Kosher Queers

70 — Tetzaveh: Everlasting, Everchanging

February 25, 2021 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow Episode 70
Kosher Queers
70 — Tetzaveh: Everlasting, Everchanging
Kosher Queers
70 — Tetzaveh: Everlasting, Everchanging
Feb 25, 2021 Episode 70
Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow

This week, Isaiah is multiple people, G-d is fractal, and names are everlasting yet malleable and also full of family drama. Plus, converts are important and weather is confusing.

Full transcript here.

There's some more information about the origin of the fast day here and general features of minor fast days like it. Lulav said "quaternary and quintery" and meant "quaternary and quinary." You can also check out Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown and A Year Without A Name by Cyrus Grace Dunham .

This week's reading is Isaiah 55:6–56:8. Next week's reading is Ezekiel 36:16-38.

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

Support the show (

Show Notes Transcript

This week, Isaiah is multiple people, G-d is fractal, and names are everlasting yet malleable and also full of family drama. Plus, converts are important and weather is confusing.

Full transcript here.

There's some more information about the origin of the fast day here and general features of minor fast days like it. Lulav said "quaternary and quintery" and meant "quaternary and quinary." You can also check out Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown and A Year Without A Name by Cyrus Grace Dunham .

This week's reading is Isaiah 55:6–56:8. Next week's reading is Ezekiel 36:16-38.

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: Jaz? (singing) Why is it that this day of the fast is unlike other days? Is unlike other—  um, yeah hi. 

Jaz: Hi. 

Lulav: It’s Taanit Esther and I am just wondering why the fast starts at like dawn and ends at dusk? Is that how fasts usually work?

Jaz: Uh, no, but you really confused me with using a Passover tune (Lulav laughs) for a non-Passover day. It's like, Purim. 

Lulav: Yes. 

Jaz: Not Passover.

Lulav: Well, Purim’s Eve. 

Jaz: I feel unanchored in time. 

Lulav: (laughs) Good. Also we are recording this like three weeks ahead of time so it's neither of those. 

Jaz: Yes, but by the time this comes out it's basically exactly Purim. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. But yeah, I was looking up Taanit Esther because this episode comes out the morning of Taanit Esther 

Jaz: Kay. 

Lulav: And I saw that it is a fast that is supposed to last from dawn until dusk of the same day. 

Jaz: Yes, so— 
Lulav: I didn't know we told time that way basically. 

Jaz: We don't. It's a weird one. I didn't know this and you didn't tell me that you were looking this up earlier so I did not look it up (Lulav laughs) so we should come back to it.

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: But what I do know about this is that it’s a much younger holiday—

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: So like, it's possible that its just weird because it was established later and so—  

Lulav: Mm. 

Jaz: Our regular things are not as applicable to it. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Because Purim is a relatively later holiday and this fast also comes about much later. Okay, so this googling that I just did very quickly says it first comes about as a minchag from the Geonic period which is, like pretty late. Geonim are medieval, I think, so—  

Lulav: Okay, please explain what Geonim are so that I can understand Jwitter display names better. 

Jaz: Okay, well Geonim are rabbis, they're just rabbis from a particular time period. So the first people we have who could be classified as rabbis-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Are right after the destruction of the Temple and those people are the Tanaim and we have them-- 

Lulav: Mm. 

Jaz: For just like, a couple generations, and then the next few generations are Amoraim and we have those for more generations-- 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: There's maybe seven generations of Amoraim and then there's the Savoraim who —  I don't know very much about them. And then there's the Geonim who are followed by the Rishonim. So basically these are just ways of dividing up rabbinic commentary into periods of time. 

Lulav: Okay. That’s cool. 

Jaz: And a Geon is a title, basically. So theyre particular Talmud teachers and you can find their commentary in a Talmud. 

Lulav: Okay. And the other ones are titles for other sorts of rabbis, right? Like, Amor. 

Jaz: It's an Amora, yeah. 

Lulav: Oh. Okay. That's just interesting because that sounds feminine. 

Jaz: Good question, (Lulav chuckles) but I don't think so. 

Lulav: Like Tzipporah. 

Jaz: Well, Tzipporah is feminine. 

Lulav: Oh. But it gets pluralized masculine?

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Wow, I really need to learn more Hebrew. (laughs) 

Jaz: But I think it comes from the verb amar: alef-mem-reish.

