Kosher Queers

59 — Vayeishev: On Occupiers' Time for 2500 Years

December 10, 2020 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow
Kosher Queers
59 — Vayeishev: On Occupiers' Time for 2500 Years
Kosher Queers
59 — Vayeishev: On Occupiers' Time for 2500 Years
Dec 10, 2020
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, we ponder creating your own separate traditions before returning to join the Jewish people, visions of angels and holy prosecuting attorneys, and calendars. Plus, some fun bonus stories  of said prosecuting attorney messing with some rabbis.

Full transcript here.

Also, a neat fact that we didn't mention in the episode is that the Orit is the five books of the Torah, plus Joshua, Judges, and Ruth, written in Ge'ez rather than Biblical Hebrew; there's a picture here.  Commedia dell'arte is an Italian theatrical genre popular in the 1400s, wherein the characters are stock caricatures that have the same names even in wildly different works. HaSatan doesn't map onto any of them particularly well, but does feel a little like Arlecchino. The Cheese Man appears in Buffy the Vampire Slayer s4ep22, "Restless." The stories of HaSatan come from Job, Kiddushin 81a, Bava Batra 16a, and Rosh Hashanah 16b. You can read Aurora Levins Morales' "V'ahavta" here. Also, here's Debbie Friedman's "Not By Might, Not By Power" and the lyrics to it.

This week's reading was Zechariah 2:14–4:7. Next week's reading is Kings I 3:15–4:1.

Our music is by the band Brivele. This week, our audio was edited by Lulav Arnow, 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 (

Show Notes Transcript

This week, we ponder creating your own separate traditions before returning to join the Jewish people, visions of angels and holy prosecuting attorneys, and calendars. Plus, some fun bonus stories  of said prosecuting attorney messing with some rabbis.

Full transcript here.

Also, a neat fact that we didn't mention in the episode is that the Orit is the five books of the Torah, plus Joshua, Judges, and Ruth, written in Ge'ez rather than Biblical Hebrew; there's a picture here.  Commedia dell'arte is an Italian theatrical genre popular in the 1400s, wherein the characters are stock caricatures that have the same names even in wildly different works. HaSatan doesn't map onto any of them particularly well, but does feel a little like Arlecchino. The Cheese Man appears in Buffy the Vampire Slayer s4ep22, "Restless." The stories of HaSatan come from Job, Kiddushin 81a, Bava Batra 16a, and Rosh Hashanah 16b. You can read Aurora Levins Morales' "V'ahavta" here. Also, here's Debbie Friedman's "Not By Might, Not By Power" and the lyrics to it.

This week's reading was Zechariah 2:14–4:7. Next week's reading is Kings I 3:15–4:1.

Our music is by the band Brivele. This week, our audio was edited by Lulav Arnow, 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 (

Lulav: Hey Jaz. 

Jaz: Hi Lulav. 

Both: What’s something—   

Jaz: Ugh. 

Lulav: — cool and queer or Jewish in your life this week? Whaaat.

Jaz: Okay. Uh. Well, 

Lulav: Spikes a football at you! 

Jaz: (laughs) Okay. I can go first. (Lulav laughs) Let’s see... okay so today, the day we're recording — which is three to fours weeks ago by the time this episode comes out — 

Lulav: It's the Ides of November. 

Jaz: It's also the Jewish holiday of Sigd. 

Lulav: It's Sigd! Oh that's fun! 

Jaz: (laughs) So, I've been teaching my students about Sigd in third grade, because third grade has a mostly holidays-and-life-cycle-based curriculum, and I got to go to a Sigd event that was specifically for educators. The event was pretty close to Sigd, so there wasn't all that much I could bring back to my students because we'd already had a good chunk of our lessons by that time— 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: But, the event itself was still really cool and it talked about longing and complicated feelings about place and home. It was really beautiful. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: For those of our listeners who might not be familiar with Sigd, Sigd is an Ethiopian Jewish holiday that the rest of the Jewish world didn't historically practice. The Ethiopian Jewish community was kind of cut off for centuries from the rest of the Jewish community. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: I am not an expert on the history there. Sigd is a holiday that happens 50 days after Yom Kippur, and is again one that focuses around ideas of repentance and forgiveness and teshuva, but with the idea that like, you had 50 days to kind of get it together and also that Yom Kippur maybe has more of a focus on those things from yourself as an individual, and Sigd is more communal. 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: And there are rituals related to gathering and going up on a mountain and doing prayers together that guide the kes who's, like, a kind of rabbi or a priest—

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: but who has the title of “kes”, and they both read from the Torah and from a holy text that's specific to them called the Orit, which is in an ancient Ethiopian language called Ge'ez— 

Lulav: Currently in use, also. 

Jaz: Ge'ez?

Lulav: Right?

Jaz: No, it isn’t — 

Lulav: Oh. 

Jaz: Mostly people speak Amharic. 

Lulav: Ohhh. 

Jaz: Ge'ez, is my understanding, is mostly a ritual language at this point. 

Lulav: Okay, my bad. That seems to be the name of the alphabet which is used for more recent languages from the area. 

