Kosher Queers

63 — Sh'mot: Mitzvah Shmitzvah

January 07, 2021
Kosher Queers
63 — Sh'mot: Mitzvah Shmitzvah
Kosher Queers
63 — Sh'mot: Mitzvah Shmitzvah
Jan 07, 2021

This week, we're talking about visions of apocalypse, and also the name game. Plus, sometimes a prophet tells people that obviously, things aren't going to work out, and they laugh.

Full transcript available here.

This week's reading is Isaiah 27:6–28:13 and 29:22-23.  Next week's reading is Ezekiel 28:25–29:21.

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 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.

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Show Notes Transcript

This week, we're talking about visions of apocalypse, and also the name game. Plus, sometimes a prophet tells people that obviously, things aren't going to work out, and they laugh.

Full transcript available here.

This week's reading is Isaiah 27:6–28:13 and 29:22-23.  Next week's reading is Ezekiel 28:25–29:21.

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 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: Hi Jaz. How's Twitter?

Jaz: Hello. Bad. 

Lulav: Oh no, I'm so sorry. In contrast to Twitter, has anything cool and queer or Jewish happened to you this week?

Jaz: Yeah! This week a number of cool and queer and Jewish things happened to me, but one of the ones that I’m thinking of was with my students—

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: I was teaching my students a story about cool Jewish women, and so I opened our class with a check in question, as I do every day. I asked them to name cool Jewish women that they knew. They were a little stymied by this because they don't know very much history yet, and so many of them were naming their moms or older sisters which is very sweet, and invariably in every class, one little student would say, "and you Jaz!" and I would have to be like, "that's very sweet of you, I really appreciate being included on your list. I’m not a woman".

Lulav: I was able to hear this from the other room every single time.

Jaz: So in one particular class, I said this and the student who had kindly put forward my name was like, "oh right, I forgot you were a they/them". I was like, "Well, I- that's not a descrip- that's not a noun. That's a pronoun, which is different. That's a way of describing how you talk about me, but that's not like, the thing I am"—

Lulav: Mm.

Jaz: And I taught them the word nonbinary, and wrote "nonbinary person" in the chat so they would have that word available to them.

Lulav: Yeah. It sounded pretty coherent and straightforward from the other room.

Jaz: Right. And then students were like, "I have a couple more questions'', and asked a couple more questions, and one of the students was like, "I think I can guess what your gender was when you were born though", and I didnt say anything and then the student was— guessed and I was like, this is great. Eight year olds don’t know anything. (Lulav giggles) I mean eight year olds know a lot of things, they’re amazing, but they don't really get how gender works yet which is delightful and anyway, person put forward a guess, guessed wrong, and then I was answering somebody else's question and then a student popped up and was like, "Jaz, I have one more question" and I was like, "okay we really do need to keep moving though cuz we have other stuff to get to today, even though I'm happy to-'' and the student goes, "can you send me more zoom backgrounds? that's what I need help with now."

Lulav: Okay. Yeah, that did seem like a very sudden transition.

Jaz: There was no transition. The students were just being like, "here are my questions about gender. Also I have one more question before we move on: can you give me more zoom backgrounds?" I was like, "great question, can we come back to that at the end of class after we’ve covered everything we're doing today?" (both laugh)

Lulav: I'm so glad. You said something about default Zoom backgrounds though, right?

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Okay, I am totally unfamiliar with how the cosmetics of Zoom work.

Jaz: Well, the thing is that PJ Library set up some Chanukah Zoom backgrounds, which this kid was very enamoured of and she was wondering if there were more of them, so hey, if you are a Jewish institution out there and wondering should you be making Jewish Zoom backgrounds, (Lulav laughs) I bet third graders and others of us would appreciate it. Chanukah ones were fun, but Chanukah’s over now and I just want more generic cool Zoom backgrounds that I can give to children.

Lulav: I'm so glad. Speaking of Chanukah being over, last week it wasn't over. This is as of recording. Don't worry if you are like, wait, I thought Chanukah already happened! Did I miss Chanukah too? You did not. We just time travel. So this is my second year of doing candles every night, uhm—

Jaz: We missed one night.