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: Which is like-- 

Lulav: To say-- 

Jaz: To speak. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Indicating that they are also commentators, right?

Lulav: Awe, that's fun. 

Jaz: Like how Tanaim comes from "teach" so when youre reading a Talmud, if it says like, "Rabbi so and so omer", it means they said it but it also means it's an Amora who's being quoted. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: I don't know as much about the Geonim because the way a page of Talmud is constructed is that the earlier stuff is in the center of the page and then later stuff is further out, more on the edges of the page which is where the Geonim and their commentary lives, and I just haven't read as much of the stuff further out on the page. 

Lulav: Yeha, makes sense. So Jaz, what’s something cool and queer or Jewish thats happened in your life recently?

Jaz: Well, possibly the coolest thing that happened in my life recently is that I got my first dose of the COVID vaccine yesterday. 

Lulav: Oh, yay. Con-Pfizer-lations. 

Jaz: What?

Lulav: It's like congratulations but I'm also saying the name of a drug company that manufactured your vaccine. 

Jaz: (laughs) Yeah. 

Lulav: Con-Pfizer-lations. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: I'm so sorry Shachar. Give it your best shot. (laughs) 

Jaz: And I am capable of connecting this both to being queer and to being Jewish because I am so talented. 

Lulav: Awe. 

Jaz: And-- 

Lulav: Yeah you are. 

Jaz: (laughs) Okay so I was very excited. I went with my roommate who is also eligable for a vaccine and both of us are queer and Jewish and we walked all the way there together and we stood in the cold. 

Lulav: Oh G-d. 

Jaz: And were there for a long time. We walked for about an hour and 15 minutes to get there and then stood in line for maybe an hour and a half outside, we weren't like, inside the whole time.

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And then once we actually got in the building it was pretty quick and efficient (Lulav giggles) and they observed us for about 15 minutes right after we were done to make sure there was nothing adverse happening-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And then signed us up for our second dose which is gonna be exactly three weeks after the first one and let us go. And I was with my roommate the whole way through except that they split us up to actually go get our shots and then when I got to the observation area, I couldn't find her, so I was like, "oh no" but I had to sit somewhere so I sat closest to the other visibly trans people there-- 

Lulav: Oh good. 

Jaz: And I know that this person was trans because he had a rainbow bag and he had a thing that said, "protect trans lives", and then he had a button with a trans flag on it and it said, "I’m a boy", (Lulav laughs) which is very cute and I enjoyed that. 

Lulav: So best guess about strangers: do you think that this was his everyday getup or--

Jaz: No. 

Lulav: Specifically, "oh no, I'm going to interact with medical personnel and it has been horrible literally every time I have interacted with medical personnel".

Jaz: I think it was the opposite of my tactic when interacting with medical personnel, like that his tactic was I'm just going to be very very aggressively saying my gender so that they have to know-- 

Lulav: Oh they do not. (laughs) Anyway, continue. 

Jaz: Where as my tactic is, this is so much work to fight any of this. They're just going to go by the legal name and gender that is on my documents and I'm going to pretend that's me for a few hours. 

Lulav: Okay. Yeah, I passed the point where that was like, a thing that I could do several years ago, unfortunately. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Not that that's like, a specific point that everybody always passes on a set timeline, it's just like, yeah. 

Jaz: Yes. I hear that and that's just not where I am at, so-- 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: I decide to go with the institution and will do one thing with me unless I really really fight it (Lulav sighs) so I'm just going to let it do that thing.

Lulav: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 

Jaz: Anyway, and then I got out of the testing place and texted my family to tell them I got the vaccine and my mom- uh (laughs) in our group chat was like-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm?

Jaz: "Excellent! Congrats!" and then wrote, "you go them!", and I was very confused by it-- 

Lulav: Thanks mom. 

Jaz: Initially and I was like, I don’t— I don’t understand what she's saying. Is this about the staff there who— who's the them? And I handed it to my roommate who's like, "it is you Jaz. It's like a replacement for “you go girl,” you know?", and I-- 

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: "Ohhhh, thank you for being my cis translator".

Lulav: (laughs) That's cute. 

Jaz: Yeah. Also my mom called later to be like, "hey, was that okay to say cuz I thought it was like, sweet and funny but I wanted to make sure it wasn't like, rude and offensive and you weren't upset", and I actually very much appreciate both her calling and checking and the acknowledgement that it was a joke and not like a (both laugh), cuz I do think it’s funny. 

