Kosher Queers

56 — Toldot: Respect for Music-Based Celebrity

November 19, 2020 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow
Kosher Queers
56 — Toldot: Respect for Music-Based Celebrity
Chapters
Kosher Queers
56 — Toldot: Respect for Music-Based Celebrity
Nov 19, 2020
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, we discuss whether G-d is threatening people or whether a prophet is just a lady or nonbinary person super burdened by being a divine messenger and also super exasperated at their generation. Plus, a questionable mixed drink, an equally questionable bike ride, and some incredibly snarky Kaplan.

Full transcript available here.

This week's reading is Malachi 1:1–2:7. Next week's reading is Hosea 12:13–14:10.

Jaz was reading Questions Jews Ask: Reconstructionist Answers by Mordecai Kaplan.  "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" are both on Hulu, and both have fun accompanying re-watch podcasts of Buffering the Vampire Slayer and Angel on Top.

Content note: this episode contains non-graphic references to slavery.

Support us on Patreon or Ko-fi! Our website, still a little bit under construction, is at kosherqueers.gay. 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 Jaz Twersky and Reuben Shachar Rose. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

Support the show (http://patreon.com/kosherqueers)

Show Notes Transcript

This week, we discuss whether G-d is threatening people or whether a prophet is just a lady or nonbinary person super burdened by being a divine messenger and also super exasperated at their generation. Plus, a questionable mixed drink, an equally questionable bike ride, and some incredibly snarky Kaplan.

Full transcript available here.

This week's reading is Malachi 1:1–2:7. Next week's reading is Hosea 12:13–14:10.

Jaz was reading Questions Jews Ask: Reconstructionist Answers by Mordecai Kaplan.  "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" are both on Hulu, and both have fun accompanying re-watch podcasts of Buffering the Vampire Slayer and Angel on Top.

Content note: this episode contains non-graphic references to slavery.

Support us on Patreon or Ko-fi! Our website, still a little bit under construction, is at kosherqueers.gay. 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 Jaz Twersky and Reuben Shachar Rose. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

Support the show (http://patreon.com/kosherqueers)

Lulav: Hi Jaz. 

Jaz: Hi Lulav. What’s something cool or queer or Jewish you've been up to this week?

Lulav: Aw heck, I forgot to think of — oh actually, you know what, so we had a date and you introduced me to a very interesting mixed drink. 

Jaz: (laughs) Sure. 

Lulav: What is that called again?

Jaz: It's called a pickle back and I wouldn’t have described it as a mixed drink. 

Lulav: Okay, so, listener, please look at this photograph while I tell you about the pickleback which (laughs) apparently is supposed to be a shot of pickle juice taken after a shot of whiskey. However I, as somebody who does not regularly drink and also doesn’t generally host parties at her apartment and therefore only has a little bit of alcohol didn't have any whiskey. And so at first I considered using vodka because that was how Jaz introduced it but then they were like, "wait, wait, no, I don’t think it's that." And I was like, "oh phew, I could put away this bottle that's been open for seven years and that I use for little dabs of ethanol to clean my whiteboard off with"—

Jaz: Oh G-d. 

Lulav: And instead grabbed my gin, which has only been open for — when was the last time my mom visited me? Maybe a year. 

Jaz: Two years. Okay, great. Sure.

Lulav: (laughs) And frankly, the gin was a much better idea and Jaz didn't mention to me the detail that they were supposed to be in separate glasses — 

Jaz: I did say they were two shots and normally people don't hear "two shots" and then mix the two shots together. They just put them in separate shot glasses. 

Lulav: A shot is a measure! Right? Of volume?

Jaz: (laughs) I mean, it is roughly the measure of how much you put in a shot glass. (Lulav laughs) Also, I expected you would have shot glasses. 

Lulav: I need to find where mine went. I think they are at Tova and Ciel’s. 

Jaz: I really need to clarify that I also really really don’t drink, this was introduced to me by like, a family friend and I haven't had a pickleback for well over a year at least. (Lulav laughs) We do have shot glasses in the house because one of my roommates collects shot glasses. 

Lulav: Oh good. Which one?

Jaz: Tori. 

Lulav: Okay. So I'm hastily googling Nickelback songs so I can make a closing pun. (Jaz laughs) Anyway, yeah, instead of pouring out two separate glasses, I just poured the gin and the pickle juice into one glass. Side note — this is the Jewish part — I have pickle juice because after I finished a jar of pickles I was like, "maybe I’ll just want to drink this pickle juice one day"— 

Jaz: Oh my G-d. 

Lulav: And listener? That day came. (Jaz laughs) It wasn't far away, open paren (2005) close paren. (laughs) And so I had all the right reasons to drink that, namely experimentation and finding uses for the pickle juice in my refrigerator. Yeah, it was just really good. Usually I abhor mixed drinks because they make you taste the alcohol less, which makes you consume more alcohol and also there tends to be a lot of sugar and I cannot handle sugar. 

Jaz: There was definitely not sugar in this one. Also you definitely did not drink a lot of alcohol. 

Lulav: Yes, I appreciate how you remind me of the fact that I only had about a shot and a quarter. So, yeah that was my fun ostensibly Jewish thing. 

Jaz: Oh, that was your Jewish thing? I was waiting to see. 

Lulav: And it was queer because we were on a date. 

