Kosher Queers

60 — Mikeitz: Fetch Me A Sword

December 17, 2020 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow
Kosher Queers
60 — Mikeitz: Fetch Me A Sword
Chapters
Kosher Queers
60 — Mikeitz: Fetch Me A Sword
Dec 17, 2020
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, we learn about how camels are nonbinary, attempt to define what makes a "real parent," and dissect a famous story in which the women are way cooler than we were led to believe as children.  (Like, for real, there are some single moms in this story who maybe do sex work and maybe are lovers, and definitely roommates who do not get along with the existing power structures of kings and judges.)

Full transcript here.

Lulav mentions doing quiz bowl with NAQT. Here's the reading from the OU rabbi Lulav also talked about.

This week's reading was I Kings 3:15–4:1. Next week's reading is Ezekiel 37:15-28.

Support us on Patreon or Ko-fi! Send us questions or comments at [email protected], follow us on Twitter @kosherqueers, and like us on Facebook at Kosher Queers. Our music is by the band Brivele. This week, our audio was edited by Ezra Faust, and our transcript was written by Reuben Shachar Rose. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

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

Show Notes Transcript

This week, we learn about how camels are nonbinary, attempt to define what makes a "real parent," and dissect a famous story in which the women are way cooler than we were led to believe as children.  (Like, for real, there are some single moms in this story who maybe do sex work and maybe are lovers, and definitely roommates who do not get along with the existing power structures of kings and judges.)

Full transcript here.

Lulav mentions doing quiz bowl with NAQT. Here's the reading from the OU rabbi Lulav also talked about.

This week's reading was I Kings 3:15–4:1. Next week's reading is Ezekiel 37:15-28.

Support us on Patreon or Ko-fi! Send us questions or comments at [email protected], follow us on Twitter @kosherqueers, and like us on Facebook at Kosher Queers. Our music is by the band Brivele. This week, our audio was edited by Ezra Faust, and our transcript was written by Reuben Shachar Rose. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

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

Jaz: Hi Lulav. 

Lulav: Hi Jaz. What’s something cool and queer, Jewish that's happened to you this week?

Jaz: Well, I have a fun thing that I discovered yesterday, which is that all camels are even more nonbinary than other animals. 

Lulav: Uh — elaborate?

Jaz: (laughs) Do I have to? Okay so, (Lulav chuckles) in Bereishit, in parashat Vayishlach— 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Which I have been reading with my Hebrew tutor— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: In 32:16, it opens with "gmalim menikot uvneihem." So gmalim is camels — 

Lulav: Uh huh, and that's conjugated in the masculine. 

Jaz: Well, it's got an "im" ending, and sometimes it is possible for a noun to have an "im" ending but still be feminine or an "ot" ending and still be masculine, but it's unusual. 

Lulav: The one example that I'm going to think of is "tzipporah" is the masculine for “bird”, and "tzipporim" is the plural. 

Jaz: Yeah, there's also "shulchan" which is table, is a masculine word but it pluralizes to "shulchanot." 

Lulav: Interesting. 

Jaz: Yeah. Anyway, so you have camels, and then the next word is melikot, and melikot, its adjectival and it does use the "-ot" which suggests that it is in agreement with a feminine plural noun, plus melikot is like, nursing. These are camels that are nursing young ones, so it suggests that these would be in the feminine. The next word however, is uv’neichem, and their young, and that "-chem'' ending is a masculine one. (Lulav giggles) It’s their, masculine, young — 

Lulav: Amazing. 

Jaz: Therefore, with these two back-to-back words, the camels are being referred to with feminine plural and with masculine plural for the same camalim. Anyways so camels are bigender or genderfluid or whatever, it's great. 

Lulav: Hey, I just thought of a biology thing, which is why do sperm donors not produce milk? Like, you would think that if you have an entire organism where its only job is to produce motile gametes you would use that organism for something in addition instead of saddling the birth parent with lactation. 

