Kosher Queers

64 — Va'eira: Awful Animal Appellations

January 14, 2021 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow Episode 64
Kosher Queers
64 — Va'eira: Awful Animal Appellations
Kosher Queers
64 — Va'eira: Awful Animal Appellations
Jan 14, 2021 Episode 64
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, we talk about ancient puns, trust in intentional living communities, the fallacy of safety, and and a cool crocodile. Plus, Lulav really enjoys some fanfiction and does some sewing. 

Full transcript available here.

The fanfic that Lulav re-read recently and was inspired by is Truth and Measure by Telanu on Archive of Our Own.  Also, props to SR Harris, the fabric company that we shopped at for Lulav's T-shirt quilt.

This week's reading is Ezekiel 28:25–29:21. Next week's reading is Jeremiah 46:13-28.

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.

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Show Notes Transcript

This week, we talk about ancient puns, trust in intentional living communities, the fallacy of safety, and and a cool crocodile. Plus, Lulav really enjoys some fanfiction and does some sewing. 

Full transcript available here.

The fanfic that Lulav re-read recently and was inspired by is Truth and Measure by Telanu on Archive of Our Own.  Also, props to SR Harris, the fabric company that we shopped at for Lulav's T-shirt quilt.

This week's reading is Ezekiel 28:25–29:21. Next week's reading is Jeremiah 46:13-28.

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 (

Lulav: Three, two, one. (sound of a high-five)

Jaz: Hi Lulav.

Lulav: Hey Jaz. 

Jaz: What's something cool or queer or Jewish that’s happened to you this week?

Lulav: Well, I don't know how many people here have listened to Friends at the Table, or any other podcast where they did something similarly inside baseball in the first couple episodes, but every time that we record we make sure to count “three, two, one” and then clap which we haven't been doing in person because we don't need to synchronize tracks that are recorded on two different computers, but we just did as like, a joke and it felt really cool. (Jaz laughs) Instead of individually clapping, we just high-fived and that was a very good energy to bring into the podcast. 

Jaz: Great.

Lulav: I've got a thing, but do you want to talk about— 

Jaz: No, no, no!

Lulav: Some of your things?

Jaz: No. You go first. 

Lulav: Okay, well I bullied Jaz into watching The Devil Wears Prada with me. 

Jaz: Yeah, you sure did. 

Lulav: (snorts) Uhm— 

Jaz: I wanna register for the record that Lulav owns The Devil Wears Prada on DVD which is how she owns many of the movies she watches because she's secretly an old lady. 

Lulav: That is very true, I don't know that that's so secret. Uhm, pretty open secret if so. I have a couple movies that I don't watch, like Avatar on DVD, but I also have some movies that I genuinely like, like The Devil Wears Prada, which is one of my favourites. Anyway, so I bullied Jaz into watching that because it's important to me, and then through a combination of factors which was watching this movie, and also hearing that apparently a famous femslash fanfiction author and another one who I am less familiar with are like, dating, I decided to re-read the aforementioned fanfiction authors quarter million word post-canon, slight canon changes fic about Andy Sachs and Miranda Priestly being in love and raising children together. 

Jaz: You realize this means I now have to link this terrible fanfic in our show?

Lulav: It's not terrible! It's very good. (Jaz giggles) It is rated explicit on Archive of Our Own— 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Which, I mean, you can get through about 120-160,000 words, which is, for reference, two or three novels with out anything particularily horny, but chapters 5 and 6 out of 7, also I think chapter 7 maybe- there’s a lot of lady sex. It's kind of a lot. Anyway, I have been re-reading this for the last couple days and just finished, and I um... was so inspired by the general industry of famous assistant Andy Sachs that I just like, got up before Jaz and cooked a big breakfast. And Jaz does not yell at me or anything, which is cool. I love that. 

Jaz: I definitely don't yell at you like that. That's terrible. Not a good foundation for a relationship which is why the fic feels slightly more questionable to me as a premise—

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: Though I haven't read it, but it was very sweet that you made me breakfast. 

Lulav: (laughs) Yes, as a foundation for a relationship, execrable. The worst. The- it makes it work (Jaz laughs) I guess, other than the whole thing about betraying your original class interests once you are exposed to wealth, which was a theme but I don't think it was as intended as it could have been. Yeah, I don't know. It was... good. (snorts) 

Jaz: I'm glad you enjoyed it. 

Lulav: Yeah, usually when I re-read things for a second time they are bad, so the fact that this was like, okay was fun. It’s queer and Jewish because they’re gay for each other and also uh, in this fic Miranda grew up Jewish. (both laugh) 

Jaz: I have another follow up question for you about this experience. 

Lulav: Yes please. 

Jaz: Did your enjoyment of this story of the fashion industry relate to the fact that you're learning how to sew?

