Kosher Queers

77 — Tazria-Metzora: Magical Separatists

April 14, 2021 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow Episode 77
Kosher Queers
77 — Tazria-Metzora: Magical Separatists
Show Notes Transcript

This week, Jaz has hot takes about major Jewish community events, Elijah's boyfriend says some unnecessarily cryptic stuff, and there are problems with magic systems. Also, there's discussion about magic and then different literary genres for a loooong time, so enjoy that. It even segues into a discussion about the nature of truth, which is always fun. 

Full transcript here.

If you were also at the Trans Jews are Here Convening and would like to share your thoughts about it with the organizers, it looks like their feedback form is still open. You can also check out Xai, How Are You? and Sefirat HOMOer or see the announcement for Uncommon Charm by Kat Weaver and Emily Bergslien. Also, you can read about the lesbian nun,  Benedetta Carlini, who Jaz's mothers owned a book about, in Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by Judith C. Brown. Plus, if you want to read more about how objective journalism isn't real, you can read The View From Somewhere by Lewis Raven Wallace and subscribe to the newsletter The Objective

This week's reading is II Kings 7:3-20. Next week's reading is Amos 9:7-15.

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

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Lulav: Hi Jaz. 

Jaz: Hi Lulav. What is something cool or queer or Jewish that’s happened to you recently?

Lulav: Okay so I figured since in one of our recent episodes we talked about fanfiction that involved having a monster girlfriend I would mention that I just read a fanfic for Fire Emblem: Three Houses about one of the characters finding out that her girlfriend is maybe a little bit of a dragon. 

Jaz: Hm. 

Lulav: And it was cute. It was just fluff and Flayn ate some crickets, but that's kind of the little sprinkling on the side because I won at April Fools’. 

Jaz: Oh?

Lulav: Which is to say our mutual friend Ada often will listen to Kosher Queers without looking at what the episode title is or what the artwork is. As she said, she is a simple girl — she just clicks play, and that's so cool because that means that I actually got somebody in our April Fools’ joke and she didn't realize until the theme music played. 

Jaz: That's delightful. 

Lulav: And I am ecstatic. So, to anybody else who got super pranked: you are not alone, and feel free to tell me about it because I will live off of these emotional nutriments for probably weeks. (chuckles) 

Jaz: I'm so delighted. Yeah, so that was fun. That was our most recent episode. 

Lulav: We are living dangerously close to the edge but this week we've been recording a whole bunch to get us on a more healthy schedule. Speaking of things that are recorded, Jaz, what’s something cool and queer or Jewish that’s happened to you recently?

Jaz: So both of us were on a panel about trans Jewish podcasting for the Trans Jews are Here Convening which, this was the second one. The last one that I went to in person two years ago and I made some really good friends at that convening who I've stayed in touch with for a couple years-- 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And this one was all online, which was good but also had kind of a different vibe and I went to a number of different sessions in addition to the one we hosted. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: I really loved the one we hosted. We did it also with the hosts of Xai, How Are You? and Sefirat HOMOer and if you do not also listen to those podcasts, you might want to check them out. 

Lulav: Yeah, they're fun. 

Jaz: Yeah, so it was nice. Those are all of the people, as far as I know, who make trans Jewish podcasts (Lulav laughs) so it was nice to have us all there--

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And there were some people who I know are listeners. there's some people who had never heard of us and that was a nice combination. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And I had a great time, you know, I got to talk with other cool people about this cool thing that we do. 

Lulav: Yeah, also you were the one technically moderating the panel. 

Jaz: Right, so it was my idea and I organized everybody doing it. Okay, I don't know actually that it was my idea. It might have been Xava’s idea first. 

Lulav: You were the one who put Xava in front of a microphone, to use Michael’s words. 

Jaz: Right, I actually do not remember but I did more of the like, logistical organizing for this. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And did some of the moderating of it because we didn't have a seperate moderator. 

Lulav: Yeah. So my impression was also that the vibe was really different. Is it like kind of simil 3:30 ??????/ 

the audio cuts off here till 3:47 

Jaz: Well again, I only went to one, this was only the second one ever and the-- the session that I went to cuz I went to some other sessions led by some other people and I really enjoyed all of the ones that I went to and I'm sure I would have enjoyed more of them but I do have more of a limit of how many things I can do to digitally than I do for things I can go to in person cuz in-person I could have basically gone to things back to back all day with just like, stopping for lunch but even in the stopping for lunch I would have been like, chatting with people and during the sessions I would have been chatting with people one on one--

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: But like staring at a screen is harder. 