Lulav: Yeah. That's not like, right, but it is very sweet and funny. 

Jaz: (both laugh) Yeah! Um, anyway. And my Jewish connection, aside from the fact that like, I’m Jewish and so are the other several people involved in the story is that my friend Riki texted and was like, "that's so wonderful Jaz, what are you going to do to celebrate?", and I remembered that while I'm not going to do this after this first shot, after the second one I think I'm going to say the birkat hagomel which is a prayer you say after you have survived a thing that could have killed you. 

Lulav: Is that the one about tubes or a different one?

Jaz: Different thing. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: I've never said the birkat hagomel before. It's sometimes a thing historically that people would say if they traveled along a dangerous route or something-- 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: Or got through a long journey but you can also say it after like, a period of like, deep sickness and like surviving a pandemic qualifies and so there are like, synagogues having people come in and say it once they've gotten fully vaccinated and I think that seems like a really nice way to mark it-- 

Lulav: Awe, that's cool.

Jaz: So I think that's what I'm going to do once I get my second vaccination. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Anyway, Lulav, what’s something cool and queer and Jewish that happened to you this week?

Lulav: So, you know how a lot of Judaism is done in community and like-- 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Kind of can only be done in community-- 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: With other people? So we've been making meals with each other-- 

Jaz: Aww. 

Lulav: In the house and that has been really nice, like, Theo made, I don't know, like two dry cups of rice which turned into like six cups of rice of which they only ate one. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: They were like, "oh yeah, we've got these five cups of rice, let's make some stir fry with them", and so we used coconut aminos which are a replacement for soy sauce cuz I can't do soy. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And we didn't use onions because Theo can't do onions and Ridley has no dietary restrictions but was involved in this. Um (laughs) yeah. We just worked at chopping up broccoli and browning the chicken and from each of us we took according to our abilities and-- 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: To each of us we gave food according to our needs. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: And then last night I made some mac and cheese for the whole house and it was like, exactly correctly proportioned. 

Jaz: Heck yeah. 

Lulav: Yeah. So Jaz, do you ever eat like, Kraft macaroni and cheese? Or for our Canadians out there, Kraft Dinner?

Jaz: I have in my life done that. 

Lulav: Okay. In what manner would you season it? Like would you just do the basic instructions on the box or would you do other things?

Jaz: It is a good question in that I don't think I have ever made this for myself as an adult. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: It's a thing that I ate occasionally as a kid, probably pretty unseasoned. 

Lulav: Yeah! 

Jaz: So I'd have to think about what I would do with it now. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. So I prefer to do a lot of weird stuff with it. 

Jaz: That tracks. 

Lulav: (laughs) I don't view it as a unitary— like, Kraft macaroni and cheese is not just, you know, follow the instructions and add nothing to except for maybe what you want to do after. It's like, for a long time I didn't have milk so I used kimchi juice instead of milk and added extra cheese and sometimes like, dill. Probably not generally with the kimchi but, you know, like, I just add things and Theo didn't want to do that, which was not a general thing about seasoning, it was just like, if they had been making any other mac and cheese they would have seasoned it totally differently. 

Jaz: Huh! 

Lulav: But Kraft macaroni and cheese has to be just the straight-up half stick of butter, cheese powder and a third cup of milk. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And that was fascinating to me. 

Jaz: Did you work it out?

Lulav: Yeah. I did keep being like, "hey Theo, are you okay if I add this thing to it", and they were like, "no", (Jaz laughs) and I was like, "[sucking teeth, then in an angry voice] okay. What if I do this thing?", "no", "[angrier voice than before but also laughing] okay", um... but no, it was great and I realized after that I forgot to add extra cheese on top even though we now have like, six pounds of cheese, specifically cheddar cheese. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Also sorry about talking about food if anybody has problems with that. Oof. Yeah, so like, working in the community. Also it's like -25 degrees Celsius out which is obscene. 

Jaz: That’s so cold. 

Lulav: Yeah, so this is like- this is the period of winter where we just hibernate. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And unfortunately that's not how humans work, so. 

Jaz: Lulav, are you ready to start (Lulav laughs) the episode?

Lulav: Yes, sorry. 

[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. This week our chevruta is learning the haftarah of Tetzaveh, which is Yeshayahu 55:6-56:8.

Jaz: This is Isaiah. We've had Isaiah before.