Lulav: (gasps) Oooh! No, not even a little bit. However, it is fun sewing. So, I used to be really into wearing T-Shirts, (Jaz laughs) especially T-shirts with a variety of designs on them, and since transition, the T-shirt is not my preferred mode of clothing. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: And so I have gone much more into actual fancy tops or like, sweaters or whatever and have no use for the vast pile of T-shirts that I had accumulated over the years, many of which had significant emotional value to me, and so I've been wanting to make a quilt out of the T-shirts for a while, and we just started doing that with fabric from the shop that Dessa’s costumer shops at. 

Jaz: That’s cool. I didn't know that. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Props to... 

Lulav: Dessa?

Jaz: No, what's the same as the shop?

Lulav: SR Harris. 

Jaz: Thank you. 

Lulav: Uh, they’re a wholesaler in Brooklyn Park, which— 

Jaz: In Minneapolis. 

Lulav: Which Jaz scoffed at because they were like, "Brooklyn park, ha ha ha". 

Jaz: I did not. 

Lulav: (laughs) I’m embellishing a little, but you did have some sort of reaction. 

Jaz: I did. The quilt is only a queer project in that Lulav and I are making it together, and I guess it has these things from an old like, Queer Student Alliance on it. 

Lulav: Not that old! It was four years ago. 

Jaz: Eh. (Lulav laughs) Uh, terrible graphic design work, anyway— 

Lulav: I was the treasurer, not the graphic designer. 

Jaz: (laughs) But, I wanna note it as part of a Jewish experience because it also has numerous patches from Lulav’s several years of being part of the Secular Student Alliance, and wearing T-shirts about atheism. 

Lulav: Yeah, that's true. 

Jaz: Demonstrating both your growth as a person, (Lulav laughs) uh, since then and also that those are compatible things. The secularism and your now like, strong commitment also to Judaism. 

Lulav: Yes.

Jaz: Great. 

Lulav: Indeed. Yeah, that's most of what I got on them. (laughs) Other than giggling. 

Jaz: So—

Lulav: What's your thing, Jaz? Or things. That was a bunch from me. 

Jaz: Yeah! So, I wanna talk about a thing we both went to this week that was my mother’s birthday party. 

Lulav: (giggles) Okay. 

Jaz: Which was on my mother’s birthday, and she didn't know it was a party before we got there, but I had been secretly planning with the rest of my family. My other mom was the brains behind it. I just set things into motion (Lulav giggles) and— 

Lulav: You were the treasurer to this particular graphic design you might say. 

Jaz: Okay. (Lulav laughs) So, it was my mom's birthday and I had a Zoom call scheduled with her and she was just expecting it to be with me and with Lulav because my brother and other mom are there in person with her, and so I got on the call and we were there for about a minute and I said, “happy birthday” and “I'm so glad to see you” and then I said I had two things for you, and one is a gift card and I’m emailing it to you right now, and the other one is a surprise! And then I let in like 20 people from the waiting room. 

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah. 

Jaz: And she was very surprised and very happy about it. 

Lulav: This is one of the many instances where having a family that extensively documents meetings and sets things up way ahead of time is very helpful. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Because Lily didn't suspect anything. 

Jaz: No, she thought it was very normal that I sent her the Zoom link a little ahead of time. 

Lulav: Like a day and a half. (laughs) 

Jaz: It was very normal. 

Lulav: Good. 

Jaz: Also, it was like a lovely group of people who all know and care about my mom from different parts of her life, and uh, we all gave little toasts to her for her birthday and at one point Lulav leaned over to me and was like, "so are there more lesbians on this call than men?", (both giggle) uh, and I don't remember the answer to that specifically because the number of people fluctuate a little bit—

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: And people’s spouses came in and out, uh, but— 

Lulav: I will note, mostly their husbands. 

Jaz: (laughs) Well, as— 

Lulav: Not exclusively, but mostly. 

Jaz: But yes, it was a very lovely gathering of people there to celebrate my mom, and as my other mom sometimes does on very special occasions, she asked, "would you marry me all over again?" and it was very cute. 

Lulav: Yeah. D'aw. 

Jaz: Yeah, so that I think is my thing of the week and I was glad you could be there with me. 

Lulav: I was glad I could be there with you too. Your moms are cool. 

Jaz: Objectively just a true fact. 

Lulav: Yes. 

Jaz: So let’s get— 

Lulav: Also, it’s just funny that we are two queer people with like, relatively or very good relationships with our parents. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Cuz that is not the case for a lot of people. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Including a significant portion of our friends. 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: Yeah. So, baruch hashem. 

Jaz: Yeah. No families are straightforward, (Lulav giggles) but my family is great, so. 

Lulav: So, Jaz do you wanna roll on into the parsha? No, the- you wanna episode it? 

Jaz: (laughs) Yeah, sure. Let's get started. 

[Brivele intro music]

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 Va'eira, which is Yechezkiel 28:25-29:21. Also, I said that I hoped that I wouldn't be extremely pretentious about this and instead I am. When I say Yechezkiel that is in English “Ezekiel” and 28:25-29:21 are some prophecies on Egypt and land possession.  