Jaz: (laughs) Okay, great. 

Lulav: What are you waiting for? From no fixed address in 2014. (Jaz sighs) Thank you for setting me up for that one. What were you gonna say?

Jaz: Oh, I was waiting to see your tie-in of whether this was gunna be a queer or a Jewish thing and how you were gonna make that work. 

Lulav: Okay. (chuckles) Listen, when we stand together from the album here and now in 2011- (laughs) 

Jaz: Wow, I hate it. Okay, alright. 

Lulav: (laughs) Sorry. Okay. (both laugh) Let's just get to your thing so I can close this tab. Um, Jaz, whats something cool and queer or Jewish thats happened in your week?

Jaz: (laughs) So it's been a very Jewish week, and an extremely busy one. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: So, one thing that happened is my third grade students were going to have a ceremony to receive their first siddur. 

Lulav: Aww. 

Jaz: It's very sweet. It's called the Mishkan T'filah For Youth, (Lulav laughs) and it's like, a small version of the regular Mishkan T’filah — not physically small, it's actually a very large book. (Lulav laughs) Anyway— 

Lulav: So what is small about it?

Jaz: I think technically it's like a thinner book than the regular one — 

Lulav: Mm. 

Jaz: But the pages are practically normal printer size, so it doesn't feel like it's small anyway. 

Lulav: Yeah, okay. 

Jaz: But also it's got more accessible versions of all of the prayers, I think the print is bigger, there's pictures on the pages and stuff and more explanation instead of just poetry and the vocabulary is like, designed for people a little younger. 

Lulav: Pictures in Mishkan T’filah?

Jaz: Yeah, it's very cute. 

Lulav: The only art that's supposed to be in Mishkan T’filah  is the shema. (laughs) 

Jaz: Okay. (laughs) There's not like, art of people though. Like they did stay somewhat, I guess traditional in that sense —

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Not to get into a whole thing, I know there is illustrated haggadot with people in them dating back hundreds of years. Anyway. (Lulav laughs) They were all supposed to have one and normally this ceremony is supposed to be done in person and so they just pick them up when they come for the ceremony. 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: But this year the ceremony was on Zoom, so they needed to get it a different way and each kid has a specialized one because their parents write their own inscription to their own child, and I like, put the inscription in the book so each kid has their own specialized siddur. 

Lulav: They have a little like, ex libris in there? Like, those things that are in people's personal libraries that's like, "ex libris whoever." 

Jaz: Aww, it is kind of like that. 

Lulav: Yeah, that's really cool. 

Jaz: It's not as fancy as a bookplate, it's just like a label. Like, a sticker. (Lulav giggles) But it's still cute. 

Lulav: That does sound really great. 

Jaz: Yeah, it makes kids feel really special and I love it, but we had to get it to them. And there's one child who's out of the city (Lulav giggles) so we mailed it to them in advance, but most of them were local and we’d had a couple in person events and told people if you come to the in person events you could pick it up in advance. 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: But not everybody did come to the in person events — 

Lulav: Baruch Hashem. 

Jaz: Right, which was honestly probably great for safety reasons, but so then they didn't get their siddur. And so then there was like, a stack of siddurim and I was like, I don't know what to do about this, so I decided that I would bike to peoples houses cuz they mostly lived in a fairly close and bikeable radius and I would drop them off. And I hadn't coordinated this with everybody ahead of time, but I coordinated this with like seven or eight families and the event was supposed to be on Friday night, but getting everything arranged had taken such a while and there was so much other stuff going on that I was delivering things earlier in the day on Friday —

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And I was like, this is fine, it'll just take a couple hours, the event isn't till 6 o’clock, I'll leave my house at noon and drop these off for a few hours and then like, come home and get showered and changed and it'll be great. Then I'll have time to hang out at home, I was gonna talk to you — 

Lulav: Yeah, we were gonna record this particular episode. (laughs) 

Jaz: We sure were, but I got up kind of late in the day, and I ate a late breakfast at, I don't know, maybe 10 o’clock, but I still left at noon, on time. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: And biked with this very heavy backpack full of books to peoples houses to drop them off. 

Lulav: Oof. I was wondering how you were carrying all of those. 

Jaz: Uh huh. And it took longer and was slower than I had anticipated to drop them off and around 2 o'clock when I really only dropped off, I don't know, five of them— 

Lulav: Oh no. 

Jaz: It occurred to me that I also had not had lunch and hadn't packed lunch and also had neglected to pack a water bottle. 

Lulav: Babe! 

Jaz: And I was like, this is fine cuz there's only like, a couple more, and then I'll head home. In theory I was mostly done, and I didn’t have that many books left in my backpack, like I was actually pretty close, but most of these siddurim I've had at my house. Like, I had brought them home on another day, but there was one person who was very sure that she hadn't picked up her child's siddur, and I didn’t have it. So I figured it must be at the synagogue. So I went to the synagogue, and sure enough, it was there. So were a stack of other siddurim.

Lulav: No!

Jaz: (giggles) So, I was like, okay well, I guess I should bring these with me.

Lulav: No, you should each lunch and drink a bunch of water and maybe lie down for like, 30 minutes.

Jaz: So, I brought them with me, and I have a handful of families emailing me to be like, "can you bring them over today, I know we didn't figure this out further in advance." This is not their fault. There was a lot going on, there's been a lot going out, I had written to parents and said like, if we have not coordinated, like, contact me ASAP, and I just had not realized how many people that would be —

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Because I thought I had coordinated with basically everybody.