Lulav: Yeah. And you cant like, lean over and whisper comments which is my favourite part, frankly, of in-person convention stuff. 

Jaz: Right, there was not really as much of an opportunity here to make new friends which is really a shame. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Though it was nice to see people who I knew from other parts of my life. 

Lulav: Aww. 

Jaz: The other thing is just that I don't know how much of the differences are attributable to it being online versus is attributable to just the organization of this event versus the organization of the last one. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: I know there were different organizers-- 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: And I do not know really what happened behind the scenes or how it was organized either time, I just know that this one seemed to be more last-minute to me and that there were some decisions that they made that I disagreed with, like I saw some really good commentary from other participants who said why do they keep repeating all over these different things stuff about using your “real name.” 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: We're a space of trans Jews, a lot of us have changed our names, a lot of us have associations with that meaning our legal name. 

Lulav: And so it was an attempt to be affirming like, “use your real name” not just your legal name if it's not the same but-- 

Jaz: I think that that's very generous of you. I think it was an attempt to weed out people who hadn’t registered and also particularly-- 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: I think to make sure that it wasn't crashed by antisemites or transphobes of whatever-- 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: But it did have the side effect of being like, “you have to come in with your full name” and that was a little off-putting. 

Lulav: Yeah, and that's hard for like, existing as a trans person in public spaces. 

Jaz: Yeah, though it was not, to be clear a thing that said you had to use your legal name. I did not use my legal name but I had a great time, I want to be clear, I had a great time, it was lovely to see everybody, I thought the presentation was wonderful and it is amazing that we get to have such a convening. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And amazing for them to put that together, like in the middle of a pandemic and it also looks like they're going to pay a lot of the people who led workshops which is also a lovely thing to do. 

Lulav: Cool. 

Jaz: You know, I miss having in-person things-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And I also think, sounds like there were some, you know, logistical snafus that maybe we're not thought through as much maybe because things felt rushed, I have no idea what they are attributed to. Yeah, there was also room for improvement, definitely. 

Lulav: Next year at CBST. 

Jaz: (chuckles) Well-- 

Lulav: Or whatever that means. 

Jaz: That's a whole other story but I would love you go back to a Trans Jews are Here convening, any other feedback notwithstanding. 

Lulav: (giggles) Cool. So are you ready to mosey on into the episode. 

Jaz: Yeah, let's go for it. 

[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 parshat Tazria-Metzora  which is II Kings 7:3-7:20 so we have a nice shorter one this week. 

Jaz: Which is very funny because it's a joint parsha. 

Lulav: Right? They go extra long on the parsha but nice and concise on the haftarah. 

Jaz: Although I did also find that understanding that short haftarah did require some further research. 

Lulav: Yeah, I definitely did not envy you that task. It seems like there's some stuff going on with Aram. 

Jaz: So would you take us through Tazria-Metzora? 

Lulav: Absolutely. Can you give me 60 or 75?

Jaz: 75. 

Lulav: Okay, can you give me 75 seconds. 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: Thank you for abetting my hubris. 

Jaz: Three, two, one, go.
Lulav: V'yidaber Hashem el Moshe that those who give birth may not touch holy things until they wait it out and make themselves clean -- extra wait time if you're ~~saddled~~ with a girl child. Rashes? Tell a priest IMMEDIATELY to get further observation and quarantine. We get a surprisingly detailed menu of what the problem could be - all one thing or another is fine, but mixing states of affliction up is pretty bad. Torah says you're responsible for others' health when you're sick. Uh, These general rules apply to thi- apply to things as well. Are you ready to reenter society? Well, let's do some bird crimes or other sundry animal-related performance art about it. Oh also, extremely detailed closing note about not getting potential biohazards where others could touch. 

Jaz: That's the end?

Lulav: Yes. 

Jaz: You didn't come anywhere close to the timer. You had a bunch of time. 

Lulav: Oh great. I'm so glad. This makes up for the like, 10 seconds that I regularly go over on these. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: (laughs) Yeah, so this is the one that involves chucking a house into a ravine and niddah, we had a great time last year including Jaz's choice of title, We Niddah Get Purified, Babe, eh? Eh?

