Kosher Queers

62 — Vayechi: Specifically Instructed Not To Be Gals

December 31, 2020 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow Episode 62
Kosher Queers
62 — Vayechi: Specifically Instructed Not To Be Gals
Kosher Queers
62 — Vayechi: Specifically Instructed Not To Be Gals
Dec 31, 2020 Episode 62
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, we talk about a king's hitlist, deathbed revenge speeches, trusting the state, and the dubious nature of certain Jewish claims to indigeneity.

Full transcript here.

Jaz made a knitted item using the pattern "Mountain Capelet" by Purl Soho. Here's the Matisyahu song that Lulav referenced, "Jerusalem," and here are its lyrics. Yerushalayim shel Zahav, which Jaz references, is a different famous song about Jerusalem.  Jaz mentioned thinking a particular commentary was from the Rashbag, but it was actually from the Ralbag, and is here.  The game of Jewish geography Zoom racing is hosted on Facebook by the page Who Knows One?

This week's reading is 1 Kings 2:1-12. Next week's reading is Isaiah 27:6–28:13 and 29:22-23.

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 (

Show Notes Transcript

This week, we talk about a king's hitlist, deathbed revenge speeches, trusting the state, and the dubious nature of certain Jewish claims to indigeneity.

Full transcript here.

Jaz made a knitted item using the pattern "Mountain Capelet" by Purl Soho. Here's the Matisyahu song that Lulav referenced, "Jerusalem," and here are its lyrics. Yerushalayim shel Zahav, which Jaz references, is a different famous song about Jerusalem.  Jaz mentioned thinking a particular commentary was from the Rashbag, but it was actually from the Ralbag, and is here.  The game of Jewish geography Zoom racing is hosted on Facebook by the page Who Knows One?

This week's reading is 1 Kings 2:1-12. Next week's reading is Isaiah 27:6–28:13 and 29:22-23.

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 (

Lulav: Hey Jaz. 

Jaz: Hi Lulav. What is something cool or queer or Jewish youve been up this week?

Lulav: Well, I have had you here with me, which was very fun and part of that is that we are doing Hanukkah and you brought me a bunch of Hanukkah presents. 

Jaz: I did. 

Lulav: Which is great. So I am currently wearing a cowl that Jaz knitted for me- is that what this would be called?

Jaz: I think so. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: I think the ravelry description for it, according to its creator- it was created by Purl Soho, I will link the pattern because it is very cute in case any of you are also knitters, and they call it a capelet. 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay. It— 

Jaz: Please describe it for our listeners. 

Lulav: Basically, let's say that you wanted to knit yourself into like, a sleeping bag (Jaz laughs) so that only your head was sticking out, like your whole head! The sleeping bag goes around your neck, but the rest of you is just in a sleeping bag. That's kind of what this looks like except for the sleeping bag only goes down to right below... my... breasts. I'm trying to figure out that most PG way of saying that. It rests a little bit below my solar plexus (Jaz laughs) is the way that I figured out to say that, and so, yeah like, it keeps me warm on the upper bits, which is not a euphemism, I literally just mean the upper parts of my body, and it's really nice for just working with out wearing a ton of clothes but also without freezing to death. Two admirable goals, I think. 

Jaz: Excellent. 

Lulav: And then the other thing that I was thinking of is that we went to services last night with Shir Tikvah—

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Which was great. This is my second time doing remote Shir Tikvah services. (Jaz laughs) The first time was for Trans Day of Remembrance and I was like, "oh, maybe this is kind of special but it does feel a lot like just a totally normal shul time", and it turns out that it was a little bit special but also was mostly just a normal shul time in that there's lots of singing, there's some Zoom witchery and people that I care about are there. 

Jaz: I'm not sure I had fully internalized the fact that the only Shir Tikvah Zoom services you've been to are the ones we went to together. 

Lulav: Yeah. I... hm. As my name implies, I could be better about actualizing my desires for study, rather than just, you know, studying. (Jaz laughs) Yeah, so one part was that a couple different people did songs vaguely related to themes of Hanukkah. 

Jaz: Related to light or justice or overthrowing oppression or hoping for a better world or stuff like that. 

Lulav: Yeah! And so, this ranged from I think an original song about the feeling of like, seeing somebody else's Hanukkah candles in their window to Matisyahu cover by a mother and her son. 

Jaz: That was great. 

Lulav: That was great. Jaz, what song was that?

Jaz: "One Day".

Lulav: "One Day", okay, which is apparently Matisyahu's most famous song. This guy is an Orthodox rapper from like, the mid-to-late-aughts, is that fair?

Jaz: I think that is when he was an Orthodox rapper. Uh, he—

Lulav: Oh, what's his deal now?

Jaz: He’s some vaguely Jewish stoner? I don't know, like—

Lulav: (laughs) Is he not— 

Jaz: I do not think he is— 

Lulav: Orthodox?

Jaz: Orthodox in the same way that he was then. 

Lulav: Oh, that's interesting. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: I have admittedly not followed his career closely. 

Lulav: Oh yeah? You have no particular desire to follow a white guy doing reggae, inspired with heavy air quotes, songs?

Jaz: Not quite, but I found this cover particularly charming— 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: And they had great voices and I enjoyed it. 

