Kosher Queers

68 — Mishpatim: Instead Of Fiscal Oversight, How About None?

February 11, 2021 Episode 68
Kosher Queers
68 — Mishpatim: Instead Of Fiscal Oversight, How About None?
Chapters
Kosher Queers
68 — Mishpatim: Instead Of Fiscal Oversight, How About None?
Feb 11, 2021 Episode 68

This week, we discuss landlords abusing their power, bizarre managerial strategies, and the esoteric details of synagogue finances. Plus, random questions about vegetarianism and deciding not to trust everybody who shares an identity with you.

Full transcript here.

You can check out Travis Alabanza's play "Overflow" here. The song Lulav quote near the end of the episode is "Power" by Kanye West (lyrics here). You can read more about religious organizations exemptions from the usual rules regarding nonprofits and the problems that can entail here

This week's reading was II Kings 12:1-17. Next week's reading is I Samuel 15:2-34.

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 Jay Blythe, who you can additionally tip at their Ko-fi. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

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

Show Notes Transcript

This week, we discuss landlords abusing their power, bizarre managerial strategies, and the esoteric details of synagogue finances. Plus, random questions about vegetarianism and deciding not to trust everybody who shares an identity with you.

Full transcript here.

You can check out Travis Alabanza's play "Overflow" here. The song Lulav quote near the end of the episode is "Power" by Kanye West (lyrics here). You can read more about religious organizations exemptions from the usual rules regarding nonprofits and the problems that can entail here

This week's reading was II Kings 12:1-17. Next week's reading is I Samuel 15:2-34.

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 Jay Blythe, who you can additionally tip at their Ko-fi. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

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

Lulav: Hi, Jaz! 

Jaz: Hi, Lulav.

Lulav: How are you?

Jaz: I'm doing alright. What is something cool or queer or Jewish that happened to you recently? 

Lulav: A cool and queer thing that is happening to me this week, future tense, because it's tomorrow, is that my Saturday hangout group that used to be a D&D group but now has half of the members and doesn't play games two-thirds of the time? We're going to watch a British theater production.

Jaz: Ooh, of what? 

Lulav: It's called Overflow Online, it's done by the Bush Theatre, I'm not sure who the performer is, but it is written by Travis Alabanza. Like, I don't know anything about this, however Hauke was just like, "Hey pals, I'm up for hanging out tomorrow but I have a hard out at just before 9 my time, because I desperately want to catch this play that's being streamed then." Usually on Friday we talk about like, "hey are we gonna be hanging out this week,” to which Heather replied, "I, too, have a hard stop at 9 Hauke's time, because I also want to see the play." (giggles) And I looked at it and said “me, three.” So we're all going to be watching this play about… women's bathrooms at clubs? 

Jaz: O… okay?

Lulav: There's a 47-second trailer that I just watched that seemed pretty interesting. But also I have no idea what's going on. So this'll be really fun, and it's only ten pounds. 

Jaz: You will have to link us to the trailer! 

Lulav: I will. 

Jaz: Tell me what's queer or Jewish about this activity, aside from the fact that you're doing it with queer friends, maybe? 

Lulav:Right, so, I'm doing it with queer and Jewish friends, like, Heather's Jewish. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And also, it's performed by a trans woman, which is cool. 

Jaz: That is cool! 

Lulav: Yeah, I'm looking forward to that. Might have a bad time; we'll probably have a good one! I'll let you know next week. 

Jaz: Okay!

Lulav: So, what's cool and queer or Jewish in your life this week? 

Jaz: As you gave us a queer one, I guess I'll give you a Jewish one this week?

Lulav: Mmhm. 

Jaz: Okay, this is a quick saga that starts a couple weeks ago on a Tuesday. And a couple weeks ago on a Tuesday, I was teaching my third grade students about b'nei mitzvah as a life cycle ceremony, and I was having them come up with interview questions about the ceremony itself that they could ask people, and so it was their job to come up with a list, and one student said, "Oh, I have a question!" And I said "Yes, go for it," and he said, "Why did G-d make animals eat other animals?"

Lulav:  Okay! 

Jaz: And I was like, "That is a good question! It's not at all related to what we were doing." And he was like, "Yes, but, my mom told me to ask you." 

Lulav: OHH, like, (as child) "Hey Mom, why did G-d make animals eat other animals?" (as mother) "Uhhh, ask your… teacher." 

Jaz: "Ask your Jewish Studies teacher" is, like, a really good answer. I have a lot of respect for that. 

Lulav: Okay, that’s fair. 

Jaz: Anyway, he had more follow-up questions, including, "Also, why do people eat animals?" and I was like, “these are great questions, but we don't super have time for all of them right now, so, save them, I will do some research and we have break every time we meet, so we'll talk about it during your next break, next time I see you.” And like, the thing about kids sometimes you say things to kids and they forget it, you know? 

