who's been very helpful recently, DiCo, who was very helpful before the summer and Khesed who tagged in on a couple of our extra episodes. They all bring you full transcripts of every episode. You can find a link to those in the episode descriptions on Buzzsprout.

Jaz: I just want to clarify that like, DiCo got us through many episodes, it wasn't like, oh hey used to be very useful, —

Lulav: Oh yes.

Jaz: — he got us through many episodes and then now has a job where he just works many more hours and is too busy.

Lulav: Right.

Jaz: We very much appreciate his work.

Lulav: Yes. Sorry, sometimes I say things and they come out really rude and I definitely don't mean them that way.

Jaz: Yeah, anyway 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.

Jaz: Have a lovely queer Jewish day!

[Brivele outro]

Lulav: This week's gender is brassica oleracea, selected for flour clusters. 

Jaz: This week's pronouns are cauli/caule.