Lulav: That was fun. Also the Matisyahu song that I know, I can't remember why, but there were sufficient Jews around me that this probably just like, came up when I was a kid, was "Jerusalem, open paren, out the the light into the darkness? No. Out of the darkness into the- one of those. Anyway, it involves Jersulelum and is from 2006. Uh—

Jaz: You looked it up?

Lulav: I did look it up just now (Jaz laughs) to tell you that it wasn't a cover, though the bridge does use a refrain from a different song. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: But the like, modification from the line from Psalms, that's totally Modest Yahoo. 

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: Unlike the reggae. 

Jaz: So there is an illusion to Yerushalayim shel Zahav, but it's not just a cover, okay sure. 

Lulav: Exactly. (laughs) So yeah, Jaz, what is something cool and queer and J— cool and— some combination of cool, queer, Jewish, closed curly brace in your life. 

Jaz: Well a little bit tricky to narrow down (Lulav wheezes) for this week in particular, but as you said, it's Hanukkah right now and so for the first night of Hanukkah we did a Zoom with my friends back in New York. It ended up being a group of people who were in my fellowship year a couple years ago, and it ended up by coincidence being the group of us who had all lived together (Lulav laughs) that year, and it— 

Lulav: The Brooklyn crew—

Jaz: The Brooklyn crew. 

Lulav: I think is how you referred to it. 

Jaz: Uh, is how one of the people in (Lulav laughs) the Zoom referred to it and it was lovely, and we had intended to start at like, 7pm and then we ended up like, gathering actually at 7:15 and we lit the candles close to 8 and so it was like a little bit— 

Lulav: Jewish standard time. 

Jaz: It was beautiful also and we did it together and we got to talk to everybody and it was beautiful to like, light the candles together and sing the Hanukkah blessings together. All three for the first night, and I really enjoyed it. 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: Uhm, and that was a thing that we did together for Hanukkah that was really lovely. 

Lulav: Yeah. So, uh, Jaz is staying at my place for long enough that we might actually release this episode before you- I'm not sure about that. 

Jaz: I don't remember. 

Lulav: I'd have to look. 

Jaz: Let me check. 

Lulav: But like, for a month. 

Jaz: Yeah. I will still be here. 

Lulav: So, many many apologies to anybody who doesn't like this two Jews, one mic setup. Or, to Ezra in case it is really hard to unstitch these two tracks which are just one track. 

Jaz: Were going to do our best. 

Lulav: Yeah. There will be slightly less audio magic than you are maybe used to from our Kosher Queers team, but. (giggles) 

Jaz: Hopefully if you're a listener, you just genuinely will not notice, but we'll see! (both laugh) 

Lulav: Cool. So, that is things that are cool and queer and Jewish. Jaz, do you mind if we uh, mosey on into the episode. 

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: Sure you- sure you do mind or?

Jaz: No, let’s go to our episode. 

[Brivele intro] 

Lulav: Welcome to Kosher Queers, a podcast with at least two Jews and generally more than three opinions, but this time only one mic. 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 Vayechi, which is first Kings 2:1-2:12.
Jaz: Yeah!
Lulav: (laughs) I got it eventually, there are a lot of twos. And ones. So Jaz, tell us a little bit about Vayechi which I have completely forgotten about in the intervening year. (laughs) 