Jaz: Oh, thats cool. Anyway, it was really neat to be able to talk to both this group of educators which included some Ethiopian Jews who were talking about the holiday, and to see my students learn about it, and learn about the different rituals associated with it, and to know that those students are likely some of the first in their families to learn about this particular holiday. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: I spoke to some to some of the high school students who help out in the classroom, the madrichim, and they didn't learn about it when they were younger, so it was a nice thing to feel like these younger students are growing up with more knowledge of different Jewish holidays and customs. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And also it was really nice for third-graders, I think, to feel like they have knowledge that their families didn't have (Lulav giggles) and they could go back and be the expert. 

Lulav: Oh that's fun. 

Jaz: Yeah, which doesn't happen to kids all that often, so it's diversifying our curriculum and giving kids a sense of authority and capability. 

Lulav: Yeah, this reminds me of like, times in season 1, I can't remember exactly when or like which book of Torah this was, but we were talking about the general idea that the Jewish people will be sent away and will come back. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: And the idea that, you know, that's still part of the covenant is like, eventually when you do come back you are still Jewish, you've just been away and you have to like, learn the Jewishnesses of all the other people who have had all of their own — 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Experiences away. This feels a little bit like coming home — 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: To other cousins. 

Jaz: Yeah, and one of the things that was really cool to me that I sort of learned while at this event for educators, is a more full understanding that just as Ashkenazi Jews didn't know that Ethiopian Jews existed, (Lulav giggles) Ethiopian Jews didn't know that Ashkenazi Jews existed, so the traditions and holidays and cultures that they had, those were the only Jewish ones —
Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: As far as they were concerned, until they came in contact with other Jewish communities, and so it is a really cool, to me, way to explore how different Jewish communities developed and were still definitely Jewish but separated from each other. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And also, we did talk a little bit about like, you know, Ethiopian Jewish communities are now, many of them in Israel and they're not always treated well in Israel, you know? So, we talked a little bit about the racism that happens there. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Anyway, that's my update. (Lulav giggles) Melkam Sigd bahal everybody, I know it's belated. And, Lulav, what is something cool or queer or Jewish that happened to you this week?

Lulav: Well, a couple, you know, big life updates, um, mostly related to relationships. You may remember that I was crying a lot last week, and that is because Tova and I broke up. Mostly, I broke up with Tova and it was a really, like, tough decision, and so I think it being queer and Jewish is definitely a thing. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Just like, the way that you make decisions to like, structure or unstructure the future of your life — 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Is, you know, one of the major things that we consider as people, and also there was a time when I was talking very happily about new relationships, and you don't hear as much about the end of relationships because they tend to be less cool, even though they are not less impactful. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So yeah, I was dating Tova for 2.3 years, about —

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: And um, they were really important to me and our life circumstances changed and I didn’t want that relationship to be like, yeah. I didn't want to have that particular relationship anymore— 

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: Even though I'm still really fond of them and I hope at some point we can be friends again. It's probably not gonna happen for the next little bit because you do need time away to develop your own customs and holidays — 

Jaz: Awww. 

Lulav: And independent ways of being for you to come back and, you know, be friends. (laughs) 

Jaz: Cool. 

Lulav: I'm great at metaphor. 

Jaz: Hey, that was great. 

Lulav: Thank you! Yeah, that wasn't sarcastic at all, I'm great at metaphor. It's a genuine talent of mine. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So, yeah, that was a queer and Jewish thing. A cool and queer thing that also relates to relationships is that my best friend got a girlfriend. 

Jaz: (laughs) Uh huh. 

Lulav: And they made a playlist for them. It's just really cute. We've been friends for a while and Mercury, not to air out much romantic history, but like, they haven't had a ton of success in like, feeling really recognized and they found that! So it was really cool and very validating that like, I don't know, a year and a half ago when I was like, “listen, you're probably not going to find anyone in the immediate future, but I promise you that you're going to find somebody who really cares about you and who you really care about and it's gonna be great,” and it's just good that my optimism paid off, (Jaz laughs) not because of the optimism, but like... I like when I say things that predict good futures for my friends and they turn out to be true. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So. Also, I do play League of Legends with their girlfriend and she is very cool. 

Jaz: (laughs) Great. 

Lulav: Shout out to both Mercury and Kat, and everybody else on that server. So yeah, those are the rises and falls, the epic highs and lows of high school football — I mean, sorry, of living in the world as a queer Jewish person. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Jaz, do you wanna roll on into the episode? 

Jaz: Sure. 

[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 the haftarah of Vayeishev, which is Zechariah 2:14-4:7. Now, you may, if you are using a Christian source text, be a little bit confused because in the NRSV, this portion starts at Zechariah 2:10. I could not tell you why they are different. The Christians seem unaware of this fact.

[short horn noise]

Jaz: Fascinating. (Lulav laughs) Like the numbering on the lines is different?

Lulav: Yeah. So, like, our 2:14 is "Shout for joy, Fair Zion! For lo, I come; and I will dwell in your midst— declares the LORD."

Jaz: Yeah?

