Kosher Queers

76 — Shemini: Populist Dancing

April 08, 2021 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow
Kosher Queers
76 — Shemini: Populist Dancing
Show Notes Transcript

This week, we discuss the holiness of workplace safety guidelines, the numerous possible interpretations of a woman with too little few lines on-page, deciding not to create a family with an incompatible partner, and suggestively dancing for G-d. 

Full transcript here.

We played five dimensional chess and you can too. Here's "Freedom" by Langston Hughes, which someone brought to our seder. Here's the thing where conservatives claimed monarchy was key to democracy. I thiiink the novel referenced in this episode that includes the retelling of David and Michal's story is The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks. 

This week's reading was  II Samuel 6:1–7:17. Next weeks' reading is II Kings 7:3-20.

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

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Lulav: (sighs) That was such a good Pesach episode, Jaz. I loved how we talked only about Passover and definitely not about Homestuck at all.

Jaz: Oh no. We inflicted horrors upon the world. 

Lulav: That is true. Wait, sorry what reality are we operating in?

Jaz: Hey! 

Lulav: Are you still holding up the April Fools joke?

Jaz: No! 

Lulav: Or-- no, okay. 

Jaz: Rude. 

Lulav: April Fools, everyone. This has not been and never again will be a Homestuck podcast. 

Jaz: My brain can barely operate on this level of reality. (Lulav laughs) Homestuck requires me to operate on like, five different levels of reality. 

Lulav: Speaking of, I'm really looking forward to our date on Thursday when we play five-dimensional chess. 

Jaz: Yeah! Is that your queer thing for the week?

Lulav: Well, I guess that’s my queer thing for the week-- 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: But I wanted to talk about how I just helped drive some food from one place to another and that was great. So last night, my friend Eileen texted me like, hey are you by any chance free tomorrow around noon? And we made plans for me to bring my car and we drop off some boxes that were from the university campus at hotels where unhoused people were living for now and the trade off was that because you and I have to record this episode immediately after-- 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Eileen would read the haftarah portion to me. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So it was great. On the way there we like, caught up in each other's lives. Apparently she is now maybe dating a guy who I was in a band with when I was 14. 

Jaz: That’s cute. 

Lulav: Because there are only like 20 people in the entire world. (laughs) 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: And probably sometime in May, we're all gonna get together and grill something in Eileen’s backyard, so I am really excited about that. 

Jaz: That's sweet. 

Lulav: Yeah, I liked doing something useful, talking about Tanakh and a proliferation of meanings with someone who isn't Jewish but has very good insights and cares about the text that she reads. 

Jaz: That's great. 

Lulav: Yeah. And that also gave me some important Christian-youth-group context on songs that have been derived from this week's haftorah portion. 

Jaz: Oh, fascinating. Okay. (Lulav laughs) Sure. 

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

Jaz: Mmm, well, Jewishly it was Passover this week and-- 

Lulav: Indeed

Jaz: I'm with my parents in Atlanta and everybody else at our seder was on Zoom and it was really lovely. My mother leads it, as she does every year and our bio dad was there with his girlfriend and he was playing the guitar and leading us in songs again and he does almost every year. My brother is at college and he was there with a couple other people from college. 

Lulav: His roommates, right?

Jaz: No, David Nathan doesn't live with them but he is like--

Lulav: Ohhh. 

Jaz: In a bubble with them. 

Lulav: Okay, gotcha.

Jaz: One of whom we all know and love and the other of whom is kind of new to the rest of us. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Anyway, there were a handful of other people there, you included. 

Lulav: Yeah, I had a lot of fun. 

Jaz: And it was really lovely. Passover’s a very important holiday to me and it's a good family holiday and we were cooking and preparing for it for a lot of the day--

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: And I really enjoyed myself and also felt like we captured the spirit of it about as much as you could do over Zoom. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: It still felt like Passover, even if a little bit shorter. 

Lulav: What was your favorite part of the order of events?

Jaz: Oh, I don't know. That’s hard to say. 

Lulav: Cuz like, obviously the whole experience is really good, but if you had to single out like, “ah, this was a really good example of Passover.” 

Jaz: No, you go first. 

Lulav: Okay. I really liked how your mom suggested that instead of reading out of a haggadah or whatever we go around and just like, improv tell the story of Passover. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And I was wilding a little bit because it started with Avraham. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: And yeah, that was just great, like it jumped from person to person and we all had our particular things that we cared about (laughs) and it felt good; felt organic. 

Jaz: It was really nice. We had never done it that way before but Mama was saying afterwards, “I've never really found a good way of telling the story, like we've read it from the haggadah but the haggadah’s a little, like, stiff-sounding and stuff and—” 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: We had a kid’s haggadah but we don't want to use quite that one now that everybody at our seder is an adult and we also don't love just having one person do it so-- 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: This was really nice. We might do it again when we're in person. Might be a thing we take from COVID times into the rest of our lives. 

