Kosher Queers

65 — Bo: As Sure As Miami Is Above Water

January 21, 2021 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow
Kosher Queers
65 — Bo: As Sure As Miami Is Above Water
Kosher Queers
65 — Bo: As Sure As Miami Is Above Water
Jan 21, 2021
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, we talked about nations being destroyed and assuming that things will always be the same as they are now and also sang some Woody Guthrie, all while saying almost nothing about the news! Also, some thoughts on fairy cows from an angry man.

Full transcript here.

We encourage saying the shehecheyanu for your first time doing something cool like standing on a frozen lake, but also, not falling in like a March sister in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.  Also, neat fact: the lake we walked across is called Bde Unma, or "that other lake" in Dakota. When Lulav referred to "a McGowan," she was referencing radical climate activist Daniel McGowan.  You can also check out the work of queer Jewish writer R.B. Lemberg here and get the RPG "ayekah" here.

This week's reading is Jeremiah 46:13-28. Next week's reading is Judges 4:4–5:31.

Our music is by the band Brivele. This week, our audio was edited by Lulav Arnow, and our transcript was written by Reuben Shachar Rose. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

Support the show (

Show Notes Transcript

This week, we talked about nations being destroyed and assuming that things will always be the same as they are now and also sang some Woody Guthrie, all while saying almost nothing about the news! Also, some thoughts on fairy cows from an angry man.

Full transcript here.

We encourage saying the shehecheyanu for your first time doing something cool like standing on a frozen lake, but also, not falling in like a March sister in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.  Also, neat fact: the lake we walked across is called Bde Unma, or "that other lake" in Dakota. When Lulav referred to "a McGowan," she was referencing radical climate activist Daniel McGowan.  You can also check out the work of queer Jewish writer R.B. Lemberg here and get the RPG "ayekah" here.

This week's reading is Jeremiah 46:13-28. Next week's reading is Judges 4:4–5:31.

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, friend. 

Jaz: Hey, Lulav. What’s something cool or queer or Jewish that happened this week?

Lulav: Have we talked about Lake Harriet?

Jaz: No. You should do it. 

Lulav: Okay, so you may remember Khesed from one of the earlier episodes in season one. Khesed lives near me. We hung out last weekend and they wanted to explore some stuff. Originally we were looking at maybe rivers and then we decided to just hang out at Lake Harriet and have some fun and also when we got there we discovered that the lake had frozen over and there were tons of people on the frozen lake which was a fairly new experience for Jaz at the very least, right?

Jaz: I am not from the Midwest. I have seen things frozen obviously, but this was like a whole lake and people were just walking on it (Lulav laughs) which is wild. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Khesed took us to this lake and the lakes in the midwest, not sure if everybody knows this, are very big, but — (both laugh) Everybody knows this, but— 

Lulav: You mean the Great Lakes?

Jaz: But this is a little lake and not a great lake and so unlike the actual Great Lakes, you can see the other side of it (Lulav laughs) and it's like right there, so please tell the rest of the story. 

Lulav: Yeah. So we were just palling around, throwing really powdery snow at each other. It wasn't satisfying. Was it, like, too cold?

Jaz: You said—

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: With a science-y explanation that I'm not very good at that because it had been very cold when the snow was falling—

Lulav: Mm. 

Jaz: They had frozen and so it was basically like just lots of very very tiny pieces of ice not big enough to hurt you in anyway, but— 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: They hadn't melted enough to like, stick together. They were just lots of individual little pieces. 

Lulav: Yeah, it was— it had been really cold when it was snowing and it was still really cold, so it was very powdery snow, even if you squinched it together it wouldn't actually make a snowball, it would make more of a snow… surprise cannon. (Jaz laughs) What are those called? More New Years stuff but like the… party poppers? Or is that a different thing?

Jaz: I don't know. Anyway, there's no New Year’s parties hopefully, because of COVID but we did get to throw things like confetti. 

Lulav: And then of course, after we were done palling around on the ice, somebody suggested that we walk to the other side. 

Jaz: It was me. 

Lulav: Oh, was it? I'm so glad. I said somebody because I literally didn't remember who, but yeah we said shehecheyanu because this was all of our first times standing on a frozen lake —  like, not actually my first time, but definitely my first time in a while, and Khesed’s too. Yeah. It was super fun. We walked across the entire way. It only took like 15 minutes there, and it was pretty great. Also, if you have seen videos of the fascists protesting outside of the governor's mansion, there's a lady in a red coat who carries flags. 