Lulav: 2:14 in the NRSV does not exist, but the equivalent line is 2:10, "Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the LORD."

Jaz: Woaaah.

Lulav: So, it looks like chapter 1 is longer in the Christian text than in the Jewish text and I didn’t like, care to see what the other discontinuities were.

Jaz: That's interesting.

Lulav: So yes. Make sure you are reading from Sefaria or a similarly Jewish source text, and uhhh, you will have the right numbers.

Jaz: Wait, I have more questions about— we can get to it later I guess, but I have more questions about it being a Christian text when we get there. 

Lulav: Okay. Yeah, that could be something to talk about. (Jaz chuckles) Because I have read Revelations. It was like, a decade ago, but this did remind me of that. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So, this haftarah portion is read in concert with a parsha. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Jaz: Yes, can you give me a minute to do so?

Lulav: I can once I find my phone— there it is. Ready, set, go. 

Jaz: Joseph’s dad made him a pride coat because he's proud of him, and also because he's gay. Joseph dreamed that he was the coolest metaphorical cat around, which annoyed his brothers so much they decided to throw him in a pit. Then, in Unintended Consequences Town, population: Joseph's brothers, some other people came along, found Joseph in the pit, and sold him. So the brothers hastily told their dad that Joseph had died, because apparently that was better? (Lulav chuckles) Interlude to focus on older brother Judah’s messed up family, including the introduction of masturbation and a father-in-law being terrible, but thankfully being outwitted by his smarter and sexier daughter-in-law. Okay, now cut back to Joseph, working for a rich guy in Egypt and doing pretty okay for himself, until the rich guy’s wife is determined to sleep with him, and when he refuses, the rich lady decides if she can't have his beauty, she should frame him like a picture on her wall and gets him sent to prison. Joseph kisses up to the jailer, and interprets some dreams which he hopes will be his ticket out, but one of the dreaming people gets killed and the other one forgets all about him, so, it seems like a bust. Done. 

Lulav: Wow. um. [timer goes off] Right on time. 

Jaz: Great. 

Lulav: A little bit ahead in fact. Okay, like, first of all I forgot how hectic the first like, 12 parashot are. 

Jaz: Yeah, there is a lot going on in every bit of Genesis. 

Lulav: Every bit. 

Jaz: Like, it is a time. 

Lulav: (laughs) So, we had the Broadway musical. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: There was Onan?

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Was that the masturbation thing?

Jaz: Yup. 

Lulav: And Tamar, the first one. 

Jaz: Uh huh. Uh huh. 

Lulav: Not to be confused with the other Tamar, who is also very important. And then, metaphorical white woman tears. 

Jaz: Yeah! 

Lulav: All in the same parsha. 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: That's amazing. 

Jaz: Also you forgot about the jail and the dream interpretation, which are also there. 

Lulav: Oh. (laughs) Wait, I thought that was next time, there was dream interpretation this time too?

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: Oh G-d. 

Jaz: Of the people in prison; he interprets Pharaoh's dreams next time. 

Lulav: Oookay, okay. Oh no. 

Jaz: If I remember correctly, Vayeshev is episode 9, and this was DiCo’s guest episode. 

Lulav: Oh, hi DiCo! 

Jaz: So, you can go back and listen to that one if you want to hear us and DiCo digging into the text more directly. 

Lulav: Yeah, that was a fun one. 

Jaz: Yeah. So, I recognize that next I'm supposed to tell you how the parsha of Vayeishev connects to the haftarah of Vayeishev, and this one really stumped me. They do not feel very connected to me. 

Lulav: I have a thing but I want to hear you puzzle it out a little bit more. 

Jaz: Okay. (Lulav giggles) Um, there's no overlap in characters, there is maybe stuff— okay, arguably Zechariah's stuff is all visions and pretty directly so— 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: In a way that some of the other prophets are not, so— 

Lulav: Mmm! 

Jaz: The argument here could be, it was all a dream, (Lulav laughs) like Joseph interpreted! Um— 

Lulav: Yeah, that's what I was going for. 

Jaz: Okay. (laughs) 

Lulav: Yeah, this is like, the longest of the minor prophets—

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: And it definitely is the most like, vision- versus prophecy-focused. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Or like— hm. It's the use of artistic metaphor to say kind of the same things, but instead of being like, you know, “you'll be eviscerated and then it'll be okay,” instead of that sort of slightly more literal thing it's like, there is a lamp stand and the guy measuring things. I wish I remembered that one Buffy episode with the cheese man, so I can make Cheese Man references, but— 

Jaz: Ahhh. 

Lulav: I do not. 

Jaz: That seems fine to be honest. 

Lulav: (laughs) Listen, that was a great episo— anyway. I also haven't seen that in a decade, so. 

Jaz: We should watch Buffy. Anyway— 

Lulav: So, I could talk a little bit about context if you'd like?

Jaz: Yeah, tell us a little bit about what is happening here with Zechariah. 

Lulav: Right. Zechariah is writing in the same time as Malachi, “my messenger.” 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: Specifically this is after the Achaemenid Empire conquered the Babylonian empire, which had previously conquered the Assyrian Empire, I think. So this is like, the third in a wave of conquests that is changing the political state of occupied Israel. 