Lulav: We will have Isaiah again. (laughs) 

Jaz: Yeah. We sure will. I like it though. It's a fun one.

Lulav: Yeah, this is a really good one, not to like, give spoilers for the end of the episode. Jaz?

Jaz: Yes?

Lulav: Can you summarize what happens in Tetzaveh?

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Okay, how long would you like for that?

Jaz: Hoo, not sure. Let’s try it in 30 seconds I guess.

Lulav: Okay, that should be fun. Keeping it nice and skippy.

Jaz: We’ll see.

Lulav: Three, two, one, go.

Jaz: This whole week is an Ikea pamphlet from G-d to Moses, but instead of furniture, it's instructions on making fancy clothes and accessories for priests. G-d is partial to a particular palette of specific shades of red, blue, purple and gold and uses them for everything. Robes, symbolic bib with a rectangle tic-tac-toe board on it, a crown, a turban and a sash. Priests wear these clothes plus underwear to do the most important duties. Also, to get those priests ready to be priests, you kill a bunch of animals ceremonially and put some blood on dudes. Then there's a little more explication on how to kill the animals and how to make the altar and how [timer goes off] burning incense is super fancy.

Lulav: Cool! You were only one sentence over. Great. (Jaz groans) Also that's a great reminder of what this parsha is.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Like all of the crafting parashot kind of melded together for me under the heading "Terumah".

Jaz: I know. (Lulav chuckles) But there's actually more!

Lulav: (laughs) Good.

Jaz: You do not finish with crafting in one week.

Lulav: Yeah, there are like three, right?

Jaz: I don't know but if you have ever done a craft project, if you have completed the whole craft project in one week I (Lulav laughs) salute you.

Lulav: Yeah. Speaking of finishing projects over a period of time, if you ever thought that we were experts, the fact that I can't remember how many crafting parashot there are in sequence in Shemot is indicative of how false that is. (Jaz laughs) We are (French flair) amateurs.

Jaz: Yeah. We sure are. So it's also my job to talk about the connection between the parsha and the haftarah and I struggled a little bit with that this week because the parsha is very much about crafting and some sacrifices and stuff like that and that's really not what the haftarah is about.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: So the closest I came is its about celebration and like veneration of G-d in visible outward ways.

Lulav: Okay. Can I proffer maybe a tenuous connection?

Jaz: Go for it.

Lulav: Okay. So I feel like this haftarah is about building futures that you can't see the whole scope of in the current day.

Jaz: Oooh.

Lulav: And similarly, the parsha is about building implements that people will be using for a very long time.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: And if you think that these are just fancy garments to make one or 20 people really fancy for their personal gain, no, it's not that. It's making clothes for the priesthood so that we have a thing that people can look at and be like, "oh cool, we're part of a community". 

Jaz: Mmm. That’s beautiful. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. And also gives the priesthood a lot of credit. (laughs) 

Jaz: I-- (Lulav laughs) Well, I think that that's a beautiful interpretation and that does feel connected to what I was saying about it being anchored in like, making something beautiful and joyous to celebrate and honor together, even though the emphasis on the parsha is a little bit more on like, making those and the one on the haftarah is a little more ephemeral but trying to evoke the same feeling, I guess. 

Lulav: Cool. Can I tell you a little bit about the context?

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So something that I have reckoned since the first time we did an episode about this part of Yeshayahu, which was episode 52, is that Yeshayahu is very much a document constructed from various prophets over a long period of time.

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So according to this study of the documents, chapters 40 through 66 are supposed to be from separate authors who came about two centuries after the original prophet. While the first prophecies refer to the Assyrian captivity in the 720s BCE, the narratives associated with these later chapters are talking about the Babylonian captivity in the 550s, about 170 years later. 

Jaz: Oooh. 

Lulav: Does that track so far?

Jaz: So they're just talking about different periods of history but presenting it as if it's one person.

Lulav: Right, which is strange and it does involve a very sudden shift from talking about Asyrians to Babylonians and then also there are Persians like, Cyrus the Great is here for some reason. 

Jaz: Fascinating. 

Lulav: And the reason is that it's the end of the Babylonian captivity, almost two centuries later. 

Jaz: Thats cool. 