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: It was good. 

Jaz: Thank you for appreciating my joke (Lulav laughs) belatedly. 

Lulav: Whoa! I appreciated it at the moment, right?

Jaz: Probably. 

Lulav: Okay cool. So this has connections to two different potential readings here. The Sephardi reading for the haftarah is from a completely different book, Yechezkiel 20:2-20:20 and so I had connections to both of those. 

Jaz: Ohhhh. 

Lulav: Though I think the Ashkenazi reading makes a little more sense. 

Jaz: Hit me with both of them. 

Lulav: Okay. In the II Kings reading, we open up with a focus on some lepers, some people who have been specifically excluded from the community in a way where like, they are still people, they just can't do the sorts of normal things that a person in Jewish society is supposed to do because they are busy preserving lives by quarantining themselves and in this case these tzarim are having a really rough time because usually they're supposed to be fed by the main community but the main community doesnt have food and so they're like, ugh we're gonna starve if we stay here, we're gonna starve if we try to rejoin the city, we might as well see if we can turn ourselves over to the mercy of the Aramaeans and apparently there were enough lepers in this colony that they sounded like an entire army rolling up with chariots (Jaz laughs) and so the Aramaeans dipped. Sorry to like, steal your thunder. 

Jaz: I think your summary is slightly debatable. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: So well get into some of that later. 

Lulav: So like, this is something where they were doing what they were supposed to do, they were following the laws set out in Tazria-Metzora with respect to keeping other people safe but also they were like, defecting and instead they got to loot an empty camp. 

Jaz: Uh huh. 

Lulav: So there's some interesting thing about the concept of rewards here that like, you really need to understand the system set up by Tazria-Metzora to get a good feel for how weird it is-- 

Jaz: Hmm. 

Lulav: But also how much sense it makes. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: And then, real quick on the Sephardi passage, it's talking about how you're supposed to have cast away all of the fetishes of Egypt which is to say you have to either be a Jew completely or you have to maintain the gods of the Egyptians. Mixing it together, like, a little bit of bumpiness or a little bit of weird patchy white skin is not acceptable-- 

Jaz: Hm. 

Lulav: But like, if-- if you're white all over you probably aren't contagious and you can rejoin society. Does that make sense?

Jaz: Yeah, yeah. 

Lulav: It was kind of a tenuous connection because I definitely think that portion would have been better read for one of the later parshot but it made sense. 

Jaz: Mmm. 

Lulav: So Jaz?

Jaz: Yeah?

Lulav: Why are the Aramaeans here?

Jaz: Okay, give me a sense of the scale and scope of that why. Why thematically are they here? (Lulav laughs) Why militarily are they here? Why-- 

Lulav: I was looking for context. 

Jaz: Oh, okay. 

Lulav: So I was asking a fairly low-level question of how did they get here, why are they here? But you are welcome to answer geographically and politically and all that stuff. 

Jaz: Okay. So the Aramaeans are a neighbouring nation. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: They marched there physically on their feet and on their horses and on their chariots to invade. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Samaria has been a little bit weekend in the recent history in which this takes place because this takes place during the life of Elisha. And Elisha lived during a period of like, four different kings. (Lulav giggles) The one who is currently, I believe, on the throne at the time this takes place-- 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Is called Yehoram. 

Lulav: Oh, he sounds really familiar. 

Jaz: Sure. It says a couple chapters earlier, Yehoram the son of Ahab reigned over Israel in Samaria in the 18th year of Yehoshafat, king of Judah and he reigned 12 years. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: He doesn't have a long stable reign is a thing to understand here and he doesn't come from someone who has a long stable reign. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. Ahav had some succession trouble if I remember correctly. 

Jaz: I believe you are correct and so the Aramaeans are not the first or even last people to try attacking during this guy’s reign-- 

Lulav: Hm. 

Jaz: Also Samaria is kind of weakened and it's been having a famine recently-- 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: We were also hearing about Elisha feeding the people of the city with miracles. Later Christians will try and build off Elisha feeding like 100 people with 20 loaves of bread to be like, hey and then Jesus did that again! 

Lulav: Ohhh. 

Jaz: Only more people with fewer loaves of bread, so. 