Jaz: This is a thing my mother talks about all the time — not the specific, like, “which empire was when,” but the idea that different groups of people have fought over this particular sliver of land since we have any reported human history in the area. 

Lulav: (chuckles) Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Yeah, the— it has always been contentious and wanted territory by various different groups of people. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And conquered by many of them. 

Lulav: So this is the fourth in a series of occupiers of the land, and we tend to like Cyrus and Darius much more than we do the other ones? (Lulav voice, from the future) Bum, bing, bing. The following segment was recorded before we received feedback that indicated it was wrong. The truth is, there was significant reconstruction of the Second Temple, but this predated the extremely large additions made by Herod several centuries later. Bong, bing, bong. (Lulav in the present) Because we were promised that the temple could be rebuilt, and like, was there significant progress on that? Eh. It's a big building in an important and well trafficked place. However, did people talk a lot about rebuilding the Temple? They sure did. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So, two figures that are mentioned here a lot are the high priest Yehosha, not to be confused with the leader of the armies who succeeded Moshe, Yehoshua, and there is also Zerubabayel, I think? 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: Did I do that right? 

Jaz: I do not know how to pronounce this guy's name. 

Lulav: Zerubbabel. And now let's look at it in the Hebrew. 

Jaz: Let's look at it in the Hebrew. 

Lulav: Zerubbabel. Okay, cool. 

Jaz: Zerubavel. 

Lulav: Oh yeah! 

Jaz: Yes, oh, actually I did look this up earlier. I was looking at this because I think this name is a pun. 

Lulav: (snort) Uh oh. 

Jaz: Do you want to guess what it's a pun for?

Lulav: Wait- does it have something to do with the Babylonians?

Jaz: I think so. 

Lulav: Cuz thats “bavli,” right?

Jaz: Yeah. That's how you spell “bavel.”

Lulav: Uh huh. 

Jaz: And I don't know exactly what the zayin resh are, but I have two things that it reminds me of that seem possible and one feels contextually more likely, and it's like, stranger or alien or— 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: Oppressor, like it’s related to “avodah zarah.” 

Lulav: Oh. “Oppressive Babylon.” 

Jaz: Kind of. 

Lulav: Good. 

Jaz: That's my best guess. 

Lulav: So, I have a little question about the writing here. There is a niqqud that's like, three diagonal dots. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: Which I haven't seen until today, I think. 

Jaz: Oh, that’s cool. 

Lulav: Is that an "oo" sound?

Jaz: It is called a kubutz — 

Lulav: Ooh. 

Jaz: And it is in the "oo" family of vowels. 

Lulav: Oookay, that's why I said the high priest's name weird, cuz I assumed it was a different sound but it is just “Yehoshua,” okay. Good. So yeah, those are the two figures, we've got the high priest who is continuing on the levitical practices and would presumably be the kohen gadol of, you know, the second Temple. Zerubavel is like, cool architect who people like, I suppose. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And so these are two figures which get named a lot when people are talking about like, "ooh, we're so excited about the fact that the Persians are allowing us — the Achaemenid Empire, Persians — uh, they are allowing us to rebuild the Temple, and so we gotta get really hype about that.”
Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Yeah, are there any other things you think I should mention about context, or like, questions you have?

Jaz: Well, who do you think this thing is being addressed to here?

Lulav: That's a really good question. 

Jaz: We talked in some places about how we think a prophet is addressing himself to a particular king, or a prophet— yeah, like who do you think is the audience here?

Lulav: Hm. So, this is mostly off the dome and based on just like, scanning a little bit of text, but I feel like the audience here is people who have lived so long under conquest that that has started to seem like the natural state of the world, because it’s been like, 240 years since the Assyrians came, I think? 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So that's generations. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Like, slavery was de jure ended in 1865 which was 155 years ago, so like, this is as long as slavery has been over, technically, in the United States, plus another hundred years. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Is how long people have been living in occupation. And finally, you've got an administration that says, "Hey, it's okay, you can live here, we can, you know, interact." There's still conquerors. There's still, you know, owning the place, but these are also a people who are allowed to practice their Judaism more in the structure that it has been set up for us?

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Like it starts off saying, "in the 8th month, in the 2nd year of Darius", and so I think like, conceiving of time in regnal periods is an interesting choice for making prophecy. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: But also it doesn't seem acrimonious the way that other mentions of, you know, what king was reigning at the time, have been. 

Jaz: Sure. But you can imagine that feeling of parallel to a Jewish person who was writing now who still might say “in the year 2020” (Lulav snorts) because that's the system we live under, even though that's not like, the Jewish way of counting things. 

Lulav: Right. We have been measuring time according to our occupiers—

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: For 2500 years. 

Jaz: Sure. Yeah, so we've been using other people's calendars for a long time and it does seem possible that that had an impact on how the people thought about their conditions as being better than the generation that preceded them— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Even if it was not an actually great situation measured against, sort of, the ideal. 