Lulav: Yeah, that's wonderful. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Okay, so what was your favorite part?

Jaz: I liked that everybody was told to do a little bit of pre-work and so everybody came to the seder and brought either a poem or their own meditation upon the idea of freedom, and so we got to hear some beautiful poetry and quotes and also different people’s thoughts about what freedom meant to them, ranging-- 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Really all over the place, and I really liked hearing all of them and felt that it gave us a really good way to connect and make it very personal as well as ritually infused. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. David Nathan had a reference to Frantz Fanon which was pretty cool. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: (laughs) In this house, we love Fanon.

Jaz: I also really loved the Langston Hughes poem which someone brought.

Lulav: Yeah, that was a good one. 

Jaz: Yeah, so. One person brought a piece from Edward Snowden about privacy (Lulav giggles) that my parents and I were able to have a really good conversation about afterwards which I really enjoyed. I thought it was provocative in that way, and I would never-- 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Have thought about freedom as privacy or privacy as freedom in that particular context related to Passover--

Lulav: Hm! 

Jaz: Had it not been brought up, so I particularly enjoyed it. 

Lulav: Yeah. It was a really good seder. 10/10, would do again. 

Jaz: Good. Lulav, are you ready to go into the episode?

Lulav: I surely am. 

[Brivele intro]

Lulav: Welcome to Kosher Queers, a podcast with at least two Jews and generally more than three opinions. Each week we bring you queer takes on Torah. They're Jaz-- 

Jaz: And she's Lulav-- 

Lulav: And we're here to joke about Judaism and talk Tanakh together. Today, our chevruta is learning the haftarah of Shemini, which is II Samuel 6:1-7:17. 

Jaz: That is correct. 

Lulav: (laughs) And also the Sephardi reading is shorter. They stop at II Shmuel 6:19, so it'll be interesting to see what that adds or subtracts with the story. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Jaz, do you remember parashat Shemini?

Jaz: I sure do. 

Lulav: How long would you like to relate it to me?

Jaz: Well, I didn’t time this but it looks long so I'm gonna say 75 seconds. 

Lulav: Okay. Three, two, one, go. 

Jaz: Moses and Aaron told the people to bring animal sacrifices, and they did, and Aaron dramatically ritually slaughtered the animals in front of everybody, one animal at a time, with his sons passing him things, mostly blood. Then those brothers blessed all the people and fire came from G-d and burnt up all the offerings and all the people were like, whoa! Aaron’s kids, Nadab and Abihu, were like “that seems cool” and also tried to offer up some stuff (incense, in their case) but G-d hadn’t asked for that and was… incensed. 

Lulav: Ayy. 

Jaz: Anyway, G-d burned up this younger set of siblings. Moses was kinda rude about it to Aaron, and no one in the immediate family was allowed to mourn for them publicly, in case G-d was upset, though other people could. Then G-d gave instructions directly to Aaron, which included no apologies for killing his kids, but did include instructions about not being drunk in office and distinguishing between different states of being. Moses gave Aaron’s other children more instructions about where they should eat sacred food, and learned that they had already burned a particular offering instead of eating it where he said, and was unhappy. Then G-d gives Moses a bunch of kashrut instructions: gotta have hooves, no pigs, no scavengers, no water-dwelling bottom-feeders, no insects, no dishes that have had dead reptiles or gross water in them, etc, because your body is a temple. Done. 

[timer goes off]

Lulav: Oh, perfect timing. You said "body is a temple" right as the timer went off and, mmm. Beautiful. Poetry. (Jaz laughs) And that includes the time that you paused for a pun. (laughs) 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: So how does that relate to this haftarah? I could think of a couple ways, but I want to hear what you're bringing to the table. 

Jaz: Okay, I'm curious to hear yours also but I think there's stuff here about powerful leaders passing leadership to their children-- 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: Or not passing leadership to their children. 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: There's stuff here about how to treat the place where G-d lives--

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And what happens when you don't do that. In this one, Nadab and Abihu die and there is another one in which another person directly related to the leader stumbles when taking the ark and-- 

Lulav: Mm, yeah. 

Jaz: Also gets punished for it for similarly what feels like a pretty small transgression. 

Lulav: Good insight. Those are all really good connections. 

Jaz: Thank you. So those are most of them I think, that I'm noticing. 

Lulav: Yeah, that's really fair. The really salient thing for me is, you know, Simon Says, where Hashem says that you have to do things a certain way and if you do them a different way, that's bad. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: I had thought without having re-read parashat Shemini that this might have been one where it talked about who exactly is allowed to touch the Ark. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: But it wasn't and I guess that's still makes sense because you talked about how you're supposed to treat the place where Hashem is housed-- 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: For ritual purposes. So yeah, do you want me to get into where this fits in and what it is?