Lulav: We did miss one night, but the miracle of miracles (Jaz laughs) is that we had exactly enough Chanukah candles for it. We had a box of 44 candles and uh, we used all of them. (Jaz laughs) I also did find like, seven candles that, you know, seem like they would be good for use in making havdalah candles, not sure where they came from or why they look exactly like the Chanukah candles that we were using.

Jaz: Because again, there are no leftover Chanukah candles in Ba Sing Se.

Lulav: Correct. (Jaz laughs) Yes, or else where.

Jaz: Great.

Lulav: You may hear people complain about, "ugh! I have three leftover Chanukah candles and they're just sitting in there" or like, "I had 12 leftover Chanukah candles and so I used them at the beginning of the year and then we had to get more and so I still have like 16 leftover Chanukah candles'', and uh, that seems like a them problem.

Jaz: (laughs) Anyway, if you have leftover Chanukkah candles you can turn them into havdalah candles by dipping them in hot water and then twisting them around each other.

Lulav: Which to be clear, you don't have leftover Chanukah candles, (Jaz laughs) but if you find random thin candles that would go well in hot water and twisted together, G-dspeed.

Jaz: Any other things about Chanukkah that you wanna share that were cool or queer or Jewish?

Lulav: You gave me a bunch of presents, right? Sorry.

Jaz: That wasn't the prompt I was fi—

Lulav: Oh! 

Jaz: I wasn't fishing for anything, but you can talk about those should you want to.

Lulav: Yeah- Oh my G-d, okay, okay, okay. Aughhh. Okay. Where is it?

Jaz: It's right over here. I'll grab it for you.

Lulav: On the shoes? Okay, yes. So, for the third night of Chanukah, which in Ashkenazi minhag is the day when you give the best present—

Jaz: (laughs) You're allowed to make up your own minhag, you don't have to pretend it's Ashkenazi minhag.

Lulav: No, if I do something it's the objectively correct way- anyway.

Jaz: Mm, okay.

Lulav: It is not Ashkenazi minhag.

Jaz: There are no minhag.

Lulav: Generally people say first night or eighth night, for instance you might get a puppy on the eighth night of Chanukah. Hopefully your parents discuss this with you. Also, why do you have parents who are giving you gifts? Whatever. Thing is, on the third night of Chanukah, Jaz got me a pillow and pillow discourse is big in our production studio. I hold with the house that says one pillow is enough, zero pillows is sometimes acceptable, two pillows is right out. And so, Beit Hillel over here—

Jaz: No, more pillows! More pillows are comfortable, they’re functional, they're (Lulav groans) decorative, it's great.

Lulav: (groans) So, while I was standing on one leg and asking why pillows were cool, Jaz gave me a pillow and specifically it has the greatest piece of art in all of western history on it, which is this tumblr post that has exactly 30 notes on it because it was made by some random mutual of mine whose phone number I do have and I still need to text them a picture of this pillow, but—

Jaz: It's from like, 2014.

Lulav: 2015, 2014, yeah somewhere in there. The original tumblr user has deleted their blog and when I last texted them about this meme they were like, "wow. Don't make posts like that anymore". (Jaz laughs) So it is a blue background, and there are diagonal yellow lines. This is something that's basically made in ms paint. I think Jaz might have made it in MS Paint?

Jaz: I did not.

Lulav: No, okay. But blue background, my favourite colour blue, and it has these diagonal yellow lines that make kind of a road visually. Along the road it says, "why did the chicken?" which of course primes you to think, "why did the chicken cross the road?" right? That is entirely implied. There is no road mentioned. The only other things that are mentioned are in the upper right hand corner, we have “the road represents trauma which has,” and in the lower left hand corner we have “always already occured.” And this is genius. This is, I was not exaggerating, the best piece of art I have ever seen. I've seen lots of pieces of art. (Jaz giggles) Just putting that out there. The Mona Lisa has nothing on this. (Jaz laughs) Oh, what, you have something that's maybe a smile and maybe not? Whatever. Base portraiture. This is a meme as G-d intended, (Jaz laughs) this is a subversion of chicken jokes which are already anti-jokes and how many levels of irony are you on? I don't know, like six or seven. Anyway, this was a great present.