Lulav: That's rough buddy.

Jaz: Anyway, the short version of this is I mostly did not drop those off with people but I did try and bike to some houses that were very far away and that was not a good idea, and there was a point where I was like, biking somewhere and I was like, a little faint, and I was carrying again, an extraordinarily heavy bag of books — 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And a dude who I did not know who was like, maybe in his 60s looked at me and I like, wobbled a little on the bike and remembered that my roommate’s bike, which I was borrowing, is a little bit broken and the dude just said to me, "Now watch yourself," and I was like, this is maybe a bad idea. I don't know that I can do this. And um, and I walked my bike the rest of the way home and wrote to the other families and was like, I will get these to you another day. 

Lulav: (worried) Okay. Yeah, that seems like a reasonable way to take that. 

Jaz: Right? And then I went home and collapsed and then took a shower and got hydrated and ate some food and was all prepared for a actually very very lovely ceremony that night. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: With families who, if they had received their siddur that day, were like, very happy. And I think the ones who hadn't were also okay — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But, everything turned out well and turned out fine and also, would maybe recommend having a little bit more foresight than I (Lulav laughs) personally did. 

Lulav: Here's the thing: it's not incumbent on you to deliver every single siddur (Jaz laughs) yourself on a bike? But, you can't just ignore that work, and I think you struck a nice balance there. 

Jaz: Cute. 

Lulav: Maybe a liiiittle too far (Jaz laughs) towards the “personally delivering every single book,” but, good balance in general. (Jaz laughs) 

Jaz: I am going to get the rest of the siddurim to the rest of the families, like by the time this episode goes up they should all have it. 

Lulav: Yeah, I hope so, cuz we're back up to like, three and a half weeks of backlog right?

Jaz: Mmm, three weeks in advance, they should all get it over the next couple weeks. 

Lulav: Good. 

Jaz: But, I did share this story with someone who was like, “Great, so the next time we have something that's going out to all of the families, which is coming up in December, we’re going to have a large team of people doing it— 

Lulav: Uh huh. 

Jaz: “And we're gonna have more than one day to do it.” 

Lulav: Yup. (laughs) That seems like a much more reasonable institutional decision than making it your job. 

Jaz: To be clear, the institution did not tell me to do this, I was just like, "this is manageable", and my boss was like, "you don't have to," and I was like, "seems manageable!" (Lulav laughs) Um, and it was not manageable. 

Lulav: Oh boy. (Jaz laughs) Anyway, speaking of managing things, do you wanna manage our way into this episode? 

Jaz: (laughs) That was a terrible transition, but yes I do. 

Lulav: That was the best segway I could come up with. 

Jaz: That was pretty good. Kudos. 

Lulav: Anyway. 

[Brivele intro music]

11:52

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 Toldot, which is from the beginning of Malachi to chapter 2, verse 7

Jaz: Yeah, sure is. 

Lulav: So that's usually pronounced "Malachi" in English, right? 

Jaz: Is it? I have no idea. 

Lulav: How do you say it? 

Jaz: Malachi. 

Lulav: That's so good. I'm really glad. 

Jaz: I really don't think I've ever heard this word pronounced before, so I was just guessing, based on looking at it. 

Lulav: Yeah! It literally means “my messenger.” 

Jaz: Yeah, which was very confusing for me. 

Lulav: Yeah? Say more. 

Jaz: So, okay. This is anonymous and that's why it translated to "my messenger" because we don't know who the prophet is. 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: But I went to go look it up because I was like, is this prophet's name just "Angel?" Like, was that just his name? Was that a normal name, like the love interest in Buffy? (Lulav giggles) And I don't think so. It's just that — 

Lulav: Aw that really put a sword through the heart of your theory right as it got re-ensouled. (Jaz laughs) 

Jaz: Anyway —  

Lulav: That really moved to Los Angeles! 

Jaz: (chuckles) Um... 

Lulav: Sorry, I watched all six seasons of Angel. 

Jaz: You did? I really only watched a couple seasons of it. I couldn't deal with it because there was a moment where — anyway, it's fine. 

Lulav: Yeah, it's bad. However, as a lesbian I was mostly watching it for Amy Acker and Charisma Carpenter who were like the only two redeeming things about that entire show (laughs) 

Jaz: Charisma Carpenter is really cool. Anyway. (Lulav chuckles) “Malach” is often used to mean angle but only because angels are so often used as messengers and messenger is like, a little bit more of an inside translation of it and so here it's just being messenger. And so this is related to the idea that angels have just like, one job. (Lulav chuckles) Each angel just has one job and they're just like messengers of G-d sent to do whatever their particular thing is. 

Lulav: Yeah! And this book executes its one job fairly quickly. There are about three and a half chapters and we're reading a little over one. 

Jaz: Yeah we're reading about half of this "book." 

Lulav: No! 

Jaz: (laughing) Yes! 

Lulav: Oh dang, it is half. Chapter three is really short. 

Jaz: Yeah, we're reading about half of it. I say “quote unquote book” because I guess there's some debate about it because there's 12 of these who are like, the minor prophets who are all bundled together and sometimes that's considered like one book. 