Jaz: Yeah, go for it. 

Lulav: Okay, so this is the first of two readings that we do from Shmuel Bet, or II Samuel, or it might be Shmuel Shtayim if you're supposed to read the bet as a two, I don't know. Point is, the whole book starts off with Shaul has recently died and there's a succession crisis where David is like, clearly the appointed successor but there is also a child of Shaul who is installed as the king, and so the first five chapters are figuring all that out, the two factions fighting back and forth, a defection from the general of the Shaulite faction, and we basically end those with David installed in Yerushalayim as the king of Yisrael. 

Jaz: Yes. Because we started the year talking about David and Jonathan and because Michal comes up in this haftarah, do you want to talk about how these people relate?

Lulav: Absolutely. So one of the things that happens at the very beginning of this book is Yehonatan died at the same time as Shaul, like in the same battle. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And so David has this huge mourning song about his boyfriend. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Who's also his brother-in-law; it's a little weird. (laughs) Um. 

Jaz: Okay but he's also his brother-in-law because he married Jonathan's sister, Michal. 

Lulav: Right, because that's what sets up the political alliance. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: And as we see in this chapter, Michal is not a huge fan of David. 

Jaz: Well, I think she was at one point. 

Lulav: At one point, sure, but yeah they just have different priorities and she hasn't borne him any children to this point where, I will note, he has had a lot of children. Like, Shlomo is alive at this point in the story but not like, an adult. It's important to keep in mind who Shlomo is, this is King Solomon who comes immediately after David. 

Jaz: Right, who is mentioned in here but not by name. 

Lulav: Oh, yeah. And he's the one who’s going to build the temple--

Jaz: He sure is. 

Lulav: Which is how we get from traveling through the wilderness with a tent that contains the Holy of Holies to a solid, stationary building that contains the Holy of Holies. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: So we start this haftarah portion with an assembly of all the picked men, the warriors, and this is after they've done a big campaign against the Philistines and they are celebrating. They're bringing forth the Ark of the Covenant from where it currently is and David is trying to bring it into his house, like the palace that he's built in Yerushalayim. So they load up the Ark of the Covenant on a cart and they're bringing it in a caravan, basically. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Avinadav is the guy who's holding onto the ark of the covenant up until that point. 

Jaz: Yes, do you know who Avinadav is?

Lulav: Is he like the leader of the forces for... 

Jaz: So, I could be wrong cuz there's like a few different characters called Avinadav-- 

Lulav: Oh, are there?

Jaz: Right, so this is the name both of one of David's older brothers, 

Lulav: Oh! 

Jaz: And also maybe in this case an unrelated dude who's been holding onto the Ark who otherwise never comes up. 

Lulav: And apparently one of the Avinadavim is King Shaul’s son?

Jaz: Right. I think this is supposed to be an unrelated dude, though it makes more sense to me as David's older brother, so who knows. 

Lulav: (giggles) There are a lot of dudes this could be. He's probably not all of them at once, but. So yeah, this is an important dude who has the same name as David’s brother and Shaul’s sons and his two sons are guiding the cart and they're all dancing and they've got like a drum circle, all kinds of woodwinds, lyres, harps, timbrels, sistrum and cymbals but one of the oxen stumbles and the cart jostled and the Ark of the Covenant is about to fall out and so one of the sons of Avinadav just reaches up and is like, “woah, wha-- stay on the cart”. And then he gets struck down because this is an indiscretion. 

Jaz: Which is such a funny translation choice. 

Lulav: Oh?

Jaz: Cuz it's like, for an indiscretion it makes it sound like he was stepping out on his partner and flirting with somebody at the club (Lulav laughs) but it was the Ark of the Covenant that he had touched and wasn't supposed to. 

Lulav: Yeah, and I can't tell if this is like, he literally kept it from falling off of the cart and that is for some reason an indiscretion, or if he was like, “Oh it's probably not gonna fall but I'm gonna be super careful and touch it anyway.” 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Which would have been more of an indiscretion. 

Jaz: I guess. 

Lulav: Yeah, I don't know. It also could be that what actually happened is the Ark wobbled off of the cart and he was like, “Oh no,” and tried to prop it up but the ark just fell on him and killed him instantly (Jaz laughs) and the discretion is like, not following workplace safety regulations. 

Jaz: Mmm. I will note that the word they're translating as indiscretion I think is just "shal" which, I don’t have my BDB, like I don't have my proper dictionary for this-- 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: In front of me but Jastrow says it's like, maybe error or fault but the meaning is ultimately kind of uncertain so just to add that as context. 