Jaz: I wanna tell this part of the story! 

Lulav: Okay, you go and tell this part of the story. 

Jaz: Okay, so we had crossed the lake and we were on the other side and walked back across the lake, and walking around the lake but not on it was a lady in a bright red coat and she was waving two flags and one was an American flag and one was an Israeli flag. Khesed said, "I am curious about that."

Lulav: And I said, "I don't particularly care for goth performance art."

Jaz: (laughs) And I said, "if you're curious about it, you should go ask," and Khesed was like, "but I’m nervous", and so I was like, "I will go," and then we ran together to catch up with the lady and Khesed looked at her and said, "why?!" (Lulav laughs) And she launched into this whole thing about freedom and liberty and “the governor can’t oppress me with masks” and “I am a grandmother” and she kept saying false things (Lulav snorts) and Khesed was trying to argue with her and it's not work, and finally I was like, "okay, okay, but why the Israeli flag?" She's like, "because Jesus comes from there and Jesus made America'', and Khesed was like, "Jesus was thousands of years before America, or the state of Israel'', and she's like, "but Jesus made it happen", and therefore the American and Israeli flag and then you caught up with us and was like, "okay, we're leaving now" and then we— 

Lulav: As I was walking up she said, "Jesus is the messiah and I was like, (snorts) and at that point I was like, "okay, let's go friends." and they seemed unwilling to follow me, so—

Jaz: No, we went. 

Lulav: Ehh, you seemed unwilling to follow me so I ran away flailing my arms and in order to not let me fall into the lake like a March sister, they took off after me. 

Jaz: This is correct. (Lulav laughs) An exact and appropriate rendition. 

Lulav: Thanks. So that sucked, but the walking across the lake and doing so with trans Jewish friends and saying shehecheyanu and, I don't know, just being with people was nice. 

Jaz: Yeah, and we saw your synagogue. 

Lulav: Yeah! Right, because Lake Harriet is fairly close to Shir Tikvah, so we parked in the parking lot that is right across from shul and I got to gesture at it. We didn't go inside. 

Jaz: No. 

Lulav: Cuz I'm pretty sure you can go inside, but it was good seeing it again cuz its been like, nine months. Jaz, has anything cool and queer or Jewish happened in your life instead of yelling at Nazis?

Jaz: Well... 

Lulav: Well, this week in history, the capitol building was stormed. 

Jaz: Yeah, I mean like— yes. I have been very preoccupied with current events. (Lulav laughs) Uhhh, yes. Okay, well another thing that's happening in my life is that my parents are moving and preparing to move and I have a bunch of things from when I was younger that are still in their house, so my mom will call me up and say, "Hey Jaz, do you want to keep this item from when you were five or do you not want to?" 

Lulav: Which, I will note, is more than my parents did for me when they moved houses. 

Jaz: This is the first time my parents have moved houses and I haven't been there, so it's very considerate of them. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: They're not going to keep all of my new things in their new apartment because it is much smaller than the house where all four of us used to live— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And now there will just be my two parents, but they’re getting a storage unit anyway for some time period and so I'm gonna just have some stuff in storage. Anyway, I found some old items of mine that are mostly not queer but are some of them Jewish, including some Jewish art that my mom is gonna send me and— 

Lulav: So what makes them not particularly queer? Is it that they come from a time in your life you thought you were a straight girl for some reason?

Jaz: I— yes. All of them. 

Lulav: That’s wild. 

Jaz: Uh— that's not true. There's like, some stuff from college but mostly not, mostly that stuff’s with me and so a lot of the things that have ended up at my parents house are very much relics of the person I used to me, (Lulav giggles) which is fascinating to go through and see what of this is important that I want to hold on to in my current sense of self and as I bring it into my future and what is not something I want to bring into my future, which is just such an interesting contrast as like, you're also preparing to move and (Lulav giggles) I’m here. This is a future that I could not have imagined for myself when the things that my parents are now currently packing were of more immediate relevance to the life I was living, so. 

Lulav: Yeah. That’s cool. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Welcome to Kosher Queers, a podcast where we reconstruct our sense of self on a continual basis because that's what the process of living is. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: I guess?

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Do you want me to give the actual intro?

Jaz: Please. 

[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 haftorah of parshat Bo, which is Yirmeyahu 46:13-46:28. 