Lulav: And also fish this time. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: (laughs) Okay. That makes sense. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Thanks Elisha. 

Jaz: And Elisha is like the prophet at the time so sometimes in our reading it will just say like, “Ish haElohim,” like, the person of G-d. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And they just mean Elisha, it's the same person. 

Lulav: Ohhh. 

Jaz: And Elisha is Elijah's successor / boyfriend. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. Kind of burly, likes bears. 

Jaz: (chuckles) And when Elijah like, is dying basically, or like getting ready to finish from the earth like, Elisha says to him well I want to inherit your prophecy basically--

Lulav: Mm. 

Jaz: And get twice as much. 

Lulav: (laughs) Tall order. 

Jaz: And that is basically what happens though. (Lulav laughs) He was like, Elijah's sidekick while Elijah was there-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And then when Elijah wasn't there, Elisha was like, the dude to go to. 

Lulav: It's like how Nightwing comics are probably way more interesting than Batman comics. 

Jaz: I'll- I'll take your word for it. 

Lulav: (laughs) I know just enough to make that dangerous assertion. DC fans, feel free to slide into my DMs @palmliker with your opinions about Dirk Grayson and the comparison of his oeuvre to that of Bruce Wayne's. 

Jaz: Mkay. Anyway, do not do that to me. I do not care. 

Lulav: Oh yeah. Don't talk to Jaz. (laughs) 

Jaz: I mean you can talk to me about other things, not Batman. I once when I still went on dates with straight men--

Lulav: Ooof. 

Jaz: Years ago went on a date with a straight man who told me his favourite superhero was Batman. 

Lulav: Oh no, that's a red flag. 

Jaz: Yeah, we didn't go on a second date. (Lulav laughs) That was not exactly the reason we didn't go on a second date but it was tangentially related in that we did not at all vibe. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. For anyone who's wondering why is Batman a red flag? It's because he's a vigilante billionaire. 

Jaz: There's interesting things in Batman's character. It's just if you're like this is my favorite superhero and you said that without previously or afterwards giving any sense that you have a critical analysis, (Lulav laughs) I'm not interested. 

Lulav: Yeah. Batman is not my favourite superhero, just for the record…  

Jaz: I know. 

Lulav: I don't think I have a favourite superhero. No kings. Um... anyway where were we? Oh-- 

Both: We were talking about--

Lulav: Why Aram is here and Elisha, okay. 

Jaz: Anyway and so that's kind of the context for what's going to happen in this chapter because we start this chapter with lepers and you were like, apparently there's so many that it sounds like so many armies and actually I think that we are supposed to believe that Elisha made them sound like armies and chariots. 

Lulav: Okay. How do you feel about doing literal magic?

Jaz: Good. 

Lulav: (laughs) Elaborate if you can?

Jaz: Okay, so I am not fully qualified to have this discussion. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: But earlier in this year when I was visiting rabbinical schools I stumbled into a class that was having a very passionate argument about magic and how Judaism felt about it. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: And how they were like, okay but sometimes the priests and prophets do things that are definitely magic and sometimes they're like, “you shall stone a sorceress” so what is up and some people were like, “it is just about who controls the magic and if it's the patriarchy or not.” 

Lulav: Ahhh. (laughs) 

Jaz: And I think there is an argument for that, but I also think there is maybe an argument to be made for like, what is your magic for?

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: And how much do you expect to have personal control over it (Lulav chuckles) versus Moses being like, “okay, yes, G-d sometimes sets things on fire and it's a miracle. Also we can't control that even a little bit — we can only hope that it works.” 

Lulav: You just go where the cloud goes. 

Jaz: Yeah, and honestly when-- when you’re reading fictional magic books where magic has a cost to it-- 

Lulav: Hm! Mm hmm. 

Jaz: Tend to be much better systems than ones where it just doesn't (Lulav giggles) or like where magic is its own unpredictable thing you know, that you gotta work with-- 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: Can also be really compelling so I do like the idea that it's not just like, the problem of who's doing the magic but of how. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: And why and what you're expecting to get out of it and how much personal control you're expecting to get out of it. 

Lulav: Yeah, cuz like the magic that he's doing is amplifying and intensifying the sound of some people walking around to defend a city from siege. 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: Which seems pretty reasonable. Bread is what, 80 shekels for a shekel of bread?