Lulav: Mm. In addition to reading Malachi this week, last year we read Toldot! So Jaz, how much time do you want to tell us about that particular parsha? 

Jaz: Mm, I didn't time it, but I think it’s a long one, so — 

Lulav: Ooh, 75? 

Jaz: Yeah, let's try 75 and see how that goes. 

Lulav: Okay. Three, two, one, go. 

Jaz: Yitzhahk and Rivka had 20 chill child-free years, but then Yitchak decided he wanted kids. Rivka had a hard pregnancy and did some magic about it, but her twins, Yaakov and Esau, still fought all the time. Plus, on top of that, suddenly there wasn’t any food, so they travelled to another place and Rivka had to pretend to be Yitchak’s sister, but if they’d really wanted to pull that lie off, they probably shouldn’t have had sex in a public place nearby the king; (Lulav laughs) maybe Rivka missed her more wild childless days. Yitchak made a lot of money there and got in a spat with the neighbors, so the king told him to scram. Yaakov buys Esau’s birthright with some red soup, and Rivka doesn’t like Esau’s wives. Rivka devises a plot to have Yaakov inherit, which involves tricking her practically-blind husband, and it works! Esau gets a regular candy bar instead of a golden ticket and a whole chocolate factory, (Lulav laughs) and Rivka sends Yaakov off to her brother’s house so Esau won’t kill him. Before he leaves, Yitchak takes Yaakov aside and makes him promise not to marry anyone Rivka wouldn’t approve of, because everyone knows she really runs things around here, and gives him an additional candy bar — I mean blessing — for good luck.    

Lulav: I'm so glad. You had 12 seconds left.

Jaz: Great. 

17:00 

Lulav: Sixty-five would have done it. That really brought back that whole story, What a good summary. 

Jaz: Thank you. There was a lot going on.

Lulav: There was! 

Jaz: Also I gave you a very Rivka-centric version of the story (Lulav snorts) but I do feel like that was an accurate summary of what happened. 

Lulav: Right. She's a lot of the driver for family decisions 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: In a way that Yitchak isn't quite. (laughs) 

Jaz: Really isn't and I think normally Yaakov is the center of this story but he's like a child for the first half of it (Lulav laughs) so it didn't feel right to center the narrative around him. 

Lulav: So can you tell us a little bit about how that connects to the haftarah portion we read today? 

Jaz: Yeah. I mean, the haftorah portion opens with comparing the current state of Am Yisrael to Esau and Yaakov. 

Lulav: Good. 

Jaz: And in particular, they're fighting with their neighbors who might or might not be the Edommites, also. (Lualv chuckles) Certainly they have Edomite neighbors who they have fought with? Anyway, G-d is talking about, you're fighting like children. I still love you, you're still the favorite, even though you're fighting like children. 

Lulav: Mm hm 

Jaz: And there is some emphasis on, “You are the favorite even though you're being a real little brat.” 

Lulav: Yeah, that seems about right. There are also some interesting family dynamics that we'll talk about when we walk through this haftarah portion. 

Jaz: Uh huh! 

Lulav: So a little bit of the background — this is the last book of Nevi'im in the Jewish tradition but also it's the last book of the (affected posh voice) Old Testament (modal voice) in the Christian Bible as well. 

Jaz: Do they tack on more prophets or do they just put on the New Testament? 

Lulav: So none of the New Testament is Jewish writings. It's all fanfiction. But the order of Nevi'im and Ketuvim in the Christian Bible tends to be out of order. Like, the writings are mixed in with the prophets and it's a whole thing. 

Jaz: Oh. That's confusing. 

Lulav: Yeah. I could actually look up a list of the differences between the canonical Hebrew Bible and a variety of Christian — yeah, here we go. So they divide it into the Pentatuech, histories, poetical/wisdom books, then all of the prophets. 

Jaz: Okay so where does Kings live? First and Second Kings? 

Lulav: (pages turning) So Kings is our... one two three four... fifth and sixth book of Nevi'im but in the Catholic Bible it is, Ruth goes right after Judges and then it has like, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. We put Chronicles I and II into Ketuvim. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So yeah. They just kind of disregarded — 

Jaz: the order. 

Lulav: — whatever was going on. (laughs) 

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: So that was interesting. Haven't looked at that chart in like, a couple years. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: I like my book. Less than I did when we began this podcast, but. 

Jaz: Oh, the NRSV? 

Lulav: Yeah, it's got some helpful reference stuff in it. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Unfortunately, not as helpful as it could be in the Jewish context, because — 

Jaz: It's out of order? 

Lulav: Um, I would actually have to check it — oh, it is out of order. Nevermind. I dislike this book more. Um (laughs) but yeah, the thing that I do like about my particular copy is that every book begins with like a, "here are some things about the poetry and a little bit of the historical place of it and a little bit of what goes on." 

Jaz: That's helpful! My very old copy of the JPS does not do that. 

Lulav: Oh! Okay. 

Jaz: Again, the one I have is very old. (Lulav chuckle) It's like, from 1955. 

Lulav: Yeah. I assume though that even in 1955 they could give a little bit of context for what was going on. (laughs) 

Jaz: I mean, there's a preface to the whole edition. There's just not one to each section. 

Lulav: Okay. Yeah. So one of the things that the NRSV preface to this section says is that the style here is much more question and answer than it is poetic. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And that's something that I agree with, having read about half of it now, but I'm not sure that I would have noticed it on my own. 