Jaz: So we're reading Jeremiah. At some point are you gonna move the pretentiousness to doing all the numbers in Hebrew too, or are we just sticking with names?

Lulav: So I think because they are Christian demarcations— 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: There's no need to do them in Hebrew. Might do them in Greek if you wanna like, play bit chicken with me on this one. (giggles) 

Jaz: Would it be Greek or Latin? I bet it's Latin. 

Lulav: Uhhh, no cuz the Septuagint, right — 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: is like the Tanakh as translated by supposedly a council of 70 sages who all made the exact same translation, which sounds like a really boring translation into Greek, but whatever. So— 

Jaz: They did it via Google Doc. 

Lulav: They did it via Google Doc, that's exactly right. Okay. My bad. I forgot that the Greeks had… Alphabet dot company, or whatever that thing is called. Point is, the original vulgate copy of the Tanakh, even before the Latin Vulgate which is what's usually called that, was Greek, and so I think most accurate for Christians would be Greek. 

Jaz: Yes, my question was just do we know the historicity of— 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: When we got lines and chapters and is that a thing first shows up in the Latin or the Greek?

Lulav: That's actually a very good question. We should remember that for the Continuity Corner. (laughs) 

Jaz: Okay, line numbers aside, are you ready to summarize the parsha for us?

Lulav: I sure am. I can't wait for you to call me pretentious even more after you give me 60 seconds to summarize this. 

Jaz: Do you contest a description as pretentious?

Lulav: So, yes? And also no. 

Jaz: I'm pretty sure I picked it up from you— 

Lulav: Oh yes. 

Jaz: As a self-descriptor. 

Lulav: Oh yeah, it's definitely a self-own. I just— Yirmeyahu is the name that's in this chapter, like—

Jaz: Yeah. I do feel like its a tricky thing to balance the accessibility of it—

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: Uh, of like, this is Jeremiah (Lulav laughs) and that's like, a name you know. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: Versus Yirmeyahu which is the Hebrew one which is the most faithful one— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: To the Jewish tradition, because there's some things that I learned in Hebrew and would only say in Hebrew, like tefillin, but there are some things that aren't. 

Lulav: Yeah. I had a childhood friend named Jeremy, and sometimes I would call him Jermy. Like J-E-R-M-Y, and I think that was me reaching out to Sinai because the like, "eh" sound between the "reh" and the "meh" is a shva, so you can just go like, Yirmeyahu, as opposed to Yiremeyahu. 

Jaz: Yeah. Alright, ready, set— 

Lulav: Sorry about that tangent.

Jaz: Go. 

Lulav: Okay SO we have the back end of the plagues — only three left! Moshe brings the threat of locusts, to which Pharaoh is like "ah, sure, but you can't bring your children to worship". Moshe responds to this $600 placation with a frankly stupid number of locusts. Pharaoh is like "fine, you don't get $600 anyway GREATER-THAN COLON CARAT OPEN-PARENTH >:^(", (Jaz laughs) and Moshe loads up some tangible darkness in the curse cannon. Pharaoh offers $2000 one time, and Moshe is like "okay but what about free healthcare tho" and Pharaoh breaks off negotiations entirely. The Egyptian people hand over some jewelry as reparations, and Moshe warns about the curse of the firstborn. The Israelites get instructions on safe & orderly evacuation, including paschal sacrifice and the promise of future matzah parties. Once Pharaoh is personally affected by the results of his decisions, (timer goes off) he INSISTS that every Jew leave the country entirely, which as far as we know in THIS portion is the end of it. Lastly, we are told to consecrate every firstborn to Hashem, and to redeem the human firstborn from this consecration. If I had actually been reading that at top speed it would have been 60 seconds, I promise.

Jaz: (laughs) I enjoyed it and also if you had read it any faster I would not have been able to follow what you were saying.

Lulav: Oh, G-d no. (laughs) So (sighs) sorry that this episode is like, very relevant to our lives on multiple fronts… (sighs) This is I think the one where we got really into Perchik Corners last year.

Jaz: That seems really plausible. Listen, Shemot just is a social justice land mine. Is that the word I'm looking for?

Lulav: Oh no.

Jaz: It isn't.

Lulav: Speaking of decaying empires… 

Jaz: Anyway Lulav, what's the connection, to you, between the parsha and the haftarah this week?