Lulav: (sigh) Oh, never. 

Jaz: Absolutely you do. Sometimes you're like, "here is my content, and I have taught it to you three times," and also it’s your job as a teacher to tell it to them a fourth time. But when there's something that really catches their attention, you can have said it once, in passing, and they'll be like, "but you said!" 

Lulav: That's what I meant by never, alriiight. (laugh)

Jaz: Anyway, so the kid asks about it the next time, and fortunately, I did genuinely think they were great questions, and had done more research, and so we had a great fifteen minute conversation about "What does Judaism say about animals eating other animals?" And then talking more about some of his subsequent questions like, “well what happens when people die? And what happens to animals when they die? And is it different? And, well if you said (Lulav chuckling) that animals didn't eat other animals in this Garden of Eden, can't we just go back there? Why not? And Judaism says that when we get to the Messianic age everything will be perfect and also we won't eat animals anymore, then shouldn't we all get there now?”

Lulav: (Giggling) You know, the sorts of topics that you can handle in fifteen minutes. 

Jaz: It was great! Because he still had questions at the end of it, we were like, great! We’ll come back to it next time. Time to start class! So then we started class and now in one of my third grade classes, I get to have a discussion about the nature of good and evil, and also whether we should all be vegetarians. 

Lulav: Mmhm! 

Jaz: Which was great. 

Lulav: Thanks eight year olds, I love you. 

Jaz: And, this same week, I got to start teaching a “Hot Topics” class for seventh graders. 

Lulav: Sorry, a Hot Topics class? 

Jaz: Yeah, it’s like their elective and the elective is like “take things that are sometimes related to the politics of the day, but not too related to the politics of the day...” 

Lulav: Okay, so like, Invader Zim merch, maybe some Paramore… Oh! Hot Topics, not Hot Topic, okay, gotcha. 

Jaz: Uh-huh. Sure. 

Lulav: (Giggles) Sorry. 

Jaz: Anyway, so because we were meeting shortly after the inauguration, I had them talk about whether they thought people should be sworn in on a Bible? 

Lulav: Ooooh. 

Jaz: And I brought some Jewish texts too but because it was our first class and other stuff was going on that day, we didn’t have time to get into as many of them as I would have liked. But it’s going to be fun to be able to just discuss issues with seventh graders. 

Lulav: Getting the thirteen year olds to render judgement about avodah zarah?

Jaz: Is great. 

Lulav: I’m so glad. 

Jaz: Yeah. So those were my Jewish things! Are you ready to start the episode? 

Lulav: Almost! I was doing a little more research, and it turns out that Travis Alabanza is a Black trans writer who wrote the play, they’re nonbinary… 

Jaz: Cool. 

Lulav: And Reece Lyons, Leeuhn, Leeohn? Not sure. Is the white, transfeminine actress who is performing.

Jaz: Cool! 

Lulav: Yeah! So now I’m ready to start the episode, which means…

[Brivele intro plays]

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 Mishpatim, which is Second Kings 12:1-12:17. Or, if I want to follow my usual trend, it’s Melachim Bet, of 12:1-12:17. 

Jaz: Probably it’d be Melachim Shtayim, but I’m not the boss of you. 

Lulav: So, that would be a direct translation, back into Hebrew, my impression was that they were named Aleph and Bet, but they might be pronounced differently, that might just be how it’s written. 

Jaz: I think it’s just how it’s written, I think it’s like how in English you have copies that are written “ii” and it doesn’t mean that you pronounce it like that. 

Lulav: (fake yelling) Aaaaye! (Giggles) Okay, let’s see here. Book of Kings, Sefer Melachim… okay, yeah, they’re just a single book according to us! 

Jaz: I mean, my Tanakh does have them separated into parts one and two…

Lulav: I’m guessing it also has the line numbers?

Jaz: Sure, yes, but like, this is a Jewish text, you know, it’s not like I pulled a Christian bible off the shelf. 

Lulav: That’s fair. Anyway, yes. Second Kings, or Melachim… the second one (Jaz laughs), which is a division that we definitely use. That’s not sarcastic, I just sound like that. ‘Cause I’m autistic. 

Jaz: Anyway, I think that it’s time for me to do a summary of Mishpatim. 

Lulav: Absolutely. Give me a number. Of seconds. 

Jaz: Give me like siiixty seconds? 

Lulav: Alright! Three, two, one, go! 

Jaz: Rules week! We get a bunch of instructions on how to treat people, starting with enslaved men, and working our way through enslaved women, fetuses, pregnant people, fighting people, animals, neighbors, thieves, bankers, sorcerers, strangers, poor people, and the land. These boil down to people being allowed to keep other humans enslaved if they’re quote-unquote “good slave owners”—

Lulav: (unimpressed) Uh-huh. 