Lulav: Yeah. His whoopsie. 

Jaz: Yeah. Yeah. (Lulav laughs) I like the idea that it's a violation of workplace safety. 

Lulav: I'm so glad. Yeah, so David is like, oh dang. A guy touched the ark and died instantly, how could I bring this into my house? And so he's like, hey who's gonna take this? Uh... Oved-Edom, here, you take it. 

Jaz: Yeah, although before he does that he names the place after Uzzah--

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: But names it like, Broken Uzzah which is a hell of a name. 

Lulav: (laughs) That's amazing. 

Jaz: The word there is "peretz", peh, reish, tzadi. 

Lulav: Oooh, yeah. Like breach. Oh, okay, had inflicted a breach upon Uzzah. Okay that makes sense. Broken Uzzah, oh no. Rest in peace to a real one. (Jaz groans, Lulav laughs) He diverts it to this guy's place and— the word "oved", that's like work right?

Jaz: Oh-- 

Lulav: Or to do?

Jaz: Um. 

Lulav: Or to do, to work?

Jaz: Yes, it is. 

Lulav: And then the latter half of that name is "edom" which is like the red place. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Do you feel like there's any significance to his name being like, “red work”?

Jaz: I don't think that's what his name is. I think it's like, “Edomite Slave”. 

Lulav: Okay. That makes sense, actually. Also he's from Giti? That's just a lot of place names to fit on one dude. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So the ark remains in the house of this Edomite slave who's also from Giti and it turns out that he actually gets blessed by Hashem. This fact is reported to David and David's like, oh okay I gotta take this now. Like, what a fickle guy. When there's the slightest hint of trouble he gives it up to a random dude-- 

Jaz: Okay, the slightest hint of trouble: his nibling was killed for seemingly no reason!

Lulav: Yeah, but. (sighs) Look, if you start off like, I want to bring this to a place of honor, you should keep bringing it to a place of honor unless you hear otherwise. 

Jaz: Hmmm. 

Lulav: But it looks really self-interested if you're bringing it to a place of honor in your own house, and then you desist from that as soon as it looks like it could be dangerous and then you re-sist it as soon as it looks like it's beneficial. 

Jaz: I guess. There's arguments to be made here, I think that he has a fairly unstable country right now and-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Rather than taking this very powerful-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Thing to the seat of government he’s like, maybe it can chill here for a little bit and we’ll come back for it later once things have like, settled down for a little bit and then he's like, okay it’s been doing fine there, we've had some time, let's come back for it. 

Lulav: Uh huh. (laughs) Yeah. And it certainly does seem the way that he's celebrating it like it isn't just self-interest, he actually cares about where this thing ends up. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Because there's the same rejoicing as he brings it up from the house of Oved-Edom to Yerushalayim and not only that but he's like, whirling with all his might, just spinning real fast. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: And it says that he was hurt with the linen ephod. 

Jaz: Yes, what does that mean to you? You seem very charmed by it. 

Lulav: Okay so have you ever seen a football player?

Jaz: Y— yes?

Lulav: And like, after a particularly hard practice they go to a cafeteria to eat with all their bros?

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: And it's summer so it's really hot out which means that instead of wearing an actual shirt they're wearing like, a loose t-shirt that has had the sleeves cut off all the way down so you can like, see both of his nipples at once. It's like, barely a shirt. 

Jaz: 'Kay. 

Lulav: That's what this sounds like to me cuz where we've heard of an ephod previously is just like, it's basically a top. Like a light linen top. 

Jaz: Okay. David is dancing scantily clad at the club. 

Lulav: Yeah. He's scantily clad and just like, whirling around in this really simple piece of fabric and also, we're not sure if he's wearing pants so probably he's exposing himself a little bit with how hard he's whirling. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So that's a whole thing, but you-- you got all these shouts and blasts of the horn, everybody’s partying, nobody really notices except for-- 

Jaz: Oh, I don't think the implication is that nobody notices. 

Lulav: That’s fair. David's first wife definitely notices. 

Jaz: And her whole critique is everybody else noticed too. 

Lulav: (laughs) Uh huh. So it says that she despised him for his leaping and whirling before Hashem. 

Jaz: It's so funny. 

Lulav: It like, lets that simmer for a little bit while it talks about how they finished the sacrifices and not only is this like blessing Hashem with an installment of the ark, it's also a blessing to the people. Everybody who comes I guess, gets a bread basket. 

Jaz: Awe. 

Lulav: A loaf of bread, a pancake and a raisin cake. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So this is a big happening of popular philanthropy. 

Jaz: I don't know if it's philanthropy or if it's the state. 

Lulav: Yeah, what's the word that I want?

Jaz: When the state gives people things?

Lulav: Yeah, is there a better word for that?