Lulav: So I think we have a pretty clear connection between the parsha and the haftarah, which is in the second line of parshat Bo, which is as follows in English: "that you may recount in the hearing of your sons and that of your sons’ sons how I made a mockery of Egyptians and how I displayed my signs among them in order that you may know that I am Hashem." So like, the way that this parsha is set up is talking about this whole process is so that you will know far into the future that this was a bad situation and I brought you out of it.

Jaz: Mm.

Lulav: And specifically that ruination would come to the Egyptians. 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: And then when we get to the haftarah, it is literally all about ruination coming to the Egyptians because they like, do not accurately assess how to deal with situations. Is that fair?

Jaz: I think because they did not accurately assess how to deal with situations is not quite what I would have said. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: But I can see how you got there. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. So Jaz, can you tell us a little bit about the surrounding context?

Jaz: Yeah, so Yirmeyahu or Jeremiah is a fairly major prophet who nevertheless, I don't think we see very often— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: In the haftarah. We haven't talked about him before. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: He is a prophet who spends his days saying to the people, "hey, our capital city is going to be destroyed and our nation is going to fall into ruin. You should listen to me and change your actions and G-d is furious at you for the way that you've been acting." He continues his prophesying once Jerusalem is destroyed. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And so this part of his prophecy is a pretty late part when we get all the way to chapter 46— 

Lulav: Because Yerushalayim has already fallen?

Jaz: I believe so. 

Lulav: Which is why they’re talking about Egypt instead. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Cuz that's what's left. Okay. (laughs) Woof. I was gonna mention something— oh right! There's the word "jeremiad" which is just like, telling people that they messed up and bad things are gonna happen. 

Jaz: That's a thing?

Lulav: Okay, maybe the reason that I know this is I had word-of-the-day calendars when I was growing up, so probably this was a word of the day in like 2004 or something. (giggles) 

Jaz: A long, mournful complaint or a lamentation. A list of woes. 

Lulav: Okay. Cool. 

Jaz: I will note, one of the things that's interesting to me is that as I was doing some research as him as a prophet, Christian interpretation does seem to be of him as like, sad and weepy. Jewish interpretation seems to be more of him as furious and wrathful. 

Lulav: Right, yeah. 

Jaz: So the Christians seem to read him as more, "oh, woe is us, were going to get destroyed", and we tend to read him more as, "hey. Hey G-d said that you messed up. Get your act together, you terrible people. Shape up". 

Lulav: But we tore up our copy of the speech! Why is our capitol getting destroyed? #resist— sorry. 

Jaz: There was a thing I was reading about Jeremiah in particular—
Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: That I really liked. This is from Abraham Joshua Heschel’s book The Prophets and I don't agree always with his conclusions, but I did like this particular reflection and analysis he was doing. He says, "Jeremiah has often been called a prophet of wrath. However, it would be more significant to say that Jeremiah lived in an age of wrath. His contemporaries had no understanding of the portent of their times, the way in which G-d was present at the time. They did not care for time. But a prophet has a responsibility for the moment, an openness to what the moment reveals. He is a person who knows what time it is. To Jeremiah, his time was an emergency, one instant away from a cataclysmic event".

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: And so when he says things to his people and accuses them of terrible things, there is a sense of great care and great fear present there as well, of terrible things are gonna happen, I need to tell you. 

Lulav: Right. Do you feel like there is an aspect of we need to shape up or is it more whoops this is already gonna happen, or somewhere in between those two?

Jaz: I'm not sure. I'm not sure it always is clear because prophecy doesn't always come true; that's not one of the defining features of biblical prophecy, really. If a prophet says something and by doing so their actions cause change and things are averted, their prophecy was still true (Lulav giggles) or like, can still be thought of as true. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: It's like how if you rolled out really really effective public health measures and then you're like, "wow that wasn't so bad", (Lulav laughs) it's because you rolled out really really effective public health measures and you need to keep them in place. 

Lulav: Yes. 

Jaz: But I do think there is also here a sense of the bad thing is just coming. There's nothing we can do to stop it. We should still try, but the bad thing is coming and then there will be a time after that, and we gotta live in the time after that too. 

Lulav: So how old was Yirmeyahu when he was prophecy-ing?

Jaz: That’s a good question, and I don't know the answer off hand. 

Lulav: I'm trying to figure out what he would seem like in the modern day. Is he like a McGowan or one of the 16 year olds that does climate agitation or…  

Jaz: It is possible that somebody knows the answer and that somebody is just not me--

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: Because that wasn't one of the questions I looked into, but it's also possible we don't know, like prophets I feel like tend to be most documented when they're prophesying (Lulav laughs) and not like, in the boring years before they're prophesying. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: But my guess is that he's a young adult. 