Jaz:  Yeah. 

Lulav: Anyway, those are my xenobiology thoughts for today. 

Jaz: I mean I guess it's possible, it's just difficult. 

Lulav: Yeah. You'd need some sort of pheromones probably, so you could figure out if someone had recently given birth and therefore you start lactating. 

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: Anyway, (both laugh) hi. 

Jaz: Hi. What’s something cool, queer, or Jewish that happened during your week?

Lulav: Literally could not tell you what has happened this week, but what I do know is that today I am gonna go to Shir Tikvah online services with you. 

Jaz: If you send me the link to do so we absolutely are gonna do that. (laughs) 

Lulav: Yes, I need to write an email. (Jaz chuckles) Uhm, anyway I'm excited about that cuz I haven't been to Shir Tikvah since the pandemic. 

Jaz: And I have been never, so. 

Lulav: True, true. But I think the end of March was the last time because we had like, one in-person thing before it was like, "no, we're just not gonna meet anymore". 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And making that jump from physical to digital is hard, so I just never got around to it. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: And, speaking of that, I just remembered a thing that happened to me this week, which is the regular season of quiz bowl started up. 

Jaz: Yeah! 

Lulav: So yesterday, I was anxious out of my mind trying to figure out how to have all of the different web apps open at the same time and making sure that I was communicating and all that, but it ended up just fine. We had the typical four rounds of quiz bowl, and yeah. It was fun. 

Jaz: Listeners, a thing you may not know about Lulav is that Lulav hates Zoom with a passion. 

Lulav: Uh huh. I do. Curse your audio and visual fidelity! 

Jaz: (laughs) Because it's like, spyware, (Lulav laughs) which is true, but I applaud you for nevertheless being like, “but I will do it for quiz bowl. 

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah, I mean, listen I got a free license via NAQT — 

Jaz: What is QT?

Lulav: NAQT is National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC. (Jaz laughs) LLC stands for Limited Liability Corporation, which is uhhh — nevermind. Uh, but yeah, (Jaz groans) NAQT is what I'm talking about when I refer to quiz bowl. I feel like there are a couple different kinds of quiz bowl but this is the one that like, is pretty ubiquitous in high schools. If somebody’s talking about quiz bowl Nationals, they're probably talking about the one run by NAQT. 

Jaz: And you! 

Lulav: Well, not nationals but yes. 

Jaz: (both laugh) Okay. 

Lulav: Actually I might have read nationa— were they in Chicago— no. (Jaz laughs) Whatever. Point is, I've been working with NAQT for the last, almost 7 years?

Jaz: That’s so long. 

Lulav: It's so long, like, literally the amount of time that I've been in Minneapolis minus a couple months. (chuckles) 

Jaz: Yeah. Very impressive. 

Lulav: Oh, also, I just realized that this is my seven year anniversary of having moved to Minneapolis. 

Jaz: Congrats. 

Lulav: Yeah. And I'll probably be moving in with friends in February, so, yeah, made it 7 years in a single apartment. 

Jaz: Wow. I cannot relate to this utterly strange experience. 

Lulav: Have you ever lived in a place for seven years straight?

Jaz: I have to think about that. I think the answer is no, but I— let me... 

Lulav: Close but no?

Jaz: I've definitely never lived seven years in one place without moving, I was trying to figure out if like, — 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Spending a year out of that place and then coming back, like, how that figured in? 

Lulav: That still counts as you living there, I think. 

Jaz: Even if I wasn't there for like, a whole year?

Lulav: If you come back to the same building, that's like, your home. 

Jaz: Hm. It is still only six years, not seven. Anyway. 

Lulav: (laughs) Wow. That's amazing. Yeah you have done so so much more moving than I have and probably ever will. 

Jaz: Anyway, would you like to start the episode?

Lulav: (affectedly folksy) Oh, I reckon I would.