Jaz: —But also reminders that fetuses are different than people. That the most important part about thievery is that you get your stuff back, and some solid eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth, retributive justice. Plus reminders to worship G-d and keep Shabbat, before a very quick injunction about boiling a kid in its mother’s milk that will set the basis for eons of kashrut debates. Then, G-d tells Moses about an angel that will be coming soon and how their enemies will flee in panic. Then Moses, some priest’s sons, and seventy elders bow on a mountaintop. Moses seals the covenant in ram’s blood, there’s a little feast, and Moses goes up the mountain for forty days to get some more holy rules while leaving some big delegating instructions behind him. 

Lulav: Okay! (Timer goes off) Well done! Yeah, you finished that like four seconds ahead of time. 

Jaz: Thank you, thank you. 

Lulav: So, what’s the connection to this haftarah, then? 

Jaz: I mean, I think the connection is mostly about dealing honestly and properly with other people. 

Lulav: Oh, yeah! That tracks! 

Jaz: This is a pretty short and straightforward haftarah. 

Lulav: Sure is. 

Jaz: Whereas the parshah isn’t, And the context for this haftarah isn’t. 

Lulav: (laughing) Yeah.

Jaz: I know you’re talking about the context but I didn’t look into it as much this week, but enough to know there’s a lot going on right before.

Lulav: There sure is. I have in this notepad document about three and a quarter lines summarizing this whole haftarah portion and then four, eight, twelve, fourteen lines summarizing all the context. 

Jaz: Yeah. I’m gonna interrupt you with questions as we go...

Lulav: Oh please do. 

Jaz: So we can figure out as we go. 

Lulav: Mm hmm, yeah, I’m not gonna take this at a run. Like I would usually attempt to do a short summary, especially given how long I’ve been running lately, this is just me walking you through context, which I can get into if you’d like. 

Jaz: Yeah, sure, walk us through. What happened to get us up to this haftarah? 

Lulav: Okay, so remember from episode 54 how Second Kings begins with the death of King Ahav?

Jaz: Vaguely. 

Lulav: Okay, I mean, it’s okay if you didn’t, because I didn’t until I looked into it just now. As far as I can tell from skimming, the first ten chapters are about Ahav’s descendants and how they rule the northern kingdom of Israel, which we also call Samaria after its capital city. Spoiler alert, they rule the northern kingdom poorly. 

Jaz: Yeah, we have talked about that one a bunch. 

Lulav: Yeah. So Ahav, the king whose death starts off this book, was real big into the worship of another god or pantheon of gods, called here Baal. His son, Ahaziah, and note, this is Ahaziah of Israel, NOT Ahaziah of Yehudah. 

Jaz: Wait, those names don’t mean anything to me. Tell me who Ahaziah is.

Lulav: So, his son Ahaziah was the king after Ahav, and he sucked so much that he got told off by Eliyahu haNavi and died immediately. 

Jaz: Okay! 

Lulav: Not immediately. He went home, had a really bad fever and died. So I think I talked about that in the run-up to episode 54. Ahav’s other son Yehoram didn’t do Baal worship, but was kind of an opportunist, and he got shot in the back by his general Yehu. 

Jaz: Oof. 

Lulav: Do you have any questions about Yehoram?

Jaz: Yes, so, is Yehoram king?

Lulav: Yes, he was the king after Ahaziah, so Ahav was number seven, Ahaziah was number eight, and Yehoram was number nine. 

Jaz: Okay, so where are we in time by now? 

Lulav: This is the 800s, so we’re kind of like in 850 BCE.

Jaz: Okay, so these are really early people. 

Lulav: Yeah, really early in things that we can map directly to recorded history. 

Jaz: They’re really early in the sense that they’re before any of the prophets. 

Lulav: Ah, no, Eliyahu and Elisha are running around. 

Jaz: Any of the prophets that have books of their own.

Lulav: Yes, any of the named-book prophets, thank you for that clarification. So yeah, Yehoram the ninth king of Samaria just ate it because his general Yehu shot him in the back. So “Yehu” is spelled yud-hey-vav-aleph? Which feels a little blasphemous? Even though it’s not the whole yud-hey-vav-hey?

Jaz : Uh-huh. 

Lulav: Because that’s like, “Hashem is him”? Is that what that means?

Jaz: Well, it does look very similar. 

Lulav: Uh-huh! 

Jaz: Also you’re totally correct, that it means “G-d is him”. 

Lulav: (giggles) Feels blasphemous, but apparently that wasn’t the issue that the narrator/G-d had here. 

Jaz: Wild! Sometimes, they’re okay with so much blasphemy, and sometimes so little.

Lulav: Right?! Also, the issue is not what I’m about to say. Yehu did a whole bunch of murder on King Ahaziah of Yehudah, who is a different person from King Ahaziah of Samaria, and on Izavel, aka, Jezebel, aka Ahav’s pagan wife, AND all seventy princes of the house of Ahav… 

Jaz: WHAT!