Jaz: Right, and also I think-- well okay he doesn't say it very explicitly but I think it is implied also that this is a thing that G-d does. Elisha knows of it, that's why he's special. Maybe in some way Elisha helped, but we don't see Elisha helping to create this on page. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: We just see Elisha knowing about it (Lulav laughs) or at least knowing what's gonna happen. 

Lulav: Yeah. So I guess my two opinions here are 1) harumph! I don't like having inexplicable magic in our holy texts. 

Jaz: Why?

Lulav: Because I prefer something where there is a possible reading of like, people banded together and made this happen versus just, oh yeah they sounded really loud. 

Jaz: Okay but there are possible scient- like okay, the parting of the Red Sea is like, a magical thing but 1) there's fun midrash around it about like (Lulav giggles) a person walked into the sea and it was like his action of doing so and Moshe's action of keeping his hands up, like, it needed us to do it-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: In order for the miracle to happen. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: And sometimes people do the science explanation of “this is how tides work under special circumstances.” 

Lulav: To be clear, if this were something that people don't take as literal truth and it were just like, fantasy, heck yeah! I am there for that. So the one truth that I wanna hold is that harumph! I don't like it when there's inexplicable magic in things that are supposed to be relatively historical. 

Jaz: Why? Do you not--

Lulav: And the sec-- 

Jaz: Okay sorry, sorry. 

Lulav: And the second truth that I want to hold is that this is really cool. Like, yeah I love that the magic just happens and that intention like, what you're trying to do with it is very important. Also I just wanted to give a plug for Uncommon Charm, a gothic comedy novel written by my friends Emily Bergslien and Kat Weaver. It's coming out in 2022 from Neon Hemlock Press that has lots of magic in it in the good good way that involves sacrifice and not really knowing what's happening (Jaz chuckles) so I’m looking forward to that and have been for years. (laughs) 

Jaz: Great. Do you know if there's a preorder link for it yet?

Lulav: I don't think so because it's coming out in 2022. 

Jaz: It's 2021. That's not-- 

Lulav: That's fair. I will definitely be plastering my social media with retweets of Em and Kat's stuff when they get more specific information. 

Jaz: Okay, but I want to push back again on the magic thing. 

Lulav: Absolutely. 

Jaz: I am fascinated by this idea that history shouldn't involve magic. There is this book, it's like somewhere buried in my parents boxes that are not yet unpacked if they still have it. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But there was this book that was on their bookshelf when I was growing up that was about like, lesbian nuns. 

Lulav: Okay is this the one involving oranges?

Jaz: No, no. This is like a piece of history talking about--

Lulav: Your moms had such an impressive lesbian library-- sorry to cut you off. Continue please. 

Jaz: They just had a shelf. My parents just have a very impressive library. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: And also like a very small proportion of books in that library are about lesbians, like really there's probably just as many books about the Roosevelts. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: But yes there's this book that's on this lesbian nun whose name I don't remember and the name of the book I unfortunately don’t remember, but I remember this bit about it where they're talking about her life and saying like, it's hard to approach it from our modern sensibilities because we have what they wrote about her. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But what they wrote about her included her miracles. When we tell the story of her life, we have to tell it with the miracles attributed to her to give you her story, otherwise there's no way to tell the story of this woman's life and this woman definitely existed but also by our modern understanding of truth, those miracles didn’t? But also… there is no other way to tell the story of her life than to include them. 

Lulav: Because yeah, what was recorded of her life-- 

Jaz: Includes them. 

Lulav: Yeah. Question, was this Hildegard von Bingen or like--

Jaz: Oh it might have been. That sounds familiar. I do not know. 

Lulav: Okay. Oooh, apparently she loved another nun named Richardis so this might have been Hildegard von Bingen- anyway (laughs) that's really cool. 

Jaz: It might also have been about this other woman, Benedetta Carlini--

Lulav: Oooh. 

Jaz: A Catholic mystic and lesbian nun who lived in Counter-Reformation Italy-- yeah I don’t know. 

Lulav: Oh, love that. 

Jaz: Totally genuinely I do not remember. I might have read things about several of these women-- 

Lulav: Also fair. 

Jaz: To be completely honest with you, I'm just, I'm remembering that little snippet in which they were talking about what it means to write history about this woman from like 500 years ago maybe. 