Jaz: Yeah, okay. I'm gonna keep calling him Ezekiel. 

Lulav: That's totally fine, (Jaz laughs) different strokes for different folks. You also could have been doing that the entire time, like I know sometimes you'll just say “Moses” but you could have said “Moses” the entire time and just left me over here like a mule — a veritable cudna — saying “Moshe.” 

Jaz: Anyway. 

Lulav: (snorts) Jaz, you are the one who read back on the parsha. 

Jaz: Yeah, I sure did. Are you ready for a summary?

Lulav: Short summary? Yes. Probably shorter than the one that I did last week. 

Jaz: It's pretty long this week too. 

Lulav: Ohhh, time for your demise as well as mine! 

Jaz: Oh, alright. There's a lot happening this week and I didn’t time out this summary so I guess give me... 

Lulav: This is how we fall. 

Jaz: Uhhh... 75 seconds. 

Lulav: Okay. One— 

Jaz: I do not know if that's long enough. 

Lulav: 15. Three, two, one, go. 

Jaz: Moshe has been given a task but is like, "if my own people won't listen to me, for sure the Pharaoh is gonna be super ableist about this", so his support team in the form of his brother is there too to take notes. There are a bunch of Israelites who are in charge of other Israelites so we have lots of out of any useful context names. (Lulav snorts) Then G-d repeats some instructions under the principle of anything important you are teaching should be said at least three times, then these two octogenarians do a magic trick featuring (Lulav giggles) transfiguring a stick into a snake, but then their rival bootlicker magician foes (Lulav laughs) do the same thing, and the dictator sneers about it. So the old guys, backed up by G-d’s explicit instructions on the matter, turn all the potable water and possibly the non-potable water into liquid that would only qualify as potable if the whole country was made of vampires. It's gross and makes fish die so it's smelly. Uh, once again, rival trickster magic workers do the same and next time it's frogs here, frogs there, frogs jumping everywhere, and when they die they also stink. Again, rivals match them but next there is live and they can't beat lice and are like, "oh no! G-d is fingering the country!", and next there are swarms of insects and then a bunch of farm animals die and then everyone had major allergic reactions to dust and then hail hurt a bunch of people and then Pharaoh said, "okay fine, get out of here" but then it stopped hailing and he was like, "n- wait. Nope, I take it back, you can't leave". (Lulav laughs) [timer goes off]

Lulav: Oh! 75 on the dot! Thats beautiful, Jaz. (Jaz laughs) So congratulations on knocking out all 10 plagues that quickly, 10— 

Jaz: That was not all 10 plagues— 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: It's like the first- first seven? Something like that?

Lulav: First seven, you're exactly right. Still, can you tell us— 

Jaz: Plus there is lots of other random stuff in that parsha at the top before you get to the seven plagues— 

Lulav: Sure is. 

Jaz: So there's like a lot going on. 

Lulav: So, can you spin us a little yarn about how that relates to the haftarah we're reading?

Jaz: I am very good at spinning yarn. I am not, that's — I am good at knitting yarn but spinning is not one of my better skills — anyway (Lulav snorts) yeah so, I think most straightforwardly, this haftarah is focused around dealing with monstrous situations and dealing specifically with the people of Egypt or Mitzrayim and around gathering all the people together to be able to leave their present circumstances and those are all themes that are hit in the parsha as well. 