Jaz: Decently functioning government?

Lulav: Well I don't know about that because this is a one-time expenditure of a gift basket. 

Jaz: That’s fair. I don't know that there is a word for that specifically. 

Lulav: Bribes? (laughs) 

Jaz: I was gonna know more, it's like a very “bread and circuses” type of deal. 

Lulav: Yeah. They've got the circenses so now they need the panem. So yeah, David comes off of this high and goes home to greet his household and his first wife Michal who's had this like, despisement simmering the entire time is like, huh! Didn't you do yourself honor today? Exposing yourself in the sight of the slave girls of the subjects as one of the riff-raff might expose himself. What does it seem like her objection is here to you?

Jaz: He's naked in front of other people. 

Lulav: Okay, do you think this is jealousy or disappointment with a lack of decorum?

Jaz: I remember reading a book written from Michal’s point of view--

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: Some number of years back. Like a fiction book that I enjoyed in which he was definitely in love with Jonathan, and Jonathan with him and Michal knew it and also she was in love with him and my recollection is that that book chose to portray it very much as a jealousy deal, as a like, not even now that my brother is gone do I get to have my husband, instead he would rather be with the hordes of random people. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And so I feel like there's something in there, but I think you could also make an argument that what's going on for her is that like, she was the claim to power initially because David married--

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Into the royal family and she grew up being the one with access to power and David isn't acting like a person with power has been supposed to act and so all the things she learned growing up, he's not valuing. 

Lulav: Yeah, and he's just out here spinning in his post-practice football tee. 

Jaz: Right, with ordinary people and she's like the thing that I have to offer is specifically that I'm not-- 

Lulav: Mmmm. Mm hmm. 

Jaz: All of the other people and now like, my family’s out of power, the thing that keeps me safe is my husband and if he wants something entirely different than what I have been raised to be--

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: You know, I think there is almost a sense here of fear. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. So I'm just gonna run down a couple of readings here. 

Jaz: 'Kay. 

Lulav: There's that reading of like, Michal has training in how to comport oneself as a noble and Davids doing his whole populism thing which, yeah, she's afraid because its a totally new thing and it means that he doesnt need her as much or isn't caring about the insights that she has to offer as much, so there's that reading. There's also a reading of jealousy. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: There's a potential where she's talking because she's jealous and he interprets it as, oh you think I'm acting without decorum well I will be even more undignified than this. 

Jaz: Oh funny. That's not how I would read his response at all. 

Lulav: Really? Okay, go ahead. 

Jaz: I mean a little bit but not in response to decorum so much. I read his response as through jealousy lens-- 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: As in he's responding to it as jealous even if that wasn't what she was going for, though I do think it's what she's going for. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Because if the thing she says is you're gonna do it before the riff-raff and also everybody else is going to look and then also phrases it as and then everybody else is gonna look down on you as I'm looking down on you for like--

Lulav: Mm. 

Jaz: Being slutty with the riff-raff and he is over here and is like well, they seemed very into it. 

Lulav: What if I get even sluttier and the riff-raff will like me even more?

Jaz: Yeah! That is what he says!

Lulav: So that's how you're reading that?

Jaz: Yeah! 

Lulav: Okay. Yeah, I was reading it the exact opposite which is that like, listen, this isn't the Lord of only the nobles. This isn't the Lord of sitting still and keeping your hands to yourself. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: This is the Lord of life. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: And so I'm going to dance before that god and dishonor myself even more than I am already “dishonoring myself.” 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: And it's specifically for Hashem; I'm not doing this dance for the slave girls. 

Jaz: Yeah, but I think those things are compatible. They feel compatible to me. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: To be able to say sexuality and dancing or whatever-- 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: Is what I'm doing, is my new type of leadership, is fine, isn't new and different way of worship and the people are gonna love me for it and you saying that they won't because of your standards means that you don't value the way that they actually are and I do. 

Lulav: Oh and that's another thing is the possibility that this is like, specifically a populist dance. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: It's not just that he is dancing because of his own connection with how cool existence is, but specifically because he wants to put on a show for how others will address Hashem. 

Jaz: Right, and also it feels significant in that way that she comes from nobility but he doesn't. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: He comes from a shepherding family. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Like he might have grown up with people like that. 

Lulav: I will note that shepherds are like owners of capital, right?

Jaz: Depending on how much money they have. 

Lulav: Fair.  But yeah, I would interpret that more as middle class than poor. 

Jaz: Sure. I hear that. But she grew up in the palace, like she's the highest of high. 

Lulav: Uh huh. (laughs) 

Jaz: This is the difference I think between being okay yes, a small shopkeeper is technically an owner of capital. That's not untrue, like they are not in the lowest rung of society but you put like, hey I am the son of a small shopkeeper and I am the president's daughter-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And you’re like, well. (both laugh) We're just different echelons here. 