Jaz: You will remember it as soon as I summarize it.
Lulav: Okay.
Jaz: It- it will come back to you. All of Bereishit is real memorable—
Lulav: Right?
Jaz: But it does not feel very surprising to me that you would forget what happened in which specific parsha. I will say Vayechi is the end of the book of Bereishit so we are one fifth of the way through the year. We're 20% in.
Lulav: Oh, thats fun.
Jaz: Yeah, um—
Lulav: Wait, so the next one is Shemot?
Jaz: Mm hmm.
Lulav: Haaaa. Amazing.
Jaz: Yeah, and this is sort of an interesting parsha that I think has a very very natural connection to this weeks haftarah in a way that—
Lulav: Hm.
Jaz: Some of them have been less obvious to us.
Lulav: Okay. Deathbed advice? I can't wait.
Jaz: Uh huh.
Lulav: Okay, so how long do you want to summarize Vayechi?
Jaz: Well, I didn’t time it even though I should have cuz I was just sitting there on the couch for a half hour, but—
Lulav: Rude.
Jaz: Waiting for Lulav to be ready to record with me. (laughs) 
Lulav: There ended up being way more context to research than I thought there was going to be and I have ADHD.
Jaz: Anyways, so I think you should give me 60 seconds.
Lulav: Oh great. Three, two, one, go.
Jaz: Two patriarchs die in this parsha, but, although you might therefore think this is a pretty feminist text, most of the parsha is listening to them talk. (Lulav laughs) Yaakov / Yisrael decides to repeat hi- on his death bed, the same bad decision he's made for his whole adult life and show marked favouritism among his children. He gives Yoseph a double inheritance and picks the younger Ephraim over the older Menasseh because he just cannot resist that inexplicable thing about younger siblings, I guess? He then recites a long and kind of scolding poem that includes (Lulav giggles) his grudges about his other children and his predictions for everyone's future, and then they turn him into a mummy. It's a whole political deal, apparently, when the dad of an upper bureaucrat dies, so the literal entire country goes into mourning for over two months, and then the siblings awkwardly attempt to reconcile with Yoseph, who they've never really been chill with after that whole, putting baby in a pit thing. (Lulav laughs) Yaakov gets shipped back to the family burial plot, and by the end of the parsha, so does Yoseph.
Lulav: Oooh, [timer goes off] right on time. Right on time, okay.
Jaz: Did it bring it back?
Lulav: It brought it way back, (Jaz laughs) and wow this is exactly the right choice of haftarah too, because where there's a lot of repetition of mistakes and like, regression into old bad habits, plus also a whole bunch of weird grudges.
Jaz: Uh huh.
Lulav: That's literally what this haftarah is.
Jaz: Yeahhh.
Lulav: So do you mind if I walk you through some of the surrounding context?
Jaz: Please.
Lulav: Okay, so the last time we were in first Kings, that was the haftarah of Chayei-Sarah
Jaz: Yeah.
Lulav: Where Batshava and Natan conspired to get the dying king of Yisrael, David, to support his chosen heir Shlomo over his eldest, Adonia. A conspiracy that worked so well, Shlomo was appointed king even before David ate it, so there's a little bit of text in between. We're skipping over the actual coronation, including the part where Adonia tries to hold himself hostage in the altar in the Mishkan and Shlomo talks him down, and that's about all we missed on Glee.
Jaz: There's a little bit more—
Lulav: Uhm.
Jaz: I've been going over some of this with some of my students as well—
Lulav: (laughs) Okay.
Jaz: It's felt like a relevant piece of text to walk them through, partially because 12 year olds- which is the students I've been working on this part with- don't get taught a lot of Tanakh very often—
Lulav: Okay.
Jaz:Uh, they’re taught Torah but they aren't often taught parts of Tanakh, so this is a relevant part to walk them through.
Lulav: Cool!
Jaz: And partly because its cool for them to be able to take lessons from Tanakh and apply it to other parts of life and see how and when it continues to feel relevant or not relevant, and as this is a section that discusses what you do when a person tries to seize power and you have to figure out what to do instead, and as we are in the lead up to... well, not a coronation. A presidential swearing in ceremony—
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: The 12 year olds have been excited to be like, "ooh, parallels."
Lulav: I hope the parallels end there, because of some foreshadowing that I am going to mention and have already mentioned.
Jaz: Sure. The thing that (Lulav laughs) is relevant that we skipped over though on that particular framework is just that there is a point where the thing that establishes Solomons unquestioning victory over Adoniyah is that they take it to the people and they proclaim Solomon king in front of everybody—
Lulav: Hm.
Jaz: And Adoniyah has thrown a party among his group of elites but he hasn't like, been announced to the whole kingdom yet, and once—
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: They have like, fully and properly announced it, Solomon is like, "you can't get rid of me anymore".
Lulav: (laughs) Yeah, that's a really good lesson of the realpolitik of succession.
Jaz: Yeah.
Lulav: So, we roll from there straight into David giving Shlomo some deathbed advice—
Jaz: Right.
Lulav: Which is the big connection here. David’s giving Shlomo some deathbed advice about which is the connection here. David’s giving Shlomo deathbed advice about what beefs to quash, and uh, you may remember from the context of the haftarah for Mikeitz that Shlomo followed this advice very closely and got his bodyman to absolutely waste all of his dads enemies and his brother for him. For now though, we just focus on the raional for those beefs. We start with a bit about truthfully walking G-d’s path, which makes it all the funnier that the remaining 75% of this deathbed speech is a decreasingly reasonable list of dudes to murk on dad's behalf.
Jaz: Yes. (Lulav giggles) Absolutely. Also, just a note cuz you pointed out that we come back some of this in Mikeitz, that our haftarah portions, obviously, are not in order (Lulav laughs) but we have experienced two readings of I Kings already—
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: And this is our last one.
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: For the year.
Lulav: Thank you. That's relevant. Is there any part of this beginning poetry about being strong and courageous and keeping all the laws that you want to talk about?
Jaz: Mmm, yeah. We were trying to discuss earlier what is up with this line, 2:2. How does your translation render that?
Lulav: So, in the NRSV it actually says, "I'm about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous".
Jaz: Oooh.
Lulav: And so I think they're doing an especially outside translation.
Jaz: I think so too.
Lulav: Which I like better, but. What does it say in the JPS?
Jaz: So, let's take a look at the Hebrew real quick first.
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: So the Hebrew is, "anochi cholech b'derech, kol haaretz vechazakta vehayita le’ish." 
Lulav: And astute listeners or speakers of Modern Hebrew—
Jaz: It doesn't sound like Modern Hebrew. It's pretty noticeably Biblical Hebrew, um—
Lulav: Okay but, ish?
Jaz: Sure, yes.
Lulav: Yeah, that last word there involves "man".
Jaz: It's not "be courageous".
Lulav: Yeah it's like, "make yourself in the way of a man" basically.
Jaz: So, unclear exactly. There is no "make yourself" as far as I can hear—
Lulav: Mm.
Jaz: But like, we have "vehazakta" which is a thing about being strong. "Vehayita" is a copula, it's a version of the verb "to be" and "be", and then "le’ish", "le" is a preposition and I’m not 100% sure what that preposition is doing here like, usually its "to" and then "ish" is man or person sometimes.