Lulav: Yeah, that tracks. Good connection. So can I give a little bit of context about what's going on?
Jaz: Yeah, please. 
Lulav: Okay, well we're back to everyone's favourite smarmy goth performance artist from Tanakh, a category he wins favourite in primarily by being the only member. (Jaz laughs) Yechezkiel, which I must apologize for saying that way yet again, is talking about geopolitics here in this haftarah starting by saying that the specific promised land will be specifically held by Beit Yisrael, i.e. the house of Yaakov. This is coming after a couple chapters of prophecies against the local enemies of Israel, including the city of Tyre and it’s followed up by invective against the leadership of Egypt and then a politically questionable bit about Adonai letting the king of Babylon take Egypt as thanks for the whole besieging Tyre business. Any questions on all of that?
Jaz: Yeah, that sounds like partially a summary of what we're gonna be talking about today— 
Lulav: Right. 
Jaz: Do you have political context about what's going on with Egypt and Babylon that you could offer us?
Lulav: Sure, so one thing is that Tyre, one of the cities mentioned in the chapters just before this— 
Jaz: And that's T-Y-R-E?
Lulav: Yes. 
Jaz: As the city. 
Lulav: Or— 
Jaz: Do you know where it's located?
Lulav: Lebanon. 
Jaz: Okay. 
Lulav: Yep. So a little bit north. 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: And along the coast. It's a coastal city, that at the time was mostly built on an island, but also had a mainland portion of the city that had walls to it. 
Jaz: Yeah. I'll just throw in, because we throw around terms like Lebanon and Egypt and stuff that those don’t map exactly onto our modern nation states— 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: Like our modern nation states are really informed by colonialism and the way they would have been broken up differently at the time by different empires. So just a thing to keep in mind is where we are talking about locations, also that like, they just don't map exactly onto our current geopolitics. 
Lulav: Yeah. Like, they do and they don't. 
Jaz: Right. 
Lulav: (laughs) I talk a lot about holding two truths simultaneously, and the two truths are that everything is always the same, and a lot of stuff has changed and been informed by other conquerors. 
Jaz: Right. 
Lulav: So Tyre was under siege for 13 years. 
Jaz: Ooof. 
Lulav: By the king of Babylon. 
Jaz: Nebuchadnezzar?
Lulav: Yes, exactly— well, I don't know about exactly. Do you want me to go into the name thing before— 
Jaz: Yes, please. 
Lulav: I finish the Tyre- okay. 
Jaz: I think it's very fun. 
Lulav: So, Nabû-kudurri-utzur II, who is also known as N'bucad'retzar II, and is also more commonly known to us as Nebuchadnezzar, was the king of Babylon for I think the longest reign in the entire neo-Babylonian empire. 
Jaz: Hmm. 
Lulav: He's also, maybe someone you would remember, from the Babylonian captivity, and like, taking a bunch of Jews into captivity and spreading them around the neo-Babylonian empire as slaves or just as people in different places but mostly slaves, right? Yeah. (chuckles) So a little bit more about the name because I was very interested in why there is an "R" in this chapter, instead of the "N'' that we're more accustomed to in English translations of his name: Nabû-kudurri-utzur means essentially “Nabu,” which is the name of a G-d, uh, “guard my heir.” And N'bucad'retzar is the Hebrew transliteration of that basically. You go from Nabû-kudurri-utzur, N'bucad'retzar. It's basically the same sounds with some different vowels and this was not enough for Jewish writers because they decided to make up a smarmy nickname about him, which is instead of “Nabu, guard my heir,” it’s “Nabu guard my mule.” Nabû-kudani-utzur.
Jaz: I love that. 
Lulav: Right? Which gets transliterated in Hebrew as Nebuchadrezzar, and if you're wondering like, why is mule an insult? Something that works a little bit better in English would be like, “Nabu, guard my ass,” in specifically the mammal sense. Um, (laughs) you see that word in Aramaic as "cudna" which was the thing I was referencing earlier, and the Akkadian is "kudunu", so it's the kind of pun that would be mutually intelligible between those two languages, baruch Hashem, and yeah that's how we get Nebuchadnezzar in English. This is also the same guy, not only who shows up in the Babylonian captivity in I think Kings II, but also, uh, in the Book of Daniel, which is historical fiction but it involves a dude making prophecies and like, various people walking in and out of furnaces and a whole thing. 
Jaz: Great. 
Lulav: Anyway, so that was a huge tangent. 
Jaz: You were telling us about Tyre. 
Lulav: Rolling back up to Tyre, so it was under siege for 13 years, and basically Nabû-kudurri-utzur was trying to bring Tyre, which was a major port city in Lebanon, or in what will eventually be Lebanon, bring that into the empire. 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: And he kind of did, because after 13 years of being under siege — and it wasn't the most effective siege but still having, you know, a bunch of dudes outside of your gates for 13 years isn't all that fun. 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: Um, the tyrants were just like, "yeah, how bout we be a client state?" So they weren’t conquered in quite the same way that the Northern Kingdom of Israel was, or the Southern Kingdom also was— 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: But they were still part of the empire. 
Jaz: Right. 
Lulav: They just had a little more autonomy. 
Jaz: Which will be useful context as we talk later about— 
Lulav: Sure will. 
Jaz: Conquering places, and asking Babylon to conquer places. 
Lulav: Yeah. So, can I walk you threw just like, chronologically here? We start with these two lines in the 28th chapter— 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: About when I have gathered Beit Yisrael from the people they've been dispersed among, I'll give them the land which I gave to my servant Yaakov, and they'll be safe, they'll build houses and plant vineyards and definitely be safe when I have punished everybody who lives around them and hates them. 
Jaz: Yeah. I have a question for you. 
Lulav: Uh huh?
Jaz: Which is a word that they emphasize a number of times— 
Lulav: Yes, please.
Jaz: Is, the English translates it as "security". 
Lulav: Mm hmm. Is that not how you would go about that? 
Jaz: It's an interesting choice. As far as I can see, the word that they’re translating as security is lavetach, which is related to the root bet tet chet, (Lulav giggles) and— 
Lulav: That’s fun. 
Jaz: It's related to feeling secure and feeling confident and also fundamentally to trust. 
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: So it could imply other things, but if theyre emphasizing, they'll dwell on it like, in trust— 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: That to me suggests different implications than “they'll dwell on it in security.” 
Lulav: RIght. That is a very different thing, I feel like.
Jaz: So— 
Lulav: Also, sorry. 
Jaz: Mm hmm?
Lulav: Is this related to like, “beitecha” from Hashkiveinu or the V’ahavta? Probably not. 
Jaz: Not 100% sure what you're referring to but that doesn’t mean you're wrong. 
Lulav: Okay. Nevermind then. 
Jaz: No, let's check it later, and— 
Lulav: Hm hm, check it later. 
Jaz: Bring it back next time?
Lulav: Uh huh. So, you were gonna ask me a question. 
Jaz: I was gonna ask you, we haven't talked as much this year, but I have sort of a larger question for you which is: what are things that made you feel safe?
Lulav: Hm. 
Jaz: And what are things that give you a sense of trust, like is there overlap there for you? Or places where they drastically diverge?
Lulav: Yeah, I think familiar sights, right? Like, people who I know, places that have the same or similar calming colors that I have grown to know and love, that gives me a sense of trust, and then having aspects of that be different, like, new people coming in and out of that cast, like for instance the corner store now has a bunch of murals on the side of it which are like, really colourful and I finally actually looked directly at them recently. Really artfully done!
Jaz: Mmm. 