Lulav: Right? And forty two of Ahaziah of Yehudah’s cousins, and a whole bunch of Baal worshippers in the Samarian temple of Baal. 

Jaz: Sorry, can we take a brief moment to be like—

Lulav: Yeah?

Jaz: He had seventy cousins?!

Lulav: Yeah, I mean…

Jaz: Do we know if they’re all first cousins? That’s a lot of cousins. I thought my mom had a lot of cousins, and she only has 21 first cousins. 

Lulav: Hold on, these aren’t cousins, these are siblings…

Jaz: What?! 

Lulav: Is my impression, because Ahav had Ahaziah and Yehoram… oh, these are siblings and niblings! Is my impression here. Everybody who’s descended from Ahav and could conceivably inherit the throne, he merked ‘em. 

Jaz: He killed the full line of succession. 

Lulav: Yes. 

Jaz: I was talking about this with my roommates ‘cause we were talking about what happens if there’s an assassination on Inauguration Day, and when John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln, he was part of a whole conspiracy of people, and it was supposed to be that there were three different assassins sent out that night. One to kill the President, one to kill the Vice President, and one to kill the Secretary of State, who’s next in line, so that they would knock out the whole top of the government and thrown everything into disarray, but only John Wilkes Booth ended up killing the President, because I think the other people, like, one tried and got caught or something or the guy he was shooting just got wounded but not killed, and then the other was just very scared and didn’t kill anybody, or try, and just kinda ran away. 

Lulav: Also John Wilkes Booth was like, a famous actor? 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: Can you imagine a famous actor getting that close to the president and killing him? It’s like if Ronald Reagan tried to kill the president. (laughter) You know, famous actor and friend of monkeys, Ronald Reagan, who has done nothing else in his life?

Jaz : Mmhm. 

Lulav: Anyway, sorry, big tangent. Right, so, Yehu killed everybody, everybody who could conceivably have taken over the dynasty. Also, there’s Ahaziah of Yehudah, right, he was the king of Yehudah before he also got killed by Yehu? 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So his mom is… Ataliah, I think? His Mom is the daughter of Ahav, king of Samaria. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So Ahaziah of Yehudah was the first king of Yehudah who was descended both from David and Rehoboam, the guy who took over. 

Jaz: Wait, what? 

Lulav: Remember when the kingdoms initially split apart, there was a rebellion and instead of accepting the Davidic successor, they appointed their own dude who was king of Samaria from then on? 

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: so, Ahaziah of Yehudah, who got killed by Yehu, was the first king of Yehudah who was descended from both David and the guys who did a rebellion after Shlomo died. Does that make sense? 

Jaz: Yeah! 

Lulav: Okay, cool. 

Jaz: He’s got the new line and the old line. 

Lulav: Right, but he has nothing, actually—

Jaz: Because he’s dead.

Lulav: He’s dead and also all his brothers and cousins and stuff went to visit, and Yehu also murdered them. 

Jaz: Yeah, yeah. 

Lulav: So all of this slaughter, including and especially the part where he invites a bunch of Baal worshippers to do a fun festival thing and then just murders all of them, and destroys all of the temple. 

Jaz: Mmhm. 

Lulav: All of this slaughter is lauded by the narrative and rewarded with several generations to Yehu’s dynasty. He was just a general, and now he gets four generations of his dynasty. However, because he still had golden idols to Hashem, the northern kingdom continued to weaken against its enemy of the day, which is Hazael of Aram. Finally, and this is still all in the context— 

Jaz: Yeah! 

Lulav: —there is a smash cut to the southern kingdom, where the dead king’s wife/Ahav of Samaria’s daughter, kills all (asterisk) of her dead husband’s heirs, but is deposed by — asterisk — the survivor, as puppeted by the priest Yehoiadah. That was a very confusing sentence, so feel free to ask me any clarifying questions. 

Jaz: So there is Ahaziah’s mother Ataliah, and she tries to kill off a bunch of people. 

Lulav: Oh, she succeeds.

Jaz: Okay. But one of Ataliah’s daughters and Ahaziah’s sister is named Yehoshavah… 

Lulav: Mmhm.

Jaz: And she sneaks away with her nephew, Ahaziah’s son.

Lulav: Yes. 

Jaz: Do you have context of why Ahaziah’s mother wants to kill her grandchild? 

Lulav: I don’t super have context on what she was doing with Yehudah, other than that apparently there was Baal worship happening, according to this narrative? So okay, in Ashkenazi tradition, we begin the haftarah portion for today at 12:1? Sephardi tradition begins it at 11:17 and ends in the same place, so what we’re missing there is four lines in which Yehoiadah the priest kills all the worshippers of Baal including Ataliah the late queen consort. So that indicates that Ataliah was pretty instrumental in encouraging worship of Baal? Not just worship of Hashem. 