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: So JPS renders that part as "I am going away, of all the earth. Be strong and show yourself a man". I’m curious about where they got this "show yourself" from, and I don't know if "hayita ish" is an idiom that I'm just not familiar with. 

Lulav: I do feel like the way that it’s "be to man" essentially— 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: "Show yourself a man" seems like a reasonably... not even that poetic, but good sounding translation of it. 

Jaz: Okay. Okay. 

Lulav: It just makes sense to be even though that's not what I would construct if I were trying to figure out how to say the English— 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Necessarily— 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: But that does make a lot of sense. 

Jaz: Yeah, I mean when there's commentary about this, the one commentary we saw come up in English, I think was from the Rashbag and it has it with the emphasis on being an adult. 

Lulav: Okay, yeah, so what you were talking about with "ish" can just mean person, so its the difference between an adult and a child. 

Jaz: Right, that that's where he thinks the emphasis is. 

Lulav: Okay, cool. 

Jaz: I don't know fully, I think that there is some ambiguity in this line but I do think that there is an interesting note here because, okay, the other thing that is a way that you can render a person— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And just have it mean one person is Adam. 

Lulav: Mmm! 

Jaz: Right? And that would have been another way to phrase this, as he's talking to his son, which would have had interesting parallels with the like, joining the earth. 

Lulav: Oooh. Were there parallels in Vayechi? I remember something about Adam, but I might be conflating that with one of the many other times that a dude died in Tanakh. 

Jaz: It's a good question. I don't think so. I mention it mostly because I wonder if this is supposed to be a distinguishing of David like, as Rashbag was saying it's like an adult, I wonder if it's also a, "I'm going to die and rejoin the earth. You're not doing that yet, you're like, having to be a separate entity", and that's the thing he's emphasizing. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: You have to be of the people, and not of the— 

Lulav: Not of the earth. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Okay. Oooh, that’s fun. Nice reminder of how just, zooming in on language that isn't actually that controversial and picking at it and picking at it makes a really cool poetic meaning. (laughs) So, then we get to the hit list. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So, there are three groups of people mentioned. People or groups. The first is Yoav ben Zeruiah. 

Jaz: I will say— 

Lulav: And- mm?

Jaz: I don't know how any of these names are pronounced in English but the Hebrew is written pretty phonetically— 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: So I know how to do those. 

Lulav: It looks like in English we do Joab, son of Zeruiah.

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Yeah, anyway, so Yoav ben Zeruiah killed Avra ben Ner, which is a fun name and also Amasa ben Yeter, and that's like the textual reason why he's on this hit list. There's a whole bunch of context here which is most of the half hour that Jaz spent reading The Art of Language Invention by David Peterson while I was just muttering to myself. So he, first off, was David's nephew through David's sister Zeruiah. That's why that name may sound familiar, potentially. No? Okay. Jaz is shaking their head. 

Jaz: No, I- I’m unfamiliar with this particular part of David's family. 

Lulav: Okay. That's fine. So Yoav has two younger brothers, or, had because one of them got killed by Abner during the like, succession war between the house of Saul and the house of David. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: They came to an armistice, the two houses, and shortly after that, Yoav went and killed Abner for the death of his brother. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And so that's what David is talking about when he says, you know, blood was spilled at peace time. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: It's like Andrew Jackson burning down New Orleans after the war of 1812 had ended, except for like I think in this case Yoav definitely 100% knew that the war was over. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: (laughs) So, there's that revenge with Avner ben Ner, and then Amasa ben Yeter, he was a replacement for Yoav. Yoav was the commander of all of David's armies during the Abshalom rebellion.

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And he got replaced with Amasa, and for that, I don't know if Yoav went immediately after to kill Amasa for replacing him, but he definitely did just straight up kill an allied soldier. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So those are the two main like, peacetime blood of fellows sort of things. And then, some context that David doesn't mention to Shlomo is that Yoav killed David's rebellious son Avshalom, even though David was like, "hey! Don't kill Avshalom. Bring him in as like, a prisoner", and secondly he conspired with the king in the death of Batsheva’s first husband, Uriah. 

Jaz: Ooooh. 

Lulav: So, it's kind of like, "boy, cover my tracks for me!" that David is saying to Shlomo here. 

Jaz: Here's your pretext. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Uh, we won't mention the other stuff. 

Lulav: (laughs) Right. 

Jaz: Have we also told any of the story of Avshalom on here?

Lulav: Not really, like we've mentioned it for sure—

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: Because it was really important in the context of previous readings from first Kings, but it's not something that we've read the primary—

Jaz: Right.

Lulav: Material from.

Jaz: I don't remember if we do that later but, yeah. It is an important story also that I don't know enough in depth, but it is significant and maybe relevant also context to this story that Soloman is taking over and several of his brothers have also tried to take the throne (Lulav giggles) and rebel, and David has chosen to give it to him.

Lulav: Right. Avshalom was, I think you said the older brother of Adoniyah—

Jaz: Right.

Lulav: Who in the Chayei-Sarah reading was just like, yeah I'm king now. Let’s party.

Jaz: Right, and this is also interesting because is lines up with our parsha in that Solomon has been given the kingship—

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Over some of his older brothers.