Lulav: Yeah. So okay, I think I can crystallize a little bit of the distaste that I have for magic in historical things and it's basically like, we don't really see these large scale miracles in the modern day unless they are explicable through people banding together and making things happen and so to read about a mythic past while having a less-mythic present, it kind of puts that on a pedestal and I prefer stories that motivate us now. Like, it's not that we have to be Harry Potter fighting Voldemort or some nonsense like that. You can be inspired by actual real life union organizers. 

Jaz: This is a fascinating take from somebody who doesn't read nonfiction and instead just reads fiction as the thing you draw motivation from. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: Would you really say that you can't draw motivation from stories that couldn't have happened in your life because they have magic in them?

Lulav: So I think that conceiving of it as something that actually happened is where that disconnect comes. I really enjoy fiction; I don't think it happened. 

Jaz: Okay. Why do you think that reading the Tanakh has to be more like reading journalism than like reading fiction?

Lulav: Uhm, because this is something that a lot of people do take literally and even if you don't take it literally there's still like, we say for Pesach “avadim hayinu” even though that may not be historically accurate, who knows? And there's just a difference between if you think that something may have actually happened or were like contextualizing it in the framework of reality that like, yeah. I don't know. I definitely see where you're coming from, right?

Jaz: But like, I don't think that the Tanakh has to be journalism and I don't think that it has to be fiction-- 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: I think, you know, like the Talmud — or the Torah for that matter — has story and also law as equally part of the heart of what it's doing, right?

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: That there can be an argument here that this isn't supposed to be true and it isn't supposed to be untruth, it's supposed to be legend. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: It's supposed to be nebulous, it's supposed to be connected to reality but not supposed to be- it- like, I find meaning in the story of the garden of Eden which I think offers us things that are really powerful even though I don't believe in like a literal technical sense that that's how the world and people started-- 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: But it is an extraordinarily useful metaphor and framework. 

Lulav: Okay, I just like, a dude named Elisha actually existed and that feels different to me from yeah, there were these two people who were the first people ever created and when they learned of the difference between good and evil they got cast out of this idyllic paradise and had to make their own slice of paradise in a hard world. 

Jaz: Well I think it is useful then to think about like, there's no such thing as truth. (Lulav chuckles) There's no such thing as objective journalism, right?

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: There's no such thing as unbiased history. We tell stories about the past and they're not all encompassing. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: The first person who was like, ah, this is the father of history is also known as the father of lies. 

Lulav: Herodotus? 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Yeah, no I was actually gonna bring him up because I read this story a lot like I read The Histories by Herodotus-- 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: In that like there's probably some major kernels of things that actually happened here but you're also definitely spinning them up with your biases and absolute fabrications and because of that I am less likely to like… I didn't like reading The Histories. It was interesting, I had a good time; I was frowning. (laughs) Basically my conclusion here is that I'm a curmudgeon. 

Jaz: Well okay but basically then my conclusion is it is possible and good and desirable to look at sacred text more complexly--

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And not expect it to fit into the box of other kinds of text and allow it to pull from the very good things that various different formats offer us.

Lulav: Absolutely. So--

Jaz: Yes?

Lulav: Is this still just the context part?

Jaz: No! We've been talking about-- like, again not much happens--

Lulav: Okay that's fair.

Jaz: In this haftarah so this is about what happens when Elisha says that there's going to be a miracle and the miracle is the Aramaeans are chased away because of the sound of these lepers that like, echoes as if they are an army--

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Of chariots and soldiers. The only other thing I think we have left to talk about particularly in this section is uhm, do you feel like there's significance to them being lepers, and if so what — and also significance of the miracle being represented not by the army going away, but by food being affordable?

Lulav: Right. Okay um, i think a lot of how I conceive of the fulfillment of the covenant is that if people do the right things, society will function better on average. And so, the fact that bread is back to a normal price is just like, better. Is an indication that things worked out the way that they were supposed to--

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: That like, these lepers — instead of trying to rejoin the city and potentially affect people who were already starving, and instead of taking no action themselves, they did something and I don't know how that works out when you consider that they would have been walking in with that uncleanness to the camps of other people who would then probably spread the skin afflictions but you know, it-- yeah. Sorry, I was rambling a little bit. Did that answer your second question?

Jaz: No, only the first one.