Jaz: Enough so that she would be responsible for killing her family. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: So, just to anchor this in some daily thing, this is a like, if you worship idols you could be in a situation where you would give up even the real concrete people who are close to you and you care about in the service of—

Lulav: (crosstalk) your grandchildren! 

Jaz: —something that doesn’t matter. Like, capitalism says X thing, and so we will sacrifice real people for the sake of it.

Lulav: Yeah, but otherwise it’ll make the money sad! So, that’s the whole thing at the end there. Yoash is saved from getting killed, the High Priest Yehoiadah—actually I’m not sure if he’s the high priest, but he is a kohen—Yehoiadah instigates a revolution, and appoints King Yoash, the seven year old, as king. 

Jaz: Is he still a child? Do we know? I mean, we know he was a child when she tried to kill him, but is he still a child? Seven years is a long time; children grow up. If he was seven at the time, and now he’s fourteen, that’s a young king, but it’s not a seven year old king.

Lulav: So we open in 12:1 on this boy king, like, “Yehoash was seven years old when he became king.” And then pretty immediately he ages 23 years. 

Jaz: I guess I was just confused because, I see the thing that says he was seven years old when he became king but it says he began his reign in the seventh year of Yehu or whoever? So was that the king of the neighboring kingdom?

Lulav: Yes, that was the king of Samaria. We are talking about Yoash as the king of Yehudah—

Jaz: Mm! 

Lulav: —which is the southern kingdom, the one where the temple is, the one that has the Davidic line still, but has recently intermarried with the kingdom of Samaria. 

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: These are both technically Yisrael, but the southern kingdom is Yehudah and the northern kingdom is Samaria. 

Jaz: Okay, on board now.

Lulav: Okay, cool. So the narrative really fancies this boy-king. Not in that he is hot, but in that “all his days he did what was pleasing to the Lord as the kohen Yehoiadah instructed him.” However, there were still shrines, and people continued to sacrifice and offer at the shrines. I’m not sure what the relevance is of that? My guess is it’s like, not everything is completely centralized in the Temple? 

Jaz: No, I thought the implication here was that these were shrines to Baal. 

Lulav: Oh interesting! ‘Cause that is not picked up at any point in this haftarah otherwise. 

Jaz: No, it doesn’t come back at all in this haftarah, but I wonder if that’s like, a “there’s still wickedness happening” type of deal. 

Lulav: Okay, yeah, either it is a standalone line that is totally not addressed that says “there’s still wickedness in that people are continuing to sacrifice to Baal” or, it means that temple worship is not centralized in the temple and there are also shrines all over the place, that have priests in attendance, and it’s a big robust system that doesn’t have much oversight. Which would put the next line into context as Yehoash says, “All the money that gets brought in as sacred donations to the house of Hashem and this is not guilt offering or sin offering”, you know the stuff that originally was supposed to be received as meat by the priests? Like, you had a son, your first son was born, and you needed to redeem him. Or, you are donating to the temple. Any of that money that comes in, the priests will take it and they in turn shall make repairs to the temple, or shrines? I guess? Wherever damage can be found. So Yoash is saying, “hey guys, we need to actually do some upkeep? Instead of budgeting three thousand dollars on candles?” 

Jaz: It feels to me, given the context of the next thing, that what they’re actually saying here is something on the order of, “Well, to justify the existence of landlords, at least the landlords do the maintenance.”

Lulav: (laughs) Oh, what a wonderful world that would be! Though actually, the place I’m moving into seems to have pretty nice landlords, but I also don’t know that they own more than this one property? 

Jaz: Mmhm. 

Lulav: And it used to be their house. So definitely once you get to a place where you can be called a landlord, oh G-d no, doing the least possible to ensure you can still bilk people for all the money they’re worth. Anyway… he’s setting up a system of like, we gotta make sure there are repairs being done. 

Jaz: Mmhm. 

Lulav: Twenty-three years later, in the 23rd year of King Yoash, it was found that the priests had not made repairs. So, Yehoash is like, “Hey, Yehoiadah, other priests, why haven’t you been fixing the temple? It’s been twenty-three years.” 

Jaz: They do not answer this question. 

Lulav: They don’t! It’s not like, hey you’re all fired, find some other Levites who are priests now. It’s just, you’re not in charge of the money anymore. There will be no punishment for that, there is no recompense to the structures that we have built, it’s just, y’know, you’re not in charge anymore. 

Jaz: It’s not even that they’re not in charge anymore, it’s just that you don’t get specific oversight over this specific department anymore. You don’t manage that money anymore. 

Lulav: (snickering) Uh-huh.

Jaz: But you still get to be in charge. 

Lulav: How do you feel about that? 

Jaz: Bad!

Lulav: (laughing)

Jaz: Wha— wha— what do you mean? 

Lulav: I’m glad we both feel similarly. 