Jaz: I did notice that it was less poetical. I don't know that I would have phrased it as, “it's got a question and then it spends a while answering it,” but that does seem very normal to me? I mean, I'm maybe just used to lots of really rhetorical ureesotns after reading a bunch of Talmud. 

Lulav: (laughs) Good. 

Jaz: So like I saw that interpretations are like, there's four distinct questions and then four answers and that part didn't stick out to me as much, but I did definitely see that it doesn't look like poetry. 

Lulav: Right? So let's talk a little bit about why it doesn't look like poetry. So the first line sets up what this is and there are a couple different translations of this line, as there are of many lines, and I would like to go back to our podcast roots of picking one word to look at and being like, oh, here's what it could mean in this context! 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So the way that the NRSV translates it is, "An oracle. The word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi." And then the I think JPS translation — is that what Sefaria uses? 

Jaz: Yup. I'm grabbing some more books. 

Lulav: says, "A pronouncement: the word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi." And then the way that I personally translated it was, "a burdensome name's word to the wrestlers by the hand of my messenger." 

Jaz: (laughs) Walk me through yours and I will tell you what my various different books have it as.

Lulav: So as far as I can read this, the actual Hebrew is "masa dvar Hashem al Yisrael v'yad Malachi." Is that a fair reading of that? Did I mispronounce anything? 

Jaz: The only place that I would note is that it's “el Yisrael,” not “al Yisrael.” It's like, “to Israel.” 

Lulav: Mm, yeah, that's fair. Wait, what would “al” be? 

Jaz: I would associate that with being like, ayin lamed, like “on Israel.” Like, it's a different preposition. 

Lulav: Ohhh. Okay. That's interesting. But yeah, definitely “el Yisrael.” The nikud is even those three dots which we love so much. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So basically the first word is what gets translated in the various versions as a standalone clause. In the NRSV it's "an oracle." In the JPS it's "a pronouncement:" But this is just kind of in the series of words here. So it's the first word and then the next word is dvar Hashem which is more syllables, for sure. So I like to take that as a whole thing. Which, I don't know if that's a particularly Hebrew grammatical way to read it? 

Jaz: Is what? 

Lulav: Like, do you think it's fair to interpret this as like, “a burdensome or oraculous name's word,” instead of like, as two separate things, “an oracle: the word of the lord?” 

Jaz: Yeah, and in fact I have a translation here that does that. 

Lulav: Ooh. What do they say? 

Jaz: It is the oldest translation I have in front of me. So I have three different translations in front of me because I was curious now that you brought it up. And the newest one that I have and the oldest one both render this as like, one sentence, no colon or period or anything. 

Lulav: Cool. 

Jaz: But the newest one is the URJ translation, who does more of an outside translation. 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay. 

Jaz: And renders this whole sentence as "the message of the Eternal to Israel through Malachi" and then puts the colon there. 

Lulav: Yeah, that's fair. They just kind of skipped the first word as a distinct thing? 

Jaz: Yeah. They just kind of pull it into the rest of the sentence and look at both masa and dvar and combine them to be like, “message.” (Lulav chuckles) But my oldest translation, which is — 

Lulav: Yes please

Jaz: from the British and Foreign Bible society renders this first verse as, "The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel, by Malachi." 

Lulav: Yeah! I love that translation. (laughs) I was going with a kenning because we were translating into English, but that actually sounds much better. (laughs) 

Jaz: Right? And it's kind of cool, I think? Because it brings up that thing about prophets, like how a prophet isn't like an esteemed thing and this prophet isn't coming to tell you something happy or that you're going to be excited about.   

Lulav: (chuckles) Right.

Jaz: Like, the word is a burden. And I don't know, I think that's a cool thing. 

Lulav: I think that works with a lot of our conception of what oracles are, that the people who are oracles and bring these messages from the cosmos tend to be afflicted. For instance, Cordelia Chase in the show “Angel” had really debilitating migraines whenever she got visions of what was going to happen in the episode. 

Jaz: Great connection. 

Lulav: Thank you. (laughs) 

Jaz: It'll also note, and it is possible, and I'm not looking at the BDB here but at the Jastow, because the Jastrow is on Sefaria and really I should probably be looking at a BDB, but they do note that there is also this meaning in the word “masa” that is like, lifting or uplifting, that which the souls lifts itself up. 

Lulav: Oh that's fun. 

Jaz: I wanna offer one other thing that's notable. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: About the grammar here, which is almost all of this is in second or third person, which is to say it's talking about this is what G-d says or this is what you, the people or you the priests should do. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And when it's talking in first person, it's talking in first person as G-d, not as Malachi. 

Lulav: (chuckles) Yeah. 

Jaz: So the one place here where you could get Malachi speaking in a non-G-d voice would be in this first line but because of the construction of this first line, starting with that word, this line is also in third person. Which is to say, we don't ever get Malachi speaking in first person, which feels notable to me because it's anonymous and we don't know who it is. 

Lulav: Yeah, like that's why I don't like a translation that involves the proper noun "Malachi." I think that this should be interpreted as lowercase m "malachi," my messenger. 

Jaz: I agree, and I also just want to have a like, little sidebar here.