Jaz: Also I gave you this present in front of several of your very gay friends.

Lulav: Including one who Jaz had solicited the tumblr post in question from, because I don't think I have linked them to it.

Jaz: No, I consulted your best friend for some advice.

Lulav: Yeah. So it was great, I had a good Chanukah. I am sorry to uh... no I'm not sorry. You are welcome for me waxing philosophical about a meme which, again, literally there were 30 notes on last time I checked, and it's not getting any bigger.

Jaz: You should have seen Lulav's face when she got it, listeners, though. So happy.

Lulav: Part of my face was that I was squinting because it was dark and we were like, doing a bonfire—

Jaz: No, that was the first minute, but when you realized (Lulav laughs) what it was.

Lulav: Yeah. It's good. Anyway, pillows are good now I guess.

Jaz: (giggles) I win.

Lulav: (giggles) Still only one at a time, but they're good now. Fine.

Jaz: Anyway, Lulav, are you ready to start the episode?

Lulav: Oh, I reckon I am. The episode represents ch- no. (Jaz laughs)

[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 Shemot which is, oh man this is a really weird one... 

Jaz: Isaiah 27:6-28:13, plus a couple additional verses which are 29:22 and 29:23. 

Lulav: Uh huh. It's weird. Also, this was the haftarah cycle that we decided to go with. An alternate cycle which I believe is Sephardi but don't quote me on that has Jeremiah 1:1-2:3— 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So completely different reading. 

Jaz: Absolutely. We will be talking about Jeremiah in a couple of weeks but we haven't yet, so. 

Lulav: Yeah. So see you again for the episode of the haftarah of parshat Bo, but stick around because we are about to talk about the opening of the book of Exodus if ya nasty, and Shemot if you're Jewish. 

Jaz: Oof. 

Lulav: Uhm... 

Jaz: Oof!

Lulav: Whatever. Sorry, that was unnecessarily mean. 

Jaz: Alright, well in that case Lulav, can we move right along into you just— 

Lulav: Please. 

Jaz: Summarizing this for us?

Lulav: Yeah! So, I'm having a hard time eyeballing this because it looks gigantic. 

Jaz: It does look gigantic. 

Lulav: Can you give me 80 seconds, and I'm gonna take this at a run?

Jaz: Yeah. Alright, let's pull up this timer. 

Lulav: That pause there was Jaz fetching their phone from the bed where they threw it— 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Because Twitter is not a thing— 

Jaz: I wanted it to— 

Lulav: For podcasting. 

Jaz: I wanted it to be out of the way. 

Lulav: Uh huh. Me too, where is my phone?

Jaz: Behind you. I threw yours over there too. 

Lulav: Oh! Great! Thank you, I appreciate that. Also in true gamer fashion, I have a twin bed right behind my computer, so that's pretty fun. I can take naps and write hacks. That almost rhymed. 

Jaz: Ready, set, go. 

Lulav: We start with the sprouts & blossoms of Yisrael, who struck root v'Mitzraim with Yaakov. Yosef's pet monarch was replaced by-and-by, and this guy didn't like dandelions. He assumed that the gardeners who were themselves dandelions would help with weeding, which was blessèdly not an effective idea. Given the medical establishment's lack of complicity in genocide, the king doubled down on policing; luckily, one lady was able to avoid drowning her child AND got to raise it anyway in the lap of luxury. We don't focus on the thousands of people who didn't avoid it, though. Anyway, Drew-who-got-drawn-from-the-river murdered a dude for doing hate crimes, but got spooked when two Hebrews didn't clock him as an ally, so he ran away to the desert. In Midian, he was nice to some gals with a fancy & hospitable dad or five, and got a baby out of it. Eventually the genocidal weirdo got replaced by a marginally less genocidal weirdo, so the god Burning-Without-Burning got Drew's attention to draw him back home. He didn't love this idea - Who am I? Who are you? What if they don't believe the spoilers? What if they think I'm a nerd, or don't want to listen to my stutter? And so was Drew made the prophet of Being,  [timer goes off] and so his wife did some sacrificial romantic [timer goes off] sorry, cosmetic surgery on their son, and so he went with his brother to win some early activism successes organizing the Hebrews. He and the new king argued about PTO in such a way that the descendants of Yisrael received retributive busywork, and we ended on that cliffhanger way after the alarm went off.