Jaz: When people misuse their power, the minimum thing that happens is they be removed from it. Also, the king is being really irresponsible and a bad manager. The time to put checks and balances on a person and to be like, “hey, is everything going well?” Is all the way along, not 23 years later. You check in on them every few months! 

Lulav: Yeah…  

Jaz: And see what the repairs are for and get an itemized list and whatever. I’m not saying people can’t have warnings for bad behavior, but 23 years of it, completely unchecked, does not seem warranted. 

Lulav: Right, that’s on Yehoash as well. 

Jaz: Yeah! 

Lulav: Maybe especially? A thing I’ve been angry about a lot recently is the whole thing with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, where he carried on a sexual relationship with his employee when he was the President of the United States and his employee was 23 years old and an intern. And like, definitely the Republicans trying to impeach him weren’t doing it with the best intentions, but also the fact that this man had no oversight other than the official blemish of impeachment on his record, like… that sucks!

Jaz: So, a thing I’ve been thinking about recently is how religious institutions don’t have to show their public tax records in the way that other 501c3s do? 

Lulav: Mmhm! Because they’re not incorporated as 501c3s, right? They’re a different thing, like, a religious organization that does not have to pay taxes.

Jaz: Right, so they have to pay different taxes, some people who are paid there might not be subject to income tax at all, I as an employee of a synagogue definitely am subject to income tax, but I think some people aren’t? 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: But… not a lot of people when you’re talking about religious life talk about the finances behind it? 

Lulav: Mmhm. 

Jaz: But, it takes a lot of people to make a synagogue run who aren’t clergy. But clergy are often the best paid people at an institution, except for maybe a board or an executive director, or you know, something else. 

Lulav: Mmhm. 

Jaz: Or I mean, there could be but there doesn’t have to be, unless an institution decides to commit to that, but there isn’t transparency about where different money is going, and this is true for all religious institutions in the US. It’s not just limited to you know, Christian places or synagogues or anything like that, but it does create this system where you just don’t have a lot of the same types of oversight. Like, somebody can say, “we’re raising money for repairs of the roof,” but not use it for that. I don’t know if this situation exactly is parallel, but if the parallel here is the religious leaders get to take in money and nobody knows what they use it for, and they use it maybe to pay themselves when it’s supposed to be for the good of lots of people, you know, ideally you’d want a system where there is oversight and religious institutions have to be transparent like other institutions, and also the regular people benefit from it, not just the people at the top. And regular employees, not even just regular shul-goers. 

Lulav: Yeah, there are so many more things you can spend money on in an organization than just the top person, or people. 

Jaz: Yeah. Top people are important, but like, the day-to-day people are also really important.

Lulav: Mmhm. So, update, apparently churches still do incorporate as 501c3 organizations? 

Jaz: That's what I was finding earlier when I looked it up today. I didn’t want to contradict you in case you knew more than me, but… 

Lulav: No, please do.

Jaz: They’re just weird 501c3s. They’re just exempt from a bunch of stuff. 

Lulav: Right. Sorry, both of my parents are accountants so I heard these phrases a lot growing up but didn’t actually know exactly what they meant? (Laughs)

Jaz: Whereas my experience was the opposite, that my parents worked with foundations and nonprofits, and not as much on the technical side of the finance aspect.

Lulav: So, did we both hear the phrase “501c3” growing up a lot? 

Jaz: Oh yeah. 

Lulav: So for everyone else, “501c3” is a section of the tax code under which you incorporate not for profit corporations so that they have certain tax exempt stuff going on. 

Jaz: Yeah. Also, I have no idea what this looks like in other countries. So...

Lulav: Oh G-d no. 

Jaz: If you’re a listener in another country and you’re like, “hey, our synagogues and churches don’t work like that—”

Lulav: Mm! 

Jaz: And you would like to tell us about how yours works; I would be fascinated. Could they get away with doing this like, the priests saying “We’ll make repairs” and then not doing it, or could they not? 

Lulav: Also, I am not joking even a little bit when I say please inundate me with the esoterica of your country’s tax code. 

Jaz: I— I don’t want to receive that. You can send it and I will send it directly to Lulav without reading it. 

Lulav: Thank you, excellent. (giggles)

Jaz: Listen, I spend a lot of time reading the esoteric tax codes written by the rabbis (Lulav laughing) of approximately two thousand years ago? A little less than that, but not a lot less than that? So between that and the US, that’s enough. 

Lulav: Okay, so, Yehoiadah is like, “Okay, we’ll make a box that we can’t reach our hands into, we’ll just like, bore a hole into the lid so that people can drop coins in, and then we won’t touch it at all, it’ll just be by the front door and the high priest and the royal scribe together will count all of the money when it gets full, and give it to overseers who will pay people to fix the temple.” Is that a fair summary, do you think? 

Jaz: Yeah, basically! 