Lulav: Okay. So my final question before we get into like, the actual haftarah is did Yirmeyahu have a blue check?

Jaz: No. 

Lulav: Okay. Baruch Hashem. 

Jaz: I think the only other thing that's worth noting here in particular is that he's sufficiently contemporaneous with some of the other prophets that we've talked about, like Isaiah that he's talking about Nebuchadnezzar as a person who can come destroy things, which is-- 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: The case. 

Lulav: (giggles) So this is like literally overlapping with Yeshiyahu, right?

Jaz: I believe so, and they’re both pretty early prophets. Somewhere in the 600s BC. 

Lulav: Okay. What are the later prophets that we get? Is that like 300s, or—

Jaz: I believe so. 

Lulav: Okay, okay. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So like, not that much later but it's still 300 years. 

Jaz: Okay, not that much later only because we're talking on a scale of thousands (Lulav laughs) but given that our country that we live in has not existed for 300 years—

Lulav: Thats fair. 

Jaz: Like if somebody looked at you and was like, ehhh it’s not that long ago from Sojourner Truth you'd be like yeah, but I never got to meet her, we weren't that close. (both laugh)

Lulav: Uh huh. Wow, that's sad. (Jaz laughs) Not the bit about Sojourner Truth, she sounds really rad, especially including the fact that she chose her own name. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: And came up with something like Sojourner Truth?

Jaz: It's such a good name. 

Lulav: Oh my G-d?

Jaz: Anyway, in our reading this week-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Jeremiah is talking about the potential fall of Egypt this time, saying that everybody will hear about it so Jeremiah is talking about how Egypt is gonna be attacked and brought down by Nebuchadnezzar saying, "Proclaim it. In all of these places: in Migdol, in Noph'', in like all of these small cities that are notable partially because they’re in very different landscapes-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Uh, some of these places are in the mountains and some of them are on the sea and some of them are by the rivers and those are like, sufficiently notable that Carmel by the sea is a thing (Lulav chuckles), but it— so— 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: I think the significance of listing all these places is proclaim it everywhere. 

Lulav: Yeah, it's like saying proclaim it in Philadelphia and San Francisco-- 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: Or proclaim it in Toulon and Prague. 

Jaz: (singing) From the redwood forest (Lulav laughs) to the Gulf Stream water, Babylon will take (Lulav laughs) this land from you. (Lulav laughs) 

Lulav: Good. (Jaz laughs) Thanks for the camp song. (Jaz laughs) This prophecy kills fascists? Or is that the wrong Guthrie?

Jaz: That's Woody Guthrie!

Lulav: That is Woody! Oh dang!

Jaz: Yeah. Which makes sense to me but I was like, that's really cool. Are we sure he was that cool? (Lulav laughs) Anyway, so then they’re talking about why is Egypt getting swept away. What's happening there? And there's stuff about people were stumbling and flailing over each other and not standing up to things, you know, whereas we were talking about Jeremiah as a person who was a person of his time and directly addressed the time he was living in. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: They have a note here, Jeremiah says they called the Pharaoh at that time Braggart Who Let the Hour Go By, who's like not paying attention to the wellbeing of the people, instead just idling that time away. 

Lulav: Do you want to talk about heifer metaphors, or...?

Jaz: We were talking earlier about how guaranteed are the prophecies, and this one they have as very guaranteed. It’s as sure as Carmel is by the sea, or Tabor is among the mountains. It's an interesting example to use of as sure as this town is in this place, considering we're talking about cities being destroyed. 

Lulav: Uh huh. (laughs) 

Jaz: I, like I don't-- 

Lulav: Hey, yeah! (laughs) 

Jaz: What do you think is up with that?

Lulav: Um, I think it is difficult, even when you can see that political structures such as cities and countries are unstable and about to be wiped away, it still is difficult to think outside of a humans timescale-- 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Of like, oh yeah, Migdol has always been there. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Carmel? That's by the sea! I think that is a little hypocritical and just because that's how humans think. (laughs) 

Jaz: Do you think it's like, I don't know, sometimes in the course of a conversation i'll be like, yeah, you know, in a year if the country still exists... or in a decade if money is still around--

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: I would— you know? But also I am writing my lesson plans for next week and submitting my applications for school for next year, you know?

Lulav: A school cycle that will take you five years. 

Jaz: At minimum. 