Jaz: Oh yeah, you’re about 15 minutes- 15 seconds late. 

Lulav: I believe 15 minutes. 

Jaz: Mostly because you added so much colour commentary. 

Lulav: Uh- listen! That was shorter than the parsha. 

Jaz: Marginally. 

Lulav: M-

Jaz: Alright, so how does that all connect to what we're reading today- which in case Lulav's actual summary was thoroughly incomprehensible to you, was the beginning of the book to Shemot, where we're talking about Moshe's early life. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. Okay, in my defense I'm pretty sure your summary last year was we go through half of the Prince of Egypt. 

Jaz: (laughs) In my defense, that's accurate (Lulav makes a sound between choking and screeching) and easy to understand. 

Lulav: (She keeps making the noise) Okay, oka- (she makes the same noise as before). Anyway, uhm— 

Jaz: Also that seems unlikely as I have, as of aforementioned, never watched all of the Prince of Egypt. 

Lulav: Hmm. Interesting, maybe that was my summary the next week. 

Jaz: Plausible. 

Lulav: I tend to be overly verbose. Anyway, speaking of segways, I started the summary off with one connection which is that the haftarah here starts with "Yaakov shall strike root, Yisrael shall sprout and blossom"—

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And so we conceive of the genealogy that's right up at the beginning of Shemot as kind of a listing of the sprouts and blossoms of Yisrael. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: The other connection is lines 28:11 and 28:12, which in my personal translation is approximately, "as with wobbling lips and with strange tongue, one speaks to this people saying things to the effect that you can chill here, and this people are unwilling to listen". So this is kind of unclear as to whether the one who has wobbling lips and strange tongue and is telling people they can chill here is good or bad—

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: I think after running over this haftarah like five different times in that little bit of text that it probably is positive and so this connection was meant to evoke the heavy uh, fey- no, pey? 

Jaz: What are you trying to say?

Lulav: So there's that line that Moshe says— 

Jaz: Yeah?

Lulav: That is like, "ki kavod fey vey" uhm— 

Jaz: Ah, right, heavy of the lips and slow of tongue. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Sure, right. It's peh. Yeah. 

Lulav: Peh? Okay. Thank you. But like, the point is Moshe is famously and especially in this specific parsha speaking with wobbling lips and a strange tongue—

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Like, this is the guy who is raised in the lap of luxury— 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And who presumably is speaking the dominant Egyptian language, more so than he is speaking Hebrew— 

Jaz: Oh, interesting. 

Lulav: So that's why I picked out "strange tongue". 

Jaz: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. 

Lulav: It's really interesting because the JPS translation, and I think even the King James Bible— 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Say "stammering lips"—

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Or JPS says "stammering jargon"— 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: In the haftarah here, and the word that they translate as stammering, when I looked at the helpful tools on Sefaria, is— 

Jaz: Where are you?

Lulav: 28:11. 

Jaz: Mm, okay. 

Lulav: Of Isaiah. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: So when I looked at what the root meant, its mocking. It gives you one definition, just mocking. And so I was trying to figure out is this, you know, a mocking tone or something, and it seems like it's related to a stutter, but not in the way that you usually talk about stutters. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: And definitely not the way that Moshe was doing, so confusing poetic language which may or may not be related. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: But I think that the fact that this is the two lines that are penultimate to the end of this... well. 

Jaz: They’re near the end. 

Lulav: They’re near the end of this selection. And there's also the connection of Yaakov striking root and Yisrael sprouting blooming, so that's a nice front and back of the haftarah. Jaz, can you tell us a little bit about the context of Isaiah? Oh- sorry, Yesheyahu. 