Lulav: And then there’s line 14, which says, “however, no silver bowls and no snuffers, basins or trumpets, no vessels of gold or silver were made at the house of the Lord from the money brought into the house of the Lord.” Which I take to mean either, this was the sort of stuff that priests had previously been spending their money on, fancy cars and million dollar watches… 

Jaz: Mmhm. 

Lulav: Or, perhaps the repairs were so very much needed that for several years they weren’t even making new ritual implements, it was just “wow, we need to make sure the temple isn’t falling apart.” 

Jaz: Mmm… I think either of those seem like reasonable interpretations to me? I did instinctively lean more on, previously there was a lot of corruption going on, or at least priests buying fancy things for themselves, and now, it’s things that will be useful to everyone that are not just fancy things for themselves. And not that these other things couldn’t maybe be used by other people, but they sound like things that are very much for the glory of the priests? 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: In a way that the other things just sound like stuff for everybody. 

Lulav: Right. Like, hey, listen, if G-d’s favor was shown in the returns that we as mortals get, clearly if you have a million dollar watch, and silver bowls, and snuffers, basins, and trumpets, that means that uh, G-d really likes you. (Jaz groans) So of course this is warranted. 

Jaz: You’re crediting them with the prosperity gospel? 

Lulav: You can’t just blame it on Joel Osteen, right? 

Jaz: I would say that gives them a little more credit than even they ask for, or deserve. 

Lulav: Oh, they’re not justifying this at all? 

Jaz: They’re not justifying it at all! They don’t even come up with a like, “this is how we can religiously justify this thing that is bad,” they just didn’t bother to come up with a justification, they just did it. 

Lulav: Counterpoint, the author of Melachim didn’t record any justification that they gave. 

Jaz: That’s the same thing. They give no rebuttal in text. 

Lulav: (giggles) The way that I wrote this in my notes was that the priests were like, “Oopsie!” And then a little scamp kaomoji, and Yehoiadah was like, “okay, we’ll put all the donations in a locked box instead and let other people handle it.” The end. And that is basically the end, other than, no check was kept in the men who delivered the money to pay the workers? Like the overseers? “For they deal honestly.” I’m not sure if this is like, setting up a future whoopsie? Or you can trust overseers? 

Jaz: I mean, I think there is a certain amount of, they involved way more people in the process? Okay, nobody take my head off for this one, but sometimes bureaucracy is good. (Lulav laughs) If the purpose of it is that you make sure that no one person accumulates too much power, and things have processes to go through so that it’s clear and you can’t be like, “well, we’re going to use the money for something eventually,” there’s a clear process that’s articulated so there’s no wiggle room, there was just a specific thing that was supposed to happen with the money and if that specific thing didn’t happen you know who to get in trouble for it. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Because there’s so many people involved, if it goes missing, you have a lot of people to be able to track through, like, “it was accounted for here, and it was accounted for here, sooo, here’s the people who could have taken it,”

Lulav: Yeah! 

Jaz: And it’s not just, kind of left up to the discretion of powerful people. 

Lulav: Right, no one man should have all that power, the clock is ticking, I just count the hours. Stop tripping, I’m tripping off the power.

Jaz: ‘Kay. 

Lulav: Sample from King Crimson. (both laugh)

Lulav: Anyway… Jaz, can we Rate G-d’s Writing? 

Jaz: Yeah! 

Lulav: A section in which we make up scales and then assign value to those scales, and the oversight provided by two of us keeps the check on an unjust rating. 

Jaz: Just before we get there, can I also just say that one of the reasons I’m thinking about this is that there’s a certain amount of “the priests got away with it because people trusted them,”

Lulav: Mmhm. 

Jaz: And people do this in our social justice movements too, you know? 

Lulav: For sure. 

Jaz: And like, people can be part of your radical spaces or can say the right things and still be like, “No, I’m out for myself,” in ways you wouldn’t know until it happens. 

Lulav: Mmhm. 

Jaz: So the building of systems is important to me as part of the takeaway here. We’re told, “this king did all the right things!” But the king didn’t, because he let these people get away with it for so long. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: So I do think you can’t just trust the leaders in your community and the leaders in your community shouldn’t just expect you to trust them. 

Lulav: And like, the more your instinct is to be like, “this person couldn’t be bad, or embezzling, or whatever, they’re really into social justice!” The more you should look into that and make sure that they’re actually using their power correctly? ‘Cause like, “hey, I know this person, I have had previous financial dealings with them and it’s all aboveboard, they’re very transparent about what they’re doing,” that seems reasonable. “Oh man, Bernie Sanders? He’d never do anything wrong,” when you get something like that, don’t. Just don’t trust that instinct. 

Jaz: Yeah, or there’s been a whole bunch of stuff online about how when people talk about callouts, the people who get all up in arms about “callout culture” they’re often rich, straight, white people who nothing is going to happen to if some people think badly of them?