[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 Mikeitz, which is 1 Kings 3:15-4:1. Yes, 4:1. Meaning there is a single line from the next chapter.

Jaz: (laughs) It's very funny.

Lulav: Thanks Christians. (chuckles) So, Jaz, can you tell us a little bit about Mikeitz and how it relates to this haftarah?

Jaz: Yeah, so we talked about Mikeitz last year and I can summarize it for you if you would let me to start with that?

Lulav: Oh, I'd love that. How long do you want?

Jaz: I didn’t time this, so, mmm—

Lulav: I kept you too busy with talking at you.

Jaz: Thirty seconds.

Lulav: Do you want 35?

Jaz: Yes, I do. 

Lulav: Okay. (laughs) Three, two, one, go. 

Jaz: Joseph gets his prison sentence commuted because he is of use to the state as an economist who performs the W(sic) duty of dream interpretation and setting the fiscal policy for thousands of people. He hears from Pharoah about thin cows swallowing fat cows and withered corn swallowing healthy corn and says, "there's a storm a-comin' boys". He becomes the administrator of Egypts agricultural sector. His family, meanwhile, is suffering, and when the good years are up go to the neighbouring country for help. Joseph frames them for thievery,  makes them br— bring back Benjamin even though Jacob is super sad about that, shows marked favouritism for little Benji, and then frames them for thievery again. (timer goes off) He's having capital-F Feelings about trauma, and so he makes his brothers beg for their lives and liberty. Cliffhanger! 

Lulav: (giggles) Cool, that was 43 seconds. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And I think it was a very good summary. I'm still trying to figure out how that rela— ohhh, I think I got it. 

Jaz: Oh, you go first. 

Lulav: How do you think — 

Jaz: No, no, no, you go first! 

Lulav: Oh, but it's your job. Okay, so the thing that comes to mind is the fact that Yosef is tricking them, like, he's saying, "you gotta leave behind your brother; there's a choice here to be made even though you don't necessarily need to make that choice but I'm forcing you to make it", and one of the brothers, self-sacrificing, offers himself up instead of Binyamin. 

Jaz: That was beautiful. 

Lulav: Thank you. What were you thinking?

Jaz: Relatedly, I think there's stuff about a person who is in charge rising to that place because of the credit they give G-d — 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: And then having a lot of power to influence a lot of people and being able to make decisions that move other people's lives around — kind of with impunity — and having this framed as like, trusting the wisdom of the person who is in charge because they’re our protagonist. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And also like, that they’re making people make choices, and having that be like, “it is your choices who show who you truly are”, type of deal. 

Lulav: (laughs) Oooh, another connection that I am seeing, it turns out that this haftarah begins with “vayekeitz”. 

Jaz: Oh that's fun. 

Lulav: I don't know if that's like, the same thing. Does the parsha begin with like, "then Joseph awoke"?

Jaz: Uhhh... it begins with the thing about Pharoah dreaming after two years have passed. 

Lulav: I think the general thing though, is that in both cases the powerful people are dreaming. 

Jaz: Yeah. But I actually think that the key root there is keitz and the “mi” is like a, “min,” like from, so — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: The “keitz” here is like “end,” like at the end of two years. 

Lulav: Hm, interesting. 

Jaz: "Vayehi mikeitz shnataim". 

Lulav: “Shtayim” shows up here as well. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So lots of connections, wild. It's almost like people put thought into this. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So do you want me to talk a little bit about the context for this haftarah?

Jaz: Yeah, go for it. 

Lulav: So, when we left Shlomo, he was the presumptive heir—

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: You know, as opposed to his brother Adoniyah who was a very presumptive heir. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: And, there is some shenanigans that I'm not gonna get into the specifics of here because I'm pretty sure we have another haftarah portion that covers those, but basically, Shlomo was appointed king during the lifetime of David, and David died and then Shlomo neutralized his political opponents with physical force, on like, pretty short pretext, then he sacrificed a bunch to G-d and was met with a vision where he was asked what he wanted and he asked for wisdom. 