Lulav: At minimum. 

Jaz: So there is sort of an aspect of on the one hand who knows what the future will hold two weeks from now? (Lulav laughs) By the time we put this episode out?

Lulav: Uh huh. 

Jaz: And on the other hand, we sort of have to live as though it does. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And I wonder if that's the inherent tension here, (Lulav laughs) or like, this city will be destroyed, as surely as this other city (Lulav laughs) by the sea! 

Lulav: Yeah. Yeah. Awe, that's so real. What else did you want to talk about?

Jaz: Well, then the next bit is equip yourself for exile, you who dwell secure, so I was wondering what you think equipping yourself for exile would look like?

Lulav: Oh man, uhm... I think it involves reconceiving of your place in the world as not just being like, pantheon bless the Egyptian kingdom, I'm gonna be great forever and were always going to watch people do football for our merriment while they get concussions and always going to have multiple pounds of meat every week and, I don't know, like the idea that the ornaments of empire, the various benefits who live in the imperial core, you gotta consider a life where those will not exist-- 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: And where you won't be the de facto center of the universe. 

Jaz: Mmm. That makes sense. 

Lulav: Do you have particular thoughts that that brought?

Jaz: All of that resonates for me but I also was thinking about what it means to dwell secure-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Especially as we also live in an era of the climate changing where the security of “and this thing is by the sea” relies on it politically continuing to be there, like, it's not destroyed by an attacking group, but it also assumes that the sea doesn't change. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And--

Lulav: Both "Carmel" and "by the" need to still be the case. (chuckles) 

Jaz: Right. And not say, underwater, and I'm also a person who moves a lot and thinking about moving a fair bit right around now, (Lulav chuckles) I'm thinking about the inherent flexibility that you need to say things are crumbling, I came from a perspective where I thought my needs would be met and I thought I'd be able to stay here and the world is changing and I need to be able to change with it, and sometimes that will need--

Lulav: What are the three things that I can bring with me?

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: So it’s a more literal sense of exile, and also I was thinking about it because R. Lemberg, who is a queer Jewish writer-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And immigrant living in the US, was talking about their experience living in a country that was crumbling — in I believe the Soviet Union-- 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Before they came here, and, you know, the idea of you might live in a place and live in a life and think it's gonna be one kind of way, and then leave for something better and that something better might also crumble. 

Lulav: So no one told you life was gonna be this way. (clapping) 

Jaz: Yeah. Anyway. 

Lulav: That's for the 90s kids out there. 

Jaz: Uh, did you want to talk about the mercenaries, and the metaphor of cows?

Lulav: So, okay, the metaphor of cows-- 

Jaz: For reference, they open this by saying "Egypt is a handsome heifer"-- 

Lulav: "A gadfly from the north is coming", and I looked up gadflies and they don't seem to be like, fatal, just kind of annoying and so this was a very confusing metaphor to be using here. 

Jaz: Yeah, I think it's implying also like, something that nips at you consistently-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Is like, more what its going for. 

Lulav: Also we are cowpokes so it may be the case that if a cow gets bit by a gadfly it will panic and run places-- 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: And that definitely seems like what the metaphor is here because even the mercenaries are like, calves who just sit in their stalls and mulch. They don't have to do any ranging, they're just brought all of their food and like, these pampered cows just turn tail and flee all as one and make no stand. That is what that seems to be, is just using herding metaphors, herd mentality in a way where the instinct is the run away instead of, I don't know, stick around and punch things. 

Jaz: I hear that. I wonder- okay so I was looking at the Hebrew and it brought up a question for me and also maybe here’s some opportunity for some queer reading, potentially, are three words there. They get translated as "handsome heifer".

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Are “egla” which is heifer, and this set of adjectives: “yefeh piyah”.

Lulav: Oh! 

Jaz: "Yefeh" was familiar to me. 

Lulav: "Piyah" I think is familiar to me because we were talking about this in like, two episodes ago right?

Jaz: Say more?

Lulav: It's like, speech or tongue, that’s "lashon"-- 

Jaz: "Lashon".

Lulav: But, yeah. 

Jaz: "Peh" is like a mouth or an orifice or a mouthpiece. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: "Piyah" is, but it's also a word that they borrowed wholesale basically from Latin, I think. 

Lulav: Really?

Jaz: Um, and it means fairy. 

Lulav: Okay, so "cow", "pretty fairy".