Lulav: (giggles) Yeah. So, all three of the people mentioned here, whether bad or good, are very much related to Avshalom’s rebellion—

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: Because there's all that stuff about being replaced by a different commander that factors into Yoav ben Zeruiah’s story, and then there is Bartzali Hagiladi, or Barzillai the Gileadite — 

Jaz: Uh huh.

Lulav: Whose sons sheltered David from Avshalom and therefore the sons should be dealt with with much love-making. (laughs)

Jaz: The words that Lulav is uh... mmm... very broadly translating, shall we say—

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Are "ta oseh chesed", which I think one would ordinarily render as something like, act with compassion (Lulav chuckles) or act with kindness, but it is theoretically possible to also translate "oseh" as "make" and "chesed" as love, though I wouldn't. (both laugh)

Lulav: I'm sure that doesn't mean something different in English, as of the last hundred years.

Jaz: Only about the last hundred years, but yes. (giggles)

Lulav: Yeah. That's an actually cool thing, right? Because make love used to mean like flirting with somebody.

Jaz: There are very funny passages to go back (Lulav laughs) and read in Louisa May Alcott’s writing where these like, young women are going out to parties and they were like, "yeah, and then Jeremiah came up and made love to me on the dance floor (Lulav laughs) and I didnt like it very much".

Lulav: Wooh! Okay. So yeah, in this case they are actually just gal pals- well, other than the fact that none of them are gals.

Jaz: They have been specifically instructed in fact not to be gals.

Lulav: (laughs) That's true, actually, yeah.

Jaz: Very rudely of them.

Lulav: Alas. Right, so you go from, "this dude did a whole bunch of nasty stuff and I somehow haven't killed him yet", to "ohhh, these guys? Their dad was really nice to me when I was running away. You should invite them to your table".

Jaz: I feel like you skipped what you were supposed to do to the enemies.

Lulav: Oh, to the enemies? Oh yeah! I totally did. Uhm, because this is a thing that appears both for Yoav and for Shimei. It's that you must not let them go unpunished, for you are a wise man and you'll know how to deal with them, and you have to send his grey hair down to Sheol in blood.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Or white hair. It's the same colour in both cases.

Jaz: In both cases they take a word that is "sivato", which can mean like, aged or grey headed and in one case they translate it as "white haired" and in the other case as "grey haired", but they are the same word so it's unclear why they do that.

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah, and it's not like Shimei is obviously younger than Yoav because the context for Shimei ben Gera, the third person who David promised clemency to, is that he was a member of Sha’uls clan, right? So his clansmen got deposed by this upstart who was his clansman's son's boyfriend.

Jaz: Yes. And also legal son-in-law. 

Lulav: Also that. Yeah, his clansman's daughter's husband but that's not as important, I don't think, as we have established here on this podcast. (laughs)

Jaz: Just saying, they had multiple points of connection.

Lulav: Okay, thats fair. It’s like queer Jewish geography where everybody has like, three points of connection to everybody else who’s one degree away from them.

Jaz: Yeah. I found out recently that one of my former bosses is gonna be on a Facebook game of Jewish geography—

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Which for those of who you are unfamiliar is a game where two people are given the like, full name and a few pieces of identifying information of a random Jewish person and they have to call up a number of people and try and- they can’t use social media, and try to reach the Jewish person who has been named.

Lulav: And get them to join the Zoom call, was I think the stipulation of this particular game.

Jaz: Yeah, (Lulav laughs) and get them to join the Zoom call. It's great.

Lulav: Yeah. So, right, Shimei ben Gerah was promised clemency by David. In the text it's just, you know, he insulted me outrageously but he came down to meet me and I swore to him I wouldn't put him to the sword. Implicitly, you however should totally waste this dude. So that's what we're talking about with like, going back to some bad habits, (laughs) and the thing that Shimei did here, he was a member of Shaul’s clan, so David was running away from Avshalom and he had, you know, a couple of courtiers with him, just like, his court. They were on the run. And this guy comes out of the city and just starts whipping rocks at them and saying, "ahhh, you should never become king in the first place! The fact that you overthrew Shaul, the rightful king of Yisrael, that fact is why your son is being such a meanie to you right now", (Jaz laughs) and everybody's like, "David.. are- are we gonna like, kill him"? Actually, specifically this is Yoav’s younger brother, Abeshai—

Jaz: Ah.

Lulav: Who asked this, and David is like, "no, no Abishai, you dip poop. We are definitely not going to kill him. Avshalom is rebelling against me and we are not killing him. It's fine. Let's just keep riding", and Shemei follows their train the entire way and is just like, "ahhhh!!!" pelting them with rocks, (Jaz laughs) and then after Avshaloms rebelion is done, theyre coming back through town and Shemei is like, "hey so... I may have pelted you with rocks and called you some names' ', he likes, mutters under his breath "not that you didn't deserve it", this is not in the text.

Jaz: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lulav: Whatever. (laughs) "Uhm, anyway so, can you like, see your way into forgiving me?", and Abeshai again, Yoavs younger brother jumps in and is like, "no! We will not forgive him! We're going to cut off his head!", and David is like, "boy, boy, crazy boy. Play cool, boy. Got a rocket in your pocket? Play cool-y cool, boy", and promises to Shemei that he won't kill him.