Jaz: Oof. Lulav has only recently learned Isaiah's Hebrew name, and has declared that she will be insufferable about it. 

Lulav: That is the exact word I used. 

Jaz: Yes. We were talking, I think, about who has the same name in English and Hebrew— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And there are very few of them, and you were like, "Isaiah has the same name in English and Hebrew", and I foolishly was like, "no he doesn't". (Lulav laughs) I found his name in Hebrew for you, and you were like, "oh that's great, I'm never using his English name again".

Lulav: (laughs) Good. 

Jaz: Malachi has the same one. 

Lulav: Yeah, Malachi and— 

Jaz: Obediah?

Lulav: Obediah, yeah. And... there were a couple, cuz we were redoing the categories because we'd accidentally tagged the haftarah episodes with the books that the parashot are from. 

Jaz: Anyway, go check out our website if you haven't already, we put a lot of work into it. 

Lulav: Yeah! Jaz does really great on the copying things over and making sure everythings in the right place. 

Jaz: Anyway, we start at Isaiah 27:6— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Which starts with this line that Lulav was mentioning of, "Jacob shall strike root, Israel shall sprite and blossom and the face of the world shall be covered with fruit". This is sort of generally considered part of Isaiah's like, end of the world — 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: Type predictions, or sometimes apocalyptic predictions, so if you go a little earlier to like stuff in 26, it's talking about Leviathan and fire-breathing dragons and all sorts of stuff that's happening, (Lulav laughs) and this one is more moving us into what's gonna happen to the Jewish people, and the people around them, and people who have done wrong, and people who have been oppressed, and — 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: That's sort of what's happening in the section we're moving into now. It kind of goes back and forth between terrible predictions, and like, beautiful predictions, and sometimes it's not super clear which one is happening and which time. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. Is this kind of like if you were to read the book A Game of Thrones but skipped the first chapter, and so its like, wow this is low fantasy, what's everybody talking about with all the magic? But like, in that first chapter there was a whole bunch of stuff about Leviathan and white walkers, and- (giggles) 

Jaz: Sort of, except that Game of Thrones, if you read it long enough, does come back to the magic stuff repeatedly. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Isaiah doesn't in the excerpts we read today— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But it is worth keeping that in mind— 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: As were reading it now, that that's part of the framework he's operating in. 

Lulav: Which is why I was so confused about 28:11, the thing that the person is saying with wobbling lips and strange tongue is that it's okay if you chill here, and that seems counter indicated by the whole apocalyptic imagery as a good thing. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Do we get a sense that after all the bad stuff happens, there will be good stuff again— 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: Which we generally get in Jewish texts? Okay. 

Jaz: Yes, uh, we do. So there is a certain amount of like, G-d will take us back, so I don't know about you, but I was thinking recently because we got a comment from some of our listeners that some of these texts that we read in the haftarah are less familiar— 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And some of them are more familiar. This bit of Isaiah that we're reading today is not one that I'm very familiar with, so I think it might be useful also to get a sense of what's happening here, because this is really confusing to read if you're trying to read it (Lulav giggles) on your own. 

Lulav: It's like reading Jane Austen, except that you don't speak English. 

Jaz: Lulav and I have been reading Sense and Sensibility to each other. 

Lulav: Her sentences are so long. I have long, extremely run on sentences with a bunch of clauses. Her sentences are so long. 

Jaz: Right. And also characters are named in ways that are occasionally confusing to me, and we did have to stop for a moment to be like, "who is the mother? Who is the daughter? Are- are they a daughter-in-law? (Lulav laughs) What's happening here?", and so sometimes there's bits in here, including our second line, where it's just not super clear what's happening. Like, our second line is Isaiah 27:7 and its, "was he beaten as his beater has been? Did he suffer such slaughter as his slayers?" So okay, Lulav, who do you think is being talked about here?

Lulav: My guess is that this is after the big apocalyptic stuff has happened, so it's asking like, was Beit Yaakov like, Am Yisrael, were they beaten as their oppressors were in the recent apocalyptic stuff? 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Is that wrong?