Lulav: Right. That's a very interesting perspective that kind of makes sense as somebody who grew up in the 90s. (both laugh) 

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: So that's kind of the context of the reading that we're doing. 

Jaz: Yeah, Lulav, could you take us through the reading?

Lulav: Sure. Let’s, instead of using the Christian book in front of me, use Sefaria. (Jaz laughs) Our best of friends. We start with shouting for joy. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: And, the idea here is that Hashem is going to come dwell in our midst again, which is a fancy way of saying we’re going to make the Temple for the second time, and there's, “in that day, many nations will attach themselves to Hashem and become his people,” which is really interesting to me. 

Jaz: How come?

Lulav: Because this seems to be explicitly inclusive of converts —

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: In a way that previously we had like, implicitly acknowledging converts, or, not at all. 

Jaz: Do you think it frames the question at all as like, it would be a good thing for other nations, not just individuals, to worship in the same way?

Lulav: That’s a good question. I don't know that this is supposed to be a thing of subjugation, like, “All those other nations that are bothering you? They're going to be Jews too, don’t worry about it.” Or if it's like, “Hey, being Jewish is really cool. This is the best way to be and other people are gonna see that and like, attach themselves to it.” 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Which is, I think, more what I would prefer than like, they're gonna bow down and attach themselves. 

Jaz: That's so interesting because I almost have opposite instincts —

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Of I really don't want it to come with a flavor of other people will see that being Jewish is the best and want to convert to being Jewish because it reminds me too much of like, Christian proselytizing, of people see that Christianity is the best thing and all want to convert to Christianity and I like, encountered enough people trying to get me to convert to Christianity that I just have a very like, “no go away,” (Lulav laughs) but if your thing is great then I will figure it out on my own. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: It's fine that you do your thing, please leave me alone to do my thing. One of the things that I appreciate about Judaism is that it does not proselytize. 

Lulav: Yeah, I think a distinction here that I am seeing is, “many nations will attach themselves,” rather than like, “you will take many nations unto yourselves” or something like that. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Like, the idea that it's not proselytizing, that it's not attempting to get you to be Jewish, it's like, "Hey, this is pretty cool and it works for me. If it works for you, welcome." 

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: And, okay, another possible interpretation is that our goy — our nation — has been spread into many nations.

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Goyim rabim. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Am I reading that correctly?

Jaz: Yes, you are. 

Lulav: Okay, thank you. (laughs) And so, those many nations that we have been spread into will come back. 

Jaz: Hmmm. 

Lulav: Which like… I prefer a message that’s explicitly approving of converts, but also I do like — you know, following from the theme that we've been establishing this entire episode — the idea of like, going away, making your own traditions and then coming back— 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: To share a whole mix of them. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Anyway, we see the connection to tradition here because the next line talks about Hashem taking Yehuda as the portion in the Holy Land and choosing Yerushalayim once more. Any questions about chapter 2?

Jaz: Nope. 

Lulav: Okay. So, then we have this vision. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Which is the sort of thing that we're talking about where it's not just like, "Yeah he showed me that you're gonna be absolutely crushed and that, you know, 100 generations later you're gonna be fine again." Instead it's like, "So, I was given a vision of the high priest (Jaz laughs) standing before a messenger and also there was a prosecuting attorney."

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: And the messenger was like, "Hey prosecuting attorney, you suck."

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: And Yehoshua was clothed in filthy garments but see, he's re-clothed into nice priestly robes, kind of like how in Vayikra, we had stuff about clothing the priests in fancy clothes. This is a lot of like, return to tradition in a world that has changed—

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: But we talk more about the tradition, while talking kind of implicitly about the ways the world has changed. 

Jaz: Can you say more about that?

Lulav: We mention that it is the second year of Darius's reign. 

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: We mention that many nations will attach to Hashem. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: But like, the stuff explicitly said is, "the high priest is going to have priestly garments". 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: “Pure diadem”. 

Jaz: Uh huh. Well, I think they do introduce a new thing here. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: So, you rendered this as the prosecuting attorney. 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay. 

Jaz: Who is this?

Lulav: Let me find the exact wording here… this is haSatan. 

Jaz: It sure is. 

Lulav: Which translates as "the accuser," and I like the interpretation that this is no one in particular, it's just like: under certain conceptions of justice you need prosecution and defense —

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: In order to fully explore the space of a case. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: And so this is a commedia dell'arte character type that shows up also in the book of Job, where Hashem is like, "yeah I got some pretty cool worshippers" and the prosecuting attorney, or the accuser, or Satan, is like, "Hey, what about that cool guy? What if you did bad things to him — 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: “Instead of only doing good things".

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: I feel like this is as much a messenger as the malach. 

Jaz: Absolutely. (Lulav laughs) Totally. That's not even like, us radical, wild — 

Lulav: Oh no. 

Jaz: Fringey, that's like — 

Lulav: Literally the Jewish— 

Jaz: The pretty standard. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Yeah, the pretty standard interpretation of it. This is like, G-d needs a prosecutor to balance out everybody else and so there's a prosecutor there. (Lulav giggles) The prosecutor is the bad guy. 