Jaz: He has a kingdom to establish and now (Lulav chuckles) he's like, "I established the kingdom. You know what the real wise thing to do would be right now? (Lulav laughs) Is to murder this dude who I have held onto a grudge for for all this time and just never wanted to kill".

Lulav: Despite the fact that he is literally just a random man, like, he is a slave owner which we find out in the context that I told you about in Mikeitz so not a great guy, but you know what? I am always in favor of chucking rocks at David while yelling that he shouldn't have been king in the first place. Not for any particular reason, it just seems like fun.

Jaz: Also he just is a king and you have established a very “no kings” policy.

Lulav: Yeah. (laughs) 

Jaz: But it is so fascinating to me that David is sort of like, "well, I think you should kill him. I've never killed him, but I trust that you're a wise person, uh, (Lulav laughs) and will know how to deal with him". That one I did not extrapolate at all, that is his literal words is like—

Lulav: (laughs) Do not let him go unpunished, you're a wise man and you will know how to deal with him.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Yeah, I really think that the whole reason that he gave Shimei clemency in the first place is that he was just trying to stick it to his nephew.

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: This was not the nephew who died, I'm pretty sure. That was the younger one. There were three brothers.

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: I don't know, there's just so much vengeance here.

Jaz: There is a lot of vengeance happening, and going back to your worst mistakes. (Lulav laughs) Uh, quick side note, I'm sorry that this is the reference point—

Lulav: Uh oh.

Jaz: But it is a bit in Good Omens. I think in Good Omens? Maybe it's in American—

Lulav: Not the worst, go ahead—

Jaz: No, it's in American Gods.

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: Wrong book, same author, (Lulav laughs) uh, initially where the female character whose name I can't remember is giving a long list of like, the things she believes and does not believe—

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And shes like, "I believe that the death penalty could be justified if you could ever trust the state, and I believe that of coures you can absolutely never trust the state".

Lulav: (laughs) Mood.

Jaz: And thats one of the things Im thinking about here, as like, I was not always a like, yeah we gotta get rid of the death penalty person when I was younger and still figuring out my politics and stuff—

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And I am now, we should get rid of the death penalty, um.

Lulav: Because there’s- there’s a state. Why wouldn't you trust the state?

Jaz: Um—

Lulav: Otherwise, why would they exist? Their whole founding mythology is based on rebelling against unjust rulers.

Jaz: But, I was thinking of this here about how David’s rational is like, "well you're wiser, so you are qualified—

Lulav: Mmm.

Jaz: To kill somebody, and I wasn’t as wise and therefore wasn’t qualitifed to kill them and this is sort of a like, if you just say that you defer to the peope who are wiser then they can hold the power of life and death in their hand, (Lulav chuckes) whereas you might look at it and say, “well, what is the wisdom for if not to tell you you shouldnt murder these random people?”

Lulav: Which, to be clear, Shlomo does. Specifically with Shimei he's like, "hey, I don't ever want to see you around here again", and Shimei is like, "okay, okay I’m gone", and then his slaves run away and he goes hunting them down and Shlomo is like, "hey! I said I never wanted to see you again!" and he was like, "whoops" and then gets killed, but—

Jaz: That seems fine.

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah, like, death to slave hunters, but thats an unrelated thing IMO. Anyway, point is—

Jaz: So, I just want to be really clear—

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: That David's last words on page are, "vehoradeta et sebato vedam sheol", which is to say his last words are, "drag his old grey head in blood to hell".

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah.

Jaz: And then he dies! And that's it.

Lulav: So David slept with his fathers, which, get- no. I'm saying in a dead way.

Jaz: ‘Kay.

Lulav: Which is, yeah. Very much based on the parsha. Yaakov curses some people and dies, and David curses some people and dies, so textually supported. (laughs) But then here's a bit about how the length of David's reign over Israel was 40 years, and it breaks it into he reigned seven years in Hebron, and he reigned 33 years in Yerushalem.

Jaz: Yerushalayim.

Lulav: Yerushalayim. I maintain that I'm basically saying it, that's just my accent.

Jaz: Ah-

Lulav: I’m midwester. It's my midwestern Hebrew accent. (laughs) I'm so sorry to the Israelis who definitely actually listen to our podcast. (both laugh) Every day I say something in Hebrew. I am sorry. So, I was wondering why it was divided into that, like he reigned seven years in Hebron and 33 years in Yerushalayim, and I looked it up and apparently Yerushalayim wasn't an Isrealite city.

Jaz: Oooh.

Lulav: Until David had well established himself on the throne of Israel, like, the whole thing with Shaul ends and pretty much the next thing is that he conquers Yerushalayim with basically no context. The people living there were the Yevusi —

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: Or Jebusites.

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: And they're like, just random Canaanites.

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: And he just like, goes in and defeats them.

Jaz: Fascinating.

Lulav: Plus a whole bunch of other local people after he takes Yerushalayim.

Jaz: Fascinating. So, not to get additionally controversial—

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: But, there's been on Twitter and very occasionally I see pop up offline but I feel like mostly it has popped up in my Twitter-verse in like, the last year or so.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: A group of people who's been very—

Lulav: Mmm.

Jaz: Loud about how Jews are the indigenous people of the land of Israel and that that should be regarded as a matter of indigenous sovereignty and indigenous rights of Jewish people being there.