Jaz: I felt really called out by that part. 

Lulav: Oh, do tell. 

Jaz: (laughs) Well, he has a thing where he's asked like, what do you want most, and — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: G-d is expecting him to say something like riches or a long life, and Solomon's like, “I don't know what I'm doing, I don't know how to do any of this, I'm too young for this.”

Lulav: “There are so many people in the world!” 

Jaz: So, can you like, give me some understanding to like, figure out what to do? And G-d goes, (echoing as though there is a deep cave) "Aw, I'm so glad you asked for that. Heck yeah, I will make you the wisest person that's ever existed". 

Lulav: (giggles) Or ever will exist, according to this text. 

Jaz: "And you'll get a long life and riches". 

Lulav: Yeah. So, were coming off of that like, very explicit blessing for Shlomo and that's where the parsha starts, then Shlomo woke — it was a dream! He did some more sacrifices. The one that got him that initial visitation was a sacrifice at a shrine, not the Mishkan, that was like, 1000 offerings is I think how it was phrased. 

Jaz: Yeah. Anyway, I was just saying I felt really called out by it, one because I relate to his sense of like, I don't know what I'm doing, oh no, but also because I probably said this story, but I don't know if I said it on air, there was a point when I was like 14 years old, when my mother- we were just about to drop my mom off at work, like, one of my moms would drive everybody to like, work and school in the morning— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: So we were all in one car, and we would drop my mom at work first, and one day she was jumping out of the car, she turned to me and was like, "hey what do you want most in the world?", (Lulav hoots in shocked laughter) and I was like, "what?", and she was like, "just think about it!" and then she left and went to work. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: And I was like, "what? Mama? What?". (Lulav laughs) And then if you know me at all, this is the least surprising thing, which is, I made a list. 

Lulav: Aw. I thought you were going to say the question made you extremely anxious and you were kind of nauseous all day, (Jaz laughs) but lists are also good. 

Jaz: I did not develop a thing with my stomach until later in life. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: But I did make a list of like, what do I want most? And then I put a bunch of things on and and then I narrowed it down and then eventually I went back to her and was like, "I couldn't pick just one thing", and so then I picked two and I was 14 but I stand by both of those answers and I continue to hold onto them as like, hey remember, here are the things were striving for, and the two things I couldn't pick between— 

Lulav: Yeah?

Jaz: Were joy and wisdom. 

Lulav: Awwww. Wow that's sweet. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: You were such a cooler 14 year old than I was. (Jaz laughs) I mean, don't get me wrong, we were both huge nerds, but. (both laugh) 

Jaz: I was a huge nerd. Anyway. 

Lulav: Right. So the one other thing I want to mention about context is just that: the thing about transitions of power is that they aren't guaranteed even if there are, like, very explicit laws about how power will be transitioned. 

Jaz: (extremely stressed) Uh-huh. 

Lulav: That's definitely not a thing that Americans are coming to grips with a lot recently. 

Jaz: Uh-huh. 

Lulav: Point is… what was the point? Right! So this is like, Shlomo consolidating power. The sacrifice itself doesn’t necessarily seem like that, but like, he's got a lot of work to do now that he is ostensibly king— 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: To really cement himself as king of the people the same way that David was. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: So, we get to the big scene of this haftarah, which is two women zonot came to the king and stood before him. Now, the text in the JPS translation says, "two prostitutes came to the king"— 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And a) we don't use that word? We strive for much more accuracy when we talk about sex work, and so my initial inclination was to just say, “two sex workers came to the king,” but then it was like, “why am I trusting the translation— 

Jaz: Uh-huh. 

Lulav: “To tell me what the deal is with these women?”

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: And so I looked into the words, specifically its “shtayim nasim zonot.” 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And in modern Hebrew, “zenot” definitely means sex workers. 