Lulav: I bet she hasn't even seen a sheep! (laughs) So yeah, what I wanted to do by getting into all the possible readings is to like, gather them all up in my arms and just give them a big hug because they're all like, relevant to understanding what could possibly be going on here. 

Jaz: Yeah. I think there's lots of good possibilities there. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. Oh and you know, one other thing that I want to mention as a good possibility is that if you're going with the reading that she just thinks he's being really silly and she’s like, “Dude don't expose yourself in front of everybody” and he's like, “Well I will expose myself in my football bro shirt,” and then the final line of this chapter is that to her dying day, Michal had no children. Like, if you divorce it from the context in which it was written, that's hilarious and really good for her. Like yeah girl, you don't need to bear the children of a dude who you are ashamed of. 

Jaz: Right. It sort of goes either way depending on how you want to read it, either of them could have made that decision and either way you could kinda go like, (Lulav laughs) okay yeah, good for them. 

Lulav: Yeah, like, it sucks being the child of parents who hate each other so the fact that at least in this huge dysfunctional family there weren't specifically ones where Michal and David hated each other that much. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: That seems like an okay outcome. 

Jaz: It also has the side consequence of being like, the child who inherits and even as they were squabbling over which children would inherit-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Wasn't going to be from Saul’s line, like they were already stepping away from-- 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: That particular hereditary line. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Which does fill in some of the idea that it's not just about the royal family, right?

Lulav: Mm hmm. And honestly, I think a thesis of the entire books of Nevi'im, is that royalty is a bad idea. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Hereditary monarchy? The worst possible idea. (laughs)

Jaz: Yeah. Did you see the hilarious article headline the other day that was like, "Americans are talking about getting rid of the British monarchy and thereby, undermining the institution of democracy", and it's like-- 

Lulav: What?

Jaz: I don't- I don't--

Lulav: That's not-- 

Jaz: What. (both laugh) What?

Lulav: What do you think democracy is?

Jaz: What do you think words mean?

Lulav: (laughs) Um, oh there was also some British rag that put out an article about how George Floyd Square is an example of the abject failure of defunding the police and like, a) no one asked you, go back to terf hell and b) we didn't defund the police, we gave them more money in Minneapolis, and c) that's not even an accurate report of what-all is happening, and d) why is Twitter boosting this in its like, “hey check out this news story” stuff. Like, I got a push notification for that. 

Jaz: That's terrible. Alright what happens next in our story?

Lulav: Right, sorry that was quite the digression. So we're in chapter 7- oh and I just want to note that the Sephardi story ends before Michal gets jealous. 

Jaz: I really like the character of Michal. I would really like to see more interpretive work there. I think that there are again lots of fun different kinds of stories to be told with Michal. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Some of which she's the sympathetic protagonist, some of which she is the decidedly unsympathetic protagonist, I just think there's more stuff to be done with her. 

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah. 

Jaz: She's undervalued. 

Lulav: So we completely move on from Michal here. No more Michal in the rest of the haftarah, speaking of underdevelopment, and David settles into the palace and he's like Natan, Natan, my guy. I know I just got back from populist dancing but (sighs) do you notice how I'm living in a house of cedar just like this whole palace, and the ark of the lord is just in a tent? And Natan is like, I like where you're going with this. Go do whatever it is. Hashem is with you. And then that night we get the next round in the game Simon Says because Hashem says to Natan that he needs to tell David “Hey, are you the one who's gonna build me a house? That doesn't sound right. You know this. From the day that I brought everybody out of Mitzrayim, up to this point I have never been in a house. I have always been in a tent, like, the tent that I told people to make in Shemot and did I ever complain about it when any of the people who were taking care of the tent were taking care of it? No! I didn't ask for a house of cedar, and beyond that, I've been in this tent the whole time and have cut down all of your enemies before you. You have been blessed. It's not on you to build me a house. I will establish a house for my people who wrestle with me and yeah, evil men shall not oppress them.” Okay, and then it moves on to another part of this message which is when your days are done, I will raise up your offspring and establish his kingship. He’ll build a house. (chuckles) 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: So this seems like a really wild transition from I've never needed a house. Houses? No. Only tents. But I will have a house. It's just not yours. 

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: What does that say to you?

Jaz: Well, so this was really fascinating to me-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Partially because I had to go double check some time skills to make sure I got the order right. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Because I was kind of always vaguely under the impression that David didn't even think about building the Temple until he was older and more-- 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: Established and at that point G-d said, you can't build me a Temple. There was that whole deal with Batsheva. We're going to wait for somebody else, somebody more suitable. 

Lulav: Interesting. 

Jaz: But Batsheva hasn't happened yet, she's not going to happen for years. 