Lulav: So in terms of continuity with other readings we've done, this portion comes right after the haftarah of parshat Noach. You got 17 minutes of historical context last time, so y’all are welcome for only having a little bit this time. (Jaz chuckles) In episode 52, we talked about a barren one with carbuncles as building stones and weapons formed against them not succeeding and the portion ended with all who are thirsty and hungry coming to feast freely without payment, and the mysterious nation which is probably Achaemenid Persia would come running to help. Jaz, do you have any questions about that refresher?

Jaz: Yes, a little bit. 

Lulav: Shoot. 

Jaz: So, how does that connect to what you're saying about Yeshiyahu being different people? Is that connected? Is that just a different thought?

Lulav: So that's not quite connected. I just listened to episode 52 while I was writing up notes for this episode-- 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And we didn't talk about this particular documentary hypothesis at all. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And I think generally we treated it as like, oh yeah, it's the Assyrian captivity. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: When even in episode 52 we were talking about text that comes from the Babylonian captivity. 

Jaz: Okay. Helpful.

Lulav: (chuckles) Yeah, I just wanted to set that record straight.

Jaz: Totally.

Lulav: Especially because I think we have on occasion been confused about what the mysterious nation would be, like who that's supposed to represent and in the context of the Babylonian captivity, like, if chapter 55 and 56 were written immediately after the Babylonian exile that would be talking about Cryus the Great.

Jaz: That's very helpful.

Lulav: Yeah. Any other questions?

Jaz: Hm. Does this give us any other insights into the ramifications of the theology presented here to know that it's later in history?

Lulav: Good question. I feel like the theological statements being made in this particular haftarah are not very time-bound.

Jaz: Hmmm.

Lulav: It's not like this specific thing will happen, it's like if you do well you will eat well. Oh, and also I will note that this seems to phrase it much less transactionally than other readings that we've done where it's like, hey if you follow the covenant good things will happen.

Jaz: Yeah, this one in fact reminds me much more of Job.

Lulav: Oh yeah, because of like, speaking out of the whirlwind like, I created Leviathan, who are you to talk? That sort of thing?

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: And I think also it does a better job-- or, it does a job that I am (Jaz giggles) less likely to pick a fight with than Job in that respect too.

Jaz: How so?

Lulav: Do you mind if I like to get into the text and we can mosey on down there?

Jaz: Go for it, yeah,.

Lulav: Okay, so we start off with Yeshayahu 55:6: "Seek Hashem while They can be found, call them while They are near".

Jaz: You're also reading the Sefaria translation, right?

Lulav: Yes.

Jaz: So, just a quick fun note for our listeners which is that the text that Lulav is reading actually says, "seek the LORD while He can be found and call to Him while he is near"--

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: Because the things that are available currently are all translations that render G-d in the masculine but Sefaria did say publicly on Twitter the other day that they're going to have a different translation up they hope within the year and they referred to it as like, a “gender-sensitive translation” but I think what they mean is one with gender neutral language for G-d so I'm excited for that when it gets to us.

Lulav: Yeah. (laughs) Less mental editing will have to be done.

Jaz: Yeah. I think credit goes to Rabbi Emily Cohen for this one who said also its not necessarily “gender-sensitive,” it's just another accurate translation because when you're translating from ancient Hebrew which doesn't have a neutral and putting it into English which does (Lulav chuckles) and you choose to go with the masculine anyway, that's a choice that you're making--

Lulav: That's a choice you made.(laughs)

Jaz: That you don't have to make so this is a different translation decision that you can also back up as a legit translation decision.

Lulav: And I feel like it works better with the use of the name Elohim, just because that is plural referring to a thing which is one.

Jaz: Yeah. Yeah, there was somebody else the other day who was like, if you're Jewish and you are objecting to they pronouns on the basis that things that are sometimes plural can’t also be singular, you should maybe rethink your use of the name Elohim (Lulav chuckles) all of which is a side note, please keep going.

Lulav: Right, we’re coming right off the context of just, you are going to be able to eat for free. You'll buy your food; it won't cost you money. And so given that context from the haftarah of parshat Noach, it seems that the way you pay for that vast feast is that you gotta focus on right action and working within the covenant.

Jaz: Hmm.