Jaz: I don't know if its as respectful of a— I don't speak Hebrew, so. 

Lulav: Yes, sorry. 

Jaz: Hebrew speakers, if you're out there and you're like, "hey, here's the more respectful terminology that we would use", let us know.

Lulav: Sorry, I was mentally editing because I really hate repeating “whore” or “prostitute” when those are the actual words being used. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Cuz like, also, as I have never done sex work, those aren’t really my things to say. Point is, in modern Hebrew, this is a nasty term that I mentally edit as sex worker, (Jaz laughs) which is the first thing that I found from googling, on urbandictionary. The second thing that I found from googling was some essays about what it means that kohenim — the priests — are not allowed to marry zonot. And the rabbis writing that — including an Orthodox rabbi, with the OU; Jack Abramowitz, I think?

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: He said that “zonah” is not a term for, you know… okay he used— 

Jaz: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Lulav: Bad words for this, but not a term for someone who has a lot of sex, it’s specifically for someone who has ever had sexual relations with someone that they are halakhically unable to marry. 

Jaz: Oooh! Okay. 

Lulav: So, someone who has had sexual relations with people they’re not married to can still marry a kohen, they are not a zonah. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: It is specifically like, incest, not being a Jew — oh, probably you can’t marry a kohen if you’re disabled. Or maybe it's just kohenim can't— whatever. Anyway, the kohenic rules are something that I've expressed distaste for before. 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: But I think they really elucidate what it means to use the word “zonah”, or the plural “zonot”, in this sort of biblical context, which is that these two women are not necessarily sex workers, but rather, probably people who had relations with non-Jews and are raising babies on their own, which is to say: these are single moms. 

Jaz: That was my impression too. Yeah, that they may have been sex workers, there’s obviously overlap— 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Between sex workers and single moms, but that is is connoting more about their status as single moms raising them outside of the structures of heteronormativity than it is like— 

Lulav: Mmm. Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Directly speaking to how they make a livelihood. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: Those may have been overlapping concepts for people, like, mostly what I mean is, with amounts of societal scorn towards them. 

Lulav: Uh huh. 

Jaz: Like, if you're not married and you have children, you already face stigma for that at that point. I think the implication here is supposed to be like, Solomon is— is doing this judgement and he's not doing it for like, the well-off suburban white women, you know?

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Like, I think it is relevant to the story that Soloman does it for people who are very much not that, even though the way in which they're not that feels ambiguous to me. 

Lulav: Yeah, and these are also people who have a dispute where they are the only witnesses. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: And a lot of the time where there aren't ledgers of financial transactions for white collar crime, or whatever, it can be harder to figure out what a just outcome is for everyone? And so that's the reason we have this story illustrating Shlomo’s wisdom. So, two single unwed moms came to Shlomo and stood before him, and one of them says, "This lady and I live in the same house, we gave birth within three days of each other, and this ladies baby did a SIDS — just like, died during the night— 

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: And she swapped our babies, and I almost didn't notice but then I was like, ‘Wait. This is not my baby, this dead one who I woke to find in my arms.’``. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So, like I was saying, this is a very difficult situation for both of them because what you might assume is that the woman saying this, like, her baby died and she's blaming that on her roommate with some story of how her roommate like, stole her baby from her, and so it's very difficult to tell who is (background siren noises) telling the truth here. Did you have thoughts?

Jaz: Yeah. One, is that they live together— 

Lulav: Uh uh. 

Jaz: And they are having children at about the same time and we talked about this as like, maybe there’s a sex work angle, and maybe there’s a stigma of unmarried women thing, and maybe theres a like, thing about, theres discussion alter about whether women are allowed to give testimony at all, (Lulav scoffs) like, later Talmud — 

Lulav: Great. 

Jaz: Does not suggest that women can give testimony, even though they do here. 

Lulav: (in tired sarcasm) We stan misogynists. 