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Interesting. Okay. (laughs) 

Jaz: Egypt is a pretty cow fairy. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And then there's this thing about life, a gadfly from the north is coming, coming, and I wonder if there's a little bit of the implication of something in there, in the way that sometimes you have people who are like, "Rome had people who were so obsessed with their beauty and stuff that they were distracted from being a great civilization".

Lulav: Uh huh. That's definitely how that happened. (Jaz laughs) So that’s what’s going on with the whole cow metaphors, but there's a part here thats about explicitly inflicting punishment and I just wanted to share a thing that I noticed when I was looking at the Hebrew, which is Hashem tzevaot, G-d of Israel says "hineni poked," I will inflict punishment on— or well, not on but it's just interesting to me that "hineni" is like, here. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: In a bit about punishment like, maybe it is “I am here punish—” I didn't look up "poqed", which I should have done, but this is line 25.

Jaz: It can mean a bunch of things I think. 

Lulav: "Poqed"?

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: Where have you seen it before?

Jaz: Oh that's a great question. (Lulav snorts) I can't remember any other specific instances but I can see one here in the dictionary and two I know that i've heard it before meaning things varying from pay attention to to visit punishment upon (Lulav giggles) to seeking out — yeah a number of different things. 

Lulav: Okay. Is it an adjective or a noun?

Jaz: It's a verb. 

Lulav: Oh, it's a verb. Okay. 

Jaz: It’s like I am here to attend to-- 

Lulav: Oh like, “here I am attendin’!” 

Jaz: Yeah. Or-- 

Lulav: (mumbling) Threatening thing.

Jaz: Here I am to punish you. Punish Amon, etc.

Lulav: Mm hmm. And just a reminder why "hineni" pops out many times throughout the Torah, you have people responding to questions of where are you with "here I am". 

Jaz: Right, "hineni".

Lulav: "Hineni", and it’s "ayekah" is where are you? What’s the name-- 

Jaz: The Akedah?

Lulav: No, "akedah" is a testing. There is the question "where are you?" which I think is asked of Avraham-- 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: By Hashem?

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: I just remember it because Riley Rethal made a game called ayekah in which you play a god and a, like—

Jaz: Human.

Lulav: Servant of a god who—

Jaz: Hm. 

Lulav: Is learning their relationship and they do stuff together. 

Jaz: Yeah. Decently fun game also. 

Lulav: Right? This is what Jewish summer camp gets ya. And also being gay. 

Jaz: Yeah. (Lulav laughs) Well, okay so you noted that there's something about like, showing up for it. How do you feel about the showing up for it to be like, I will show up to punish you. 

Lulav: (laughs) That is kind of funny, but also that is a lot of where we have seen Hashem showing up--

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: In the Torah, is like, oh you had too much manna? Well here's quails. Here's so many quails they come out of your ears. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: Or like, the ten plagues which is… three of them are literally in this parsha. Yeah, I think a lot of where we see Hashem's action most clearly is in the punishments. 

Jaz: Hmm. 

Lulav: And definitely in Nevi'im and I think like, a lot of the latter three books of Torah there was a lot of conception of punishments being disenfranchisement. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Does that make sense?

Jaz: Sort of. Can you say more?

Lulav: Just the idea that if you don't keep this covenant you will lose the land just like the people who you violently displaced lost the land. 

Jaz: RIght, there are almost natural consequences built in. 

Lulav: Yeah. And it’s— it's interesting how in some ways it's like, here are some plagues which probably wouldn’t just happen one by one, versus here are some world events which just happen on their own. (laughs) 

Jaz: Well, I don't know, there is a thing of plagues compounding on each other, right? Like it is true that situations get worse when you introduce new factors and it is not unusual in the world to be like, "hey, why is there one bad thing happening after another bad thing?", and maybe those bad things aren't always obviously related but maybe sometimes they are, you know like-- 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And you know, it's not an accident that the bigots all flock together, that like-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Racists are often homophobic and homophobes are often antisemetic, there’s lots of-- 

Lulav: It's also not an accident that we were getting a bunch of algal blooms at the same time that were also getting a lot of pests that destroy large swaths of tree roots. 

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: Those are both related to the planet heating up. 

Jaz: Right. Anyways so they’re talking about bad things that are gonna happen. 

Lulav: (laughs) Uh huh. 

Jaz: But then there is a like, but afterwards it'll be inhabited as in the former days, and that's just kind of thrown in there, like there's some specificity about the punishments but the conclusion bit is like, but they'll be okay again the future, and you, not the Egyptians but you the Jewish people are gonna be okay. 