Lulav: No wait, she has happened because Shlomo is alive. 

Jaz: What?

Lulav: He's the child of Batsheva. 

Jaz: No. Wait. 

Lulav: I think what's happening is that Shmuel Shtayim talks about things more zoomed out, like David has been in exile in Hevron and has finally conquered Yerushalayim. 

Jaz: Are you sure that Shlomo’s is alive?

Lulav: Yes because these are the names of the children born to him in Yerushalayim: Shammuah, Shavav, Natan and Shlomo. 

Jaz: Yes but I don't think he's born yet. I think that those are like the ones who eventually were born.

Lulav: Oh. 

Jaz: But I don't think he's actually alive yet. 

Lulav: Okay so what that's saying is that after he left Hevron he took on more concubines and wives and here's who all of them will be, but we're not gonna talk about that yet, we're back with the Philistines. 

Jaz: Because I think we don't get Batsheva until- we're in chapter like, 7 now, and I think we get her story in chapter 11. 

Lulav: Oh, chapter 11 of II Shmuel?

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: Okay. Yeah, so I don't know what tense this is supposed to be in, like if this is here's an overview for what's going to happen or if this is yeah, this happened in this time and we'll zoom back in on that later? It's very confusing, you're right. (laughs) 

Jaz: So maybe it's more of a like, you're not suitable because you're the warrior king and Solomon isn't going to be that kind of king. He's going to be a different kind of king. 

Lulav: Right. And also there's a difference in how settled everything is, like Yerushalayim didn't exist as an Israelite city until just now or maybe a little bit later, cuz it does say City of David repeatedly in this chapter and doesn't mention the name Yerushalayim so this might be a different thing but it might be the same thing? Who knows. 

Jaz: Well okay, and the City of David is like a subset of Jerusalem. 

Lulav: Oh interesting. 

Jaz: Also I think that there's something interesting in this portion about G-d saying there was nothing wrong with moving around. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: There was nothing wrong with having no single place that is the G-d place. 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: I have a lot of quibbles with Reform Judaism, but I do think this is one of the idea they implemented in interesting ways-- 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Which is until Reform Judaism, no Jewish houses of worship outside of The Temple were called-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Were called a temple. 

Lulav: Which I think is  a good idea. 

Jaz: And they said we bring our temple wherever we are, wherever the Jewish people are is a temple. That is our place of worship and that is our like, holy congregation. 

Lulav: I dig it, but also I disagree. The specific quibble that I have is like, everywhere we go is a holy place, is a holy congregation, but it's not the temple and that's okay, whereas they are saying we bring out temple and that's okay. 

Jaz: Yeah, but I think it's an interesting idea to play with. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. For sure. 

Jaz: I don't know like the Jewish people in our history have lived in so many places and been in so many conditions and we've had so many different concepts of the idea of galut and exile and the idea that G-d is saying here so explicitly what? You think I can't live in exile? It's like a nice one. And then following that up with but I will have a house, of course, someday I will have a permanent dwelling and I like that too. I don't know, I've been here helping my parents move.

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: I like moving. I like the process of moving. I like helping people get settled and put all of the things together and I think there's really beautiful things about getting to start over and set up your new space so that it works for you and the person you are or the people you are if you're moving with other people, like theres real--

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Beauty and power in that and it's a reset and it's a form of self expression and takes thoughtfulness and care. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And going house hunting is like a whole deal. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And I also wouldn't want somebody who I had some info about-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Their questionable judgement to be picking out my house for me. 

Lulav: And also like somebody who wasn't born into that like, David was part of a decentralized Isrealite people and just because he's finally conquered a city and settled into the throne doesn't mean that he has the right taste for what would make, like a good house versus a good apartment. 

Jaz: Right. And there's also something to be said about like, you know people and you know what their strengths and skills are and it's not denigrating to say we need people who can dance and we need people who can decorate and those don't have to be the same people. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. So I want to just quickly rundown some different readings that weave together into a nice tapestry here. There is this was just kind of stitched on because they were like well, we need a temple so lets add on a part about how there will be a temple after a part about how you can just live in tents and it's fine. There is the reading where its different parts of the peoples lives, like, there's a nomadic part and you can live fine when everybody is spread out- or moving around alot and there is also a sedentary part and you can live fine when everybodies staying in the same place. In both cases there is a place for G-d. 

Jaz: The one last thing I would like to contribute-- 

Lulav: Yes please. 

Jaz: Is that I think there's also something there about you that thinks that G-d needs the same thing that you do, right?

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Like, David’s like “oh I live in a house of cedar” and I think there's real things there about people needing their sense of definity, of the universe, of whatever to work the way they work. 

Lulav: Mm. 