Jaz: Well, and these women — in the world, it seems like, all they have is each other, right? Like— 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: They may have other people. but they aren't mentioned in this story.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: So there might be an additional element of there is no other head of household, they're each other and maybe they're friends and maybe they're roommate and maybe they're people who have been forced to live together because of circumstances and really don't get along or maybe theyre lovers, you know? There's just not— 

Lulav: They also might just be sex workers who like, have clientele that includes goyim. 

Jaz: Right, like there's a lot of possibilities in this story that I think are ambiguous? 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But I also think that none of those possibilities are things that would have made a court more likely to (Lulav chuckles) look favourably on either of them. 

Lulav: Oh G-d no. A matter such as this? Sullying the docket of a judge? How dare you?

Jaz: Right, and they're not just taking it before like, a judge.

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah. Which does indicate to me that the entire system of judges that Moshe set up?

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: They've gone through that. They've been like, "Hey, help us figure this out," and the judges have been like, "I can't tell. Whatever. Bye." and so they finally escalated it to the king. 

Jaz: Right. It's very important to both of them and they have gone through, probably, lots of other channels to end up here. 

Lulav: Yeah. And also? Probably it sucks for both of them. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Because at least one of them has a dead child and they’re living with that grief and the grief of also losing, you know, what may be a best friend. 

Jaz: Right, and it does suggest at least one of them has lost a child and neither of them wants to be that one because there's not a lot else that they have, and like, somebody has lost both her child and her best friend, or her girlfriend, or her roommate — like she has lost both her child and her only other person. 

Lulav: Yeah. Yeah. So, Shlomo, upon hearing both of their stories says, "fetch me a sword", and if I were taking a matter in front of the king and he were like, (pompously) "fetch me a sword!", that makes sense. I mean, I wouldn't expect anything better from a king. (Jaz chuckles) And so, he says, "Cut the live child in two and give half to one and half to the other," and so one of the women — the one with the live son — says, "Please, give her the live child, just don't kill it. I just want this baby to be alive," and the other one — again, it does not specify who — says, "Hey, if I can't have a baby, you can't have a baby. Fine, cut it in two and we'll each get a half and then at least we'll be in the same emotional place," then Shlomo is like, "Give the live child to her" — again it really doesn't say which one, but, uh — "Give the live child to her and do not put it to death, she is its mother". So, which of these women do you think is the one who pled to keep the child alive? And paint me a bit of that emotional picture. 

Jaz: (background siren noises) I... can you tell me a little bit more about this question? 

Lulav: So, basically my question is: do you prefer the story where this lady was so full of grief for her dead son that she accused her only person in the world of stealing her son and in the end they both want to go down together, or do you think this lady had no recourse after her son was stolen by the only person she thought she could depend on and so after exhausting literally every legal option she's just like, "fine, let her take it, I just want the baby to be alive". 

Jaz: I... so, okay. So I was raised with two moms—

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And one of my parents is a biological parent and one of them is not. And they're both my moms, so one of the things I really appreciate about this story is that it does not matter which one was the biological parent— 

Lulav: Oooh. 

Jaz: Like, not even a little bit. Solomon gives the baby to the mother who will take care of it—
 
Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And who wants its well-being more than anything. This is not a test of who is the “real” mother, like, they don't scrutinize the baby, they don't ask who it looks like, they don’t bring in neighbors to look at their recollections. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: This is not a question of like, “whose body factually did it come out of?”, this is a question of who is going to care for this baby, and they give it to that one. 

Lulav: Well, that's so good. 