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: THat I think that's cool and the other thing that I was just talking to third graders about is like, the different prayers and the way that Hebrew is gendered and Hebrew is gendered whenever you speak in first person, right. Like it gives you some agency because in English, you tell people your pronouns because they can gender you wish them but in Hebrew you can gender yourself whenever you speak. You don't have to wait for other people to talk about you. 

Lulav: So what would the feminine conjugation of this be? 

29:12        

Jaz: There isn't one, because this isn't in masculine conjugton currently. 

Lulav: Oh? 

Jaz: I mea, it is, but it doesn't make a difference. Malachi isn't gendered. My messenger, the first person possessive there, is a gender-neutral term. 

Lulav: Cool. So it's not like if you were talking about a female messenger you would say malachai?   

Jaz: Uh, that's a good question, and I don't know the answer to it for absolute certainty, but I think it might just be a difference of vowels? Yeha, I'm not sure. My guess, and the reason why I said that, is that I think that it's just a word that happens to be gendered masculine, messenger, in the way that like table happens to be gendered feminine, that it doesn't switch, that the word is just gendered. I could be wrong about that, but that was my working assumption. 

Lulav: Yeah 

Jaz: Anyway, so the reason I brought this up, because we don't know anything about the gender of the person who is the messenger here, we're not given that information, we're just given the information that they're a messenger and anonymous. And prophets don't tend to be anonymous. (Lulav chuckles) It's unusual for prophets to be anonymous. Most of the prophets are given names. So I think there's a really good case to be made that there's a reason that this one deliberately doesn't give us Malachi speaking in first person. 

Lulav: Yeah. I think the only other prophet where it is maybe just a title is Obadiah which would mean, um, “servant of Hashem.” And interestingly, Obadiah is also the shortest book in all of Nevi'im and Ketuvim. 

Jaz: Aww. 

Lulav: So right, let's actually get into the text — 

Jaz: I just wanted to offer up a translation that our prophet it's a man and lets keep going. 

Lulav: Yeah, thank you! “So I have shown you love, said the Lord, but you ask how have you shown us love? After all, declares the Lord, Esau is Yaakov's brother, yet I have accepted Yaakov and have rejected Esau.” Um, so I was just reading that out word by word to show you it very much is a question-answer sort of thing. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Where there’s the declaration, “I have shown you love” and the question, “how have you shown us love?” And the declaration, “Yaakov was accepted and his brother Esau, his hills were a desolation and his territory is for the beasts and if they ever think, though crushed, we can build it again, I'll tear it down.” So there's a  lot of stuff in here that I theologically hate. 

Jaz: Okay. Tell me more. 

Lulav: So, and this is "they shall be known as the region of wickedness, the people damned forever of Hashem.” I don't like the idea of eternal damnation for a people, the idea that like, because of the way ancestors acted, independent of the way you're acting now, it's always going to be a nasty place. This is why I very much sympathized with the outcast lions in the Lion King II: Simba's Pride. It's just like, there is no reason to ascribe iniquity to the people who are also being economically maligned. 

Jaz: Okay 

Lulav: And I think that theologically what they're saying here is like they're just going to be like that forever. And implicitly, they will always be wicked. 

Jaz: Yes, that sounds accurate to me. 

Lulav: Yeah, so it's a very post hoc ergo propter hoc thing... yeah. I don't like that thing. And then we have in line 6, “a son shall honor his father and a slave his master. Now, if I am a father, where is the honor due me, and if I am a master, where is the reverence due me? said the lord of hosts to you, oh priests who scorn my name.” So there's this thing where slavery or even, as the NRSV translates it, "servanthood," is conceived of as a natural thing. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: As part of the divine relationship and I just hate that. 

Jaz: Yeah, also "Lord of hosts" is a euphemistic translation. 

Lulav: Oh? Do say. 

Jaz: "Tzevaot" is armies, which is the word here. So this is something of a… threat? “Where is the respect due me?” says the G-d of armies. (both laugh) 

Lulav: Who, not two lines ago (laughs) was saying how a people can be torn down because they were cursed once. 

Jaz: Uh huh! 

Lulav: So this bit is basically saying the people who were celebrating the traditional sacraments of priesthood are offering not the best stuff that they have. The thesis phrase here I guess is the “table of the Lord can be treated with scorn.” The examples are like they're presenting blind animals for sacrifice and lame and sick ones and hey, if you offered this to your territorial governor, would he be okay with that? No. So why are you giving it to me? 

Jaz: Yeah. I have a question for you a little bit about these comparisons to “your father” and “your master.” 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Do you feel like this is a comparison of "if you wouldn't talk that way in front of your mother why do you ever think it's okay to talk that way" or is this a "you made a really tasteless Holocaust comparison and I wish you wouldn't?" 

Lulav: Woof. You mean like, “scorned your name?” 

Jaz: Yeah, like, what's the text trying to do here? To me, when they throw a slavery thing in the middle of it, it feels closer to the the, you're making a causal comparison to something horrifying. 

Lulav: Which they don't realize is horrifying. I don't think it's like, middle schoolers or I guess also there was a Norwegian college kid that one time — anyway, point is, it's not like telling Holocaust jokes where you know that's f(bleeped) up. It's just talking about slavery as a totally natural thing that should exist and not even blinking at that relationship being compared to your relationship with Hashem. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: And I think there is also a comparison to a governor, somebody who is taking care of your province on behalf of an empire. 