Lulav: Especially the little rainbows. Anyway, so that's a completely new thing, like for years that I've lived here it's just been like, occasionally a pack of roving teens will tag "WAGES'' on the side of the store, and that'll be like the only thing there, and in the last couple months we now have this really pretty mural which still is in kind of the graffiti style, but it's across the entire wall. It looks really colourful and it's still the same business on the corner there, it's still the same way that I walk to my car all the time— 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: Um, so I think those are like the two aspects of it is: familiar sights, and novel ones. 
Jaz: Mmm. 
Lulav: In the same spirit, you know?
Jaz: That's so interesting. 
Lulav: Thanks. 
Jaz: I was thinking also of like, this is talking about people living in a place in security or in trust and doing so together, like they’re living there, planting vineyards probably means they’re working there. I'm thinking about, it's hard to draw an example from your life but a few weeks ago you were talking with people involved in your community organization—
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: About whether members who are out walking around the neighbourhood should wear reflective vests. 
Lulav: Uh huh. 
Jaz: Does that make them unsafe? Does that make them safer? Is it safety-neutral? And part of the question you were discussing is, well, wouldn't our people just be safer in the first place, if you wanna think of it in terms of safety, if just like the community members knew them and what they were there for and what they were there to do, and they know “oh, these people are there to do useful things that will help me,” like, isn't that a more salient use of safety than whatever they're wearing?
Lulav: Right, I think specifically the way I put it was that if they were wearing some sort of friendly uniform like, bright yellow shirts instead of these specific bright yellow vests that they store in the police substation and everything, that it wouldn't be like, elevating them above the people they live with and I do think that's another part of feeling safety is that you don't have, you know, people who are patrolling and trying to snitch on you, it’s— you have people who are looking out for each other and like, figure out how to solve problems that people are having. 
Jaz: Mm hmm. Yeah, I understand the connection here between safety and trust because it's sort of the difference between I feel safe when I have a locked door versus I feel safe when I know I can trust my building in such that I don't even need a locked door. 
Lulav: Hm. Mm hmm. Definitely the reading of these two lines that I was worried about was one that really does emphasize that security and that meeting out of punishment to all those who despise them, like, the way that I initially read this was very adversarial when it could be read in a way that's like, people who can get along will live together and it'll be okay. 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: Which is a much better picture of the future than the present. 
Jaz: Yeah. Look, I do think that there is a certain amount of if you're living in an intentional community— 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: If you are trying to on a microscale, create a micro community and you set up like, this is a group of us who live together or whatever and here are the rules that we agree to abide by in order to live together, like, you can't put Nazis in the Jewish intentional living community, (Lulav laughs) there's— you gotta be like a certain amount of— 
Lulav: Right. 
Jaz: The consequences are that you don't live with us, like, you don't have to be thinking about it on the scale of like, carceral state to be like, there will be consequences for your actions and those consequences are, I don't— uh— I dont wanna hang out with you. I don't want you here in my home. 
Lulav: Yeah. Which is hard for me to read on a first pass considering that a lot of my exposure to the idea of promised land involves replication of carceral structures. 
Jaz: Mmm. 
Lulav: And very much the idea of security by forcing out people who are unlike you— 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: Instead of uh, what was the translation we decided on?
Jaz: About trust?
Lulav: Trust. Yes. Instead of the kind of trust that you get in a community of people who are different but also like, trying to live together. 
Jaz: Mmm. 
Lulav: Anything else that you wanted to talk about in these first two lines? We got 21 left to go. 
Jaz: No, let’s keep going! 
Lulav: Okay cool. So, Yehezkiel is doing some prophecy and he says that Hashem said to him, "turn your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt," and like, say all these things about how G-d’s gonna deal with him. He is a mighty monster, a sea serpent, uh, this- the word for monster gets translated a couple different ways. I initially— I— I’m not entirely sure where I got this but I initially pictured a crocodile and when I was looking— 
Jaz: I absolutely did too. 
Lulav: Right. I was looking up stuff about this and I was like, "oh! Why does the King James Bible call it monster and why is it like, serpent and stuff this is just a crocodile", and then I looked back and it actually had never said that in the JPS translation, so there's just something about the imagery of like, a monster sprawling in the chanels in the Nile and attended by like, fish that cling to its scales that just feels a lot like a crocodile. I guess the concept of fish clinging to the scales might also work for like, a whale or a shark. 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: But— 
Jaz: I did try and look up what this word is that they’re rendering here as “monster.” 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: Uh, it's tanim. Like, hatamim hagadol. Uh, the- you know. 
Lulav: A big boy. (Jaz laughs) It's big boy season. 
Jaz: Yeah. Which they render as mighty monster, and can be like, I should probably check like, a BDB but I dont have one with me and it's more work to look up so I just checked the Jastrow translation of it—
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: And it renders it as "dragon, serpent, sea monster, dinosaur, sea or river monster or huge snake". (Lulav giggles) All of which is to say crocodile feels very reasonable to me— 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: Given that it's just like, "giant mythical scaly thing". 
Lulav: Yeah. So, currently it is big boy season, and the big boy himself says that the Nile is his own and that he in fact created it and this prophecy is that it will no longer be a big boy season. It is passing to the season of many smaller boys, I guess, because Hashem is just gunna hook the jaws of this crocodile and yoink it onto the banks- not even the banks. Way into the desert where all these clinging fish will be there and they’re all gonna bake in the sun and get eaten by animals. 
Jaz: Yeah. This is fascinating to me because the metaphor that he's using here is about the pharaoh—
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: And we're used to seeing like, really negative metaphors related to a pharaoh because we're used to the story of Exodus, but this is like a real living person that he would have been talking about and further more like, is potentially drawing on that imagery that would of come down through generations— 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: To talk about a modern political rival. 
Lulav: Right. 
Jaz: This is like an American is drawing a political cartoon about Brexit and they render them as like, King George. 
Lulav: Interesting. I would have said something like Stalin because of how the specter of the Soviet Union hangs so large in American consciousness. 
Jaz: Fair enough, that wasn't an exact parallel in that the Egypt as it currently exists is like a direct threat to Ezekiel and the place that he lives potentially. (Lulav giggles) At least he definitely perceives it as such, but I went with Britain as my example because he, like, ties it into the founding myth of the nation. 