Jaz: And that to me is the important part of the story, that one of these people is not as prepared to look out for the best interest of this baby, and would rather see it die— 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Than see somebody else win, and they're like, “we should give the baby to someone who has its best interest at heart,” and that this story ends with like, “that's how people knew Solomon was wise enough to be king”. (Lulav giggles) And that's meaningful to me, like, the idea of drawing the line elsewhere feels pointless, and the dénouement to this story is not like, “and then the other woman goes to jail” or whatever, like the only thing—

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: That happens to her is that she doesn't get recognized as the mother because she's not as prepared to take care of it, and like that's the only end to the story, and to the extent that I would want to imagine more of the story, I’m less interested in imagining more of the extraordinarily painful stuff that got them both here—

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: And more interested in imagining, “Okay what does it take for someone to then heal from the loss of their baby and having had that extremely powerful and painful thing with their one person, and then get to a place where she's like, "Okay, but like, we still live together and we still don't have a place in the broader world and like, could I learn to be here and co-parent with you even though this is your baby who you are, like, in a better place right now?’" 

Lulav: Mm hmm. The two women have to decide if they want to continue to have a relationship with each other— 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: And what that looks like— 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: And the one who was not awarded the baby has to figure out what kind of relationship she wants with that child and the child will eventually have to figure out what kind of relationship the child wants (background radiator clanking) with the other lady. 

Jaz: Yeah, and if those are compatible. And the child will grow up to make choices too because if they grow up and the woman who didn't get awarded the child says to the child, "well, okay, but I'm really your mother" and the child was like, "I already have a mother, go away", (Lulav giggles) you know, that's a thing they all have to live with too. And if— 

Lulav: (softly) Yeah. 

Jaz: They grow up and that woman says, "Okay, well I'm not your mother but I cared about you very much and I do not have any children of my own and I would like to be part of your life as like a beloved older relative and be family in some way," maybe there is space for that. 

Lulav: Yeah. It really depends on the willingness of the people involved to move forward. 

Jaz: It's true, and it is hard to imagine a situation where somebody took you to court and was willing to kill your baby and you’re like, "yeah, we can co-parent easily". 

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah, that requires a lot of teshuva to get past. 

Jaz: Yeah. Not impossible, but, yeah. 

Lulav: Not great.

Jaz: But not— Yeah. (Lulav laughs) That's maybe a like, maybe you move out and take a few years apart and you like, go work on yourself for a while before you're like, ready to have a family of your own. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Though again— 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: I get that that's more complicated if you're already in a societal position where you don't have a lot of places to go. 

Lulav: Yeah. Yeah. So, the parsha ends after that bit about how everyone saw he was so wise, with the line, "and now King Shlomo was king over all Israel". 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: Which is getting out what I was talking about before where like, an incoming ruler really needs to solidify their power and reason for being there, not necessarily by killing off all their opponents, though that is a thing Shlomo did, (Jaz giggles) but by making clear that there is a use for them and it's not just tradition that is carrying them forward. 

Jaz: Mmm. Yeah. Lulav, does that take us to Rating G-d’s Writing, the segment in which we pick two scales and rate this haftarah portion based on them. 

Lulav: It sure does Jaz. 

Jaz: Oh, good. 

Lulav: Out of five pronouns with really unclear antecedents, (Jaz laughs) how many pronouns would you rate this haftarah?

Jaz: I would rate this haftarah maybe five unclear pronouns. 

Lulav: Nice. 

Jaz: I will own, I do not feel as equipped for this particular parsha as I have felt for others, in terms— 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Of like, bringing myself as a person to this analysis. 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: I think there are ones that I feel more suited for than for others, like I— I have some hesitancy around this but I also— this is one of my favorite stories, like I think there's a lot of beauty in it, and I also think that like, family and the complexities of family and ways in which family can be powerful and also complicated, is something that's very close to my heart in a lot of ways, and that this story is more complicated than I learned it as a child, and (Lulav giggles) the more I learn new things about it, the more I appreciate it which is not always the case— 

Lulav: That’s fair. 

Jaz: And the more I think there is beauty and richness to be found in it beyond what I understood there to be there, and I already thought it was like, a cute story to begin with. 

Lulav: (giggles) Cool. 