Jaz: So do you think all of these are supposed to be constructed in the text? Like, that the prophet who spoke them would have been thinking ah, yes, these are all suitable comparisons because they're all about somebody who is responsible for the well-being of other people? 

Lulav: I do think that is the case. Okay, so I think the one with governor is a little more mocking. It's less like, “your governor should be treated with respect” and more like, “well, if this is the level of respect you give to the governor why do you not give it to me?” 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: But I do think that these are all relationships that would really make sense to people. 

Jaz: And the governor’s a secular authority.

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: So this feels like somebody comes in and is like, you treat your music-based celebrity like this, go and treat your rabbi with more respect. 

Lulav: I love the phrase "music-based celebrity." (Jaz laughs) I think the episode title is "Respect for Music-Based Celebrity." (both laugh) Yeah, so it's like, “hey, do better about this.” And then it gives you another question: "implore the favor of G-d! Will He be gracious to us?" And the answer is “(laughs) dude, you might as well quit trying to have a temple if you're going to give me offerings that are this bad.” 

Jaz: So just to be clear — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: They don't have a temple, right? 

Lulav: I don't think so! I think this is at a point where there is political favor for rebuilding the temple but it's still a couple centuries before the Second Temple is constructed. 

Jaz: Is it? I thought this is like, post-Temple. 

Lulav: Post-First Temple, because the First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in the 500s BCE and then the Second Temple began construction in like 20 BCE and it was destroyed in 70 CE, so that was only standing for a couple years. (laughs) But this would have been at least 100 years before the First Temple was destroyed. 

Jaz: Okay.    

Lulav: Anyway, point is, yeah, like “y'all just might as well just stop this renovation of Levite practice that you have begun if you're just going to offer me nonsense” is the thrust of that bit. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And it ends this chapter, which is not actually a Jewishly relevant division, but it ends with a curse on the cheat who has something good to sacrifice but instead sacrifices something blemished. 

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: So this is very much like bragging and being like, “hey, I deserve the good sacrifices like I told you to give me.” 

Jaz: I maintain that this supports my theory that Malachi is not a man only because it sounds like a mom. 

Lulav: Okay. (Both chuckles) And the last seven lines begin with "and now, oh priests, this charge is for you." You gotta do better, or I'm gonna send some curses. 

Jaz: Okay! 

Lulav: Your seed won't grow. I'll smear your faces with dung from the things that you sacrifice and you’ll be taken out to the trash pile.

Jaz: All of those things sound like a weird kink thing.

Lulav: A little, yeah. Okay. And then… like this charge that I'm making is so that the covenant with the Levites endures. The house of Levi is supposed to be in a point of pride and constant service. 

Jaz: Okay 

Lulav: And yeah, I guess this bit ends with just like, “hey, you're the moral exemplars so you really have to do this correctly.” 

Jaz: Okay. And the thing that they have to do correctly is…  

Lulav: Offer good sacrifices. 

Jaz: Okay. I actually do have one more thing to say about this last bit. 

Lulav: Ooh. 

Jaz: Which is if this covenant they have, like you're talking about, well the covenant needs to endure, what do you think G-d or the prophet is saying they need to do to make it endure? And is the prophet offering a reason why they should want to behave differently than they do? 

Lulav: Yeah, I think this reading is a very specific message that the sacrifices being made should be made in full faith. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: Instead of just like, we're doing this because this is what we're supposed to do as a people, it's like, we're doing this because this is what we're supposed to do as a people. Like, we're supposed to make the best sacrifice and try really hard as a people to live in community

Jaz: Aww. 

Lulav: So the whole thing here is very much like, hey you offered defiled food on my altar that you definitely wouldn't give to this secular authority and so you’re going to do better by offering the good sacrifices. 

Jaz: Aww. Okay so I was just reading a book called Questions Jews Ask: Reconstructionist Answers by Mordecai Kaplan. I've never read any Kaplan before but I kept meaning to and I have this book now so I figured I would start with this one. 

Lulav: That sounds great. 

Jaz: And I was reading a question that was put to Kaplan, who is the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism and a lot of his deal has to do with this idea of Judaism as a civilization so he sort of upended some ideas of Judaism because he wants it to feel like this is a civilization that we're all constructing together. 

Lulav: Yeah! 

Jaz: And it can look in a lot of different ways and Jews have to come together and figure out what we want it to look like and we've got all these different pieces to it already. It's not just a religion, not an ethnicity — there's too many pieces for it to be reduced down. 

Lulav: Yeah 

Jaz: Anyway, so somebody asks him this question that's basically like, “Your idea that accepting diversity in belief and practice as normal and that this is a thing that democracy requires —  will this inevitably lead to the fragmentation of Jewish life?” And Kaplan says — this is not the first line in his response — 

Lulav: Uh huh 

Jaz: But it's my favorite line, which is "Difficult as it is to get along with people, it is impossible to get along without them." 

Lulav: (laughs) That's cute. 

Jaz: “By the same token, difficult as it may be for some Jews to get along with their fellow Jews, they cannot dispense with them or ignore them except to their own hurt.” 

Lulav: It's like, there has to be diversity in your faith community because the alternative is you just don't have a faith community. (chuckles) 

Jaz: Yeah! 

Lulav: This will lead to fractures, because otherwise it leads to people just not being Jews. 