Lulav: Yeah. That's very fair. I like that reading too. So metaphor aside, my cursory googling on the subject, spanning only about a half hour says that when Nabû-kudurri-utzur took the throne, he had a lot of consolidating to do because an Egyptian coalition was getting ready to like, try and push back the borders of the empire, and so my best guess as to how Yehezkiel and the rest of Beit Yisrael would have been under threat by the Egyptians is if they were worried about border wars. However, the best analogy that I have here is that France, which in this analogy I guess has conquered America is portrayed as like, the good guys? Yeah, I don't know exactly where to go with this but it's basically the idea that, oh these people who already conquered us, we wanna keep them there because better the oppressive regime that we have now than whatever else could happen from war. 
Jaz: It might be helpful when thinking about metaphor to actually step outside the United States that we operate in—
Lulav: That’s fair. 
Jaz: Because we're a world superpower, (Lulav snorts) or a historic one, whatever. Empire in decline, but— 
Lulav: Also fair. 
Jaz: But (Lulav giggles) if you think of your Cold War analogy— 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: You could think of it as more like, there is a proxy war happening and they’re like, we should stick with this particular— 
Lulav: Right. 
Jaz: Superpower rather than let the other superpower conquer us because we already have this one here, it's already doing the thing and doing the problem— 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: Rather than let the other one take over. 
Lulav: Yeah. That’s fair. 
Jaz: But to be clear they are explicitly being like, what if the other world superpower came in and defeated this other superpower?
Lulav: What if they just like, kept holding onto our lands and distributing our people all about their entire empire?
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: Which is a wild hot take to me. So there's this whole prophecy of being a big sun crocodile and there are a couple place names mentioned, basically that like all of Egypt shall be driven to utter ruin in desolation and the people of Egypt will be gathered together and their only land will be Pathros, which for context is apparently like, upper Egypt.
Jaz: It's a poor region— 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: Basically. It's like, not— 
Lulav: It's not the Nile river delta. 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: (chuckles) Which is where a lot of civilization that people think of when they think of Egypt is. 
Jaz: Right. 
Lulav: So yeah, it's basically saying we're gonna get rid of everything, we're gonna push the ethnic Egyptians or the people in power or something back to Pathros and where this is coming from is that it was probably written around the time of the siege of Tyre ending— 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: And so Yehezkiel is looking at this political situation being like, "well, of course the next of the eternal wars that the Babylonians are waging will be against Egypt because that's like, the big superpower that they have been trying to get a foothold against in the region, and so the prophecy that I’m giving is that Egypt is gonna be absolutely laid waste to. They are not going to be able to come and do wars in our lands, it's just gonna be real bad for them. 
Jaz: And there's a note here, just to go back to our earlier discussion — we’re in 29:16 — that does render it this time as "never again shall they be the trust of the House of Israel, recalling its guilt in having turned to them" and that word “trust” is a similar one to what we were looking at earlier. 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: Lemivetach, with that same root of bet, tet, chet, suggesting here that is be the security of the House of Israel, the trust of the House of Israel, that there was some amount of being connected and betrayed. 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: In here. 
Lulav: Which is definitely what we were getting at with the last couple parashot of, we're friends, I gave you an entire nation of slaves and this is how you return to my family?
Jaz: Mmm. 
Lulav: Jeez. 
Jaz: And when they say “the lowly kingdom,” like that's how they refer to what's gonna happen to the land of Mitzrayim. 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: It is basically saying there will be nothing in the cities. People won't be living there. But it's almost phrasing it as a retreat, like they will retreat back into the countryside and have to retreat—
Lulav: Yeah,. 
Jaz: Back into the countryside, and it's phrased like, in the end that's its ultimate punishment is that it shall be the lowest of all the kingdoms and shall not lord over the nations again. Ill reduce the Egyptians so that they shall have no dominion over the nations. We have seen prophecies that are more punitive than this, that are like, and I will wipe people out with sword and fire and what— that is not as far as I can tell, what's happening here. 
Lulav: Mm. 
Jaz: They’re proposing like, at the top, they have “we're gonna create a community of trust where we all live together peaceably.” 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: And here they’re like, your ultimate, truly, like devastating punishment is you don't get to be in charge of anybody. You don't get any of the power you have now. 
Lulav: Interesting. Thanks for that reading. 
Jaz: There's obviously other ways to read it but—
Lulav: Mm, yeah I do— 
Jaz: The text is capable of being much more bloodthirsty and it is not. 
Lulav: Oh my G-d, it is. 
Jaz: Like, it definitely phrases it as, the summing up is they will never be able to control anybody ever again. 
Lulav: Yeah. Thats fair. Okay, so a little note about when these prophecies happen. I scrolled up and down a little bit and it turns out that the prophecy about Pharaoh was in “the tenth year,” and then this prophecy, which a Wikipedia article said happened about two or three years after the siege of Tyre was over, is in the 27th year which means that the Egypt prophecy probably happened before the siege of Tyre began—
Jaz: Oooh.
Lulav: By a year or two, so this is something that's been building and just like, kept building over decades.
Jaz: Okay.
Lulav: Kind of the way that the cold war lasted for, what? 40 years.
Jaz: Sure.
Lulav: (chuckles) So this particular prophecy that ends the haftarah is the king Nabû-kudurri-utzur has made his army expend vast labor on Tyre, like they did all these 13 years of work and all their heads are rubbed bald and all their shoulders are scraped and yet they have no return for the labor they expended. They only have a client state now. That's no return at all!
Jaz: Oh my G-d.
Lulav: They just pay taxes and have to in general be subservient to the decisions of the emperor! Whatever. Anyway, so as a result of them having no gain from this 13 year siege, the land of Egypt, once it’s conquered, will be given to Babylon and the king and all his people are gonna carry off wealth and take her spoil and seize her booty, yar. Yeah. That's basically it and we close out this prophecy with, "on that day i will endow Beit Yisrael with strength, and you shall be vindicated among them and they shall know that I am Hashem''. So basically this is putting Nabû-kudurri-utzur in league with Hashem, which seems a little ahistorical, especially given that this is literally the same guy that displaced thousands of people across the empire.
Jaz: Uh huh.
Lulav: So I don't know where Yehezkiel gets off, but uh...
Jaz: I feel like it's an interesting thing that's happening here—
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: Is this presumption that I don't see very often in later Jewish writing—
Lulav: Okay.
Jaz: But you do see more, I feel like, in some like, Christian—
Lulav: Mmm.
Jaz: Writings of the workings of the secular world and are really all centered around G-d making choices to have people act in such a way that their actions are ultimately like, all about us.
Lulav: And you don't get that impression from most of Nevi'im?
Jaz: I don't get that impression from most of later Jewish commentary.
Lulav: Gotcha. Okay.
Jaz: I think we veered away (Lulav laughs) from it.
Lulav: Baruch Hashem.
Jaz: As a method of understanding the world. Okay, I'm not a historian so I don't want to say exactly when that happened. It feels to me like more of a post-state, post-temple type of shift.