Lulav: So we missed the boat on that by about 11,000 years.

Jaz: What do you mean?

Lulav: So, this is not to say that the entire marker of indigeneity to an area is that like, you cross the Bering Strait and your ancestors from way way back settled there, that's not actually how this stuff gets figured out.

Jaz: Right.

Lulav: But like, the history that we have learnt so far about the Jewish people—

Jaz: Right.

Lulav: Is that we were some herders and then we borrowed some food and then we were slaves because we borrowed that food along with literally everybody else in the country—

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: And then we left that slavery, we wandered around for a bit and we displaced people who were already there to take our promised land which lasted for about 200-300 years.

Jaz: Maybe longer, but not that much longer, and over a—

Lulav: As- as a unified kingdom, right?

Jaz: Sure, okay. 

Lulav: As a unified kingdom is lasted about 150 years I think, and then there was like, 300 years of fighting over who controls what, at which point we got conquered, and then we got conquered again, and then we got conquered again, and then i'm pretty sure we got conquered again. 

Jaz: That sounds right. 

Lulav: (laughs) So like— 

Jaz: Over the next thousands of years. 

Lulav: I think there is an extent to which the promised land has been important to the Jewish people. I dont think it's as promised as we tend to make it out to be. 

Jaz: I think that the interesting thing about it there is the conflation—

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: To me, of “promised land” to “indigeneity.” I think it is possible to hold the idea of it as sacred land to us— 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Without at the same time being like, "we are from here and we are the original people from here and we are the only original people from here"— 

Lulav: And therefore the only current people with claim to it. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: So we know also that the historical story is different from the one you just told, but the one you just told is sort of the mythological story— 

Lulav: Mm. 

Jaz: That the legit historical story— 

Lulav: Mm. 

Jaz: As far as we’ve been able to archeologically verify it probably doesnt include like, the slavery aspect. 

Lulav: Right. (laughs) 

Jaz: Right? Um, we are a group that arose in that part of the world where there were many groups and so we may have in fact been originally from that part of the world, right? But we are certainly not the first people to be there. There were— 

Lulav: And were not the last people. (laughs) 

Jaz: And were not the last people to be there. Not the first group to originate in that part of the world, not the last group to originate in that part of the world. Even our holy texts to talk a fair bit about, here are the people who were here before. Here are the people who were neighbours. Here are how the boundaries were pretty constantly shifting. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Um, and Jewish history as well as sort of just general Mediteranian history has backed that up that those borders have been pretty constantly shifting, and while many groups of people have been there and the borders have changed over them, including like, Mizrahi Jews who have lived all over the Middle East and border and empires have changed around them— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: That is true of many groups who have lived there. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: So, I mention that to note that the indigenous claim is one that sits very uneasily with me— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And that I don't like, and that I think that if you are truly looking at an issue and youre like, what can I do about an issue of indigenous rights from a Jewish perspective? You'd be better off, especially for the American Jews I see doing it— 

Lulav: Oof. 

Jaz: Working on issues of indigenous sovereignty and land back— 

Lulav: In the places that you live right now. 

Jaz: In the places that you live right now. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And I want to send this one over to people in the U.S. and Australia in particular. 

Lulav: Mmm. Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And, the other place where— 

Lulav: And Canada. 

Jaz:  And Canada. (Lulav laughs) And of the other places where I know we have listeners, I think the next one in the UK which is not of indigeneity in exactly the same way, but those have colonies and historical colonies so maybe, maybe put your efforts in that direction. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Anyway, any other things that we should address about this haftarah before we wrap up?

Lulav: Uhm, I think we sent this haftorah’s grey hair down to Sheol in blood. 

Jaz: Oooh. 

Lulav: Uhm, no, we did- we did a decent job talking about it. 

Jaz: Good. 

Lulav: (laughs) Anyways, point is, lets roll into the end which is everybody's favourite game, Rating G-d’s Writing. It's a game now. 

Jaz: Is it a game now? I think it's one of everybody's two favourite games, you can get your other game if you sign up for our bonus content.

Lulav: (laughs) But yes, I am retroactively declaring this a game because I have to come up with approximately a different description of Rating G-d’s Writing every time i introduce it. This is the game in which we have numbers that relate to the haftarah.

Jaz: (snorts) Okay!

Lulav: And also to metaphors.

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: And sometimes they're not numbers.

Jaz: Lulav, out of 40 years of a reign, seven of which were in Hebron and 33 of which were in Yerushalayim, how many years would you rate this parsha?

Lulav: I would rate this... I think it's seven years in Hebron for sure. 

Jaz: 'Kay. 

Lulav: And seven in Yerushalayim. 

Jaz: Oh no. 

Lulav: Because—

Jaz: That is 14/40, that's so low. 

Lulav: Right, and the main focus of this haftarah is telling your son to beat the crap out of one guy who helped you when you were ruling in Hebron—

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And one guy who threw stones at you while you were ostensibly ruling in Yerushalayim. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: So, if we're gonna do all seven years in Hebron for Yoav, which I think we should, we should do an equal seven years for Shimei, who’s not a great guy, but also just literally a random dude, and I don't think the other 26 years are that impactful like, this is a very funny haftarah, but I don't know that it gives us great moral wisdoms— 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Other than the statement in the beginning which is kind of the same thing we get many, many times of "follow these faithfully with all your heart and with all your soul and it will be okay".