Lulav: That's what these first couple lines say, it's like, let the wicked give up their ways, the sinful man, his plans, and Hashem will pardon them. The idea that we gotta focus on the future, like that's much more important than focusing on specific payments for specific transgressions. Not that that isn't involved but the focus is on, okay were doing right in the future and the present. So the narrator is speaking for Hashem saying that Its plans are so many levels higher than our plans.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: As rain or snow drops from the sky and instead of dropping back up, soaks the earth and makes it bring forth vegetation, so is the word from my mouth. This is me just making up words. It's very much like you're not working in a zero sum game where your individual plans to manipulate the obvious mechanics for wealth in game with you explicit returns, you're working in a real system, one that is incredibly complex and has boons and banes out of seemingly nowhere, so where self-aggrandisement decreases the contents of the system, if you are like, just trying to make the numbers in your bank account go up, that means that there is less for everybody.

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: Where self-aggrandisement decreases the contents of the system, selflessness increases them.

Jaz: Right, but does not necessarily then automatically lead to you being instantly better off.

Lulav: Oh no. There's a difference between the organismic and species levels of how you look at things and like, definitely the people who make the numbers in their bank account go up are materially better off when they suck workers dry or crash pensioners' retirement funds or whatever. They have more money. They might have a better life on the whole, but what's important is that everybody has an okay life.

Jaz: Uh huh. Shocker.

Lulav: Yeah, right. And also that it might not be right now, but at some point as we have read again and again across Torah, those who self-aggrandise will be brought low.

Jaz: Okay, question for you.

Lulav: Yes?

Jaz: Because there's stuff that feels to me very hierarchical here about G-d just being like, "well I'm above you and--

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: "I'm right and I'm in the heavens and you're on earth and also rain just falls down, it doesn't go back up again", but like that's not true, like even to the point of we live in a world where evaporation exists and that's why it continues to rain.

Lulav: Right.

Jaz: So how do you, I guess, square the ideas of everything that's happening here, of G-d is sort of justifying this by saying well it's just because I'm better than you and things just go downwards even though that we know in reality things don't just go downwards, like you were saying--

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: They work in complex systems.

Lulav: So I think this is where a perspective of Hashem that is less like, you know, Elohim HaMelech, the explicit hierarchical king of everything who is a fairly unified entity, instead of thinking of it like that, thinking of it as right action towards others and the system of the world gives you a better reading here because instead of just like, (British accent) oh I'm so far above you, you could never comprehend the levels that I'm operating on, it's like,-- 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Hashem is the way in which we work with each other for something greater than ourselves. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: The ways in which we think not just on the primary level, but the quaternary and… quintery?. We think on really deep levels, right? (laughs) 

Jaz: Sure. It’s maybe like in Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown--

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: She talks about organizing strategies and how among many other things, were moving more towards not leaderless exactly, but leaderful (Lulav chuckles) and kind of leaderless organizing that's more fractal in nature of like, people taking a thing and replicating it and replicating it and replicating it and making it a little different in each place so that you are not dependant on like, you have one leader and you like, survive or fail by that one leader. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: But you have lots of little leaders who, together, take things and make them work and so if you see G-d in that fractal sense, then there is maybe something there about the like, this is too complex for any individual one person to do. How could you possibly understand and comprehend all of it?

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Like youre saying, when you get to that element of like, how could you hope to comprehend it and also thinking about how like, things move and flow and G-d is like, the power behind that. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: I will also say I tried to read Emergent Strategy, which I recommend as a book but not in the way that I read it. 

Lulav: Uh oh. 

Jaz: Because I tried to read it the way that I generally read books which is like, all at once in order and it's really not meant to be read that way, it's really much better if you like, kept it on a shelf and read like, a piece of it occasionally-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Or like turned to a bit that felt relevant to you on a particular day and read that portion rather than like, trying to read it all straight through and learn it that way because it is much like, it talks about (Lulav giggles) a pretty, like, fractal-- 

Lulav: Decentralized?

Jaz: Book. 

Lulav: Book? Yeah. 

Jaz: Yeah. So she has other books that you can read a little bit more like, straightforward books. It's my understanding that like, Pleasure Activism, one of her other books, is a little bit more straightforward though I haven't read it all yet but this one is a little bit more unusual structurally (Lulav giggles) which is cool, again, recommend it, just not-- 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: The way I approached it. 

Lulav: Right. So when it's saying "as the Heavens are high above the earth, so are my ways high above your ways, and my plans above your plans'', it's just like, go for the bigger picture. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: It's not about just you, it's about everyone. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Then we come to a bit about who should be considered part of a society, part of the people who reap the bounty of treating each other well. Jaz, do converts and infertile people get kicked out just because they aren't Jewish babies making more Jewish babies?