Jaz: Yeah! Anyway, so I was just thinking about that as you were talking about people coming together with more dedication than they had before to like, build a community doing what we're supposed to do. 

Lulav: Side note that I probably should have mentioned up front but works here — I recently watched the Netflix show “Grand Army,” which takes place in your neighborhood. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And one of the plotlines there is this Jewish girl who's not a practicing Jew but she likes her friend's rabbi, so she goes to the friend's rabbi for emotional support. 

Jaz: Cute. 

Lulav: And she's like, why are my relationships going bad? And the rabbi’s going like, “well, you could try the Jewish concept of repentance and genuinely apologizing to people and accepting what comes of that.” (Jaz chuckles) And of course just talking to a rabbi once every few weeks doesn't actually mean that you're going to do well with that and she horridly misuses the concept of teshuva. 

Jaz: Oh no. 

Lulav: To like, not-pologize to people. 

Jaz: Noooo. 

Lulav: But yeah, I thought of that because of this idea of like, you can't just do things because you're supposed to do that. It's not like, you must do teshuva therefore you must apologize to people even if you don't actually mean those apologies. It's like, no, offer your best. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: If you're going to apologize, genuinely apologize and do it because you want to/supposed to be doing it. (laughs) Instead of just like, it's your homework. 

Jaz: Yeah. also since we don't know who this person is, this prophet, I wonder if there's something of a lashing out, you know, of feeling like this isn't working, we're not doing what were supposed to be doing, I'm writing like an anonymous open letter to tell you all to like pull yourselves together. (Lulav laughs) Things could go really bad if we dont pull ourselves together. Have you seen what happened to the Edomites? 

Lulav: Mm, yeah! I definitely think that's part of it. 

Jaz: And that, to me, makes the idea of threat also work a little better because then it's a like, that should be a warning sign to us, we gotta get it together. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. Not to bring up an antisemite, but I did go to some Lutheran schools and so I have some very powerful images of Martin Luther just nailing some theses to a church door. And so I guess the thing I'm thinking of here is some random Jewish dude is just like, nailing 95 theses about how we need to be better about sacrifice to the flap of whatever temporary mishkan there is. 

Jaz: Aww. 

Lulav: So yeah! That's the haftarah. 

Jaz: Sure is. Lulav, are you ready for Rating G-d's Writing? 

Lulav: You mean the segment where we make up scales and then get those proper rulings out of our mouths? 

Jaz: I sure do. 

Lulav: Cool. Do you have one for me? 

Jaz: Sure. Out of 12 very short books, how many very short books would you give this haftarah? (Lulav laughs) I recognize that not all of the minor prophets are this short, but bear with me. 

Lulav: Yeah. So I'm going to go with nine out of 12 very short books because now that we've talked it through, I do like that general thrust. Like, I was kind of realizing the thesis of this portion as we were talking about it.

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: And I like that as a simple straightforward message. It's missing three because there are these assumptions about the way that a society should be set up included in this that I think are counter to the best possible reading of the thesis here. 

Jaz: Mm. Sometimes your radical thinking about what a better future looks like — 

Lulav: Still involves slavery? (laughs) 

Jaz: Well, just like, carries with it your own assumptions and therefore actually fails to follow through on your own radical ideas. 

Lulav: Yeah. We will not live in HaOlam HaBa. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Jaz, this is a little more open-concept. 

Jaz: Oh no. 

Lulav: Sorry. So you've been sacrificing like not the best things up to this point. What sort of sacrifice are you giving the day after you find this short book stapled to the mishkan? And What are you sacrificing 95 days after you read what was stapled to the mishkan? 

Jaz: This is a twofer?

Lulav: Yeah, like, is this convincing? and also does it stick with you after you've made that initial change? 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: Or do you just kinda revert? Because it wasn't very convincing? 

Jaz: So here's the thing, right I think that it is sufficiently convincing that on the first time I get it, I'm like, there with a really nice sheep but I also think this is a thing that carries with it, like we were saying, the prejudices of its day and the problems of its day and also it's still pre-Temple and we're not going to have sacrifice for that much longer (Lulav chuckles) and so you have to figure out how to apply this lesson once we turn to rabbinic Judaism and so, it's not that I don't think there's value in here, it's just that it carries with it so much of a like, the imagined better future is so deeply rooted in its current present — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. And the imagined better past too, right? 

Jaz: And an imagined better past. And I do better with imagined better futures than with imagined better past — I think imagined better pasts are often just a really dangerous thing.  

Lulav: Really? I haven't run into any recent examples of that. (Laughs)

Jaz: Uh huh! And so I think because of that, I would be more inclined to say that it it convincing enough to make me thinking like, yeah, let's bring some better sheep but soon enough I'm over here like, being like, “what if instead of doing that to the sheep, I could use its wool and make something different instead?”

Lulav: Okay. So your rating is a really good sacrifice on the first day and alternative practices to sacrifice on the 95th day. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Cool. I love that. Jaz, can you take us to the close? 

Jaz: I sure can. 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 [email protected], and please spread the word about our podcast! You can check us out at kosherqueers.gay. 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 kosherqueers.gay.
 
Jaz: 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. Have a lovely queer Jewish day!
 
[Brivele outro music] 

Lulav: This week's gender is two hours later.

Jaz: This week's pronouns are vi and vim.