Jaz: Okay. (Lulav laughs) Before we give my rating, I have one last thing that I was just thinking of as you were talking—

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: That I want to posit as relevant to our analysis. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Which is that I think David offers us a good, if not like, moral exemplar, but a good example of what happens when queer people buy into the existent power structures rather than try and take them down. 

Lulav: Oooh, okay. 

Jaz: Cuz you might remember David from our beggining of the season as our bisexual icon who then decides to be king, and then opens this parsha by being like, "gotta be a man, son". (both laugh) 

Lulav: You know we had high, high hopes for little... (both laugh) 

Jaz: And then says, we kind of skimmed over but about like, you have to keep all the rules as exactly as they were given to you and be scrupulous in your conduct, like you gotta loop by the letter of the law, and then he says, "when you do that here's all the people you get to be in charge of and get to punish, (Lulav laughs) and you will be wise and important and that's what wisdom looks like, is like, buying into it".

Lulav: Woof is what I have to say about that. 

Jaz: And I just want to remind everybody that David, in addition to everything else, he's such a drama queen. Hes like, "I am thinking about this insult he did me on my death bed and that insult was throwing stones at me", which, to be fair, is a thing that you shouldn’t do to bisexual people, is throw stones at them, but— 

Lulav: Yeah, definitely not. 

Jaz: He has held onto this insult for the rest of his life, and then he notes that he slept with his fathers, so he has like, established himself in the lineage— 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: According to what they wanted from him. 

Lulav: Yeah, which considering how conservative everybody ended up— 

Jaz: Even though he didn't—

Lulav: Even on their deathbeds.

Jaz: Right! Even though he didn't start out that way. He’s— 

Lulav: He really did join the lineage and sleep with his fathers. 

Jaz: Right. He was part of a rebellion and then this one is like, and then they rebelled against me and I was like, well that can't happen. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. History being written by the victors, right?

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: Like what if we were the people who descended from Avshalom’s kingdom. 

Jaz: Well, also this thing of he slept with his fathers like, he wasn't from a royal family but he has been like, adopted basically into this royal lineage by virtue of force, kind of, and therefore those people are considered his fathers. 

Lulav: Yeah. Jaz?

Jaz: Yeah?

Lulav: Speaking of force, if you were dragging the hairs of this haftraha to Sheol, what colour would they be?

Jaz: Um... 

Lulav: Thank you for reminding me that it's not just numbers. 

Jaz: (snorts) They would be mostly grey, little bit of brown for some of them and brown at the roots. 

Lulav: Some of them hairs or some of them people who have hairs? I'm trying to think of like, how you're conceiving of this haftarah if it is a group of people, or if its— 

Jaz: No, it's one person. 

Lulav: It's one person, okay. 

Jaz: One person who's got mostly grey hair and a little bit of brown hair. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And a spot right at the back where the hair has like, kinda all fallen out, because that used to be the spot that was always dyed blue and so the hair fell out early. 

Lulav: Oh no! (laughs) Admissions from Jaz about the hair dyeing, I guess. 

Jaz: No, you should always dye your hair if you want to, it looks great, I support everybody doing so, but most of this person's hair hasn't had any dye in it for many years. 

Lulav: Oh, good one. I love the rating. So, quick stop off in the Continuity Corner. 

Jaz: Yeah?

Lulav: I just wanted to mention that my friend Gabi commiserated with me about having watched Buffy a decade ago— 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: In DMs, and specifically they mentioned that season 4 episode 22, "Restless" is maybe not as good an episode as I said in our episode. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Because there's the whole like, racist thing with the primordial slayer. 

Jaz: Okay. I don't remember this specific episode at all. 

Lulav: Okay, so they're having a dream and in the dream they’re being like, pursued by this Black woman with paint who’s like—

Jaz: I do vaguely remember. 

Lulav: Dancing around in the shadows and she was the first slayer, basically. 

Jaz: 'Kay. 

Lulav: And also there's a lot of misogyny tied up in Xanders whole thing. 

Jaz: Shocking.

Lulav: Right? Shocking. So when I was like, 20 or something I was mostly really impressed by the line "confortador"—

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: As just like, a fun play on words, and I totally missed the whole thing about Willow and Tara kissing as a thing, or- was that Willow and Tara? I can't remember. Anyway—

Jaz: I don't think Tara’s around yet.

Lulav: Kissing is a thing specifically to please him in this dream or like, Buffy's adult mother coming onto him. Yeah, there's a bunch of stuff in this episode which also included a funny cheese man that actually doesn't hold up, and I knew this because I've been listening to Buffering the Vampire Slayer, which is like, the episodes are twice as long as the actual episode of television, I just forgot it because I defaulted to the impression that I formed when I was like, 20.

Jaz: Sure.

Lulav: Nineteen? A youngster.

Jaz: I don't even stand by the person I was when I was 20 and that was significantly more recently.

Lulav: Oh. Oh! Yeah, I definitely don't stand by — whoo! Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo! Anyway, congrats on us both growing as people over the last four to nine years, and um... Jaz, can you take it 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 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, 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]

Lulav: This week's gender is wildly inconsistent tzinius.
Jaz: This week's pronouns are ce/cir/cirs.