Jaz: No! 

Lulav: Oh! Tell me more about that. Are you saying Hashem will gather still more to those already gathered?

Jaz: This is very sweet though actually because it's not even just like, you can't kick out those people; if you are feeling bad about yourself, don't do that! 

Lulav: Yeah, if you are Jewish and you chose that you don't say, "oh Hashem will keep me apart from the people", and if you are “a eunuch”, you don't just say, "I am a withered tree who is not part of society even a little bit because I can't make more humans with my body", like, you're part of the community. 

Jaz: And important. 

Lulav: You have chosen it and your wisdoms and your work and your very existence is part of that community. 

Jaz: There's this very sweet thing that's like, "I will give them in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons or daughters, I will give them an everlasting name which shall not perish", and we were talking before at different points about how your name is really important and your name is yourself and your name is memory and my students recently celebrated a lot of their learning from this year and so we were talking about our naming unit again which we did pretty early on in the year and revisiting it--

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And they were at the ceremony with their families and some of their families were talking about how like, yeah we named our child after an elderly relative like a great great aunt or something and theres this idea that your name is part of what connects you to other people-- 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: And a student was saying, "yeah, and a name is how people say that they're talking to you specifically rather than somebody else". 

Lulav: (giggles) Yeah. 

Jaz: So anyway, there's just something beautiful in this idea that children are not the only way that you get to be part of something, just existing-- 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: As the person you are is being part of something. 

Lulav: Yeah. I'm thinking of who I consider important to like, my sense of Jewish community. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: You are a Twersky. 

Jaz: I am. 

Lulav: You are descended from the rabbi of Chernobyl and you have more generations than I can count by like a factor of two or three, making you part of Jewish culture and I respect that and think that's really cool. So you're like Jaz Twersky who has wisdoms that I find very important and also I think of Khesed who is a Bein-Evans.There aren't other Bein-Evanim. (Jaz giggles) They converted and they chose to be part of Judaism from not being part of it and I really respect their wisdoms and think that their work for justice and Jewish living are very inspiring. So like, both of you, though from different backgrounds, are everlasting names in my heart. (chuckles) 

Jaz: Aww. 

Lulav: And also on my dad’s side, neither of my aunts have children--

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: But they’re very important to me. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: My cousin Marcella didn't have children but she's keeping me alive. May her memory be a blessing. 

Jaz: Yeah, and I also want to own that like, because this is important to me too that like, I'm a Twersky and that's important to me and also there's lots of other Twerskys in the world (Lulav giggles) and I'm not just a Twersky, right? Like, I have my other side of the family. 

Lulav: You're a Blair.

Jaz: Right, my name is Jaz Blair Twersky and that matters to me too, and my other side of the family is not a dynasty in the same way (Lulav laughs) but is equally important to who I am as a person. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: So our names hold complexity within ourselves. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And also like for those of us who have chosen our own names to be like, your name is everlasting and that's how you have your spot, basically. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Is I think like, a beautiful thing to some extent, although I'm still thinking about it a little bit because we've all had friends who are early in their transition and they're like, "well, my old name I don’t think is my name anymore but I don't know what my new one is".

Lulav: (giggles) Been there. (laughs) 

Jaz: And this wasn't a particular step that I went through in exactly the same way, though it is one that I went through with my Hebrew name. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And also there's a book that I was just discussing with my chevruta called The Year Without A Name. 

Lulav: Oooh. 

Jaz: Someone's writing about that experience I think, among some other things, but that was really provocative for me, you know? Or I have had friends who changed names several times, sometimes in different directions as they figured out different things. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Um, so I'm thinking about the ways that a name can be both like, everlasting and kind of malleable. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: So. 

Lulav: That's cool. Names good actually. (Jaz chuckles) Uhm, and that's basically the end of the parsha is, "thus declared Hashem who gathers the dispersed of Yisrael, I will gather still more to those already gathered", so this seems like a really great part of Yeshayahu to quote at anybody who's like, "oh converts aren't real Jews". 

Jaz: Yeah. It's very sweet. I think the thing that people often quote is a bit about like, it says here you shouldn't shame a convert but I don't see people do this one very often about how it's even beyond that, you know? It's very important, even if you're just thinking about your own experience that you not shame yourself, basically. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Is what they're positing and you know, sometimes you see those awful like, Twitter fights that people get into and they're like, "well, they were not part of us originally and so they should be thinking critically about if they're really doing stuff for the right reasons of if they really qualify", and all those arguments about like, well are you ethnically Jewish or whatever and like, if you're converting you're not supposed to worry about any of that. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Don’t worry about it. If you're being terrible to other people based on those reasons you are incorrect. You are doing the incorrect thing.