Lulav: Namely like, theology written in diaspora.
Jaz: Or not even in diaspora, like, they're sometimes like, in the same physical location—
Lulav: Oh yeah?
Jaz: They're just not in power anymore?
Lulav: Okay.
Jaz: So you know, there are plenty of Talmud and Mishnah that's written in Eretz Yisrael, it's just—
Lulav: They went from being an ethnic majority that didn't have political power to an ethnic minority, in some senses?
Jaz: They just— I really think it's mostly just that they lost political power.
Lulav: Okay.
Jaz: And no longer even sort of had that pretense (Lulav chuckles) of it.
Lulav: Okay, thats fair. Cuz I do get the sense in the prophecies of Yehezkiel that a lot of it is like, we have a modicum of political power not in that we hold the reigns of government or anything, but in that we are still the people of this land.
Jaz: Mmm.
Lulav: Um, in a way that, yeah, I haven't heard coming from later rabbinic commentary.
Jaz: Mm.
Lulav: And then dominionism is the common Christian thing where literally every geopolitical event relates to hastening the apocalypse or whatever, brought into mainstream consciousness thanks to Minnesota's own Michelle Bachmann (Jaz groans) whose husband is a conversion therapist. (Jaz groans) Anyway—
Jaz: Anyway—
Lulav: Tangements. (clap) That brings us to the end of the haftarah.
Jaz: Yeah.
Lulav: And I think it also brings us into Rating G-d’s Writing, a segment where we yawn and are about to sneeze maybe, and spend all that time pulling ourselves together so that we can ask each other to rate the haftarah according to various scales.
Jaz: (laughs) Beautiful.
Lulav: Thank you.
Jaz: So, Lulav?
Lulav: Mm hmm?
Jaz: For this parsha, I want you to rate it by describing the safety measures that you would implement for this parsha.
Lulav: O- okay. Sorry, what level of reality are we on? Is it like what measures would I implement for a specific copy of this haftarah or what measures would I implement to make sure that the text in general is preserved or the haftarah is a literal human and I am like, making sure that this literal human doesn't wander out into traffic?
Jaz: Um, I mostly mean if you were to think about this haftarah and then convert it into a series of safety measures that you would use in your own life—
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: What safety measures would you rate this haftarah?
Lulav: Oh! What does this inspire when we think about the first two lines basically?
Jaz: When you think about the whole parsha—
Lulav: Also the whole parsha.
Jaz: Because it's a rating.
Lulav: Yeah, I mean... jeez.
Jaz: Yeah.
Lulav: (laughs) I think the twin memes of pacifism, like, trying to find non-violent solutions to problems and also a partisaner spirit, like, when there actually are problems that can only be resolved through violence, you don’t waste time and just get down to resolving them that way.
Jaz: Mmm.
Lulav: I think those two memes are important for like, building a community that knows how to live in trust because you need that sense of pacifism, that sense of like, even if I dislike other people, they are still my neighbours and I need to work with them, versus like, ah, these people are literally trying to kill me and so they need to be excluded from community with us and like, not given a platform.
Jaz: Mmm.
Lulav: And I think both of those are born out very much in this parsha, the idea of like, the greatest punishment is deplatforming and (laughs), but also just the idea that like, there will be punishments meted out for people who despise you in a really genuine not just like, I don't like you but I hate you and want you to not be.