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But there’s also like, a lot of people who are trans and a lot of people who are trans women especially, you know like, somebody says a nasty thing about an artist and that spreads further than even the people who would know their work generally. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: And it goes from, “hey, this person did something in their art that’s a little problematic,” to like, now suddenly, the people saying the nasty things are the ones with a lot more power, and there’s no way to check that. 

Lulav: Mmhm. So basically, critical thinking and internet literacy are very important. 

Jaz: I think mostly it’s “be cautious of power wherever it comes up, and cautious of people who ask you to trust them blindly because of something, even if that thing is identity or community or religion or whatever.”

Lulav: To trust you without oversight. 

Jaz: Right! Sorry. But to trust you without providing any evidence that they’re doing the things that they’re doing. 

Lulav: Yeah. ...How did we get here?

Jaz: Because the priests were abusing their power? 

Lulav: Oh okay! So you haven’t given me a scale yet. 

Jaz: No. 

Lulav: I’m gonna give you the scale of, out of 23 years with inappropriate methods of oversight, how many years would you rate this haftarah?

Jaz: I guess I would rate it like… seventeen years? 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: It doesn’t quite get eighteen… 

Lulav: Which is the gematria for xai, or life. 

Jaz: Yeah. But I think it’s a good takeaway of, you gotta have checks and balances, you can’t leave the power structures untouched and as they are, you can’t trust those in authority without any reasonings provided, and I think that’s a useful takeaway, but this haftarah is very short, there’s a lot going on right before and right after it, so it feels too complicated to list that takeaway by itself. 

Lulav: Yeah. Also, this is such a weird story, because it’s kinda standalone in the middle of a whole bunch of stuff? And you don’t technically need all of the context that I gave you. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: But like, in order to understand the relationship between Yehoash and Yehoiadah, you have to understand what Yehoiadah did for Yehoash, and for the kingdom as a whole, and for you to understand that, you have to understand why he was doing that, which means you have to understand the whole thing with Ahav’s family, which means you need to understand what was going on with Yehu, and it’s… yeah. Woof. 

Jaz: Yeah. So, out of seven years that a child brings of experience, before they’re expected to take on something way too big, how many child years would you rate this haftarah?

Lulav: Um, yeah, I’d rate this six years, where like, seven is a really good rating for the haftarah, because I think in that context of, this boy has only ever always known the authority of Yehoiadah, and like, known to trust him?

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: And then suddenly when he’s 30, it’s suddenly like, “Wait, so the thing that we talked about, a while back, you’ve just not been doing that? Oh no.” And he has to reckon with that.

Jaz: Mm. 

Lulav: So I would say six years for the six years that you start to conceive of yourself as an independent person from your parents, beyond like, being a one year old. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: (sigh) So, Jaz can you take us to the close? 

Jaz: Yeah. Thanks for listening to Kosher Queers. If you like what you’ve heard, you can support us on Patreon at patreon.com/kosherqueers, which will give you bonus content and help us keep making this for you. Also, if you can’t commit to ongoing support but would still like to contribute, you can give to our Ko-fi, which is at ko-fi.com/kosherqueers. Find out more information about our podcast, including bios for our team and links to our social media at kosherqueers.gay. Also, please spread the word about Kosher Queers. 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 that every episode is fully transcribed. You can find a link to those in the episode descriptions at kosherqueers.gay, where you can also see if Jaz and Shachar roped in additional help for the episode. 

Jaz: I’m Jaz Twersky, and you can find me @wordnerdknitter on Twitter. I recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Lenape people. 

Lulav: I’m Lulav Arnow, and you can find me @spacetrucksix on Twitter, or yell at me @palmliker. I recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Wahpekute Dakota. Which I have changed that from previously not because I am moving—

Jaz: Although you are moving.

Lulav: —although I am moving, but because I did some recent research, and apparently, the specific part of Minneapolis where I have been living for seven years has never been considered part of the lands of the Anishinaabeg? That was a little further north? And I had heard different opinions on this from a variety of sources, over the last couple years, but one of those sources changed to now say that this is only the traditional lands of the Wahpekute of Oceti-Šakowiŋ. So… yeah! That’s the update on overlapping historical claims by Native peoples. So all of the names that I refer to like Bde Maka Ska, that’s Dakota.

Jaz: All of the Native names for the places around you. 

Lulav: Yeah. Dakota is the language the Wahpekute spoke. 

Jaz: Mmhm! And speak, right? It’s a living language. 

Lulav: And speak, yes! It’s part of a family of languages, the overarching term might be Lakota? But I’m also not sufficiently a linguist about this stuff. 

Jaz: Okay. Have a lovely queer Jewish day! 

[Brivele outro]

Lulav: this week’s gender is: roommate.

Jaz: this week’s pronouns are: allthey, allthem, alltheirallthere