Jaz: So this is a genuine question in that I don't— 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Fully know, but I will say that much of what I've been viscerally reminded of in this particular reading today is how much is in the Hebrew that's not captured in the English, tonally. Like, this line says "was he beaten as his beater has been?". In the Hebrew that's just, "hakmakat makhu hikahu" which are like, clearly all variations on a theme. And the next phrase that's "did he suffer such a slaughter as his slayers?" (Lulav giggles) is, "im kehereg harugav horag" and that one I think comes through even clearer. That's the same word. That's three different forms of the same word, that's all that's happening there. So in English you need a lot more things going on. In Hebrew, those are all the same word with different variations happening to it. 

Lulav: So is that more like, um, did he suffer such slaughter as his slayers suffered, or? 

Jaz: Well, I think it's a little bit more like "like the killing of his killers does he kill". 

Lulav: Ooh. Okay! So that might frame it less as a rhetorical question of "was he beaten like his oppressors were?" and more "does he replicate the structures that his oppressors had in place for oppression?" 

Jaz: Something like that. I— 

Lulav: Interesting. 

Jaz: Or the other way around, which is a little bit unclear to me (Lulav laughs) ho- how to make sense of the poetic syntax happening here— 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Which is to say it's either the thing you said or its a question of the things that he's doing to them— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: DId they deserve it? 

Lulav: Mm! 

Jaz: Did they do that to him in the first place?

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: Is he returning a blow or just creating one?

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Cuz the next bit is about what you do when there's sin, like, when we go to Isaiah 27:9— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: There is a thing about having to remove his guilt, and doing that by removing all sorts of alter stones, and sacred posts which is probably a reference to the way other local deities were worshipped. 

Lulav: Right, this reads to me as the like, 752nd time that we've heard the haftarah portions talk about how the northern kingdom was idol worshipping, and how that is something that the remainder of Am Yisrael needs to make up. 

Jaz: Yes, but to me there's also sort of a question when we have it juxtaposed with this bit of slayers, that it's phrased as you get rid of the idol worshipping and the instruments for doing so, that's sufficient. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: You don't need additional slaughter, maybe you just need to get rid of the tools. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Which feels interesting to me as a formula because its— 

Lulav: Ohhh. 

Jaz: A little bit, uh, I've maybe told you this story but I don’t think I’ve told you this story on air, there was once a point where I woke up in the middle of the night, and I was like, "if we get rid of the prisons what are we going to do about the terrible, terrible people who are currently wielding there power and money against everybody else? What are we gonna do with them?", and then I fell back to sleep, and then I woke up again in the morning and was like, "oh right, I still do believe that we can strip them of any power and influence (Lulav giggles) and whatever all together. You don't need to replicate systems of punishment—

Lulav: And carcerality. 

Jaz: You just need to get rid of the tools that would make you be able to do evil things in the first place, and once—

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: They have no ability to do those things, it doesn't matter. 

Lulav: Right. Which is hard. 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: Because you need so much more discretion than- I mean, okay in the current system where we just throw people in jail, the powerful people get away scot-free anyway. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: So you can't really do worse, but it is hard to make sure that, I don't know, passing around reputation of somebody who used to be powerful and wielded that for ill such that they are no longer powerful in the future, that is a thing that can be misappropriated by powerful people who are good at manipulating others. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: But yeah, just making the altar stones as though they are chalk and blowing them away, that would be enough. 

Jaz: Right, you get rid of the tools. Anyway, so then there is this vision of the world is kind of desolate, and no wilderness and there's this kind of loneliness, their calfs graze and lie down and cities are kind of empty, and then there is this note that's like, "the crowns don’t work". 

Lulav: What are people gonna do with that?

Jaz: Women come and make fires with them. 

Lulav: Right. Who needs a crown? Just burn it for fuel. 

Jaz: But it's also like a G-d has to figure out what to do with everybody.

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And there is some ambiguity there, I think, about what happens to those people. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And what happens to everybody.

Lulav: There's like a grain threshing metaphor here. 

Jaz: Yeah. I am not a person who knows a whole bunch about that. 

Lulav: You're not a farmer? No way. 