Lulav: I think an interesting thing here is that it's not just it'll be okay but it's actually saying a return to normalcy. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Which is interestingly counter to what you would expect a prophet to say. 

Jaz: Mm. Say more about that, because that doesn't seem to be true to me. 

Lulav: Okay. Which former days are being referred to, like mythical former days or. (chuckles) 

Jaz: What do you mean? The former days are about the Egyptians, not the Jewish people. 

Lulav: Mmm, okay. 

Jaz: The Jewish people are "I will not make an end of you, I will not leave you unpunished but I will chastise you in measure", there is a certain amount of you're gonna be okay but you're going to need to change. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. It's not gonna be good but it's gonna be fine in the long run. In the Looooooooong run. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: (chuckles) Thank you for that insight, I forgot we were talking about Egyptians for a while there. Now that we've been chastised in measure, or warned about later chastisement in measure, whatever, here's a segue. (laughs) Rating G-d’s Writing? Yes. 

Jaz: Sure. Lulav, welcome to Rating G-d’s Writing, the segment in which we look at this text and say on two scales how we feel about how it was written. So, out of a city on the mountain and a city by the sea, how many cities would you give this haftarah?

Lulav: How many cities or where is the city?

Jaz: Oooh, where is the city is better; do that one. 

Lulav: Where is the city, okay. This city is right on the edge of a body of water that is likely to significantly increase in height as global ice continues to melt because… there's a lot in here that's like, oh these specific name drops? That's something that will definitely absolutely make sense, and then we read it today and it's like, “What are these cities? I have no idea,” and like probably some of them exist to a certain capacity? 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: But it, like, things are so much less permanent than we think them to be and also like, a thing that i forgot to mention earlier is there's the city of Thebes which I think might have been referred to here by a different name. 

Jaz: It was, yeah. 

Lulav: Point is, there was a whole Thebes there and then it just got swallowed up by water and like, left behind. The Minneapolis Institute of Art did a special exhibit a year ago, I think, that had a bunch of stuff that people had found by like, looking just to the left of where a current city was because in the water there was a whole bunch of stuff that had been covered up by climate change. 

Jaz: Ooh. 

Lulav: So yeah, anyway, point is the rating that I give this is a city that's very close to the water and that we will not recognize in 500 years. Jaz, out of 15 ready to stampede stall fed calves, how many stall fed calves would you give this haftarah?

Jaz: I would give it eight. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: The idea of a prophet coming and warning about what's gonna happen to people is an important one. We need people who are aware and sounding alarms and trying to incur action. 

Lulav: Mm. 

Jaz: But I don't understand why we’re reading this particular section of Jeremiah when it appears to me that there are other parts of Jeremiah that do that more, so I'm not sure—

Lulav: Interesting. 

Jaz: What to make of this particular excerpt, and that why it goes with this particular parsha—

Lulav: Oh.

Jaz: In the end still, given that we see so little of Jeremiah in the haftarah for this to be our first time--

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Encountering him is a little bit confusing and troublesome to me. 

Lulav: It does just kind of make sense to me because when you think of all of the plagues that Egypt when through, and the whole slavery thing and Moseh coming back and being like, "hey what if we had better things", anf then the retaliatory stuff- there is so much story that already happened and then we come in kind of at the end of it with the worst punishments-- 

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: And I think that is a similar thing that's happening here. You don't see all of the other stuff, you just get like, 15 lines about the punishments. 

Jaz: Yeah. Yeah. 

Lulav: But I will take 8 of 15 stall fed calves. Jaz, can you take us to the close?

Jaz: Yeah. Thanks for listening to Kosher Queers! If you like what you’ve heard, you can support us on Patreon at, which will give you bonus content and help us keep making this for you. Also, if you can’t commit to ongoing support but would like to contribute, you can give to our Ko-fi, which is at Find out more information about our podcast, including bios for our team, and links to our social media at Also, please spread the word about Kosher Queers. Our artwork is by the talented Lior Gross. Our music is courtesy of the fabulous band Brivele, whose work you can find on Bandcamp. Go buy their album, they’re great. Our sound production this week is done by my lovely co-host, Lulav Arnow.
Lulav: Sometimes I have vocal dysphoria, but I never have dysphoria about being your audio editor. 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]

Jaz: This week's gender is in transit.

Lulav: This week's pronouns are ele/elem.