Lulav: Oh, fun.

Jaz: Your answer about the second one was bread prices being down are an indication of the covenant.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And I just wondered if you could spin me another line of that one.

Lulav: Okay. So the idea is that as long as you live by the rules of good living--

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: That have been, you know, cut in this covenant, your people will be numerous and happy I guess and so to go from a place where everything was ridiculously overpriced because people were price gouging and there wasn't enough to go around, to there is enough to go around and everybody is exchanging the monetary representation of their labour fairly,

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: That feels like a good outcome.

Jaz: Mmmm.

Lulav: And like it doesn't — like in the story of Job — restore the people who died in the process but it does, on average, make things better. It, like, improves a lot of the people because the characters in this story adhered to the rules that they were supposed to.

Jaz: Hm.

Lulav: Does that make sense?

Jaz: Okay, okay. Um, okay. Alright in that case, do you have any last things for me before we move on?

Lulav: Oh no i was just wondering what your thoughts on those questions were, uh, if you have any that you haven't already expressed.

Jaz: Sure. I think there's something lovely about it being lepers.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: They are very literal outcasts and the miracle acts through them. It feels like one of those things like if you center the most marginalized people it helps everybody.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Turns out if the lepers are doing well, how do you think everybody else is doing?

Lulav: Right.

Jaz: And I like that, that the miracle acts through them, it doesn't act through anybody else including Elisha who likes to know about it but they are physically there implementing it.

Lulav: Thank you for your wisdom, that's such a good insight. Does that bring us to Rating G-d’s Writing, the segment in which we fluff up the light footfalls of lepers into the roar of an invading army?

Jaz: Yeah, it sure does.

Lulav: Jaz, how expensive is the bread of this haftarah?

Jaz: Mmm, well I was trying to find how much the price of bread was up to. 

Lulav: In the story or right now?

Jaz: In the story. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: And they gave me some numbers for some other things like a donkey's head and a quarter of a cob of dove's dung-- 

Lulav: Oh no. 

Jaz: But neither of those is bread (Lulav chuckles) so-- 

Lulav: Probably bread is more expensive than either of those. 

Jaz: Yeah, I don't know. So were going to make 80 our top end of the scale and-- 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: One which is where bread-- 

Lulav: Ostensibly should be. 

Jaz: Yeah, I mean they do it as flour versus barley flour rather than like, bread-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: But were going to go with one shekel for bread versus like 80 for a donkey's head in bad times. 

Lulav: Okay. And which end of the scale would be a good rating for the haftarah. 

Jaz: Lower. Golf rules. 

Lulav: Okay cool. 

Jaz: Cuz we want food prices to be low. Everybody should eat. 

Lulav: So are you sinking an eagle here or is it a little over par?

Jaz: I'm going to give it like 2 shekels. I like the story. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: I think Elisha is fun. I think there’s cool disability justice stuff happening and it ends with everybody getting their basic needs met and it sparks a fun discussion about genre conventions-- 

Lulav: Yeah! 

Jaz: And expectations uh, so I'm gonna give it a pretty good rating. 

Lulav: Cool. I'd pay two shekels for this bread. 

Jaz: Lulav, on a scale of the noise of four people versus the noise of a whole army--

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: How loud is this parsha?

Lulav: Cuz it definitely did seem like it was just four people chatting with each other about how like, man, we should go over to the Aramayans, see if they'll have us. So how loud is this parsha between four people and an army? Uhm, okay I think it is as loud as an army but also as a modern listener I can definitely tell that that's coming from a speaker system and is just like, stock assets of army sounds. 

Jaz: (laughs) Okay, okay. 

Lulav: Which is to say I think it's really cool, I think this is a great story, I also am going harumph! 

Jaz: (laughs) Yeah. 

Lulav: But it does still get a big rating. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: So 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 my lovely co-host, Lulav Arnow.
Lulav: I'll have a great time editing, but also I will be going harumph! 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. I recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Creek and Muscogee people.

Lulav: I’m Lulav Arnow and you can find me @spacetrucksix on Twitter, or give me your opinions about Nightwing @palmliker! I recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Wahpékute Dakota.

Both: Have a lovely queer Jewish day.

[Brivele outro]

Jaz: This week's gender is: murderously revealed forest fire.

Lulav: This week's pronouns are: z(ee)/zed.