Lulav: Yeah, because like, the thing is, who wouldn't just be like, "Yo, what if you did good things for people and they liked you." 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: But also it is sometimes good to explore like, what if you did bad things for people. But like, we can be like, that's the enemy. That's the adversary, the accuser, the prosecuting attorney. 

Jaz: RIght. 

Lulav: So, yeah. 

Jaz: It's great. This is the first time this character shows up, and like you said in Tanakh the only places this character shows up are here and in Job. (Lulav laughs) The Talmud has way more instances. 

Lulav: Oh my G-d. 

Jaz: They're so delightful. 

Lulav: I did not know that, thank you for sharing that fact. 

Jaz: So many more. Here, do you want some examples? I pulled some up. 

Lulav: I would love some. 

Jaz: Okay, so basically haSatan’s just kind of there to make trouble always, so like, there's a moment when Rabbi Yohanan is talking about the birth of Isaac. HaSatan shows up to be like, "I don't think Abraham sacrificed enough things to thank you for it," (Lulav laughs) and G-d is like, "he would have been willing to sacrifice Isaac if I asked him for it, what are you talking about?", and there's a moment later where Rabbi Akiva is talking about the different ways that different rabbis would like, ridicule people by being like, "it's just easy to avoid being tempted to do bad things," and then haSatan who’s the prosecutor is like, "they can't just say that it's easy to avoid doing bad things, like that’s not reasonable," and so haSatan shows up as like, a beautiful woman to Rabbi Meyer and Rabbi Akiva and like, tempts them to follow and then puts them in a ridiculous position and just leaves them there. 

Lulav: (giggles) They should have invited her to study Torah! 

Jaz: (laughs) It's true! But so, Rabbi Meyer is just kind of left in the middle of crossing the river, and he's just like, stuck there halfway across the row bridge and he's like, "well, I guess it wasn't so easy,” or Rabbi Akiva climbs up a palm tree— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And then haSatan just leaves and he's like, "well, now i'm just stuck up this palm tree". 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And I do appreciate it as like a sort of holy come down, like why do you think you're so good and special?

Lulav: Yeah. And this is, this is where prosecution is actually a part of justice, in making sure that people who feel power over others are aware of the realities of things. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: And also are brought to humility when they insist otherwise. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So, I guess in this sense “prosecuting attorneys” may be like, not the best translation there, it's a very outside translation. 

Jaz: That's fine. (Lulav laughs) Uh, hang on, there is one more that I wanted to find, and now I have lost it so give me a second. 

Lulav: Anyway, yeah, the official position of Kosher Queers is that if you see a pretty lady who is trying to tempt you away from Talmud, you should instead invite her to join Talmud. 

Jaz: I don't know, I think if I see a pretty lady who is in or also maybe is a palm tree, that maybe I should go up to her. 

Lulav: Yeah. (both laugh) I am sure she would wiggle for you. 

Jaz: (laughs) um... the... ahhh. Oh, haSatan is also given as a reason for why you blow a shofar in two different ways, like a tekia and a terua while you're standing for a different thing, and it's like, because that will confuse HaSatan and like, this isn't a time for prosecuting, it's a time for forgiveness of Yom Kippur so you gotta confuse them so they don't come mess it up. 

Lulav: Oh. Yeah, an adversarial framework is not how you want to approach the new year, it's one of like, working together to understand things, rather than competing to understand things. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: That’s fun. 

Jaz: There's one more that I liked—

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Which I wanted to bring in specifically because it included our boy, Reish Lakish, my favourite bi bandit. 

Lulav: And also, somebody who sees a pretty lady and inv- wait, no. Sorry, a) Reish Lakish saw a pretty male rabbi — 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: And Reish Lakish was the one who got invited to study Talmud. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: All I'm saying is that there is precedent for this. 

Jaz: It's true. Okay, and then Reish Lakish says there are three names for this phenomenon and one of them is Satan — and at this point Satan is no longer “haSatan,” like, “the accuser”; it’s morphed into a name, “Satan” — but Reish Lakish says this is the same as the Yetzer Hara which we often translate as “the evil inclination,” or Malach haMot, like, the angel of death. 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: Those three things are all the same thing. 

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: Reish Lakish says. That part is in Bava Batra 16a and Rabbi Levi said right after that, "well, Satan was just kind of doing their job," and he compares Satan to another person who was just a human who tormented somebody and then felt badly about it later. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And said like, "similarly with Satan, once G-d was like, 'no I'm gonna give Job good things again', Satan was like 'yeah, good.'" (Lulav giggles) So Rabbi Levi teaches this and then, I guess his student, Rav Acha bar Yaakov, taught it again and Satan came and kissed his feet in gratitude for speaking positively. 

Lulav: Aww. The Adversary's a little freaky in bed — okay. (Jaz laughs) I'm cutting that. 

Jaz: Even your holy adversary has some good points, and uh, appreciates being spoken about nicely. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Anyway, let's go back to our text. 

Lulav: Oh G-d yes. 

Jaz: I just really enjoyed that. 