Lulav: (chuckles) So Jaz, I want to go to Rating G-d’s Writing-- 

Jaz: Good. 

Lulav: A segment in which we reach out our plans to the heavens and mix metaphors. Jaz, there's the troposphere which is where like, all weather occurs and-- 

Jaz: Oh no. 

Lulav: There's a lot of convection going on in Earth's atmosphere, and then the stratosphere is a bunch of levels of air on top of each other--

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: That don’t intermix very much. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So holding that in your mind and knowing that the troposphere goes up about 6.2 miles-- 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Above sea level. 

Jaz: And this is the one that does mix?

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Where all weather is happening, like, when you see clouds, those are in the troposphere. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So with that in mind, how high are the plans in this parsha? And tell me a little bit about what's happening at that height. 

Jaz: Great, okay. So I guess they're in the troposphere, not-- 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Higher than that. They're not too high because then they'd be disconnected from people's actual reality. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And instead there's like the messiness of a bunch of things mixing together and also creating some beautiful shapes as they do so and sometimes there's storm and sometimes there's fog and sometimes there's all of those things happening. 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: So we're hanging out there and the weather can change around us and sometimes it can be like clear skies and sometimes other things. 

Lulav: Cool. So are you thinking like 2 miles maybe?

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: (laughs) That's amazing. 

Jaz: Lulav, this says "a monument and a name within my house and within my walls". 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: So what does the monument look like for this haftarah?

Lulav: The monument is ceramics that we eat cereal out of (Jaz laughs) or that we like, put in the microwave and reheat stuff and sometimes we break the ceramics and that's okay because we still remember our favourite bowl that we accidentally dropped that one time or that came apart when we heated and cooled it too quickly, like things don't have to last forever to last forever. 

Jaz: Mmmm. 

Lulav: Does that make sense?

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Like when we talk about having eternal names, there is nothing you can do that will make you remembered in a billion years. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: There's probably nothing that you can do that will make you remembered in 10,000 years, but you can help form the people who are alive right now, help grow groves of carob trees that won't be fruiting for 70 years. You can make sure that the future is a better future because you existed and I think that's the monument. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: So if we're going for a literal monument, it's flatware and bowls. (chuckles) 

Jaz: I like that. That’s beautiful. 

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

Jaz: I can.

Lulav: Baruch Hashem, for we don't just start an episode over again, we soak the earth and make it bring forth credits. (both laugh)

Jaz: Thanks for listening to Kosher Queers. If you like what you've heard, you can support us on Patreon at, which will give you bonus content and help us keep making this for you. Also, if you can't commit to ongoing support but would still like to contribute, you can give to our Ko-fi, which is at Find out more information about our podcast, including bios for our team and links to our social media, at Also, please spread the word about Kosher Queers! Our artwork is by the talented Lior Gross, our music is courtesy of the fabulous band Brivele, whose work you can buy on Bandcamp and on their website for their new album which I don't know if is available on andcamp yet.

Lulav: Is there a different website?

Jaz: They do have a website, it's like or something?

Lulav: Oh yeah, they have a website! It’s got a store in it which is literally just a merch page of the bandcamp, okay.

Jaz: Yeah! Anyway so you can go check them out in either place. Also, our sound production this week is done by our excellent audio editor, Ezra Faust.

Lulav: Big claps for him, frankly. Also, 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, 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 come find me in the detainment cell that I'm in because I was standing outside of your house all night whispering whatever the thing was and I got arrested.

Jaz: What?!

Lulav: Hey Jaz, can you come bail me out?

Jaz: Yes, please tell me that--

Lulav: It’s continuity from last week's credits where it was like, if you want to fight me I'll be outside your house or whatever.

Jaz: Oh, I forgot about that entirely.

Lulav: (laughs) Anyway, I recorded this audio on traditional lands of the Wahpékute Dakota.

Jaz: Have a lovely queer, Jewish day.

(Brivele outro music playing)

Lulav: This week's gender is: physiologically improbable hibernation

Jaz: This week's pronouns are: bear/bear/bears.