Jaz: If you're a farmer, come hang out (Lulav giggles) and talk about agricultural metaphors. But there is a thing here about you cutting down grain, and then you have to pick it up to do stuff with it and there is here a G-d cutting people down like grain, but then also noting in particular picking up the children of Israel. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. I think this particular metaphor is like, when you have wheat there are husks on the good food part, and you have to like, toss the wheat and [clapping noise] beat it out to make sure that you get the good food part and the husks are left behind. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Might be the thing that's happening here, anyway that's really technical. Yeah, it's like, how do you make that new world?

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: Pick 'em one by one? 

Jaz: So, Isaiah's prophecy-ing in a time where they have tried allying with Assyria, and with Egypt and he didn't really want them to try either of those things, he didn't want them to rely on empires, and so he's like, “people who are in Assyria or Egypt? Welcome home”, which I know that there's ways to interpret in they will come to this specific land, right? It's "behar hakodesh b'Yerushalayim", on the holy mountain in Jerusalem. "Behar hakodesh" also gets reinterpreted later as a specific mountain, as the Mount of Olives. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But there is also definitely an implication I think of Isaiah's general contempt for the empire, of like, people who are out there who have been either serving the empire or pressed by the empire, they will be freed as having to have any relationship to empire. 

Lulav: Nice. So we got a couple more lines in 28. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Anything you wanna focus on here?

Jaz: Yes, I absolutely do. There's also a bunch, like we were talking about earlier, of things that look more repetitive in the english and are interesting in the Hebrew. Things that are like, "muzzled by wine and dazed by liquor, priest and prophet are modeled by liquor, confuzed by wine, dazed by liquor and muddled in their visions, they stumbled in judgement". I don't have anything specific to offer there about this repetition, though I'd encourage if you can to take a look at Isaiah 28:7, just because I think there's something about where the idea of being confused and muddled are coming from because it then extrapolates from this repetition of wine and liquor and confusion into muddled in what they can see— 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And comprehend and judge. 

Lulav: And also I think that this JPS translation does a pretty good job of like, there's a mix of verbs and nouns and they're getting all muddled up just like the muddling that they’re describing. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So I appreciated that. 

Jaz: Yeah. Okay, so then I wanted to bring your attention to maybe one of my favourite bits— 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: In this, which is 28:10 which I don't think the translation fully does justice to, (Lulav giggles) though I think they did a good job with it, but— 

Lulav: Yeah, with the language that they are given. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: You know. 

Jaz: But I just want to read this to you; "ki tzav latzav, tzav latzav, kav lakav, kav lakav, ze'eir sham ze'eir sham", and if you’re like, "why did that sound like a lot of things being repeated", this is supposed to be like a people's response to Isaiah's proclamation. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: "Tzav '' is supposed to be reminiscent of like, mitzvah. The root of mitzvah is—

Lulav: Is so cool. 

Jaz: Yeah. Is tzadi-vav-hey. “Tzav” here is spelt just tzadi vav. So this is a little bit like, this is the mitzvah, this is the commandments, this is what we gotta do because everything is falling apart, and they looked at him and they were like, "mitzvah, mitzvah, shvitza, shvitza! Shut up and stop talking to us", (Lulav laughs) and then continued to like, plug their ears and go, "mitzvah, mitzvah, bobitzvah, fee, fi, fofitzvah, (Lulav laughs) mitzvah''. 

Lulav: They didn't have bananas which is why they didn’t go with "banana fana fo fitzvah". 

Jaz: Yeah. And they're like, "that's what I think of your life,"— 

Lulav: (whispering) They had bananas right?

Jaz: In the Middle East?

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: At this point?

Lulav: Probably. 

Jaz: I don't know the answer to that. 

Lulav: I'm gonna Google some stuff while you keep talking about. 

Jaz: No, we will hear you! 

Lulav: Clackity clack clack clack clack, that's me googling. 

[Jaz saying “uh” extremely slowed down while overlaid, Lulav says, very sped up and in a chipmunk voice, “mitzvah mitzvah bo bitzvah, banana fana fo fitzvah, me my momitzvah, mitzvah”]

Jaz: So the answer is like, maaaybe. 