Lulav: So, we have this whole appointment of Yehoshua who is currently the high priest and will be dressed in fancy robes instead of nasty robes. This is a promise from the malach — from the angel — that there will be another king. You and your fellow priest sitting before you, those men are a sign that I am going to bring my servant to the Branch — or the future king of David's line. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: There's like, a metaphoric stone with seven eyes— 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: That will remove the country's guilt in a single day. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: And in that day, you can invite each other to the shade of vines and fig trees, and I feel like this is talking about how sudden Achaemenid conquest might have been? 

Jaz: Fair. 

Lulav: Like the, the stark difference between permissive occupiers and like, occupiers who didn't want to incorporate the culture at all into their thing. 

Jaz: Yeah. Between living under a people who you don't have full self governance but you do have somewhat of the ability to like, live your life as you wanted— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Versus, you don't even have that. 

Lulav: Yeah. So, the messenger who is talking with Zechariah came back and was like, "dude, bro, wake up", and Zechariah was like “(snorts) What? Sorry", and the malach was like, "what do you see?" and he was like, "brooo, a lamp stand all of gold with a bowl above it, and there's 7 things— 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: “And also 2 olive trees, bro". 

Jaz: Have you seen this?

Lulav: What do you mean?

Jaz: This uh, insignia. 

Lulav: So, I feel like I've seen it in the context of the Temple. 

Jaz: Probably. 

Lulav: Say more. 

Jaz: It's like a menorah with like, seven—

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Things and then two olive branches on either side of it. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. Yeah, what is this a symbol for? It seems so familiar. 

Jaz: Yeah, um... so... 

Lulav: (typing sounds) Menorah and olive branches symbol... ohhh it's the emblem of the state of Israel. 

Jaz: Yeah. Thank you. It is the emblem of the state of Israel. It says “Yisrael” on the bottom cuz it's written in Hebrew. 

Lulav: Yes. 

Jaz: It's also on a bunch of their money, if I recall correctly. 

Lulav: Uh huh. 

Jaz: It's also been used in other things, like the menorah is a— 

Lulav: That was the Maccabean revolt thing, right?

Jaz: I mean the menorah comes up in a lot of other cases like, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris shows them carrying away the menorah. 

Lulav: (dyingly) Euuughghgghhhhhh. Okay. And also this is part of the appointment of the mishkan that we talked about. 

Jaz: Right, is the menorah. 

Lulav: Which I had hoped had radial symmetry, but— 

Jaz: Yeah, but it doesn't. I don't think. 

Lulav: Alas. It is just this. 

Jaz: But my understanding is that like, the emblem and the money, like those modern uses are based off this bit in Zechariah. 

Lulav: Yeah, that sounds about right. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Oh, which makes sense because this comes right after a promise that like, hey, you're gonna have a king again. 

Jaz: Right. So, here's a question for you. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: That’s obviously sort of a reference that takes that interpretation as like, we’re going to call back to it, as like, this is the fulfilment of a prophecy, right? That's the call back that they’re intending to do there. (Lulav giggles) Do you think this is intended to be like, a thing about... cuz I read it initially as a description of the world to come —

Lulav: I see. 

Jaz: Type of deal. Do you read it as like a, you will be freed from your current political circumstances that they are in? Do you read it, like — 

Lulav: So — 

Jaz: Like how do you read this initial text?

Lulav: I read this as the ornaments of, you know, the chosen people, that you were promised in the Torah, that's gonna come back to you and it's gonna come back to you by peace. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Two olive trees on the right and on the left. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Not by might, nor by power. 

Jaz: (singing) Not by might — 

Lulav: Oh, is this a song?

Jaz: (singing) And not by power, but by spirit alone — Ruach! — shall we all live in peace. (Lulav laughs) Debbie Friedman wrote a very famous thing that I have internalized as a camp song.

Lulav: Excellent. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Thank you for once again sharing (Jaz laughs) your camp song expertise. Every time it is a delight. (Jaz laughs) So, yeah, I think Zechariah seems to be in general very concerned with the re-establishment of the temple, of taking those symbols that we have been promised and implementing them, even if the current situation is not one of complete freedom, it is one of peace. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: And then we end this portion (laughs) with some dream interpretation. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: The messenger is like, "dude, those things that you saw? You know what they mean?" and Zechariah is like, "brooo, nooo," and the melech is like, "This is the word to Zerubavel. They're gonna make a temple. Any big obstacles in the path, they're just gonna be level ground, like you would place under a temple.”

Jaz: Mmmmmmm. 

Lulav: “And he's gonna make some really excellent stone. It's gonna be so pretty." And that's the portion. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: (chuckles)Any like, closing thoughts you had on this Jaz?

Jaz: There's more dream interpretation after the haftarah ends— 

Lulav: Sure is. 

Jaz: Like, that's— it just keeps going and they were like, “we don't need to go into all of the details,” (Lulav giggles) but you can go and check out the rest of Zechariah 4  and see more of it. Why do you think it ends there, that they didn't decide to include all of it? 

Lulav: So, I mean there's the number 7. 

Jaz: There sure is. 