Jaz: Mm.
Lulav: Sort of level.
Jaz: Mm hmm.
Lulav: Which I think is reasonable. So partisonor spirit and pacifism.
Jaz: Okay.
Lulav: Jaz, so this parsha has a name. A secret name known only to you. Do you call it by that name to other people or do you make a disparaging pun about it?
Jaz: Okay. Um... I feel a great sense of difficulty over this scale because—
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: Names are important.
Lulav: They sure are.
Jaz: Uh, and caring about people's names matters to me and it is usually not the fault of somebody's name or—
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: People with names like them when they are terrible people, you know?
Lulav: Uh huh.
Jaz: Like usually you insult somebody's name and it is some sort of thing that not just pokes fun at them but at plenty of innocent people.
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: So I think if this parsha had a name—
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: I— I mean the parsha does (Lulav laughs), if this haftarah had a specific name I would use it to refer to it and also I would work on getting it to be more willing to live out its principals in a like, more communal way such that I would feel more comfortable speaking it to other people which is to say like, I think there is bad inclinations and good inclinations happening in this.
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: So my instinct would be could we push it more towards the good ones.
Lulav: Yeah, so would you say that like, the true name that you know for this parsha is one that like, on a surface reading could mean some really bad stuff?
Jaz: Yeah.
Lulav: And you want it to be read differently enough that this might not even be its true name in the future.
Jaz: Yes.
Lulav: Love that, okay. Jaz, can you take us to the close?
Jaz: Sure 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 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.
Lulav: I’m Lulav Arnow and you can find me @spacetrucksix on Twitter, or yell at me @palmliker! We 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 adequately scaffolded with social stories.

Jaz: This week's pronouns are auté/autón.