Jaz: Yeah, and I also think, like, you said they’re ambiguous pronouns and I— I like that this story has some ambiguity to it. (Lulav laughs) I think that makes it better. 

Lulav: Yeah. Part of why I chose that rating for you. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: I could have gone with the easy, like, (laughs) how many halves of babies. 

Jaz: I'm not giving you that one either, I think it's an easy out. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Uhm... how many— this is a more open-ended scale, but, how many people living together would you rate this parsha?

Lulav: I think I’m gonna rate this five people living together. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Because we don't hear about other roommates but my guess is, pregnant unmarried women are probably gonna have a rough go of it? 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Since they also don’t seem to have parents in the picture, and so like, especially if they’re sex workers, I’m assuming that there are other friends that they have who are like, making sure that all five of them can be housed and my initial impression of this story was that it was a silly brinkmanship thing and like, yeah I guess that was a good decision but only if you know that’s actually going to work out? (Jaz laughs) But there's a lot of context in the story itself and in like, reading into what that situation would actually feel like, and be like? And I think that context is really important to the story. So, yeah, I rate this haftarah five out of two women, because you need the context; you need people helping each other out. 

Jaz: You need community support. That's lovely. 

Lulav: Yeah! Yeah. (with affected grumpiness) Also, I guess this was a much better decision than I thought it was. (Jaz laughs) Okayyyyyyy. 

Jaz: Listen, I didn't fully realize also who the women were and it does make me feel better about Solomon that he like, met with them and treated this as a really important question— 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And like, king-determining deal in the first place. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: That he was like, “This is what determines whether or not I'm really king, is whether or not I deal with these women's problems properly.” 

Lulav: (giggles) Yeah. Yeah. I like that. (inhale & clap) Okay, Jaz, can you take us to the close?

Jaz: Yeah. Thanks for listening to Kosher Queers! If you like what you’ve heard, you can support us on Patreon at patreon.com/kosherqueers, which will give you bonus content and help us keep making this for you. Also, if you can’t commit to ongoing support but would still like to contribute, you can give to our Ko-fi, which is at ko-fi.com/kosherqueers. Find out more information about our podcast, including bios for our team, and links to our social media at kosherqueers.gay. Also, please spread the word about Kosher Queers. I recently saw that we had a couple new reviews of our podcast, (Lulav awws) and I really appreciated them, they really touched me, and you know, we've never been a podcast that has particularily for people to do like, ratings and reviews cuz our goal is to reach other queer Jews, but its not so much to like, be the top rated one, (Lulav laughs) but I would really appreciate it if you would share it with any other queer Jews that you know of, and make sure that people can access this if it would be meaningful to them. And probably if you would like to leave ratings it would help people find us more easily.

Lulav: (laughs) I do want to note that even though we have never tried to be like, the top-rated podcast because we're not in it for the fame, every time we get one of those Chartable emails and it's like, "you are number 72 up from 114", I do cackle wickedly.

Jaz: I'm so glad. I think we're at 50, last I checked?

Lulav: Oh heck yeah. So, do give us ratings if you don't mind because I will be able to practice my evil laugh.

Jaz: Also there's too many Messianics on the list of Jewish podcasts, 

Lulav: Oof.

Jaz: And like, c’mon y'all. Uhm.

Lulav: (laughs) Who's our artwork by?

Jaz: Uh, our artwork is by the talented Lior Gross, who I got to be in a little service with this week and that was really lovely. Also, 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: 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 kosherqueers.gay, 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! Also, just a note, if I deny your follow request on spacetrucksix, don't take it personally — it is kind of like, my personal account, so, yeah. Anyway, I recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Wahpékute and Anishinaabeg.

Jaz: Have a lovely queer Jewish day.

[Brivele outro]

Lulav: This week's gender is: temporal serenity, buoyed on existential terror.

Jaz: This week pronouns are: whatever you choose, choose it with conviction.