Jaz: Or other people, you know? It's like the almost inverse of like, hey I wanna celebrate my dogs birthday, like your dog will appreciate it if you give them extra things or whatever but your dog does not know that it's their birthday and doesn't care that it's their birthday, you know? Like-- 

Lulav: Uh huh. 

Jaz: You can do it but you have to recognize that that's for you and so when G-d is like, “You live in a house of cedar. Have I ever said that I wanted a house of cedar?”

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: It feels like a valuable thing, especially as like, then G-d is positioned so much later as like, not just the Israelites’ love partner but in particular David writes love psalms to G-d (Lulav giggle) like constantly, like so many of the psalms are attributed to David as a character-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And I do think there's something there of maybe you can love people a little better once you've like, not assumed that they're the same of you but actually taken the time to learn alot about the ways they are different from you and also special. 

Lulav: It is so hard to write a fitting love song because it needs to be not only the way that you conceive of your relationship with this person but also something that they would be okay with hearing as a conception of your relationship and if you get that second part wrong, that is quiet the wiff. (Jaz chuckles) You might make a good song, you're not necessarily making a good love song. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: Or in David's case a good psalm. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: That's for bringing that up. Uh-- 

Jaz: Would not know, cannot write songs. (Lulav giggles) I can do poetry sometimes. Songs are beyond my comprehension of writing. 

Lulav: So I think that basically brings us to the end of the haftarah. Really all this stuff that's left is talking about Shlomo and how like, I'll never withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from Shaul, like he might be chastised in mortal ways but not chastised in divine ways. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: And that's where the Ashkenazi reading ends. Jaz, I think it's time for Rating G-d’s Writing, in which uh... in which we figure out... mm... in which we rate things. (chuckles) 

Jaz: Sure. Okay Lulav, what kind of dancing would you rate this haftarah?

Lulav: I think it is a dancing where the unbifurcated garment that I am wearing is just spinning all the way up, like I'm having a great time, I don't care what anybody sees but I am also accidentally flashing the crowd. 

Jaz: (chuckles) Does that mean you liked it?

Lulav: I did. I'm not really sure- like I can't settle on a single intelligible reading. Really the only way for me to interpret this whole thing is to hold multiple potential not-quite-great readings all at once which is to say I am flashing the crowd but like also I'm having a great time. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And Jaz, would you put this haftarah in a house of tents or a house of cedar or something else?

Jaz: I'd put it in a house of tents. 

Lulav: Yeah?

Jaz: Because I really liked this haftarah. I thought it had a lot of different things going on with it but for me, like for you I felt like it had a lot of different potentials to go in a lot of different directions. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: It does not feel like our most settled reading and so I would put it in a place where it could embrace a lot of those potentials. 

Lulav: Yeah. After all, you can't dance without whirling. 

Jaz: You definitely can. 

Lulav: Or- well, without moving. You can't whirl dance without whirling. (laughs) 

Jaz: 'Kay. 'Kay. 

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

Jaz: Sure can. Thanks for listening to Kosher Queers! If you like what you’ve heard, you can support us on Patreon at, which will give you bonus content and help us keep making this for you. Also, if you can’t commit to ongoing support but would 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 find on Bandcamp. Go buy their albums, they're great. Our sound production this week is done by our excellent audio editor, Ezra Faust.
Lulav: Who, let me just say again, we could not do this without. We also couldn't make our project work without Jaz Twersky and Reuben Shachar Rose making sure every episode is fully transcribed. You can find a link to those transcripts in the episode descriptions, 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. So I am not at home for this episode so I'm on the indigenous lands of a different group of people than usual and I've been doing a lot of research and talking to my mother in particular about the indigenous people of this area. One of the lovely things for me about having our land acknowledgement at the end here is that it is a tangible prompt for me prompting me to do that kind of research whenever I go to a new place.

Lulav: Right.

Jaz: So the people here went by a number of different names partially because there were a number of different confederated groups here that had systems together--

Lulav: Mmh mm.

Jaz: And this was the area that was particularly targeted by the Trail of Tears so--

Lulav: Mmm.

Jaz: The Creek people were here, the Muskogee and those groups are existent groups to this day of course but many of them are in Oklahoma now because they were forcibly relocated.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: So it did prompt me to do a bunch more research on them, a lot of which is not as content that I think we have time for on the podcast but I will link some reading in our show notes.
Lulav: Oh cool. Thank you for that. I’m Lulav Arnow and you can find me @spacetrucksix on Twitter, or yell at me to finish editing the episode @palmliker! I recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Wahpékute Dakota. Have a lovely queer Jewish day.

[Brivele outro]

Lulav: This weeks gender is: prophylactic anti-migraine meds that allow you to eat tomatoes

Jaz: This weeks pronouns are: ze/zim/zer