Lulav: Which, I don't know if that is shared... I'm seeing like, four chariots, a flying scroll... but not as much the sevens. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: Which is something that showed up in the original Yosef stuff. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: That's really all I'm thinking, is the number 7, and… this seems to be like, the clearest part?

Jaz: Yeah. It does really feel to be a little mythical. (Lulav giggles) I mean I know the whole thing is like, dream-interpretation mythical— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But because of that it is harder for me to read it as like, specific political predictions so much as like, “These are my hopes for the people.” Like the people who I imagine saying this type of stuff, like if you were to put it in modern day, are not like, your political candidates, they're your poets, you know? Like—

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: This is more of a like, imagine a world where an angel flew down and like, you know? Like it's a different vibe. 

Lulav: Yeah, that seems to be a thing that you've been trying to articulate the entire episode, is like, that its a vision of the world to come. 

Jaz: I think so! I dont think ive been trying to articulate the whole episode, but I do feel like that comes through to me strongly on this particular bit. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: It is also possible that it's just been on my mind recently, (Lulav giggles) but as you know but I haven't mentioned to our listeners, I've been thinking and writing more about the future and how we envision the future recently, so I do think that there is a kind of value to get from how do our texts think about the future and when are they thinking about them really concretely and when are they thinking about them really abstractly and when can we kind of not tell what they're doing, (Lulav laughs) in the same way that like, sometimes we make plans for our lives and they're very concrete plans and sometimes we make plans for our lives and they are hopes more than anything else. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And sometimes we make plans and we don't know if they're realistic or not. 

Lulav: So do you think that— is your interpretation that this is more of the like, fanciful, “wouldn't it be nice” dreams?

Jaz: I dont think it’s fanciful and wouldn't it be nice anymore than I would describe that of— 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: Okay, when I read Aurora Levins Morales’s “V’ahavta”, which is a Jewish poem that like, talks about the world, the thing she lays out is not the world as it is, but the world as it should be. 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: But I definitely would not describe it as fanciful. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: Like, she lays out a vision for the world as it should be, and it is not like, a vision that comes with specific policy proposals, but it is a vision that is like, what if there were no hungry and there were no people crying in the streets because of violence, and like— 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: What if we cared for each other that way. That feels more the ethos to me. 

Lulav: Yeah. That’s cool. 

Jaz: Yeah. I'll link to her poetry and her work. 

Lulav: That sounds great. Jaz?

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: It's now time for everybody's favorite portion: Rating G-d’s Writing. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Right?

Jaz: Yeah! 

Lulav: Okay, so... if this haftarah portion were a member of a courtroom, which one would it be?

Jaz: (smilingly) Hm. This haftarah portion is the journalist in the back of the courtroom. 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: Possibly the court stenographer, but I think the journalist. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Because they're not directly dictating what happens in the case, but they are using their own understanding to make it legible to a larger group of people, and I think that that is in some ways the job of a prophet, and I also think that in some ways it is the job of us as readers when presented with something this ambiguous. 

Lulav: Yeah. Yeah, do you have a rating for me?

Jaz: Yeah. I'm gonna give you a little bit of a simpler one though, which is just— 

Lulav: Oh no! How could you ever do this to me? (laughs) 

Jaz: Which is just, out of seven gold branches and two olive branches— 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: How many branches would you rate this parsha?

Lulav: I would rate it seven gold branches and no olive branches. 

Jaz: Mmmmm. 

Lulav: Because I liked it, like this is fun, there is stuff about like, people coming together, it's… Man, I really miss being in a politically optimistic frame of mind. It's been a while, but like, the idea that, “oh things are gonna get better. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: “Even though they're not gonna be perfect, they're gonna be like, definitely obviously so much better.” 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: I miss that, and so like, I think that gold is useful. Not necessarily for making a gigantic menorah. 

Jaz: Hm. 

Lulav: Like it's a thing that very much exists in the world. Gold is there. Menorot are there. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: But I don't feel like olive branches, or olive trees really factor into this because that's something living that changes shape— 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: As it grows— 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: That provides food for a variety of people, and I think the vision of the people writing this focused a little more on particular symbols, like the particular institution of the Temple. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: More than I would like, so 7 branches of a golden menorah out of 7 branches and 2. 

Jaz: Thank you. 

Lulav: Yeah. 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. 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 Find out more information about our podcast, including bios for our team, and links to our social media at Also, please spread the word about Kosher Queers. Our artwork is by the talented Lior Gross. Our music is courtesy of the fabulous band Brivele, whose work you can find on Bandcamp. Go buy their album, they’re great. Our sound production this week is done by my lovely co-host, Lulav Arnow. 

Lulav: Imagine audio editing. This is my sacred task. This is my power. Jaz Twersky and Reuben Shachar Rose make sure every episode is fully transcribed. You can find a link to those in the episode descriptions at, where you can also see if Jaz and Shachar roped in additional help for the episode.

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.

Jaz: Have a lovely queer Jewish day!

[Brivele outro]

Jaz: This week's gender is: punk.

Lulav: This week's pronouns are: trey, treyf, and treyfs.