Lulav: Maybe. 

Jaz: They had heard of a banana. 

Lulav: Yeah. Maybe. 

Jaz: But okay, so I really enjoy this like, when you were talking earlier about truly one who speaks to people and is stammering, this is like, stammering because the people are actively making fun of Isaiah—

Lulav: Right? (Lulav laughs) 

Jaz: And so they’re speaking weird at him. 

Lulav: Honestly that makes sense with how this is the adjective “mocking” 

Jaz: Right. They’re actively making fun of Isaiah and refusing to listen, so there's this thing of like, the more you mock and refuse to listen, the more sort of prolonged your own angst. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: There is a thing here about Isaiah might tell you, this is the resting place, let the weary rest, and they won't listen and so they keep marching going like, "mitzvah shmitzvha". 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay, so that brings us to the end of the single run and then we have these two little lines, 29:22. 

Jaz: That's correct. 

Lulav: "Assuredly, thus said Hashem to the House of Jacob, Who redeemed Abraham: No more shall Jacob be shamed, No longer his face grow pale.”

Jaz: It's like a conclusion that's a gentle denouement. We have had all of this built up of the people aren’t listening, things are not going great. Even though G-ds there and Isaiah's prophecy-ing to you, it's just not going well. And then we skipped over ahead a little bit, just long enough to say it'll be okay though. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. So, was this a good haftarah? Lets see in the segment Rating G-d’s Writing, where we yell at each other. 

Jaz: Okay. Lulav, out of— 

Lulav: YES, JAZ? 

Jaz: Out of two empires where people are scattered, how many empires would you rate this haftarah?

Lulav: I would say two, cuz the thing is one empire where people are scattered, that's like, earth shattering. The second time it happens, it's like, wow we've heard a lot of this before and it's still important! There's still a bunch of suffering when your people are scattered by another empire— 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: So, two empires in which your people are scattered because it is repetitive of prior content but in a really fun and poetic way. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Jaz, how many biblical figures names does this haftarah make you want to do the banana fanana fo fana song to?

Jaz: Like, three. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: I love that there's fun word play happening here. I love that this one requires you to dig into the original text to get a sense of what's happening in a way that's meaningful. I don't appreciate that it's so inaccessible—

Lulav: Mm. 

Jaz: In that way, that it’s so not straightforward if it does make me want to shake it a little bit and be like, what if we did something easier. (Lulav laughs) What if we just did something easier? Why is this so difficult? (Lulav laughs) 

Lulav: (laughs) All the best poetry is difficult, I say— 

Jaz: No! 

Lulav: A completely baseless claim. 

Jaz: Rude. False.

Lulav: That I didn't actually believe. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Anyway, Jaz can you take us to the close? 

Jaz: I can. 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. I do think it really helps people find us, actually, if you rate our podcast and write reviews for it on whatever platform you're on, particularly if you're on large ones like Apple and stuff like that, which makes me grumpy to have to say but I do think it would actually very much help people find us, and I think sometimes people would want to.

Lulav: Did you know that we’re the 6th ranked Jewish podcast in Canada?

Jaz: I did.

Lulav: I know you did, I’m asking the listeners—

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: Who are definitely responding to me right now, did- did- did you know that?

Jaz: We’re the 34th one in the US I think?

Lulav: Uh huh.

Jaz: As of recording, so.

Lulav: That’s because of antisemitism.

Jaz: Also because there are a larger Jewish population in the US, because we have a much larger population and we just talk a lot. We make a lot of podcasts but (Lulav laughs) I do want us to be ahead of any Messianic podcasts that are out there—

Lulav: Oof.

Jaz: So, gotta rate us.

Lulav: May be so it swiftly ends in our days.

Jaz: Anyway, 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 cohost, Lulav Arnow.

Lulav: Sound design is my passion. 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.
Lulav: I’m Lulav Arnow and you can potentially follow my private account @spacetrucksix on Twitter, or yell at me very publicly @palmliker! We 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 rejected percentages.
Lulav: This week's pronouns are he, she, they, yes, no.